Amphetamines are drugs such as dextroamphetamine, benzedrine, and Ritalin. Amphetamines were originally developed to treat asthma, sleep disorders (narcolepsy) and hyperactivity. In 1920, a drug called “ephedrine” was used to treat asthma. In China, the ma huang plant (Ephedra vulgaris) had been used for centuries to treat people with asthma. It is no wonder that the plant worked…the ma huang plant contains ephedrine. In 1932, synthetic ephedrine was sold “over-the-counter” and was available without a prescription until 1954. During World War II, amphetamines were given to soldiers and pilots to keep them alert and to fight off fatigue.