Common names: Desert Herb, Ephedrine, Ma Huang
Range: Native to China and Mongolia.
History: Ephedra has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 4,000 years for a variety of disorders, including febrile illness, bronchitis, asthma, joint pain and edema. It has been approved by the German Commission E has a treatment for cough and bronchitis.
Constituents: The herb contains alkaloids of the 2-aminophenylpropane type - L-(-)-ephedrine and D-pseudoephedrine with lesser alkaloids L-norephedrine and D-norpseudoephedrine.
Cautions: Common side effects include heat palpitations, insomnia, headache, irritability, nausea, vomiting and urinary disorders. Dependence can develop with prolonged intake. When combined with stimulants, such as caffeine or decongestants, there can be an addictive effect on the central nervous system. Treatment with this herb should not be considered if you take MAO-inhibitors. Life-threatening conditions can occur with large and/or prolonged doses. Do not use during pregnancy or nursing. This herb should only be administered by a qualified health care practitioner.