Although ephedrine is primarily used as a bronchodilator and decongestant, it is commonly included in weight loss supplements due to its effects as a stimulant. Ephedrine is structurally similar to amphetamines and works in a method much like epinephrine, a stimulating hormone naturally produced by the body, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This stimulant effect causes an increase in basal metabolic rate that contributes to weight loss; it is also the source of ephedrine's potentially serious side effects.
Use ephedrine only under the direct supervision of a medical professional.
Take ephedrine with meals if you experience nausea or stomach pain following ingestion. If no side effects occur, Drugs.com states that ephedrine can be taken on an empty stomach.
Wait at least four hours between doses of ephedrine and do not exceed the dose recommended by your doctor. Follow any instructions on your package label exactly as stated.
Increase your dose only under the advice of your physician. Do not double your dose of ephedrine even if you miss a dose or wish to increase the desired effects of the supplement. Doing so can increase your risk of side effects and may pose a serious risk to your health.
Check your blood sugar levels frequently if you are diabetic and taking ephedrine to lose weight. The supplement may alter blood sugar levels, according to Drugs.com.
Schedule your dose for earlier in the day if the supplement impairs your sleep. Ephedrine's stimulant effects may make falling or staying asleep difficult for some people.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet while using ephedrine. Include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your daily diet to ensure you obtain adequate nutrition.
Supplements containing ephedrine may cause headache, nervousness, nausea, stomach irritation, dizziness, insomnia and restlessness. These side effects may disappear with continued use. Severe side effects of ephedrine include difficulty urinating or rash, hives, breathing problems and other signs of allergic reaction. Report these symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Do not take ephedrine if you are currently taking or have recently taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, if you are pregnant or nursing or if you suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure.