Scientific name: Ephedrea sinica

Common names: Brigham Young weed, Desert herb, Desert tea

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names: Shan ma huang, ma huang

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    الأفيدرا (al apheedra)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Ephedraceae

Approximate number of species known: no species

Common parts used: Stem

Collection: Usually in the autumn, as the alkaloid content is believed then to be the highest.


Height: 7 feet

Actions: Diaphoretic, stimulant, decongestant, antirheumatic, astringent, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic 

Known Constitutents:  At least 1% alkaloids wsome of hich are called Ephedrine and norephdrine,; tannins, saponins, flavone, eseential ooil

Constituents Explained:


A once popular herb that is banned in Australia and the U.S.  A very powerful respiratory herb that was once used commonly for asthma to relax the lungs and relieve spasms.  It has been used for allergies such as hay fever. Also has been used to increase circulattion and for low blood pressure.

Traditional Use:

Clinical Studies:

As obesity is becoming an epidemic, diet programs, including low-calorie diets, are continuously being developed. It is generally believed that a low-calorie diet is commonly followed by a resting metabolic rate decrease and ultimate weight regain. 

Ephedra sinica and evodia rutaecarpa are known to have sympathomimetic and anti-obesity effects. A prospective, double-blinded, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effects of ephedra sinica and evodia rutaecarpa on resting metabolic rate (RMR), body composition and short-term safety in obese Korean premenopausal women on a low-calorie diet.

One hundred and twenty-five otherwise healthy obese women were recruited and randomly assigned to three groups: ephedra group, evodia group, and placebo group. 

Subjects were administered ephedra extract in capsules (pseudo-ephedrine 31.52 mg) or evodia extract in capsules (evodiamine 6.75 mg, rutaecarpine 0.66 mg) or placebo capsules as well as participating in a low-calorie diet for 8 weeks.

Resting metabolic rate and body composition were measured at baseline, 4 and 8 weeks. Basic serum tests were performed to evaluate the short-term safety and lipid-lowering effects of the herbs.

All three groups showed significant body mass index (BMI) decreases, probably due to the low-calorie diet. Among the groups, the most prominent BMI-reducing effect was seen in the ephedra group. No significant adverse effects were observed in serum tests or in the self-questionnaire.

Ephedra combined with a low-calorie diet was effective in reducing BMI. Ephedra and evodia were proven to be safe for short-term use in the herbal form.


Kim HJ, Park JM, Kim JA, Ko BP. “Effects Of Herbal Ephedra Sinica And Evodia Rutaecarpa On Body Composition And Resting Metabolic Rate: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Clinical Trial In Korean Premenopausal Women.” 2008 December