Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic amine commonly used as a stimulant, appetite suppressant, concentration aid, decongestant, and to treat hypotension associated with anaesthesia. Ephedrine is similar in structure to the (semi-synthetic) derivatives amphetamine and methamphetamine. Chemically, it is an alkaloid derived from various plants in the genus Ephedra (family Ephedraceae). It works mainly by increasing the activity of noradrenaline on adrenergic receptors. It is most usually marketed in the hydrochloride and sulfate forms. In traditional Chinese medicine, the herb m hung contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine as its principal active constituents. The same is true of other herbal products containing extracts from some of the other Ephedra species. Ephedrine exhibits optical isomerism and has two chiral centres, giving rise to four stereoisomers.
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