Caffeine–herbal Ephedra Combination Increases Resting Energy Expenditure, Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

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1. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the consumption of an acute dose of caffeine and Ma Huang increases resting energy expenditure (REE), heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) over a 3 h period.

2. A randomized, double-blind cross-over study was performed evaluating the acute effects of caffeine (150 mg)/herbal ephedra (Ma Huang; 20 mg ephedra alkaloids) versus a placebo. A total of eight healthy subjects (four males and four females) with a mean (±SD) age of 23.4 ± 0.8 years (mean ages for males and females: 25.3 ± 0.7 and 22.0 ± 0.7 years, respectively) and 22.5 ± 3.1% body fat (15.7 ± 1.2 and 27.6 ± 3.5% body fat for males and females, respectively) were recruited to the study. Participants were moderate caffeine users (approximately 150–300 mg/day).

3. Subjects reported to the laboratory following a 12 h fast and 48 h of a caffeine-free diet. Resting energy expenditure was measured prior to supplementation and for 15 min every 30 min for 3 h following supplementation. Heart rate and BP were obtained every 15 min. Blood samples were obtained every 30 min following the measurement of REE and analysed for caffeine, ephedrine, free fatty acids and glucose.

4. By 3 h, HR was 22.7 ± 5.5% higher (P < 0.05) than baseline for the caffeine/ephedra trial compared with 8.9 ± 2.2% higher for the placebo grou. At 3 h, systolic BP was 9.1 ± 2.2% higher (P < 0.05) than baseline for the caffeine/ephedra trial compared with only 1.9 ± 2.9% different from baseline for the placebo trial. There was no effect of the caffeine/ephedra combination on diastolic BP. Resting energy expenditure during the last 30 min was 4.5 ± 2.5% higher in the placebo trial and 10.7 ± 2.5% higher (P < 0.05) in the caffeine/ephedra trial; REE was 8.5 ± 2.0% higher (P < 0.05) in the caffeine/ephedra trial compared with the placebo trial. Free fatty acids increased over time in the placebo and caffeine/ephedra trials (from 0.5 ± 0.05 to 0.63 ± 0.05 mEq/L and from 0.48 ± 0.06L to 0.8 ± 0.05 mEq/L, respectively).

5. Caffeine and herbal ephedra, at doses of 150 mg and 20 mg (ephedrine), respectively, result in a significant elevation in REE, HR and BP. Although significant, the increase in energy expenditure is negligible in terms of weight loss.

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Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology



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