Ma Huang and Goldenseal
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: B Perry
Posted on: May 15, 1998

Could you tell me about Ma Huang and any side effects it may have? Also, if someone has one of the strains of Hepatitis is Golden Seal safe? Thank you

Ephedrine, the main active constituent of Ma huang (Ephedra) stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, relieving the spasm of bronchial muscle, making it useful in cases of asthma, emphysema, whooping cough and bronchitis. It is an excellent herb for th ese conditions, and has been used for this purpose in China for over a thousand years. Being a stimulant of the sympathetic nervous system, it increases blood pressure. High blood pressure is its main contraindication. Ephedrine is now usually synthesi zed and marketed as a drug for the same purposes. The natural product appears to cause less heart side affects, such as palpitations, than the synthetic.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our "fight or flight" reactions, and stimulation causes heart rate acceleration, BP elevation, and the blood flow to be directed away from internal organs and to skeletal muscles. It relaxes the bronchia l muscles making breathing easier. Other contraindications are overactive thyroid, kidney or prostate gland problems, coronary thrombosis, some anti-depressant drugs (MAO inhibitors) and glaucoma.

Golden Seal is used to soothe and heal mucous membrane tissue, as inflammation of the respiratory and intestinal tracts such as in ulceration and gastritis. It is contraindicated in hypertension and pregnancy. It is not specifically used in hepatitis, b ut is safe to use. The specific herb for hepatitis is Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) which is antiviral, detoxifies, protects and generates liver tissue.

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