Ephedra sinica, Ephedra, Mahuang, Ma-huang
Ephedra sinica, Ephedra, Mahuang, Ma-huang is first mentioned in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, which survives as a list of 365 herbs from the first century C.E. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) its functions are to induce sweat, soothe breath, and promote urination. It is prescribed for bad colds, fevers without sweat, pain in the joints, coughing, shortness of breath, and swelling of the ankles. Ephedra has been used for more than 2,000 years to treat bronchial asthma, colds and flu, etc. The basis of ephedra's medicinal use is its alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which stimulate the central nervous system and heart muscle, dilate the bronchial tubes, and elevate blood pressure. Both natural ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from ma-huang and synthetic forms of the alkaloids are sold commercially. Pseudoephedrine's effects are somewhat weaker than those of ephedrine. Dietary supplement products containing the herb and its alkaloids are banned.
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