Ephedra is an herb that contains several substances called “ephedra alkaloids,” which include ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Ephedra is neither safe nor legal as a dietary supplement. FDA concluded in 2004 that all dietary supplements containing ephedra alkaloids pose a risk of serious adverse events (heart attack, stroke, and death), and so products containing ephedra alkaloids cannot be legally sold/marketed in the United States.

Ephedra and its alkaloids are still legal in some countries, so some dietary supplement products—usually weight-loss supplements—containing this dangerous ingredient are available from some online retail websites.

For more detailed information, read the NIH fact sheet. For background information about ephedra’s illegality, read FDA's Guidance for Industry: Final Ruling Declaring Dietary Supplements Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids Adulterated...

Updated 31 March 2017