Phenylpropanolamine

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Drug Information

Phenylpropanolamine is a drug used to relieve nasal congestion due to colds, hay fever, upper respiratory allergies, and sinusitis. It is available in nonprescription products alone and in combination with other nonprescription drugs, to treat symptoms of allergy, colds, and upper respiratory infections. Phenylpropanolamine is also used as an adjunct to calorie restriction in short-term weight loss. It is available in nonprescription products alone and in combination with other ingredients for weight loss.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps to remove phenylpropanolamine from all drug products and has issued a public health advisory concerning phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride. This drug is an ingredient used in many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription cough and cold medications as a decongestant and in over-the-counter weight loss products. Phenylpropanolamine has been found to increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain or into tissue surrounding the brain) in women. Men may also be at risk. Although the risk of hemorrhagic stroke is very low, FDA recommends that consumers not use any products that contain phenylpropanolamine.

Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, & Foods

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • Ephedra

    Ephedra is the plant from which the drug ephedrine was originally isolated. Phenylpropanolamine and ephedrine have similar effects and side effects.1 Until 2004, ephedra, also called ma huang, was used in many herbal products including supplements promoted for weight loss.

    While interactions between phenylpropanolamine and ephedra have not been reported, it seems likely that such interactions could occur. To prevent potential problems, people taking phenylpropanolamine-containing products should avoid using ephedra/ephedrine-containing products.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Explanation Required 

  • none

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

References

1. Threlkeld DS, ed. Respiratory Drugs, Sympathomimetics. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, May 1994, 173a-3h.

2. Threlkeld DS, ed. Respiratory Drugs, Sympathomimetics. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, May 1994, 173a-3h.