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Common Name: Zhong Ma Huang
Ephedra intermedia is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
W. Asia - Iran, Turkestan, to the Himalayas and China.
Gritty mountain slopes at low elevations[
]. Grasslands, deserts, river valleys, floodlands, sandy beaches, cliffs, other dry, sandy or rocky places, 100 - 4600 metres[
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position[
]. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required. Some forms are monoecious[
Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is about 7mm in diameter[
Members of this genus contain various medicinally active alkaloids (but notably ephedrine) and they are widely used in preparations for the treatment of asthma and catarrh[
]. Ephedrine has a similar effect to adrenaline in the body[
]. It acts promptly to reduce swellings of the mucous membranes and has antispasmodic properties, thus making it valuable in the treatment of asthma[
]. This species contains between 0.7 and 2.33% alkaloids, of which 10% is ephedrine[
]. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents - unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects[
]. The plant also has antiviral effects, particularly against influenza[
The stems are a pungent, bitter, warm herb that dilates the bronchial vessels whilst stimulating the heart and central nervous system[
]. The stems are also antidote, diaphoretic. diuretic, vasoconstrictor and vasodilator[
]. They are used internally in the treatment of asthma, hay fever and allergic complaints[
]. They are also combined with a number of other herbs and used in treating a wide range of complaints238]. This herb should be used with great caution, preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[
]. It should not be prescribed to patients who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or suffering from high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma[
]. Ephedrine is seen as a performance-boosting herb and, as such, is a forbidden substance in many sporting events such as athletics[
The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use[
The root is antihydrotic, it lowers blood pressure and dilates the peripheral blood vessels[
]. It is used in the treatment of night sweating and spontaneous sweating[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse[
]. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter[
Division in spring or autumn[