Ephedrine is found in a number of cold remedies and asthma treatments. It is a stimulant drug that is extracted from an oriental plant called Ma Huang. It is also found as well as an ingredient in some herbal highs which are marketed under a number of names including Cloud 9 and Nirvana Plus. Sometimes referred to as “herbal ecstasy” the drug is actually closer in its effects to amphetamine (speed).
Ephedrine is a stimulant increases the heart rate and blood pressure, speeds up the metabolism, expands bronchial tubes and raises body temperature. It is a commonly abused drug because of these effects and users quickly run the risk of becoming addicted to the drug.
In sport, ephedrine is listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances as it is seen a performance enhancing when taken in high quantities. In 2007, Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny failed a drug test after testing positive for ephedrine.
What are the effects of ephedrine?
Ephedrine abuse occurs when the drug is taken in excessive amounts for recreation only. Long-term use of the drug can lead to dependence and addiction. Physical effects of using ephedrine include:
- Increased heart rate and raised blood pressure.
- Easier breathing as the bronchioles in the lungs are dilated
- Heighten feeling of alertness and focus
- Sensitive skin and shivers down the spine
What risk does taking ephedrine have?
- A dry mouth, restlessness and nausea are all common symptoms
- Anxiety, vomiting, insomnia, tremors and heart palpitations can all be experienced when the drug is take in large quantities.
- Strokes and heart attack have been linked to long-term recreational misuse
Legal status of ephedrine
- At present, the drug is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, therefore personal possession and use of the drugs in small amounts is not illegal.
- The Medicines Act prohibits the marketing of ephedrine as an unlicensed preparation
Street names for ephedrine
Slang terms for ephedrine include trucker speed and Mini-Thins,
Ephedrine drug test kits
A presumptive drug testing kit is often used by professionals and police to identify the drug when found in possession or when checking premises for drugs of abuse.
Photo Credit: Loenora Enking on Flickr