Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Ephedra Sinica

Ephedra (Ephedra sinica), also called ma huang, is an herb that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for more than 5,000 years, primarily to treat asthma, bronchitis, and hay fever. Ephedra is also prescribed for symptoms of cold and flu, including nasal congestion, cough, fever, and chills.7

While ephedra is a naturally-occurring herb, its main active ingredient ephedrine can also be synthesized as a medication. Synthetic ephedrine compounds, such as pseudoephedrine, are widely used in over-the-counter cold remedies and are regulated as a drug. This is unlike the regulation of ephedrine alkaloids derived from the herb itself. These are regulated as dietary supplements.7

Until May 2004, ephedra was sold commercially as an energy booster, weight-loss supplement, and athletic performance enhancer. Although some scientific evidence suggests that this herbal supplement may improve weight, the information overall regarding its effectiveness for weight loss, energy, or athletic performance has been inconclusive and controversial. In addition, ephedra-containing products sold for these purposes have been linked to many cases of stroke, heart arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), and even death. Several of these products also contain caffeine; the combination of ephedra with caffeine dramatically increases the chances of adverse side effects.

In Chinese medicine, Ephedra, called Ma Huang, is used in a variety of situations, most of them acute. The ancient classical texts of Chinese medicine warn physicians not to use Ma Huang over long periods of time or at too high a dose. Ma huang is considered warming in nature. Its flavor is pungent and bitter. It promotes diaphoresis (sweating) and is used to benefit asthma, wheezing and in some cases coughing. It was also known to promote urination. Most frequently the herb is used in cases of what traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) calls: wind-cold. A wind-cold invasion in Chinese Medicine roughly corresponds to a particular constellation of signs and symptoms similar to the common cold: there may be cough, aching and chills, runny nose, and no sweating. In the case of wind-cold, ma huang opens the pores and diffuses the lung qi (the body’s vital energy) allowing sweating. This pushes the pathogen out of the body by releasing the exterior, or skin.
It is important to note that ephedrine-containing products are banned from amateur sporting events, and evidence of ephedra on drug testing will likely disqualify athletes from competition.7

The FDA ban on this substance includes any dietary supplements that contain ephedra, ephedrine, norephedrine, ma huang, Sida cordifolia, or pinellia. This does not pertain to teas (which are regulated as a conventional food) or to traditional Chinese herbal remedies prescribed by a traditional Chinese physician.
Herbs contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs only under the supervision of a health care provider knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
Ephedra can produce side effects, such as irritability, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and urinary problems. More serious side effects include high blood pressure, rapid or irregular heartbeat, stroke, seizures, addiction, and even death.7

No comments:

Post a Comment