What is Ma Huang?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
Tea made from ma huang can relieve common cold symptoms.
Tea made from ma huang can relieve common cold symptoms.

Also known as Ephedra, ma huang is an herbal stimulant used for weight loss and in treating other conditions. The herbal remedy has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The supplement, however, has been banned in many areas for various health complications that can arise from taking it.

Scientifically known as Ephedra sinica, ma huang has been proven to be effective in managing hay fever, asthma, and its related symptoms in clinical trials. It may also help in combating the symptoms of hypotension. These effects stem from the supplement's alkaloid ingredients, pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, which can stimulate the central nervous system. When administered to treat these conditions, ma huang is often flavored with honey.

Ma huang, also known as Ephedra, is effective at managing hay fever symptoms.
Ma huang, also known as Ephedra, is effective at managing hay fever symptoms.

Combined with caffeine, ma huang may help activate weight loss. These results have been proven during clinical trials in which the supplement was taken for a period of one to twelve months. When used as such, side effects may develop. These can include irritability, nervousness, and insomnia.

In China and other areas, many beverages are made with the herbal remedy. Some of these include Mormon tea and yellow river. Ma huang dietary supplements were prescribed by physicians in China for many years to treat everything from the common cold to coughs to headaches. When taken for these ailments, patients typically took the remedy in pill form or drank Ephedra tea.

In China, Ma Huang is used in beverages as an herbal remedy.
In China, Ma Huang is used in beverages as an herbal remedy.

American Mormons were introduced to Ephedra tea by Native Americans from Utah. The bitter tonic became a popular folk remedy and daily drink. Stems were also used as a tea and coffee substitute. At the same time, the herb was thought to be a cure for gonorrhea and syphilis, though its effectiveness against these conditions has not been proven.

Ma huang presents many safety risks that are considered significant. It can cause illness and injury, as well as death. Some potential side effects include cardiovascular problems such as stroke, hypertension or high blood pressure, arrhythmia, tachycardia, and heart attack. Because of these dangers, the Food and Drug Administration has deemed the herb unsafe for human use in the United States.

The ephedra shrub can grow 12 to 20 inches in height.
The ephedra shrub can grow 12 to 20 inches in height.

Herbalists who continue to use ma huang maintain that the stem of the herb is a safer alternative to the plant's alkaloid extracts. Rather than raising blood pressure, Ephedra stems have been shown to reduce it. Cardiovascular side effects, however, can still occur.

A cone-bearing shrub native to China, Ephedra can also be found in South America, the Mediterranean, and India. The herb can grow up to 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 centimeters) in height. Ma huang achieves optimal growth in rocky deserts, sandy areas, and mountains; it prefers warm climates with little rainfall.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Tea made from ma huang can relieve common cold symptoms.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Tea made from ma huang can relieve common cold symptoms.
    • Ma huang, also known as Ephedra, is effective at managing hay fever symptoms.
      By: photophonie
      Ma huang, also known as Ephedra, is effective at managing hay fever symptoms.
    • In China, Ma Huang is used in beverages as an herbal remedy.
      By: pavalena
      In China, Ma Huang is used in beverages as an herbal remedy.
    • The ephedra shrub can grow 12 to 20 inches in height.
      By: sasha10
      The ephedra shrub can grow 12 to 20 inches in height.