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Pseudoephedrine & Strength Training

By Emma Watkins

Although pseudoephedrine has acquired a reputation for enhancing physical performance, stamina and recovery, this is not its primary prescribed use. The drug is marketed for alleviating nasal congestion. One study, however, shows that pseudoephedrine has potential as a strength-training aid. Despite being available over the counter, pseudoephedrine is not risk-free. Consult your doctor before taking it.

Pseudoephedrine Overview

Pseudoephedrine is a palliative – it treats the symptoms of colds, respiratory allergies and sinus infections, but it does not cure the condition. The chemical constricts the veins in your nasal passages, which results in less congestion. Your doctor may also prescribe pseudoephedrine if you have a history of earaches when you go diving in water or travel by airplane. The drug prevents the pressure change inherent in these activities from causing ear pain.

About Strength Training

Strength training refers to an exercise program to condition existing muscles and promote increased muscle mass. Weightlifting and resistance tubing are strength-training exercises and activities that, according to, also produce strong bones, help you to maintain a healthy weight and alleviate chronic health problems such as arthritis, depression and diabetes.

What Science Says

Researchers from New Zealand and Australia studied the effects of pseudoephedrine on 22 male athletes during muscular-strengthening activity and reported their findings in the “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.” The subjects received a dose of 180 milligrams of pseudoephedrine 45 minutes before exercising. During the knee extension exercise, the athletes experienced wider range of motion -- torque. In addition, in a cycle test, they achieved higher maximum power than the control group. Lung capacity also increased among the pseudoephedrine takers.


Pseudoephedrine poses a number of risks, making it vital that you discuss its use with your doctor. The chemical is a potential allergen, and it interacts adversely with drugs categorized as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, a class of antidepressants. Negative reactions can also occur if you take pseudoephedrine concurrently with herbal and vitamin supplements, cold medicines and weight-loss drugs. Existing medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, glaucoma and diabetes may get worse as a result of pseudoephrine use. Tell your doctor your complete medical history and disclose all prescription and over-the-counter products you take.


Although you may not fall in an at-risk category when it comes to pseudoephedrine, you remain susceptible to the drug’s possible side-effects. They include stomach problems, headaches, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and an abnormal hearth rhythm. In combination with intense physical activity, these effects are potentially harmful, say the researchers in their September 2000 article in the “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.”

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