To start with, folks, ephedra is the plant which produces, among other chemicals, ephedrine, a stimulant material which is (AFAIK) legal only in herbal form.
After hearing multiple friends and acquantainces speak of the benefits of ephedrine (academic, recreational and otherwise) I decided to try it for myself. I purchased from a vitamin-type store in the local mall a bottle of 90 15 mg capsules for ten dollars - with no tax, since it is a dietary supplement.
Today, I tried taking the maximum recommended dose (or actually a little over - 8 capsules, or 120 mg) just to see what it felt like. Certainly, there was energy, and when I tried to jog half a mile (it was too hot to do more) I could run much more easily. My thoughts weren't disordered, as they would be with a comparable amount of caffeine - a definate plus for academic use. I intend to use it as an alternative to caffeine during the next school year, to get up early and stay up late as necessary.
That said, I can't see myself using it as a recreational drug (and, no, I don't have anything morally against recreational drugs as such). The dose I had today had my heart pounding, not enough to actually feel, but I took my pulse with my wristwatch and it was over 130 beats per minute. I didn't feel high - at most, alert and easily amused, and a great deal more impulsive - to the point that I'd be concerned about taking that much before making a major decision.
While this isn't unhealthy for me, and is about what I might expect from heavy exercise, I took that sitting at the computer, and I suspect that someone who was overweight or had heart problems and tried to use it before exercising (which is sometimes recommended) in such quantities (to be fair, the amount I took should have been spread across a day, and I weigh only 145 pounds) could be in some danger IMHO. Certainly, someone who tried to take even more for recreational purposes would be. I can't speak as regards sexual effects, but I would suspect that a drug that mimics adrenalin in some aspects would tend to shut down less-essential parts of the body, and that might be part of why it decreases appetite.
I don't see ephedra as dangerous, but I would say that, as with anything, caution is a good idea. There have been a few dozen deaths, mainly in people who took unknown quantities in combination with other things in products marketed as substitutes for street drugs - I recall seeing the trade name "herbal ecstasy" and others that are equally unambigious mentioned in the news.
Far more than a few dozen people have died from smoking, drinking, even quite likely cancer caused by household chemicals.
For the record, the maximum recommended dose is 100 mg of ephedra alkaloids, including ephedrine, per day. I did exceed that somewhat, and I didn't like the effect on my heart rate.
A few suggestions from an admitted beginner:
- Buy pure ephedra extract, or something mixed only with caffeine - I got headaches from a product containing ginsing, and products sold for purposes such as weight loss or bodybuilding will most likely contain other ingredients that, while they will have their own side effects, will do nothing to increase the stimulant effect.
- Don't make significant decision while influenced by ephedrine, especially more than 30-40 mg or so (note that this is ephedrine, not extract or whatever the label says; most labels list both). I noticed a subtle effect on my ability to avoid acting on impulses.
- When taking breaks from whatever task lead you to use ephedrine, listen to music. It's noticable better, at least in my experience.
- I think it goes without saying that you should follow the cautions on the label; I was stupid to exceed the recommended dose, and only did so the once, out of curiousity. Especially, if you have heart conditions, it's outright stupid to take something that is certain to increase your heart rate to the point that just feeling your pulse may well frighten you
If you see any incorrect information here, or disagree with something I say, please /msg me, I check E2 at least every 2-3 days.
I wrote this a long time ago, and I think I made some mistakes. Ephedra is now illegal in New York, and I think there's some reason for that, to be honest. It can really raise your heartbeart, and it affects impulse control significantly AND negatively. Probably about like having 3 or 4 shots, only it also makes you move faster and feel smarter, so you may not realise the effect.