English Name : Ephedra
Sanskrit Name: Soma
Nepali Name: Som
Origin, Distribution and Composition
Ehedra is a small shrub like plant about one metre high. It has many branched stems, straight branches and minutes leaves which reduced to two-toothed like scales. The dried stems of ephedra, collected in autumn, constitute the drug.
The Ayurvedic name of this herb is Som. Many Ayurvedic physicians believe that ephedra is the same herb from which Somras was prepared in the vedic age and which is widely mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic text likes Charaka and Sushruta Samhita. There is, however, no positive evidence to justify such belief.
Between 7-14 thousands feet
Part used: Branches
The principle alkaloid is ephedrine which is similar to adrenaline in pharmacological action. The other alkaliod contained in the herb is pseudo-ephedrine. The stem contains 1-3% total alkaloids, with ephedrine accounting for 30-90% of this total, depending on the plant species employed. Both ephedrine and its synthetic counterparts stimulate the central nervous system, dilate the bronchial tubes, elevate blood pressure, and increase heart rate. Pseudoephedrine (the synthetic form) is a popular over-the-counter remedy for relief of nasal congestion.
According to ayurveda it contains
Gunna (properties) – laghu (light), ruksh (rough)
Rasa – (taste) – kashaya (astringent)
Virya (potency) – ushan (hot)
Medicinal properties and Uses:
It is diaphoretic, bronchial dilator and diuretic, induces perspiration, relieves wheezing, moves fluids. It is used for common cold, wheezing, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, Rheumatism, Heart & urinary disorders, obesity and edema.
Ephedra is useful in the treatment of mild to moderate hay fever and asthma. ephedra should be used with substances that support the adrenal glands, such as licorice, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B-6, and pantothenic acid. The traditional herbal treatment of asthma involves the use of ephedra in combination with herbal expectorants. The expectorants modify the secretions from the respiratory tract, ultimately improving its function by having the user spit up the secretions out.
The powder of the herb in doses ranging from 500 mg to 2 grams should be taken with lukewarm water. It gives immediate relief by facilitating unrestricted discharge of the accumulated phlegm and clearance of the air passage, followed by restful sleep.
The powder as well as an infusion of this plant is useful in acute rheumatism. It is used for 10 to 12 days continually to get relief in painful, inflamed joints. But it is not recommended in chronic cases. It stands as an infallible remedy for rheumatic troubles where allopathic medicines like salicylate of soda, aspirin and antipyrin fail to produce any visible result. At the same time, it does not produce any side-effects on the heart. It is a good cardiac stimulant.
Weight Loss Aid:
Ephedrine suppresses the appetite and increases the metabolic rate of adipose tissue. Ephedrine activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing the metabolic rate and increasing the amount of the food converted to heat. This prevents the body from converting these foods to fat, thus helping in the control of weight gain by those who have low metabolism.
Heart and urinary disorders:
It is found to have stimulating action on heart. So it is used in heart infection borne by pneumania and diptheria. In urinary system it is said that it is useful in controlling night wetting in children.
Abuses, large doses and long term use of ephedra should be avoided. Otherwise it may lead to nausea, sweating, weight loss, hypertension, sleeplessness etc.
1- 2 grams