Many body-building sites recommend combinations of supplements (sometimes called “stacks”) that work synergistically or are more potent when used together. In most cases, these recommendations are useful, or at least have little potential for harm. There is a trend, however, towards using yohimbine with ephedrine in an ECY Stack to achieve greater weight loss effects from work-outs. While there is solid rationale to support that these fat burners may have a more powerful effect when used in combination, the risk of dangerous side-effects is often overlooked.
How Do Yohimbine and Ephedrine Work?
Ephedrine and yohimbine (also called yohimbe bark extract or yohimbine HCL) are both nervous system stimulants that target fat cells to increase their breakdown and burn calories. Yohimbe extract does this by blocking the alpha receptors in the cells. Alpha receptors work to store fat and calories, so blocking them has the opposite effect. Ephedrine creates its magic by activating another type of fat cell receptor, the beta receptor, increasing its ability to mobilize fat. Based on this information, you can see why the ECY Stack could be a mighty fat-fighting team.
What’s important to understand, however, is that alpha and beta receptors do not reside only in fat cells. They have important functions in the heart. Whenever alpha receptors are blocked, their moderating effects on heart rate and blood pressure are also blocked. When beta receptors are potentiated, heart rate and blood pressure increase. To be clear, the degree to which yohimbine and ephedrine amp up fat burning is the same degree that they amp up heart rate and blood pressure. These effects cannot be separated and are greatly magnified by the two modes of action working together.
Ephedrine and Yohimbe Dangers
Studies have shown that combining these supplements in an ECY Stack leads to unsafe cardiovascular effects that do not occur when using either alone. In severe cases, the two together can cause what is known as a “hypertensive crisis,” a quick rise in blood pressure that requires medical attention. Dangerous side-effects are less common in athletic individuals with low blood pressure, but there is always a risk. This risk is highest for those who are obese or have already present heart or health conditions. High enough doses can be fatal.
If you have taken this combination and are experiencing rapid heart-rate, vomiting or a severe headache that comes on suddenly, contact your health provider immediately. Other less serious side-effects may include irritability, insomnia, jitters, anxiety, and heart palpitations. If you have decided to take these supplements together despite the warnings, be sensible. See your doctor first to rule out any pre-existing conditions that could increase your risk of death. Take the smallest possible dose.
The Good News
While yohimbine HCL and ephedrine can be dangerous when taken together, when taken separately both have been shown to be excellent weight-loss aids. Choose the one that is best for your situation or alternate their use to get the benefits of each without the risks.
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