LEONARD LESSIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LEONARD LESSIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ephedra capsules. Capsules containing powdered extract of the plant ephedra. This is used in herbal medicine as an appetite suppressant and an energy-boosting drug. It is also taken to relieve the symptoms of asthma and coughs by relaxing the air passages. The active ingredient is an alkaloid substance called ephedrine, which is manufactured synthetically for conventional medicinal use. Ephedra (Ma Huang) is native to India and China where it has been used as a herbal remedy for thousands of years. Concerns over the safety of its use as a dieting aid have led to ephedra being banned or controlled in many western countries.
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