Latin name: Ephedra sinica
Chinese name: ma huang
Other names: Chinese ephedra, Mormon tea

What is Ephedra?
Having gained cultural prominence because of the drug banned by the FDA of the United States, the term “ephedra” refers to the plant Ephedra sinica when expressed within the context of traditional Chinese medicine. The plant is a member of the Ephedra genus, which is a genus of shrubs located across the Northern Hemisphere. The species Ephedra sinica is native to China.

What are the health benefits of Ephedra?
Known as ma huang by Chinese herbologists, ephedra has been used for 5,000 years in China for treating asthma and bronchitis. It is considered a potent medicinal herb in Chinese medicine, an herb that is used for more serious conditions. The drug that was banned by the American government in 2006 contained the stimulant ephedrine, which was present in such concentrated amounts that, according to reports, it was causing heart problems, addiction, and even death. Consuming the whole Ephedra sinica plant without an industrial concentration of ephedrine is said to be less of a health risk and rarely gives rise to side effects. A tea, known as Mormon Tea, was made from an ephedra plant and consumed by Native Americans and Mormons.

The presence of ephedrine is the reason ephedra can be used for treating asthma, hay fever, and allergic complaints, because ephedrine has bronchial dilating actions. The plant is also used to treat influenza, night sweating, upper respiratory infections, headaches, and edema.

Are there any precautions for taking Ephedra?
Ephedra should not be used by people with high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, or glaucoma. Concentrated use of ephedrine extract is known to cause heart problems and when misused has been known to be fatal. Therefore, it is critical to work with a licensed herbal practitioner or physician.

Where can I find Ephedra?
Ephedra can be found in the offices of Chinese medical practitioners and licensed acupuncturists.

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This entry was posted in Herbs, Natural Health Dictionary.