Ephedrine vs Adderall – Compare Differences Between Uses & Side Effects

Ephedrine vs Adderall – detailed comparison:


It is a sympathomimetic amine and substituted amphetamine typically used as a stimulant, mental concentration aid, appetite suppressant, decongestant, and treatment for hypotension (low blood pressure).

It is structurally related to noradrenaline (an organic chemical that functions as a hormone and neurotransmitter) and acts primarily through the release of catecholamines.

This stimulant is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines and is obtained from the plant Ephedra sinica.


This central nervous system stimulant is typically used to treat:

  • nasal congestion (as a decongestant);
  • breathing problems (as a bronchodilator);
  • myasthenia gravis (a long-term neuromuscular disease);
  • menstrual problems (dysmenorrhea);
  • low blood pressure problems (orthostatic hypotension);
  • narcolepsy;
  • urine-control problems.

Note – it is known to cause weight loss, therefore, the heart rate and blood glucose of the users must be regularly monitored during the course of treatment.


The usual intramuscular or subcutaneous recommended dose for children is 0.5 mg/kg of body weight every 4 to 6 hours.

The usual parenteral recommended dose is 25 to 50 mg given subcutaneously or intramuscularly. Do not exceed 75 mg per day in children or 150 mg per day in adults.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • headaches;
  • nervousness;
  • palpitations;
  • anxiety;
  • loss of appetite;
  • dizziness;
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia);
  • painful urination;
  • spinning sensation (vertigo);
  • unexplained weight loss;
  • vomiting;
  • sweating;
  • fast heart rate;
  • nausea.

Rare side effects may include:

  • difficulty urinating;
  • swelling of the mouth, lips, face, or tongue;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • difficulty breathing.

To be sure that this medication is safe for you, it is important that your healthcare provider knows:

  • if you have taken any other medicines, especially a monoamine-oxidase inhibitor, within the previous two weeks;
  • if you have liver problems;
  • if you have kidney problems;
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any type of medicine;
  • if you have any problems with your prostate;
  • If you have an overactive thyroid;
  • if you have heart disease;
  • if you have high LDL and total cholesterol levels;
  • if you have type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

There are no well-controlled studies in pregnant women, hence, it should be given to a pregnant woman only if it’s clearly needed and directed by a doctor.

Also, there are no well-controlled clinical studies to determine the safe use of the medication by nursing women, hence, it may be used if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the infant.

Drug Interactions

Some drugs may negatively interact with ephedrine, therefore, tell your doctor if you are taking any other drugs, especially any of the following:

  • guanethidine, guanadrel, methyldopa, mecamylamine, or reserpine;
  • catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors (eg, entacapone), bromocriptine, or digoxin;
  • ergot alkaloids (eg, dihydroergotamine);
  • tricyclic antidepressants (eg, amitriptyline);
  • rauwolfia derivatives (eg, reserpine);
  • oxytocic medicines (eg, oxytocin);
  • linezolid;
  • MAO inhibitors (eg, phenelzine);
  • methyldopa;
  • indomethacin;
  • cocaine;
  • beta-blockers (eg, propranolol).


This medication contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, potent nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the human brain. Hence, the medication increases attention span, concentration, and focus.


The medication has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition that is characterized by cognitive and behavioral symptoms, such as – hyperactivity, inattention, disorganization, and impulsivity.

If left untreated (or treated with the wrong medications), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may negatively affect sufferers as well as their families, friends, and coworkers.

Additionally, it is used for the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, and sleep paralysis).

Note – despite the widespread belief that this central nervous system stimulant can improve a person’s capacity to learn, it actually does not boost thinking ability in people who do not have ADHD.


It is available as an extended-release capsule or as a tablet. It comes as tablets of 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, and 30mg.

The usual recommended dosage for ADHD is 5 or 10 mg each morning. The dose may be adjusted in 5-10 mg increments up to 30 mg per day. It takes about 30-45 minutes after taking this central nervous system stimulant to feel the effects.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • excitability;
  • restlessness;
  • dizziness;
  • nervousness;
  • hallucinations;
  • anxiety;
  • insomnia;
  • tremor;
  • convulsions;
  • headaches;
  • fear.


This central nervous system stimulant is abused by many young adults and college students. According to statistics, somewhere between 20 to 30 percent of college students regularly abuse this medication.

There are many serious side effects that may occur, including:

  • stroke;
  • hypertension;
  • abdominal pain;
  • mood swings;
  • kidney problems;
  • dizziness;
  • sexual dysfunction;
  • depression;
  • blurred vision;
  • constipation;
  • heart attack;
  • chest pain;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • panic attacks;
  • muscle weakness;
  • insomnia;
  • seizures;
  • tremors;
  • psychosis.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing mothers should not use this central nervous system stimulant while nursing since it passes into breast milk and may negatively affect the infant.

In addition, because it contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, this central nervous system stimulant can be habit-forming, particularly when higher than prescribed dosages are used.

Bottom Line – Ephedrine vs Adderall

Adderall (active ingredients – dextroamphetamine and amphetamine) is used mainly to treat the symptoms of ADHD. This medication may be habit-forming and should be used only by the people for whom it was prescribed.

Ephedrine is a decongestant and bronchodilator that works by reducing swelling and constricting blood vessels in the nasal passages. Because it is produced from a herb, many people think that it is a safer alternative to other central nervous system stimulants, however, it possesses a host of side effects.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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