Muscular and cardiorespiratory effects of pseudoephedrine in human athletes

by Gill ND, Shield A, Blazevich AJ, Zhou S, Weatherby RP.
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science,
The Waikato Polytechnic,
Private Bag HN 3036,
Hamilton, New Zealand.
Br J Clin Pharmacol 2000 Sep;50(3):205-13


AIMS: Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is a readily available over-the-counter nasal decongestant which is structurally similar to amphetamine and is included on the International Olympic Committee’s list of banned substances. However to date, little research has supported its putative ergogenic effect. This study investigated whether a 180 mg dose of PSE ingested 45 min prior to exercise enhanced short-term maximal exercise performance and/or altered related physiological variables.

METHODS: A randomised, double-blind, crossover study in 22 healthy male athletes. RESULTS: Maximum torque (mean +/- s.d., n = 22) produced in an isometric knee extension exercise was 321.1+/-62.0 Nm (PSE) and 295.7+/-72.4 Nm (placebo), and peak power obtained on the ‘all-out’ 30 s cycle test was 1262.5+/-48.5 W (PSE) and 1228.4+/-47.1 W (placebo) (P<0.01, P<0.03, respectively). Subjects were estimated to be producing 96.9+/-2.4% of their maximal possible isometric leg extension force after PSE ingestion, but only 95.3+/-2.4% when PSE was not ingested. Bench press tasks and total work during the cycle test were not affected by the ingestion of PSE. Lung function was altered following ingestion of PSE (P<0.05) with FEV1 and FVC significantly increased (P<0.02, P<0.01, respectively) although the FEV1/FVC ratio was not altered. Heart rate was significantly elevated by the ingestion of PSE immediately following the 30 s cycle sprint (P<0.01) however, lactate concentration was not altered by the ingestion of PSE. CONCLUSIONS: The administration of a 180 mg dose of PSE increased maximum torque, produced in an isometric knee extension and produced an improvement in peak power during maximal cycle performance, as well as improving lung function.