Ma Huang  'Ephedra Sinica'

Ephedra (Ma Huang) used in China for over 5000 years to treat respiratory problems. Ephedra contains plant forms of adrenalin, ephedrine and nor-epinephrine. Ephedra is a strong decongestant that aids in the elimination of fluids and relieves bronchial spasms, thus anti-allergenic. Ephedra draws blood away from stomach and to both cardiac and central nervous systems thus stimulanting and reducing fatigue while reducing hunger.   This makes Ephedra a very popular dieter�s herb.  Chinese Ephedra (Ma Huang) used there for over 5000 years to treat respiratory problems, has more ephedrine alkaloids and is stronger then American Ephedra.  Ephedra contains plant forms of adrenalin, ephedrine and nor-epinephrine.  In India Ephedra is thought to be the prime ingredient of Soma, a potent tonic and elixir of youth.  From the Rig Veda, c. 1000 B.C. 'As a wise man I have taken Soma, the sweet draught that gives strength, lending immortal power and freedom to the gods.'     

Ephedra is a strong decongestant that aids in the elimination of fluids and relieves bronchial spasms.  This herb is beneficial to every bronchial condition known such as asthma, bronchitis, wheezing, emphysema, and whooping cough wherever there is severe difficulty breathing.  In China Ma Hung is used when someone has a cold accompanied by headache, chills, aches, pains and by a chesty cough.   Ephedra is also anti-allergenic and can be useful for those suffering form hay fever.

Ephedra or Ma Huang contains the active compound ephedrine. Ephedrine stimulates the central nervous system and provides energy and increases alertness. A higher dose ephedra gives nice tingling sensation over the head but also the rest of your body. Ephedra acts a bit like Ecstasy, only milder in its action and less speedy. Ephedra does give the same emphatic feeling, like you have with Ecstasy.

Drug companies, in keeping with their philosophy of allopathic medicine, chemically synthesized ephedrine, and discovered a new class of drugs, amphetamines.  These drugs have shown up as prescription and non-prescription drugs with their side effects, and as killer street drugs such as speed.  The result has been the destruction of thousands of individuals and their families.

Ephedra is both a cardiac and central nervous system stimulant thus reducing fatigue and weariness.  This effect makes Ephedra very popular as a dieter's herb because as blood is drawn to the above areas it is pulled away from the stomach reducing hunger.   Because Ephedra is like adrenaline, it is not recommended for those with hypertension, palpitations, insomnia and weak digestion.   

Use Ephedra in combination with these herbs for respiratory problems:
Ephedra   Mullen   Marshmallow   Passion Flower   Catnip   Senega   Slippery Elm Bark

Properties of this combination:
Decongestant   Antispasmodic   Stimulant   Expectorant   Analgesic

History of Ephedra and Ma Huang
Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; N.D., Woodland Publishing Incorporated, 1995
Nutritional Herbology, by Mark Pedersen, Wendell W. Whitman Company, 1998

The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Published by Dorling Kindersley


Listening to the media regarding Ephedra and the negative things they were saying I began to have doubts about the herb even though I am a Naturopath with a lot of experience with many herbs.  So I decided I needed to have a closer look on my own before I made up my mind.  I always do this when there is a controversy over some subject where I want to make a stand and I want the truth.  I do not trust the mass media; I feel they are driven by their need for headlines and the power of the dollar.

Two disturbing items that conflicted with the FDA's decision stood out in my research.  The first was an FDA sponsored study of  Ephedra titled 'Ephedra's Safety and Efficacy' released in February 2003.  The Rand Corporation was hired by the FDA to conduct a study of all adverse event reports concerning the use of Ephedra and Ephedrine-containing supplements in the FDA's files.  The reason for this study was a complaint from the Consumers Union claiming 80 deaths from Ephedra (a group with a very narrow point of view who would say because you had a bottle of Ephedra in your pocket when hit by a car the Ephedra was at fault).  Because of this and other complaints the FDA wanted to know, was there a case for banning Ephedra?  The Rand Corporation after reviewing all the information determined that there was not enough information to conclude that Ephedra was the cause of the adverse events in question.  The bottom line: Ephedra should be used with care, and can cause minor side effects; but there is no support for it being the killer it has been made out to be by the Consumers Union.          

The other disturbing item is the premature death of baseball player Steve Bechler of the Orioles February 18, 2003 (same month that FDA report came out).  This death was the linchpin that allowed the FDA, despite the above report that cleared Ephedra, to ban Ephedra from the market.  When Steve died the media's finger pointed directly at Ephedra as the culprit.  Steve was only 23 years old and a professional athlete so when I heard the news I believed that that was the end of this herb.             

From Medical Rants: On Steve Bechler's death
But th
en I researched the full story and I found the real cause of Steve's death was Steve (and possibly the team trainers who were at the scene).  Here is the medical examiner and trainers findings of why Steve died that day.  A history of borderline high blood pressure - liver abnormalities detected two years earlier - warm humid weather during the workout - he was on a diet and hadn't eaten much in two days - apparent overdose of Xenadrine, using 150% of the recommended dosage - reporting to spring training at 249 pounds, 10 pounds above his listed weight which was already over weight - reporting to spring training out of shape, was pulled from conditioning drills - did not participate regularly in team workouts, during off season - his body temperature went to 108 degrees and he died of heat stroke. 

From, by Ray Mileur  
Sports reporter for the Orioles Ray Mileur sums up what happened to Steve Bechler this way.  'The use of supplements plays right into the microwave mentality of America.  We want to get in shape now, we want to lose weight now, we want to bulk up now, everything now and easy.  So if two pills is good, three must be better and four even better than three.  I know I have been guilty of doing the
same thing.  If there is a pill for it, give it to me.' 

From Health Sentinel - NSAIDs
I think that if the FDA wants to ban a product based on death toll they should start where it will do the most good saving the most people.  A great start would be the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID
s) these are the over the counters like Aspirn, Advil, Aleve, and their prescription counterparts like Celebrex, Daypro, Voltaren, Lodine, Nalfon, Indocin, Orudis, Toradol, Relafen, Clinoril, Tolectin  Their recorded actual hospitalizations are 107,000 for patients with gastrointestinal complications of those 16,500 die (this is from The American Journal of Medicine July 1998).  The FDA conservatively reports 7,600 deaths a year in the United States to NSAIDs.  That number equals that of the AIDS epidemic numbers in this country.  Sounds like we have a NSAIDs epidemic but of course too much money and political pressure to do anything about it.   

Even if the highest death rate (155) attributed to Ephedra were true (which the Rand Corporation study says no) of the approximately 17 million Americans who took about 3 billion doses of Ephedra per year, its safety record is impressive.  Makes you wonder is the FDA really out to protect the public?  Can they be trusted?  Who really runs things there?

Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; N.D., Woodland Publishing Incorporated, 1995
Nutritional Herbology, by Mark Pedersen, Wendell W. Whitman Company, 1998
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania 1987
The Ultimate Healing System, Course Manual, Copyright 1985, Don Lepore
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., Lotus Press, 1988






Important Note:
The information presented herein by The Natural Path Botanicals is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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