L-erythro-2-Methylamino-1-phenyl-1-propanol, C10H15NO, M 165,23.
Together with its diastereomeric threo form (pseudoephedrine) ephedrine is a naturally occurring alkaloid of all the aboveground plant parts of the family ephedraceae (bushes in the Mediterranean area, America and Asiatic dry regions). The dried plant parts are sold under the name ephedra or the chinese name "ma huang" which means "yellow hemp".
Ephedrine acts as symphaticomimetic activating on the blood cycle, thus narrowing the arterial and venous vessels and increasing blood pressure.
It also works bronchodilatoric. Medical use of ephedrine with bronchitis and asthma, in higher dosage as a fat burner to weight loss. Pseudoephedrine is used as antiallergic to swellow down the nose mucous membrane. Ephedrine has only small exciting effect on the central nervous system. In the body partial metabolisn (N-demethylation) takes place to norephedrine (cathine). 70 to 80 per cent is separated unchanged into the urine, 4 per cent metabolisied to norephedrine.
Ephedrine may be used as psychostimulant. Overdosing may lead to heavy psychoses. Ephedrine is a international controlled substance by the "United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances" (1988), because it serves as raw material to the illegal production of methamphetamine (Crystal).