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Ephedra - Uses and Benefits

Botanical Name : : Ephedra Vulgaris

Family Name: : Ephedraceae

Common Name: : Ephedra, Evulgaris, Somlatha

Part Used : Dried Branch

Ephedra has a similar effect to the body's own adrenaline or the chemical amphetamine. The active compound of ephedra is ephedrine. Ephedrine stimulates the burning of fat and thus provides more energy and enhances the perception.

Ephedra herb consists of the green stems of several species of ephedra native to Central Asia. It is found on sandy seashores and in temperate climates of both hemispheres. The plant has stamens and pistils on separate flowers-staminate flowers in catkins and a membraneous perianth, pistillate flowers terminal on axillary stalks, within a two-leaved involucre.

Ephedra is a naturally occurring substance found in plants. Its principal active ingredient is ephedrine, an amphetamine-like compound that potentially has powerful stimulant effects on the nervous system and heart. Like an amphetamine, ephedra increases both blood pressure and heart rate, decreases appetite, and makes the user feel energetic.

 

Uses of Ephedra:

The main uses of ephedra are as:-

  • Historical uses - Traditionally, Zen monks used ephedra to promote calm concentration during meditation .
  • Echinacea is used frequently as an antibiotic, antiseptic, immune stimulator, depurative, digestive, blood purifier, and to produce sweat.
  • It helps to stimulate proper digestion, and as a mouthwash, it can be used for the treatment of painful gums and toothaches.
  • Echinacea helps the body's natural ability to fight invaders through a natural antibiotic which it contains called echinacoside, which has been compared to penicillin.
  • Chinese herb - In China, ephedra is popular for chills and fevers, coughs, and wheezing, and in combination with rehmannia is given to treat kidney yin deficiency.
  • It also helps to stimulate the body's cells to produce a chemical which is naturally produced by the white blood cells while fighting infection. This chemical is called interferon.
  • Current Western uses - Ephedra is used principally in current western herbal medicine as a treatment for asthma and hay fever , and for the acute onset of colds and flu. Ephedra also helps to raise blood pressure , cool fevers, and alleviate rheumatism.

Side Effects of Ephedra:

The main side effects of ephedra are as:-

  • Ephedra gained its primary fame as a weight loss drug. In most cases, the doses used for weight loss are far beyond the 150 mg per 24 hours safety limit that has been established.
  • The herbal ephedra, especially for weight loss or as a recreational drug can lead to amphetamine-like side effects, including high blood pressure , rapid heart beat, nervousness, irritability, headache , urination disturbances, insomnia.
  • When taken at higher levels, ephedra can cause drastic increases in blood pressure, as well as cardiac arrhythmias. Ephedrine is considered potentially habituating, though it is unclear if the whole herb ephedra is likely to do the same thing.
  • Additionally, too high of ephedra levels in the system may cause severe problems including anxiety, headaches, restlessness, high blood pressure, and even insomnia.
  • Ephedra has been known to promote weight loss, increase energy and treat respiratory tract conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

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