Amphetamine is an indirectly acting adrenomimetic amine that depends for its action on the release of nor-epinephrine from noradrenergic nerves. Its pharmacological effects are similar to those of ephedrine; however, its CNS stimulant activity is somewhat greater. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures are increased by oral dosing with amphetamine. The heart rate is frequently slowed reflexively. Cardiac output may remain unchanged in the low- and moderate-dose range.
The therapeutic uses of amphetamine are based on its ability to stimulate the CNS. The D-isomer (dex-troamphetamine) is three to four times as potent as the L-isomer in producing CNS effects. It has been used in the treatment of obesity because of its anorexic effect, although tolerance to this effect develops rapidly. It prevents or overcomes fatigue and has been used as a CNS stimulant. Amphetamine is no longer recommended for these uses because of its potential for abuse. Amphetamine is useful in certain cases of narcolepsy or minimal brain dysfunction.
Further discussion of amphetamine can be found in Chapters 29 and 35.
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