Ma Huang

Ma Huang is the original source of the drug ephedrine that is used in asthmatic and catarrhal conditions. Shen Nong listed it as a remedy for malaria and headaches while Tao Hong Jing, in the sixth century AD, recommended it as "the first choice in treating cold damage".

Today Ma Huang is mainly used for external or superficial problems, especially wind-cold. The root (Ma Huang Gen) is an astringent used for abnormal sweating associated with internal deficiencies. BOTANICAL NAME: Ephedra sinica

COMMON NAMES: Ephedra, Joint fir

FAMILY: Ephedraceae

PARTS USED: Twigs or stems

TASTE: Pungent, slightly biller


MERIDIANS: lung, urinary bladder

ACTIONS: Antispasmodic, antibacterial, antiviral, induces sweating, stimulates urine flow, reduces fever.

• for excessive superficial syndromes due to wind-cold
• to encourage sweating
• to mobilize lung Qj
• to increase urination

TYPICAL CHINESE DOSE: 2-6 grams (7/100 - 1/4 ounce)

Used with Gui Zhi for windcold problems. Often used with Xing Ren (apricot seeds, Prunus armeniaca) and Gan Cao for asthma and breathing difficulties associated with lung Qi stagnation; with Huang Oin, Sang Bai Pi, and gypsum (Shi Gao) for heat obstructing the lungs; and also with Gan Jiang for congested body fluids.

Caution: Avoid in insomnia, deficiency syndromes, or high blood pressure. Legally restricted in many Western countries due to the toxicity of ephedrine

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