Ephedra Herb

Other Names of Ephedra

  • Ma huang
  • Muzei ma huang
  • Zhong ma huang
  • Cao ma huang,
  • Epitonin
  • Sida cordifolia
  • Ephedra sinica
  • Ephedra viridis
  • Squaw tea,
  • Mormon tea
  • Desert tea
  • Joint pine
  • Joint fir
  • Brigham tea
  • Pinyin
  • Cannabis yellow
  • Yellow astringent
  • Teamster's tea
  • Yellow horse,
  • Sea grape
  • Belcho
  • Desert herb
  • Ephédra chinoise
  • Ephedra equisetina
  • Ephedra distachya
  • Ephedra intermedia
  • Ephedra sinensis
  • Ephedra sinisa
  • Ephedrae herba
  • Ephedra vulgaris
  • Ephedra gerardiana
  • Ephedrine
  • Ephedra shennungiana
  • Ephedrine alkaloid
  • Popotillo

Useful Parts of the Plant Roots, Dried Stems, Young Stems, Twigs

Ephedra, an evergreen herb, is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and cold and flu symptoms. The alkaloids, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, present in this plant account for its use in diverse medicinal treatments. Ephedra has recently also been used for weight loss and for boosting athletic performance. However, the negative side effects of ephedra outweigh its benefits, and hence, it has been banned in the United States. In sports events, ephedra is considered to be a banned drug, and athletes who test positive for this drug are not allowed to participate in the events.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Ephedra

Ephedra is known for its stimulant and thermogenic properties. The sympathetic nervous system is stimulated on consuming ephedra. This results in the production of epinephrine, which gives a boost to the individual. Ephedra also hastens the metabolic processes in the body. This can be felt by the heat generated in the body after consumption of this drug. The ephedrine and pseudoephedrine content in ephedra account for the constriction of blood vessels, thus increasing blood pressure. It also dilates the bronchial tubes, thus facilitating increased breathing capacity. In ancient days, the roots of this herb were brewed by the Native Americans to treat those affected by cold. Natural ephedra is believed to be less effective than when its roots or stem has been boiled for a couple of hours or so. This is because the concentration of the alkaloids, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, is at the highest level.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Ephedra

As mentioned earlier, ephedra has been widely used in ancient Chinese medicine for the treatment of asthma and other respiratory disorders. This is because its ability to dilate the bronchial tubes helps in improving the breathing capacity of a person. Ephedra tea brewed from this herb is believed to remedy the symptoms of cold and flu. Owing to its decongestant effects, it is also used in the treatment of asthma-related problems.

The other uses and benefits are as follows:

  • Ephedra is believed to boost the performance of an individual, and hence, it was earlier used by many athletes. Its stimulant effect is believed to reduce feelings of fatigue and pain.
  • As it helps to increase the rate of metabolism in the body, ephedra is found to be a common component in weight loss drugs. The fact that the body heats up after consumption of this drug is proof that it effectively boosts the metabolic processes of the body.
  • In Ayurveda, ephedra is also used to treat edemas.

Precautions/ SideEffects/ Warnings

The various unpleasant side effects of ephedra shadow its benefits. Ephedra's side effects include intense skin reactions, nervousness, trembling, headache, profuse sweating, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and in extreme cases, even death. Hence, extreme caution should be exercised in the usage of this drug. The permitted dosage of intake of ephedra should be decided only by a medical practitioner. Ephedra's effects are intensified when the drug is used along with lipodrene. Lipodrene ephedra is used as a weight reducing agent as it is believed to suppress appetite, enhance metabolism, and decrease the absorption of high calorie fats from the diet. However, it is best to consult a doctor before considering consumption of this herb.