What Is Ma Huang (Ephedra)

Ma Huang (Ephedra) is a plant with high medicinal value, which is mainly distributed in Mongolia, Russia, and Northeast China. Its whole part can be made into medicine.

From autumn to winter every year, people pick Ma Huang, dry them in the shade, cut them off, and make them into Chinese herb. The roots and stems of Ma Huang need to be collected and stored separately. They have different effects. The root of Ma Huang can treat wind-heat. The stem of Ma Huang can treat wind-cold.

The Ma Huang mentioned in this article refers to the herbaceous stem of Ephedra sinica, Ephedra equisetina, and Ephedra intermedia.

Ma Huang contains ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, volatile oil, flavonoids, and polysaccharides. Its extract can be used to make methamphetamine, so ephedra is banned from sale in some countries.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Ma Huang is relatively warm, with a spicy and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung and bladder meridians.

In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat chest tightness, cough, asthma, and edema caused by wind-cold.

There are more than 200 traditional Chinese medicine formulas containing Ma Huang, such as Ma Huang Tang, Da Qing Long Tang, and Wu Hu Tang.

Health benefits of Ma Huang (Ephedra)

  • Inhibiting influenza virus, immunosuppression, anti-bacteria, anti-inflammation.
  • Enhancing myocardial contractility, constricting blood vessels, and raising blood pressure.
  • Relaxing bronchial smooth muscles and treating cough and asthma.
  • Enhancing the secretion of sweat glands and metabolism and burning fat.
  • Eliminating dropsy, subcutaneous nodule and having a diuretic effect.
  • Treating fever, headache, body pain, and stuffy nose caused by wind-cold.
  • Treating allergic rhinitis, pneumonia, acute nephritis, rheumatic arthritis.

Ma Huang is used with other Chinese herbs

Side effects of Ma Huang

Excessive use of Ma Huang may cause excitement, insomnia, and dysphoria. In severe cases, it may cause respiratory failure.

A small number of people take it may cause chest distress, palpitation, headache, insomnia, continuous sweating, and other adverse reactions.

Precaution of Ma Huang

  • The dosage of Ma Huang should be controlled at 1.5-10g.
  • It can be made into decoctions and should not be cooked for a long time.
  • Ma Huang has strong medicinal effects, and people with mild wind-cold should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.
  • People with insomnia, irritability, and night sweats should not take it.
  • People with high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, prostatic hyperplasia, glaucoma, diabetes, and epilepsy should not take it.
  • It should not be taken with cardiac glycosides, epinephrines, phenothiazines, aminophylline, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, antibiotics, and some antihypertensive drugs.