Zhong Ma Huang
Herb: Zhong Ma Huang
Latin name: Ephedra intermedia
Medicinal use of Zhong Ma Huang: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. Ephedrine has a similar effect to adrenaline in the body. It acts promptly to reduce swellings of the mucous membranes and has antispasmodic properties, thus making it valuable in the treatment of asthma. This species contains between 0.7 and 2.33% alkaloids, of which 10% is ephedrine. 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 antidote, diaphoretic. diuretic, vasoconstrictor and vasodilator. 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. The root is antihydrotic, it lowers blood pressure and dilates the peripheral blood vessels. It is used in the treatment of night sweating and spontaneous sweating.
Description of the plant:
(3 1/4 foot)
Habitat of the herb:Gritty mountain slopes at low elevations. Grasslands, deserts, river valleys, floodlands, sandy beaches, cliffs, other dry, sandy or rocky places, 100 - 4600 metres.
Edible parts of Zhong Ma Huang:Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is about 7mm in diameter.
Propagation of the herb: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 Zhong Ma Huang:Gritty mountain slopes at low elevations. Grasslands, deserts, river valleys, floodlands, sandy beaches, cliffs, other dry, sandy or rocky places, 100 - 4600 metres.
Known hazards of Ephedra intermedia:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.