Ephedrine is a naturally occurring alkaloid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and thus exert a strong CNS-stim-ulating effect in addition to its peripheral actions. The latter effects are primarily due to its indirect actions and depend largely on the release of norepinephrine. However, ephedrine may cause some direct receptor stimulation, particularly in its bronchodilating effects. Because it resists metabolism by both COMT and MAO, its duration of action is longer than that of norepinephrine. As is the case with all indirectly acting adrenomimetic amines, ephedrine is much less potent than norepinephrine; in addition, tachyphylaxis develops to its peripheral actions. Unlike epinephrine or norepinephrine, however, ephe-drine is effective when administered orally.
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