Ma Huang (Ephedra) in Weight Loss Products
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Sandra
Posted on: May 10, 2001

I would like to ask you a question about "Ma Huang", an herb that is in a product that I sell to help lose weight. I can’t seem to find anything about it in the books that I have. One of my products contains "Ephedrine". Now I’ve heard of this one and I am really concerned about it. What do you think of it?

Ephedrine, the main active constituent of Ephedra (Ma huang in Chinese), 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 these 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 synthesized 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 bronchial muscles making breathing easier. Other contraindications are overactive thyroid, kidney or prostate gland problems, coronary thrombosis, some anti-depressant drugs (MAO inhibitors) and glaucoma.

For more information, please see other items on Ephedra on our website at Choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then choose "Search Richters Q&A", and enter the word "ephedra" for the search.

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