Herb: Sea Grape


Latin name: Ephedra distachya


Family: Ephedraceae



Medicinal use of Sea Grape:

Members of this genus contain various medicinally active alkaloids (but notably ephedrine) and they are widely used in preparations for the treatment of asthma and catarrh. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents - unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects. The plant also has antiviral effects, particularly against influenza. The stems are a pungent, bitter, warm herb that dilates the bronchial vessels whilst stimulating the heart and central nervous system. The stems are also antitussive, diuretic, diaphoretic, febrifuge, hypertensive, nervine, tonic and vasoconstrictor. They are used internally in the treatment of asthma, hay fever and allergic complaints. They are also combined with a number of other herbs and used in treating a wide range of complaints. This herb should be used with great caution, preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It should not be prescribed to patients who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or suffering from high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma. Ephedrine is seen as a performance-boosting herb and, as such, is a forbidden substance in many sporting events such as athletics. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
July

Habitat of the herb:

Semi-desert and desert regions and on gritty slopes on the Russian steppes. Grasslands, sandy places and rocky mountain slopes below 900 metres in China.

Edible parts of Sea Grape:

Fruit - raw. A sweet but rather insipid flavour. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be used for ground cover, spaced about 60cm apart each way.

Propagation of Sea Grape:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter. Division in spring or autumn. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Semi-desert and desert regions and on gritty slopes on the Russian steppes. Grasslands, sandy places and rocky mountain slopes below 900 metres in China.

Known hazards of Ephedra distachya:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.