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Common Name: Muzei Ma Huang
Ephedra equisetina is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
E. Asia - N. China.
Mountains in central and middle Asia[
]. Dry and rocky places, 800 - 3000 metres in China[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position[
]. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant[
Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown in fruit and seed are required.
Fruit - raw.
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[
]. 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[
]. Ephedrine has an adrenaline-like action in the body[
]. 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[
]. They are also diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypertensive, nervine, pectoral, tonic, 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 complaints[
]. 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[