Information on Ma Huang

Latin NameEphedra sinensis
Other NamesMormon tea
Part UsedStems
Herb FormsTincture, capsule, tablet, bulk herb for tea.
AffectsNervous system, Respiratory system, Cardiovascular system
CautionsDue to its stimulant alkaloid ephedrine, contraindicated in pregnancy and high blood pressure. Ma huang is a sympathetic nervous system stimulant--it can cause nervousness, anxiety, sleeplessness, weaken the digestion in susceptible individuals; and cau
Botanical InfoA broom-like shrub in the Ephedra family, and related to the conifers, ephedra grows in arid places, but is also widely cultivated for its content of the stimulant alkaloid, ephedrine.
DescriptionMa huang has a long history of use for colds, coughs, asthma, and hay fever. It is also used for fevers and edema. Ma huang contains ephedrine, a stimulant and decongestant; it works by promoting sweating, drying mucus secretions, dilating the air passages and easing bronchial spasms.
Ma huang is often added to stimulant energy products and weight-loss products. The herb is effective for these uses, but it has side effects; deaths have occurred from its abuse. Traditional use only is recommended. See a qualified Traditional Chinese medical practitioner, such as a licensed acupuncturist, if you have doubts about its use.

Ma Huang has a taste of MILD, BITTER and a temperature of WARM.


Decoction1 cup 2-3 x daily
Tincture1-2 dropperfuls 2-3 x daily
Extract2-3 tablets 2-3 x daily as directed

Ailments Treated by Ma Huang

AilmentTreatment SupportApplication
Hay feverdecongestanttincture, tea, capsule, tablet
Asthmabronchial dilatortincture, tea, capsule, tablet
Colds, acutedecongestanttea, tincture, capsule, tablet


McGuffin, M. et al. 1997. Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Bensky, D. and A. Gamble. 1986. Chinese Herbal Medicine. Seattle: Eastland Press.
Madaus, G. 1976. Lehrbuch der Biologischen Heilmittel. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag.