Ephedrine is found in both cold remedies and herbal highs. Find out how it affects you and what the law says.

white pills

Used in slimming pills and to get wasted

Ephedrine is an ingredient used in certain over-the-counter medications to treat congestion and asthma. It’s a stimulant, extracted from an Asiatic shrub called Ma Huang, and is often found in herbal ecstasy products such as Cloud 9 and Nirvana Plus, although its effects are closer to those of speed.

What are the effects of ephedrine?

  • Speeds up the heart rate and increases blood pressure.
  • Dilates the bronchioles in the lungs, making breathing easier.
  • Users report feeling more alert and focused.
  • Other effects on the body can include shivers down the spine and sensitive skin.

What risk does taking ephedrine have?

  • Nausea, a dry mouth and restlessness are common.
  • At high doses, users can experience anxiety, heart palpitations, vomiting, tremors and insomnia.
  • Long-term recreational misuse has been linked to strokes and heart attack.

Ephedrine and the law:

  • Ephedrine is not currently classified as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act, so no penalties apply for possession or use of small amounts.
  • Selling ephedrine as an unlicensed preparation would risk prosecution under the Medicines Act.

Slang terms for ephedrine:

Mini-Thins, trucker speed.

If you are planning to take ephedrine:

Think about the risks before using ephedrine without medical supervision, especially if you have a heart condition or diabetes.

Photo of white pills by Shutterstock

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015