Phenylpropanolamine

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

Phenylpropanolamine is a synthetic derivative of ephedrine and is structurally similar to pseudoephedrine. It is commonly known as PPA and is used traditionally as a nasal decongestant and appetite suppressant. Phenylpropanolamine clears nasal congestion (i.e., a stuffy nose) by narrowing or constricting the blood vessels. However, this same action may cause an increase in blood pressure. Phenylpropanolamine also decreases appetite. Nonetheless, the FDA is now taking steps to remove it from the market after some alarming reports of negative health effects. And, since there are safer, better fat-loss aids available, this one is worth forgetting.

Other names for Phenylpropanolamine

PPA, norephedrine

Where to find Phenylpropanolamine

Phenylpropanolamine is a synthetic derivative of ephedrine, which is derived from the herb ephedra.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Phenylpropanolamine

In the past, an athlete may have used PPA to increase energy or reduce appetite to help maintain weight or reduce weight for a particular sport. Now, though, active folks are turning to safer, better aids for fat loss due to the health risks found with PPA as well as the repercussions from various sporting organizations if caught using this stimulant.

Ways that Phenylpropanolamine can enhance Fat Loss:
  • Potentially aid in weight reduction by suppressing appetite
Ways that Phenylpropanolamine can enhance Energy & Endurance:
  • Stimulate the central nervous system

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Phenylpropanolamine deficiency

No deficiency conditions are known to exist.

Potential uses for Phenylpropanolamine

Research indicates that Phenylpropanolamine may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Congestion
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Alcoholism

DISCUSSION

More about Phenylpropanolamine

Phenylpropanolamine is a synthetic derivative of ephedrine and is structurally similar to pseudoephedrine. It is commonly known as PPA and is used traditionally as a nasal decongestant and as an appetite suppressant. Phenylpropanolamine clears nasal congestion (i.e., a stuffy nose) by narrowing or constricting the blood vessels. However, this same action may cause an increase in blood pressure in people who have hypertension (high blood pressure).

Phenylpropanolamine also decreases appetite. Although how is unclear, it is thought it may be due to stimulation of the central nervous system. Phenylpropanolamine acts directly on both alpha- and, to a lesser degree, beta-adrenergic receptors. PPA also has an indirect effect by releasing norepinephrine from its storage sites. Although initial studies on rats have indicated that it has superior thermogenic properties to ephedrine, we still have yet to replicate these results in humans.

Interesting facts

Phenylpropanolamine was approved by the FDA in 1939. In 1996, a law was passed to report sales of excessive quantities of phenylpropanolamine. This was done in an attempt to control the use of phenylpropanolamine as a substrate for the illegal synthesis of amphetamine and methamphetamine (speed).

Study shows dangerous adverse effects

PPA has been available for many years, and a very small number of people taking the drug have had strokes, but a recent study by scientists at Yale University reported that taking PPA increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain or into tissue surrounding the brain) in women. The Yale study helped show that the number of people having strokes when taking phenylpropanolamine was greater than the number of people having strokes who were not.

Following this study, in November 2000, the FDA took steps to remove phenylpropanolamine from all drug products and requested that all drug companies discontinue marketing products containing phenylpropanolamine.

In conclusion

Phenylpropanolamine is no longer available as a supplement. Nor is it widely available as an over-the-counter medication. For good reason! Appetite suppression isn’t the best way to lose fat, and there are many better and safer fat-loss aids out there.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

75 mg is often used in over-the-counter medications for weight loss.

Timing

Used at regular intervals throughout the day.

Synergists of Phenylpropanolamine

PPA is often blended with guarana, kola nut, or similar nutrients in fat-loss supplements.

Drugs that interact with Phenylpropanolamine

You should avoid phenylpropanolamine if you are using recreational drugs such as cocaine or if you are using other flu or asthma medications. Also avoid if you are using beta-blocking medications.

Toxicity of Phenylpropanolamine

PPA has been indicted as the causative agent in numerous adverse events that extend back over two decades. PPA has also been implicated in paranoid psychosis, visual and aural hallucinations, manic states, and suicidal behavior. In addition, it may be responsible for nausea, emesis, anxiety, palpitations, tremor, tachycardia, myalgias, reversible renal failure, and increased intracerebral pressure.

Bans and restrictions

It is banned for use by all leading sporting bodies and is now deemed unacceptable by the Food and Drug Administration.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Horwitz, R.I., et al., “Phenylpropanolamine & Risk of Hemorrhagic Stroke: Final Report of the Hemorrhagic Stroke Project,” available at www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/00/backgrd/3647b1_tab19.doc.
  • Lake, C.R., et al., “Adverse Drug Effects Attributed to Phenylpropanolamine: A Review of 142 Case Reports,” Am J Med
  • Morgan, J.P., Phenylpropanolamine. A Critical Analysis of Reported Adverse Reactions and Overdosage (Fort Lee, New Jersey: Jack K. Burgess, Inc., 1986).
  • Pray, W.S., Nonprescription Product Therapeutics, 1st ed. (Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999) 214, 216, 217, 328, 331.
  • Wellman, P.J., and Marmon, M.M., “Comparison on Brown Adipose Tissue Thermogenesis Induced by Congeners and Isomers of Phenylpropanolamine,” Life Sci 37.11 (1985) : 1023-1028.