Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic alkaloid derived from the herb ma huang, also known as ephedra, and is considered to be the so-called active ingredient of the herb along with pseudoephedrine. Ephedra, and now ephedrine itself, is primarily used for its ability to increase the activity of the central nervous system of the user while also stimulating various target cells in the body via its mechanism as an alpha and beta adrenergenic agonist. These abilities of ephedrine offer numerous advantages for both bodybuilders and strength athletes.
The stimulatory effect that ephedrine has on the central nervous system offers several benefits to athletes. For example, this enhanced stimulation should allow for an increase in the force able to be generated in skeletal muscle contractions. Obviously this could result in increased strength that a user could generate and/or more explosive actions or movements during athletic endeavors. Other such possible beneficial results of this increased activity in the central nervous system include such things as improved lung function, anaerobic capacity, hand-eye coordination and cardio-respiratory endurance, among others. These listed potential benefits should not be looked upon as absolutes however due to some contradictory research that indicates no such benefits were seen with ephedrine supplementation. Despite these contradictory findings however, the vast majority of research does indeed indicate a direct correlation between ephedrine use, an increase in central nervous system activity and an improvement in numerous athletic performance measures.
A second, related benefit of ephedrine administration is the increase in metabolism and lipolytic effects in the body. For the most part this is accomplished by the thermogenic effect that the compound produces. In much the same way that a drug such as clenbuterol does, although clenbuterol is a selective beta-2 agonist while ephedrine is an alpha and beta adrenergenic agonist, ephedrine raises the body temperature of the user which creates the increase in metabolism.
A third benefit of ephedrine, at least for some, is a reduction in appetite. Like many other stimulants this effect varies from user to user with some experiencing this effect much more severely then others. If one has problems ingesting their target number of calories per day when using ephedrine they may want to discontinue administering it.