Ma Huang

Ma Huang (Ephedra) as a Dietary Supplement:
“Lose weight fast”, “thermogenic fat burner”, “rapid weight loss”, these are just a few of the guarantees that manufacturer’s are using to promote the now widely used and highly controversial dietary supplements containing ma haung (ephedra).Sounds great; a simple way to stimulate weight loss and increase energy, can this really work or are these companies suggesting the impossible?
Ma Huang, or ephedra sinica, is an ancient Chinese herb indigenous to temperate climates, in northwestern India, Pakistan, Mongolia and China, usually on sandy seashores.The plant dates back to 5,000 years ago as a medicinal agent for asthma and hay fever, quite possibly making it the world’s oldest medicine (Gurley, Gardner, White et al., 1998).In 1923, scientists discovered that the plant has two active ingredients:ephedrine (EPH), and pseudoephedrine (PSE); the central nervous system stimulants.Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic alkaloid agonists that causes cardiac stimulation and vasoconstriction, which may produce short term increases in blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia, vertigo, madras’s, and nervousness.Pseudoephedrine, also an agonist, enhances bronchodialation, relieving symptoms of nasal congestion (Tyler, Brady, & Roberts, 1988).Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the most abundant alkaloids found in Ephedra sinica, however methylephedrine (MEPH), norpseudoephedrine (NPSE), and norephedrine (NEPH) are also present.The plant with its botanical source of ephedrine alkaloids is what are commonly found in products marketed as “natural stimulants” or thermogenic diet aids (Gurley, Gardner, & Hubbard, 2000).
So what exactly does ephedra do to the body?The active natural ingredient, ephedrine acts as a sympathetic nerve stimulant similar to adrenaline, but not as potent as amphetamine.It has an energizing effect hence its usefulness in dieting.Ephedrine opens bronchial passag…

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