Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, and obesity. Amphetamine was discovered in 1887 and exists as two enantiomers: levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
Amphetamines are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, also called psycho-stimulants, that are often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD and ADHD), narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease and obesity, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland.
Amphetamines are derived from ephedra (Ephedra sinica), a plant native to China and Mongolia. For centuries, many cultures have used ephedra as a stimulant and for treating congestion and asthma, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The plant contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are natural alkaloids, or nitrogenous organic compounds that cause a physiological response in humans. These chemicals are the basis on which amphetamines (including methamphetamine) were created.
Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Some types of amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep). Amphetamines have also been used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Other types of amphetamines such as speed are produced and sold illegally. The more potent form, crystal methamphetamine (ice), is covered on a different page.