History of Human Usage

how to make Mormon tea

Ephedra has been used
for centuries as
a stimulant, commonly
brewed as a tea.

Ephedra: History
of Human Usage

Chinese Medicine

In China, it has been used over 2000 years in herbal medicine to treat bronchial asthma, the cold, flu, wheezing, and edema.Plants were and still are collected in Autumn, sun-dried, and sectioned. Before use, the sections are boiled, often in a honey-water mixture, and usually further roasted until the water is evaporated. The bitter remedy resulting is prescribed for typhoid, colds, couging, and various pains.

The dried stems of the species Ephedra geradiana have long been used in Northern India and Pakistan to relieve bronchial asthma. This species is believed to contain the same adrenergic drug similar to ephedrine, which is extracted from other species of the Ephedracea, and used as a broncodilator in orthodox medicine.

Stem decoctions of Ephedra antisyphilitica in West Texas and Northern Mexico were used to cure renal diseases of the Southwestern American Indians. The seeds of E. nevadensis were also used to alleviate urogenital diseases; the medicine was prepared by roasting and then grinding the seeds into a flour.

Like coffee and tea, Ephedra has also been brewed into a beverage and consumed for its stimulant effects. Ma huang extract, from Ephedra sinica and E. equisetina, is made by the same process as instant coffee, and similarly concentrated, with about three times the alkaloid as Ephedra herb.

Mormon tea (Desert tea, Teamster tea) was a very popular stimulant beverage made by the early settlers in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, brewed from the branches of Ephedra trifurca.

Within the current realm of herbal medicine, other perspectives on Ephedra have been popularized. The article 'Chinese Herbs and the Athelete' highlights the sudorfic benefits of Ma huang consumption, in addition to other herbal remedies, for atheletes. This is a very recent fad in the health food industry, due of course to its effect on the central nervous system, its capacity as a bronchodilator, its ability to supply energy, and induce diaphoresis. Yet another market for Ephedra has been the diet industry, as it has been proven that Ephedra enhances thermogenic weight loss.

Clinical Medicine

In the clinical medicine of the Western hemisphere, it has been used most commonly as a stimulant to the sympathetic nervous system, as support for asthma, hayfever, allergies, and arthritis, and to help the body break fevers, clear blocked sinuses, raise blood pressure, and increase alertness and perception. Primatene mist© is an over-the counter (OTC) drug which contains ephedrine, the major active chemical from Ma huang. Millions of Americans use this every day to treat asthma. Sudafed© contains another stimulant alkaloid from Ma huang, pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant, has a less potent effect on the heart than ephedrine, but is still contraindicated in those with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, or prostate enlargement.

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