Herb Green Ephedra
Perennial zones 4-7
(Mormon tea; Desert tea; Joint-fir)
Reported to contain some ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, both potent central nervous system stimulants. Indigeneous folk remedy for colds and headache, and for urinary and venereal diseases.
California Indians so cherished the tea for general use that it was always available.
Pleasant thirst-quenching tea.
The Ephedra viridis shrub is woody below, topped with many dense clusters of erect bright green twigs. They may yellow somewhat with age.
Nodes along the twigs are marked by the tiny pairs of vestigial leaves, which start out reddish but soon dry to brown or black. Since the leaves are no longer functional, the stems are green and photosynthetic.
Male plants produce pollen cones at the nodes, each under a ¼” long with protruding yellowish sporangiophores. Female plants produce seed cones which are slightly larger and contain two seeds each.
The drug ephedrine, an antidepressant and decongestant, is made from this and other Ephedra species. A tea can be made by boiling the stems, explaining the common name “green Mormon tea”.
The tea has a strong diuretic effect and is used as a remedy primarily by Native Americans and Spanish speaking peoples of the Southwest (Moore 1979). Its relatives in China and India are a source of the drug Ephedrine, a bronchodilator and decongestant (Moore 1979). E. viridis also aides in the relief whenever urinary tract problems arise, and has also been used to treat syphilis.
Active Compound: Ephedrine is a herbal stimulant that is derived from some forty related species, principally North American species such as Mormon Tea and Chinese Ma Huang (E. sinica). It has long been used to help relieve bronchial spasms and to treat asthma. Ephedrine dilates the bronchial muscles, contracts the nasal mucosa, raises blood pressure, and is a cardiac stimulant. Studies confirm that it contains the adrenaline like substances ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. Effects are elevated blood pressure and heart beat. Ephedrine’s action is similar to that of adrenaline. It’s effects, although less powerful, are more prolonged, and it exerts an action when given orally whereas adrenaline is effective only by injection.
Sow seeds in sandy soil. Do not cover the small seeds, but press gentle into the earth. Keep seeds in constant moisture with temperatures of about 68 degrees F.
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