EPHEDRINE: Charging Up Fighters To Lose!
Stop Using The Stimulant Ephedrine
The truth behind one of the sport’s most often-used stimulants, Ephedrine.
There is a growing trend with experienced mixed martial artists to no longer use ephedrine and related compounds in training and/or competition. Once you read why, you’ll leave ephedrine for the asthma patients and get back to serious training.
Ephedrine is an alkaloid derived from the botanical genus Ephedra. Also known as ma huang, it has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat symptoms of colds and asthma. Ephedrine helps asthmatic patients by acting as a bronchodilator, nasal decongestant and sympathetic nervous system stimulant. When ephedrine is mixed with caffeine, it has been shown to promote fat loss.
Athletes have used ephedrine prior to competition and training as a powerful stimulant, to increase endurance and to aid in weight loss. However, today experienced mixed martial artists rarely use ephedrine since its stimulatory effects directly contribute to poor performance and early stoppages.
Why is Ephedrine No Longer Used?
Ephedrine is a sympathetic nervous system stimulant. It will increase your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and sweat rate. This might sound good if you are trying to become a human radiator, but you’re not, you are a mixed martial artist.
The first thing you will notice when you take ephedrine is that your heart rate increases, and you can breathe a little easier. Initially, this might seem like an ideal supplement for competition, but once the match begins, a large number of unwanted side effects start to appear.
Body Temperature & Dehydration
Ephedrine artificially increases your body’s work rate. This means that your body is now working harder and burning more energy for the same amount of work. Therefore, you are generating a tremendous amount of excess heat.
The body responds to the sudden rise in excess heat by increasing its sweat rate. Athletes who take ephedrine often complain they sweat an unusually high amount. This is the body’s attempt to keep the core temperature at a safe level. In long or multiple competitions, ephedrine can quickly dehydrate the athlete.
Muscle Fatigue & Loss of Power
Taking ephedrine during a mixed martial art competition generates an enormous amount of excess heat exceeding the body’s own natural cooling ability. The body must now find another way of cooling itself other than through sweating. It does this by shuttling large amounts of blood from its core to the skin in order to cool the blood.
The problem with this is that your muscles are working at maximum power, and they need the blood for oxygen and energy. However, the body’s first priority is survival and therefore, over-rides the muscle’s demand for more blood flow as it instead channels it toward the skin. This is where muscle fatigue and loss of power set in.
Round one is over; your heart is pounding, you are sweating like crazy, you feel like you are burning up, you are breathing with relative ease, but somehow are starting to feel fatigued and weak.
Ephedrine is a central nervous system stimulant, which means it can affect the way your brain processes information and how you react to that information. Since ephedrine over-stimulates the nervous system it leaves the athlete uncontrollably over anxious, jittery and nervous.
This is not the mental state you want to be in when walking into the ring. Since MMA is as much about thinking as it is about physical performance, ephedrine forces the athlete to make decisions in the ring that would not necessarily be made otherwise. This leads to poor decision-making, which can lead the athlete to a quick defeat.
Can’t Stop Cuts
If you are using ephedrine and you happen to get cut during the fight, good luck trying to stop the bleeding. Since it increases heart rate and blood pressure, usual methods to reduce bleeding, or the use of coagulants to close a cut, will be ineffective. Congratulations, you have been stopped early.
If you need ephedrine to get yourself “revved-up” before a mixed martial art competition, you are in the wrong sport. If you are using ephedrine to increase your endurance, you obviously haven’t trained adequately. If you are using ephedrine to help lose weight, consult a nutritionist.
Today, there is no reason to use ephedrine in mixed martial arts competition as it can lead to over-heating, dehydration, anxiety, muscle fatigue, poor decision-making and early stoppages. Not only is it dangerous, but you can guarantee it is hurting your performance. Professional mixed martial artists no longer use ephedrine, why are you?
Start paying attention to your body, notice subtle signs in your training, start asking questions, seek experienced answers and most importantly, don’t settle on your performance, there is always room for improvement.