Journal of Acuherb in Medicine

Ma Huang

Print Friendly

Ma Huang (Ephedra Stem)

Previous Herb in CategoryNext Herb in Category Herb 8 of 16 in Warm, Spicy Herbs that Release the Exterior 

Spicy, Slightly Bitter, Warm
Herba Ephedrae
Tone Marks:
má huáng
Hemp Yellow


  • Releases the Exterior and Disperses Wind-Cold
    For Wind-Cold excess patterns with fever, chills, headache, lack of sweating, and a tight, floating pulse. Opens the pores and induces sweating.
  • Stops Wheezing and Asthma
    Obstruction of Lung Qi due to exterior Wind-Cold or wheezing from an internal condition.
  • Reduces Edema and Promotes Urination
    Especially due to obstruction from external Wind-Cold pathogen.

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Long-term or overuse causes heavy sweating and weakens the body. May also raise blood pressure, do not use if patient has insomnia, spontaneous sweating, high blood pressure, or cardiac arrhythmias. Toasting with honey reduces the dispersing nature of this herb.

Herb-Drug Interactions

  • Ma Huang contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which interferes with Sympathomimic (anti-seizure) and Cariovascular drugs.
  • Ma Huang (Ephedra) and MAOI can cause dangerously high blood pressure. FDA proposed a dosage limit of 8 mg every 6 hours (or a total of 24 mg per day) and not more than 7 days of continuous use.

Toxicity and Overdose

  • There has been 3 reported cases of ephedrine toxicity, after ingestion of 15ml of a 1% solution. Symptoms included diaphoresis, epigastric pain, vomiting, nausea, and temperature elevation.


  • 3-9 grams.
  • Part used: Twigs or stems.


  • Cook first and remove foam from the surface of decoction.
  • Use raw for exterior wind-cold, coat with honey to treat asthma.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.