Chinese Herbal Ephedra: what is it? What’s the point?


Ephedra is a kind of herb collected in Chinese Pharmacopoeia. Its medicinal source is the dried herbaceous stem of ephedra, middle ephedra or Ephedra equisetifolia. Harvest green straw stems and dry them in autumn. In the records, the properties of ephedra warm, taste Xin, slightly bitter, sweating and dispelling cold, promoting lung asthma, water swelling effect, can treat cold, chest choking cough geomantic swelling, bronchial asthma and other diseases.

Chinese Herbal Ephedra

Morphological characteristics

Herbaceous shrub.

Shrubs herbaceous, 20-40 cm tall; woody stems short or creeping, branchlets straight or incurved, surface often inconspicuous, internodes 2.5-5.5 cm long, mostly 3-4 cm, ca. 2 mm in diam. Leaves 2-lobed, sheath 1 / 3-2 / 3 in length, lobes acute triangular, apex acute.

Male coccifera:

Male cones many in complex spikes, often pedicellate, bracts usually 4 pairs, stamens 7-8, filaments connate, thinly apex slightly separated; female cones solitary, terminal on young branches, axillary on old branches, often pedicled at base during maturation, The female globules are lateral branchlike, ovoid or orbicular, bracteoles 4 pairs, lower 3 conjunctive parts 1 / 4 / 1 / 3, the top conjunctival portion more than 1 / 2; female flowers 2, ovule 1 mm or slightly longer, erect or apex recurved, The gap is narrow and long, about 1 / 4 / 1 / 2 of the total length, the margin of the fissure is irregular, often by a few hairy antler.

Female coccifera:

Female globules fleshy red when mature, oblong-ovoid or nearly spherical, ca. 8 mm, 6-7 mm in diameter; seeds usually 2, enclosed in bracts, not exposed or as long as bracts, black red or grayish brown, Triangular-oval or broadly ovoid, 5-6 mm long, 2.5-3.5 mm in diameter, with fine wrinkles on surface, prominent hilum, semicircular. The flowering period is May-June and the seed matures from August to September.

Chinese Herbal Ephedra

Growth environment

Often found on hillsides, plains, dry wastelands, river beds and grasslands, it often forms a large area of simple communities.

Temperature affects the geographical distribution of Ephedra equisetifolia. From the distribution of ephedra. Ephedra may be at -31.6-42.6 °C to survive under extreme temperatures. It has the characteristics of both heat-resistant plants and cold-tolerant plants, and has a high survival probability under extreme habitat conditions. However, the normal growth and development of ephedra still require higher temperature. In the climate region of 6.0-7.0 °C of annual mean temperature, ephedra has a wide distribution and a large number of ephedra, forming dominant colony, and in the region of 4.3-6.0 °C, the growth and development of Ephedra ephedra is normal, and the quantity of ephedra decreases with the decrease of annual average temperature. Ephedra rarely distributed in the region from -1.61-4.2 °C.

Use attention

Strong sweating power, this product can raise blood pressure, insomnia and hypertension patients with caution.

Chemical constituents

The main components are a variety of alkaloids, such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and other essential oils, flavonoids and so on.

Pharmacological action

The essential oil of ephedra has sweating effect. Ephedrine can increase the secretion of human sweat gland under high temperature. Ephedra Ephedra essential oil emulsion has antipyretic effect. Both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can relieve the spasm of bronchial smooth muscle. Pseudoephedrine has obvious diuretic effect. Ephedrine can excite the heart, constrict blood vessels, raise blood pressure; to the central nervous system has obvious exciting effect, can cause excitement, insomnia, restlessness. Volatile oil can inhibit influenza virus. Its methanol extract has anti-inflammatory effect. The decoction has the function of anti-pathogenic microorganism. Xanthine can excite the heart, constrict blood vessels, raise blood pressure; to the central nervous system has obvious exciting effect, can cause excitement, insomnia, restlessness. Volatile oil can inhibit influenza virus. Its methanol extract has anti-inflammatory effect. The decoction has the function of anti-pathogenic microorganism.

Modern application

This product is often used mainly in modern times. It can be used to treat migraine, senile pruritus, frostbite, allergic rhinitis, sleep apnea syndrome. And sinus bradycardia, hiccup, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, renal failure, lumbar sprain, sciatica, Raynaud’s disease, infectious suppurative inflammation, chronic pharyngitis, toothache, etc.


Ephedrine, also known as ephedrine, is a sympathetic neuroamine that can be used to prevent hypotension symptoms during lumbar anaesthesia. It can also be used in the treatment of asthma, sleepiness and obesity, but it has limited results and has too many side effects. Alternative alternatives have been replaced. Ephedrine is also used as a stimulant, appetite inhibitor, concentration and relief of nasal congestion. Ephedrine has a similar structure to its synthetic derivatives amphetamines and methamphetamine. An alkaloid chemically derived from the genus Ephedra. Often sold in the form of hydrochloric acid or sulfate.

The use of ephedrine includes oral administration, intramuscular or intravenous injection, or subcutaneous injection. Intravenous anesthesia is most effective, followed by intramuscular injection, which takes about 20 minutes and takes about an hour to take orally. When ephedrine is given by injection, the duration of anesthesia lasts about an hour, while the oral administration lasts for up to four hours.

Common side effects include sleep disorders, anxiety, headaches, hallucinations, high blood pressure, rapid heart beats and loss of appetite, and may even have dysuria. More severe symptoms include stroke, heart disease and drug addiction. The study on the use of ephedrine by pregnant women is incomplete and appears to have no doubts about use, but it is not recommended for breastfeeding women. The mechanism changed into activation of α -adrenergic excitatory receptor and β -adrenergic excitatory receptor.

Effect of ephedra

Effect of ephedra

Excited central nervous

In the brain, the midbrain and the brain, breathing and circulatory center, are excited, as well as the role of adrenal gland, so after the oral ephedrine, the performance is as follows:

① body warm, heart rate speed up, end slightly blood vessel contraction, blood pressure rises

② sweat glands, increased salivary glands secretion

③ Relieving bronchialand stomachBowel Spasm

④ has the effect of promoting bladder internal sphincter tension and spasm.

affect the secretion of sweat glands

Because of the different distribution of human and animal sweat glands, in general, ephedrine can not induce sweating, but when the person at high temperature with ephedrine 50,160 mg, 1.5-2 hours later, the secretion of sweat glands than the use of ephedrine more faster, but subcutaneous ephedrine skin, does not cause special sweat glands secretion, Therefore, this role of ephedrine is feared as central.


can also be used for urticaria, local role, to make nasal mucosa vasoconstriction, so can treat rhinitis;FatigueTo promote the nerves suppressed by the arrows.MuscleConduction can be used for the treatment of myasthenia gravis, but also can cause hyperglycemia, but its role is weak and not constant. Water extracts haveAnti-allergyEffect, Ephedra has the role of inhibiting the release of sensitized substances. MaApricotShigan can inhibit the removal of mast cells, inhibit the release of histamine in the intestinal tract of sensitized guinea pigs and relieve the movement of intestinal tract. Therefore, the clinical use of Ma xing shi gan decoction to treat allergic, allergic disease effective.


Many alkaloids of ephedra have inhibitory effect on inflammatory edema of plantar plantar. Ephedrine extracts have anti-inflammatory effects on experimental inflammation. The Bai Feiyan glycoside contained in Ephedra has inhibitory effect on experimental arthritis.


Ephedrine has central analgesic effect, and can significantly enhance the analgesic effect of morphine.

Antibacterial, anti-virus

The volatile oil of ephedra has inhibitory effect on influenza virus (AR8 a), the average survival period is significantly increased, and the mean lung injury is significantly reduced with volatile oil for the treatment of influenza in rats. The volatile oil of water decoction and ephedra has different antibacterial effects on many kinds of bacteria, has inhibitory effect on Asian influenza A virus, and has therapeutic effects on mice infected with influenza A virus PR8 strains.

Antipyretic, sweating

The volatile oil of ephedra has antipyretic effect on artificial fever of rabbits, and the effect of decreasing of terpene alcohol is more obvious.

Ephedrine alkaloids do not induce sweating. Ephedra decoction has antipyretic effect on fever in rats, and can cause sweat glands secretion. Confirmed the observation of the ancients, only ephedra does not sweat, ephedra and Guizhi with the use of sweating. Shigan of Apricot has antipyretic effect on rabbit fever. The experimental results show that the volatile oil emulsion of ephedra has a antipyretic effect on the rabbits with artificial fever caused by sterilized milk. However, the volatile oil of ephedra has a strong stimulating effect on the mucous membranes of the skin.

The role of the heart

Ephedrine’s structure and pharmacological effects are similar to those of epinephrine, which can make the contraction of the heart muscle, increase cardiac output rate, accelerate heart rate and even arrhythmia.

antihypertensive effect

Ephedrine major alkaloids can cause elevated blood pressure, systolic and diastolic pressure can rise. Ephedrine and volatile oil have dilated blood vessels and antihypertensive effects.

The role of blood vessels

Ephedrine can make the heart, brain, muscle blood vessels dilate, blood flow increased, and the lungs, kidneys, spleen and other internal organs and skin, mucosal blood flow decreased, and the pulmonary artery systolic and diastolic pressure increased simultaneously. Therefore, ephedra is detrimental to patients with pulmonary hypertension in asthma.

Diuretic effect

Pseudoephedrine has a significant diuretic effect than ephedrine: water, brine and urea (urea), further increase the amount of urine excretion, but the anesthetic dog urine volume is reduced, the light of the experimental renal tubular nephritis dogs still produce diuretic reaction, serious people without diuretic effect.

Effects on the smooth muscle

Many alkaloids of bronchiectasis can relax bronchial smooth muscle and have asthma effect, and the alcohols and pyrazole derivatives in volatile oil also have asthma.

Inhibition of peristalsis of the gastrointestinal smooth muscle and inhibit the peristalsis of the action, can delay the gastrointestinal content of the promotion and emptying, so ephedrine can affect appetite.

Inhibition of uterine smooth muscle can inhibit the uterine smooth muscle, thus relieving dysmenorrhea. And the animal’s uterine smooth muscle can increase the tension. Ephedrine has a contractile effect on the vas deferens.

The enhanced bladder sphincter can increase the tension of the deltoid muscle and sphincter and reduce the number of urination, so it can treat children with enuresis.

Ephedrine also makes the tail muscle contract.

Exciting central role

Can excite the cerebral cortex and subcortical center. Its excitement is stronger than adrenaline. Thus can cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability, tremor and other symptoms.

Excited respiration

Ephedrine can excite the respiratory center, increasing the amount of breath per minute. The aqueous extracts of ephedrine and ephedra have central antitussive.

Ephedrine volatile oil has asthma, expectorant effect, but no antitussive.

Stimulating muscle function

Ephedrine can increase muscle tension and restore tension to the fatigued muscles. As a result, ephedra is classified as a muscle stimulant and is banned by athletes.

Anti-renal failure

Ephedrine can decrease the creatinine and urea nitrogen in the blood of rats with renal failure, and increase the blood calcium. is due to inhibit the production of creatinine and oxygen free radicals, thus significantly inhibit the formation of methyl guanidine, thus improving renal function. Pseudoephedrine has a diuretic effect on dogs.

Lose weight

Ephedrine can promote fat decomposition, have weight loss effect.

Inhibit platelet Aggregation

The extracts of ephedra can inhibit platelet aggregation and inhibit the formation of platelet thrombus A3 in rabbits. can reduce blood viscosity.

Lee Gall

The extracts of ephedra were beneficial to rabbits.


Ephedrine Bai Feiyan has anti-tumor effect on mice.

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