Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) is a Medicinal Herb Used in Traditional Herbal Medicine.

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Botanicals: Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) a.k.a. Ma Huang

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Introduction

Ephedra sinica Stapf. (Chinese ephedra, mahuang, Ma Huang) is an evergreen shrub native to Asia. It is included in a number of pharmacopeias including the Chinese, German, and Japanese pharmacopeias for the treatment of various ailments, and is therefore of considerable economic importance1.

Botanicals: Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) or Ma Huang

 


 

Ephedra (Ma Huang)

 

Biological Name:
Ephedra sinica Stapf.

Family:
Ephedraceae

Other Names: 
Chinese ephedra, mahuang, Ma Huang

Parts Used:
Stem

Active Compounds: 
Ephedra sinica contains the following constituents: Primary constituent is Ephedrine.

 

Ephedra (Ma Huang) and its Use in Traditional Chinese Medicine

"Within the realm of traditional Chinese medicine, ephedra has been commonly used for colds, fever, and in Chinese formulas to treat asthma and breathing problems," said Lixing Lao, Ph.D., L.AC., director of traditional Chinese medicine research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, located at Kernan Hospital, and associate professor of family medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Nowadays it's used to lose weight, which is not indicated in traditional Chinese medicine2."

Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:


Western Herbal Applications:

According to Mr. M Grieve: "A sympathetic nerve stimulant resembling adrenaline, its effect on the unstriped muscular fibres is remarkable. It acts promptly in relieving swellings of the mucous membrane. It has valuable antispasmodic properties, acts on the air passages and is of benefit in asthma and hay fever; it is also employed for rheumatism; a 5 to 10 per cent solution has mydriatic properties, prophylactically used for low blood pressure in influenza, pneumonia, etc. Used in tablet form for oral or hypodermic administration and in ampuls for hypodermic, intramuscular and intravenous use3."

 

Chinese Herbal Applications:

  • Comon Cold with symptoms of chills, fever, headache, lack of sweating and tight, floating pulse4.
  • Promotes Lung Qi and contrals wheezing - used for cough and wheezing (Asthma) due to obstruction of Lung Qi by Wind & Cold4. It is therefore useful in Allergic rhinitis, Asthma, Bronchitis, Cough and Sinusitis if due to Lung Qi stagnation due to Wind & Cold.

Other indications include:

Acute coryza (rhinitis), anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), anti-inflammatory, antiviral, appetite suppressant, athletic performance enhancer, bed-wetting, body building, chills, colds, congenital myasthenic syndrome, cough, decongestant, depression, diuretic, dyspnea (shortness of breath), edema, energy enhancer, euphoria, fevers, flu, gonorrhea, gout, hay fever, hives, increased sweating, joint pain, kidney disease, lack of perspiration, metabolic enhancement, myasthenia gravis, narcolepsy, nasal congestion, nephritis, performance enhancement, runny nose, shortness of breath, stimulation of energy, syphilis, stimulant, upper respiratory tract infections, urticaria (rash), uterine stimulant, water retention5.

 

Safety:

This is a restricted herb and is not available to non-qualified persons. It can have severe side-effects.

 

References:

  1. Qingbiao Wang, Yong Yang, Xiaomin Zhao, Bin Zhu, Peng Nan, Jiayuan Zhao, Li Wang, Fan Chen, Zhijun Liu and Yang Zhong (2006) Chemical variation in the essential oil of Ephedra sinica from Northeastern China. Food Chemistry, Volume 98, Issue 1, Pages 52-58.
  2. Ephedra Overview (http://www.umm.edu/features/ep_overview.htm)
  3. Grieve, M. (1977) A Modern Herbal.Penguin Books Ltd, England.
  4. Densky, D. Gamble, A. Kaptchuk, T. (1986) Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. Eastland Press, Seattle.
  5. Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ephedra/NS_patient-ephedra)
  6. Stuart, Malcolm (1979). The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1979.
  7. Hoffmann, David (1983). The Holistic Herbal: A herbal celebrating the wholeness of life. Findhorn Press, Scotland.

 

 

The information provided here is not for the purpose of self diagnosis or self treatment. It is provided for the sole purpose of providing general information about herbs used in herbal medicine. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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