Ma Huang (Ephedra sinica) 20 seeds
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What Is Ma Huang (Ephedra Sinica) And What Does It Do?

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For thousands of years, Ephedra sinica (Ma Huang) has been used in traditional medicine for its energising and stimulating effects. Nowadays, it is prized for its ability to speed up metabolism and promote short-term weight loss, albeit with some serious risks. It can be grown, harvested, and used at home much easier than you think!

Ma Huang, otherwise known as Ephedra sinica (hereinafter referred to as Ephedra), is a natural herb that is known to produce a range of stimulating effects. It was a staple of Chinese medicine for thousands of years before amassing popularity in America during the latter half of the 20th century. While Ephedra certainly has its uses, it carries some risks and downsides too.

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What Is Ephedra?

Ephedra is an herb that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Although the various species of Ephedra are native to several continents, its origins are usually attributed to Southeast Asia. The medicinal ingredients in Ephedra are typically extracted from the tops or branches of the plant, although they can also be derived from the roots or stems as well.

While the plant contains numerous chemical compounds, the one primarily responsible for its characteristic effects is ephedrine. Ephedra native to Asia should not be confused with "American Ephedra" (Ephedra nevadensis, sometimes called "Mormon Tea"). Since American Ephedra does not contain ephedrine, it is incapable of producing the stimulating effects that Ephedra is prized for.


What Effects Does Ephedra Induce?

Ephedra produces a range of effects within the human body, such as increased heart rate and metabolic rate. Ephedrine is known for stimulating the heart, lungs, and nervous system.

One of the primary effects of Ephedra is its supposed ability to boost metabolic rate and fat-burning ability. A study from 2003[1] found that it promoted “modest short-term weight loss” when compared to a placebo.

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Studies show that ephedrine increases your resting metabolic rate, and consequently, the number of calories you burn at rest. According to a study from 1999[2], healthy adults who consumed ephedrine throughout the day burned 3.6% more calories over a 24-hour span. As well as increasing metabolic rate, studies show[3] that ephedrine can also prevent it from dropping (like when on a fast or very low-calorie diet).

Researchers have found that ephedrine works in synergy with caffeine[4] to amplify the stimulating effects of both substances. For instance, one study found that a combination of ephedrine and caffeine boosted metabolic rate higher than just ephedrine alone. According to a 12-week study, the combination of Ephedra and caffeine resulted in a reduction of 7.9% of body fat, while the placebo group only managed to burn 1.9%


What Are The Side Effects Of Ephedra?

In theory, Ephedra sounds like a great supplement for weight loss. However, in reality, there are numerous side effects that have led many to question its safety if used regularly.

Ephedra has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, stroke, muscle disorders, seizures, loss of consciousness, and death. It has also been linked to a worrying number of less-serious side effects, including anxiety, restlessness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Because of this range of serious side effects, it is believed that Ephedra can cause severe, life-threatening, or disabling conditions in some people.

Ephedra’s side effects are more likely to occur if consumed in higher doses or for long periods of time. For instance, it is believed that doses larger than 32mg per day can more than triple the likelihood of stroke.

Furthermore, despite boosting its effectiveness, it is inadvisable to consume caffeine alongside Ephedra. Consuming both together can significantly increase the likelihood of side effects, including life-threatening ones.

If you are considering using Ephedra, be sure to do your research.


Is Ephedra Legal?

After being prescribed for asthma in the 1940s and ‘50s, Ephedra became a primary ingredient in many dietary supplements due to its ability to promote short-term weight loss. However, due to escalating concerns about its safety, the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) banned the sale of dietary products containing ephedrine alkaloids in 2004.

The same can be said for Europe, where Ephedra can be bought as seeds or as a tea, but is not included in any legitimate dietary supplements.


How Can You Grow Ephedra?

Ephedra can be grown and processed at home using our high-quality Ma Huang seeds. Growing Ephedra is not particularly difficult or time-consuming. It is recommended to plant Ephedra in the spring, since it prefers warmth, but it can also tolerate cold and frost. Ephedra thrives in sandy, well-draining soil, and with plenty of sunlight also does very well in loose, rocky soil. Although, if growing in a colder climate like the UK, it may be a good idea to protect it from the elements by growing indoors.

After growing, the Ephedra plant can be harvested and processed for use. The easiest way to use it is to simply pick the leaves of the plant, dry them, and grind them up. Once ground, these leaves can be used to brew Ephedra tea that is sure to stimulate and energise as much as a morning coffee.

David AB

Written by: David AB
Writer and cannabis enthusiast from Western Canada. When he's not writing, you can probably find him on the slopes of the Rockies or kicking back with a cold one!

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We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
  1. Efficacy and safety of ephedra and ephedrine for weight loss and athletic performance: a meta-analysis. - PubMed - NCBI -
  2. Acute effect of ephedrine on 24-h energy balance. - PubMed - NCBI -
  3. Effects of chronic administration of ephedrine during very-low-calorie diets on energy expenditure, protein metabolism and hormone levels in obese ... - PubMed - NCBI -
  4. Caffeine and ephedrine: physiological, metabolic and performance-enhancing effects. - PubMed - NCBI -

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