Ephedra is used for weight loss and obesity and to enhance athletic performance. It is also used for allergies and hay fever; nasal congestion; and respiratory tract conditions such as bronchospasm, asthma, and bronchitis. It is also used for colds, flu, swine flu, fever, chills, headache, inability to sweat, joint and bone pain, and as a “water pill” to increase urine flow in people who retain fluids.
Ephedra is sometimes marketed as a recreational drug “herbal ecstasy.” The FDA has announced that ephedra products marketed as recreational drugs are unapproved and that misbranded drugs can be taken by the authorities.
- The evergreen shrub has been used in traditional medicine to alleviate colds, bronchial and sinus congestion, flu, headaches and asthma.
- Beverage made with the ephedra plant have been referred to under many names, e.g., yellow river, mormon tea, and whorehouse tea.
- Ephedra comforts asthma patients by acting as a bronchial dilator. Honey is often added to the ephedra.
- Caffeine–contained in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, yerba mate, and cola drinks–when combined with ma huang enhances the performance of ma huang, and the results are insomnia, irritability, and nervousness.
- Stems less than 1.25 cm in diameter are cut, dried in the sun for 15 days, and then artificially dried at 120 degrees F for three more hours.
- Ma huang stimulates the nervous system to enhance mood, reduce fatigue, and to make a person alert enough to smell their coffee in the morning.
- Ma huang also has the ability to increase energy and endurance; it does this through increase of blood flow to the muscles, resulting in an increase of oxygen and nutrient supply to the muscles.
Ma Huang and its alkaloids are marketed to produce euphoria and to increase sexual sensations, and for that reason, ma huang poses a large risk of addiction in adolescence.