Ephedra root

Chinese: 麻黄根

Pinyin: Má Huánɡ Gēn

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLung

Scientific name: Ephedra sinica

Use of ephedra root (Ma Huang Gen) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut in thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Stops sweating caused by Yin Deficiency.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which ephedra root may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Excessive sweating Night sweats

Contraindications*: Not for Exterior conditions.

Common TCM formulas in which ephedra root are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind ephedra root (Ma Huang Gen)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ephedra root are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that stabilize and bind' category. This category of herbs is used for treating abnormal discharges and displacement of organs. This includes conditions such as diarrhea, discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum as well as prolapse of the uterus or rectum. It is important to note that herbs in this category only treat symptoms, so one should also use herbs to treat the underlying Deficiency.

Furthermore ephedra root are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that ephedra root typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin excess. The Neutral nature of ephedra root means that you don't have to worry about that!

Ephedra root also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like ephedra root tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such ephedra root are thought to target the Heart and the Lung. In addition to regulating blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.