Possible Interactions with: Ephedra

Possible Interactions with: Ephedra
Also listed as: Ephedra sinensis; Ephedra sinica; Ma huang

While no specific interactions (positive or negative) between the herb ephedra and conventional medications have been reported in the literature, the active ingredients of ephedra, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (available in a number of over-the-counter and prescription products for weight loss or nasal congestion), have been associated with several serious drug interactions. We may assume, for safety's sake, that those drugs that interact with ephedra's active ingredients may also interact with the herb ephedra. Medications for which there are well-documented interactions with ephedra's active ingredients include:

  • Amphetamine and Amphetamine derivatives (such as dextroamphetamine sometimes used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy)
  • Antidepressants; namely, those in the class of tricyclics (such as clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, imipramine, and nortriptyline) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs, including phenelzine and trancylcypromine)
  • Aspirin 
  • Blood Pressure Medications, particularly clonidine
  • Caffeine and Guarana (a caffeine-containing herb)
  • Narcotics, such as morphine and codeine, prescribed for pain; codeine may also be prescribed for cough
  • Phenylpropanolamine (also known as norephedrine, found in certain supplements); formerly in many over the counter and prescription remedies for cough and cold; was removed from the market by the FDA because of risk of bleeding stroke. Norephedrine found in certain dietary supplements for weight loss can cause liver damage.
  • Theophylline (used for asthma)

Drug Interactions
Antidepressant Medications
Blood Pressure Medications
Caffeine-containing Medications
Narcotic Analgesics
Theophylline-containing Medications
Tricyclic Antidepressants

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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