English: Ephedra root

Chinese: 麻黄根

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Heart Lung

Scientific name: Ephedra sinica

Use of Ma Huang Gen (ephedra root) 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 Ma Huang Gen may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Excessive sweating Night sweats

Contraindications*: Not for Exterior conditions.

Common TCM formulas in which Ma Huang Gen is used*

Mu Li San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Inhibits sweating . Stabilizes the exterior.

Conditions targeted*: Excessive sweatingPostpartum excessive sweating and others

Ma Huang Gen is an assistant ingredient in Mu Li San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Mu Li San, Ma Huang Gen assists the key ingredient in augmenting the Heart Qi, restraining sweating, and stabilizing the Exterior.

Its nature is to move to the Exterior of the body, but its action is to descend the Qi. It thereby complements the action of Oyster shells, which anchors the Yang, while focusing the
tonifying actions of Milkvetch root on the Exterior.

Read more about Mu Li San

Key TCM concepts behind Ma Huang Gen's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ma Huang Gen belongs 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 Ma Huang Gen is Neutral in nature. This means that Ma Huang Gen typically doesn'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 Ma Huang Gen means that you don't have to worry about that!

Ma Huang Gen also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Ma Huang Gen tends 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 Ma Huang Gen is 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 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.