Also indexed as: Adrenalin®, Adrenaline, Ana-Gard®, AsthmaHaler®, AsthmaNefrin®, Bronchaid®, Bronkaid® Mist, Brontin® Mist, Epifin®, Epinal®, EpiPen®, Epitrate®, Eppy/N®, Medihaler-Epi®, Primatene® Mist, S-2®, Sus-Phrine®
Epinephrine—also called adrenaline—is a synthetic human hormone available as an orally inhaled, nonprescription drug to relieve temporary shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing due to bronchial asthma. Epinephrine is also available as a prescription drug used by injection in emergencies, including acute asthma attacks and severe allergic reactions.
Interactions with Dietary Supplements
Vitamins and Minerals
Intravenous administration of epinephrine to human volunteers reduced plasma concentrations of vitamin C.1 Epinephrine and other “stress hormones” may reduce intracellular concentrations of potassium and magnesium.2 Although there are no clinical studies in humans, it seems reasonable that individuals using epinephrine should consume a diet high in vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, or should consider supplementing with these nutrients.
Interactions with Herbs
Ephedra sinica (Ma
Ephedra is the plant from which the drug ephedrine was originally isolated. Epinephrine and ephedrine have similar effects and side effects.3 Ephedra—also called ma huang—is used in many herbal products, including supplements promoted for weight loss. While interactions between epinephrine and ephedra have not been reported, it seems likely that such interactions could occur. To prevent potential problems, people should not be taking both epinephrine and ephedra/ephedrine-containing products.
A test tube study demonstrated that the bronchodilating effects of salbutamol, a drug with similar actions in the lung to epinephrine, were significantly increased by the addition of forskolin, the active component of the herb Coleus forskohlii.4 The results of this preliminary research suggest that the combination of forskolin and beta-agonists might provide an alternative to raising the doses of the beta-agonist drugs as they lose effectiveness. Until more is known, coleus should not be combined with epinephrine without the supervision of a doctor.
Interactions with Foods and Other Compounds
Epinephrine can increase blood pressure and heart rate.5 Caffeine, especially in large amounts, can also increase heart rate.6 When given with phenylpropanolamine, a drug with effects similar to epinephrine, caffeine has been shown to produce an additive increase in blood pressure.7 Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, guaraná (Paullinia cupana), nonprescription drugs, and supplements containing caffeine or guaraná. While no interactions have been reported between epinephrine and caffeine, people using epinephrine can minimize the potential for interactions by limiting or avoiding caffeine.
Summary of Interactions for Epinephrine
|Depletion or interference||None known|
|Side effect reduction/prevention||None known|
|Reduced drug absorption/bioavailability||None known|
|Other (see text)||Magnesium
For the convenience of the reader, the information in the summary is categorized as follows: “Depletion or interference” indicates the drug may deplete or interfere with the absorption or function of the supplement or herb. “Adverse interaction” indicates that the supplement or herb used together with the drug may result in undesirable effects. “Side effect reduction/prevention” indicates the supplement or herb may reduce the likelihood and/or severity of a potential side effect caused by the drug. “Supportive interaction” indicates the supplement or herb may support or aid the function of the drug. “Reduced drug absorption/bioavailability” indicates that the supplement or herb may decrease the absorption and/or activity of the drug in the body. An asterisk (*) next to an item in the summary indicates that the interaction is supported only by weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
1. Cox BD, Clarkson AR, Whichelow MJ, et al. Effect of adrenaline on plasma vitamin C levels in normal subjects. Horm Metab Res 1974;6:234–7.
2. Raab W. Cardiotoxic effects of emotional, socioeconomic, and environmental stresses. In Myocardiology, vol I, ed. E Bajusz, G Rona. Baltimore: University Park Press 1970, 707–13.
3. Threlkeld DS, ed. Respiratory Drugs, Bronchodilators, Sympathomimetics. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, May 1994, 177–a.
4. Yousif MH, Thulesius O. Forskolin reverses tachyphylaxis to the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol: an in-vitro study on isolated guinea-pig trachea. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:181–6.
5. Threlkeld DS, ed. Respiratory Drugs, Bronchodilators, Sympathomimetics. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, May 1994, 177–a.
6. Threlkeld DS, ed. Central Nervous System Drugs, Analeptics, Caffeine. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, Feb 1998, 230–d.
7. Brown NJ, Ryder D, Branch RA. A pharmacodynamic interaction between caffeine and phenylpropanolamine. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1991;50:363–71.
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The information presented in VitaminLore is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over-the-counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.