Ephedras Compared
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Chris Morton
Posted on: September 4, 1998

Is there a difference in strength (i.e. alkaloid content) between the different Ephedra species? I was actually looking for the Chinese Ephedra sinica version but I didn’t see it on your site. I have heard this is stronger than the North American species but maybe this is not correct?

Most species of Ephedra contain some of the drug ephedrine, but only the species with the highest concentration are used to extract the drug ephedrine.

The species used commercially for ephedrine extraction are E. gerardiana and E. sinica. We have tried to locate seeds for these species but without success so far. They are both on our ‘wishlist’ and will be added to our selection when we find reliable sources of seeds.

E. gerardiana is said to be the highest yielding species, containing 1.0 to 2.5% of ephedrine. Pakistan is the main source for the naturally produced drug.

Which type is your dried Ephedra herb?

Our dried Ephedra is E. nevadensis a southwestern U.S. native. Because it contains traces of ephedrine, it has a traditional use as a stimulating tea, as well as having tonic effects, improving kidney function and relieving asthma.

Although E. nevadensis contains only traces of ephedrine, Richard Alan Miller suggests that the D-norpseudoephedrine in it is worthy of attention. Although, he says, D-norpseudoephedrine is four times less effective than ephedrine biochemically, E. nevadensis contains enough of it to be medicinally active. He suggests that E. nevadensis could be an important source of stimulant alkaloids because it is so plentiful in the southwestern U.S.

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