Ephedra is a genus of gymnosperm shrubs (broadly related to conifers and crests). The various species of ephedra are widespread in many lands; Native to southwestern North America, southern Europe, northern Africa, southwest and central Asia, northern China, and western South America.
In temperate climates, most ephedra species grow on beaches or sandy soils with direct sun exposure. Common English names include common pine, joinfir, Mormon tea or brigham tea. The Chinese name for ephedra species is mahuang.
Plants of the genus ephedra have been used by indigenous peoples for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Ephedra sinica (ma huang):
ma huang is a strongly stimulating herb that is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered one of 50 key herbs. Most members of this genus contain several medicinally active alkaloids (especially ephedrine) and are widely used for a variety of medicinal purposes, including treatment of allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) asthma, common cold, syphilis treatment and inhibitor dr appetite, among others.
This herb should be used very carefully, preferably under the supervision of a qualified professional. Ephedrine is seen as a performance-enhancing herb and as such is a prohibited substance in many sporting events such as athletics. Ephedrine has an action similar to adrenaline in the body.
The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use. The root is anti-hydrotic, lowers blood pressure and dilates peripheral blood vessels. It is used to treat night sweats and spontaneous sweating.
It grows like a low, sprawling shrub with thickly branched, almost leafless branches, bright green to yellowish green. It is mainly used in the form of tea to treat various ailments.
In cultivation it is resistant, adaptable, drought and frost tolerant.
Fresh fruits are eaten fresh and roasted and ground seeds are used to make bread or porridge. A delicious tea is made by soaking the green or dried branches in boiling water.
This plant has a great reputation as a cure for syphilis.
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*** It is extremely important and essential to consult a healthcare professional for the use of any medicinally indicated plant, many of which can have side effects when associated with any other medicine in use. Do not prepare herbs through plants without medical advice. All plant information provided on our site is for informational and illustrative purposes only and to assist in understanding the crop as a whole.