What is Ephedra?
Ephedra comes from the plant Ephedraceae. There are forty species of this plant, such as sinica, squisentina and intermedia. These plants are located in America, Central Asia, China, India, Egypt and Europe. The main species that is used for medicinal purposes is Ephedra sinica, but E. equisetina is also used, mainly commercially. The American variety, E. antisyphilitica, is from the Southwest and was popularized by the Utah Mormons. It is commonly referred to as ‘Mormons Tea.’ This American variety has none of the medicinal properties the Chinese equisetina does.
These plants grow three feet tall. The plants’ dried stems are used for many purposes. Contained in the stems of these plants are active chemical compounds, produced when the plant stores energy. These natural chemical compounds are called alkaloids. Examples include the phenylalanine-derived alkaloids ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, phylpropanolamine (norephedrine) and cathine (norpseudoephedrine). The main alkaloids are ephedrine, taking up around 90% and pseudoephedrine, around 27%.
Ephedra is used to fight diseases of the respiratory tract. It is popular as a bronchodilator and to treat chronic asthma, and allergic rhinitis. In China, it is used for colds, influenza, pneumonia, whooping cough, and bronchitis. Ephedra is very popular in the weight loss field, to provide energy as well as to promote weight loss. Ephedra is used by athletes and bodybuilders to lose weight while retaining their muscle mass.
What is Ephedrine?
Pure ephedrine, the most powerful alkaloid from the plant, is very similar to what is already in our bodies, adrenaline. However, all the alkaloids are less potent than adrenaline, yet far more effective than caffeine. Ephedrine stimulates the nervous system, as adrenaline does. In addition, Ephedrine is used for weight loss. Of the ephedra alkaloids, ephedrine is the most potent thermogenic. Thermo genesis is the increase of the body temperature that causes more energy to be used. The use of more energy stimulates the metabolism to increase and use stored fat as energy.
Pseudoephedrine is similar to ephedrine, except its ability to stimulate the central nervous system is weaker than that ephedrine. In addition, pseudoephedrine contains ant-inflammatory properties.
In these alkaloids, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and nor pseudoephedrine, what determines the potency, or strength, of the alkaloid content is based on the plant itself. Where the plant grows, what soil it grows in, many varying growing conditions determine the alkaloid content. Alkaloid content and intensity varies greatly from plant to plant as well as for different ephedra species.
Ephedra can be difficult to standardize. Standardization is the process in which a concentration can be determined. Due to the fluctuations in the alkaloid content and intensity, the standardization of Ephedra is difficult. Most of the ephedrine today is synthetic, made in a laboratory. Whether in synthetic form or in natural alkaloid groups, the ephedrine is chemically the same. Because Ephedrine is synthesized, it is classified as a drug.
Note: You can buy pure ephedrine hcl here.
What is Ephedra Extract?
Ephedra extract is a derivative of the same plant Ephedraceae. The extract is a concentrated active material that has been drawn out by chemical means from the raw herb. The resulting Ephedra extract is highly concentrated. The process extracts, or removes, the active alkaloid content. The Ephedra extracts typically come in 10:1 ratios, meaning Ephedra with around 8% alkaloid content.
The Ephedra extract is extremely effective in the weight loss field, as a suppressant, as well as in promoting weight loss and energy. Ephedra extract contain active and inert compounds that are found in the plant. These active and inert compounds act together to offer more benefits and remedies. In addition, extracts as used at a much lower dosage. The main benefit of using the whole plant extract lies in the fact that side effects are rarer, unlike isolated ephedrine alone. In addition, the extract contains the alkaloids pseudoephedrine, norpseudoephedrine and methylpseudoephedrine but does NOT contain ephedrine itself or methylephedrine. Ephedrine is the most potent thermogenic, which has caused some concern due to its very potent thermogenic properties. The Ephedra extract does not contain this alkaloid, which removes many safety concerns while leaving the extract an effective and promising weight loss supplement.