Psychiatric effects of ephedra use: An analysis of food and drug administration reports of adverse events

Margaret Maglione, Karen Miotto, Martin Iguchi, Lara Jungvig, Sally C. Morton, Paul G. Shekelle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: As part of a synthesis of evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of ephedra, the authors describe data on psychiatric adverse events from reports submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Method: The authors reviewed all 1,820 adverse event reports related to dietary supplements containing herbal ephedra from FDA MedWatch files as of Sept. 30, 2001. Fifty-seven serious psychiatric events were reported. Results: The most commonly reported events were psychosis, severe depression, mania or agitation, hallucinations, sleep disturbance, and suicidal ideation. Ten events involved physical harm to self or others; five events resulted in legal action due to criminal behavior. Twenty-six events resulted in hospitalization, at least six of which were involuntary. Of importance, two-thirds of all cases involved patients with preexisting psychiatric conditions and /or use of other medications or illicit substances. Conclusions: Clinicians should be aware that serious psychiatric symptoms could be associated with ephedra use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-191
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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