EphedraBotanical Name: Ephedra vulgaris (RICH.)
Family: N.O. Gnetaceae
Synonyms: Ephedrine. Epitonin. Ma Huang.
Habitat: West Central China, Southern Siberia, Japan.
Description: 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. Fruit has two carpels with a single seed in each and is a succulent cone, branches slender and erect, small leaves, scale-like, articulated and joined at the base into a sheath.
Constituents: Ephedrine is salt of an alkaloid and is in shining white crystals very soluble in water.
Medicinal Action and Uses: A sympathetic nerve stimulant resembling adrenaline, its effect on the unstriped muscular fibres is remarkable. It acts promptly in relieving swellings of the mucous membrane. It has valuable antispasmodic properties, acts on the air passages and is of benefit in asthma and hay fever; it is also employed for rheumatism; a 5 to 10 per cent solution has mydriatic properties, prophylactically used for low blood pressure in influenza, pneumonia, etc. Used in tablet form for oral or hypodermic administration and in ampuls for hypodermic, intramuscular and intravenous use. It can advantageously be used in solution with liquid paraffin, either alone or in conjunction with methol camphor and oil of thyme. Dose, 1/2 to 1 grain.