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ephedrine(ĭfĕd`rĭn, ĕf`ĭdrēn'), drug derived from plants of the genus Ephedra (see PinophytaPinophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called gymnosperms. The gymnosperms, a group that includes the pine, have stems, roots and leaves, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
..... Click the link for more information. ), most commonly used to prevent mild or moderate attacks of bronchial asthma. Unlike epinephrineepinephrine
, hormone important to the body's metabolism, also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine, a catecholamine, together with norepinephrine, is secreted principally by the medulla of the adrenal gland.
..... Click the link for more information. , to which it is chemically similar, ephedrine is slow to take effect and of mild potency and long duration. A bronchodilator and decongestant, ephedrine is used to relieve nasal congestion originating from allergic conditions, e.g., hay fever, or from bacterial or viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It may be used as well to raise blood pressure. Ephedrine also is used in the production of methamphetamine (see amphetamineamphetamine
, any one of a group of drugs that are powerful central nervous system stimulants. Amphetamines have stimulating effects opposite to the effects of depressants such as alcohol, narcotics, and barbiturates.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
Ephedrine is the active constituent of ma huang, an herbal preparation used medically in China for thousands of years. Also commonly known as ephedra, it is derived from several Asian species of Ephedra. Preparations of these species were formerly used in "natural" dieting aids and bodybuilding supplements and also were marketed as "herbal ecstasyecstasy,
either of two drugs used for their euphoric effects. The original ecstasy, a so-called designer drug, also known as MDMA, is an analog of methamphetamine (see amphetamine).
..... Click the link for more information. ." Ephedra and ma huang may cause such side effects as insomnia, restlessness, euphoria, palpitations, and high blood pressure; there have been reports of a number of deaths associated with their use as recreational drugs and dietary supplements. In 2004 the Food and Drug Administration banned sales of dietary supplements containing ephedra because of illnesses and deaths associated with the drug.
C6H5CH(OH)CH(NHCH3)CH3, an alkaloid contained in various species of plants of the genus Ephedra. Ephedrine was first isolated in 1887. Its effect is similar to that of adrenaline; it excites the central nervous system. Ephedrine hydrochloride is used in the treatment of, for example, bronchial asthma, hypotension, allergic diseases, blood loss, and overdoses of narcotics and somnifacients.