is an extract of the plant by the same name. Used extensively in Asia, especially China for about 4000 years as an herbal treatment in traditional medicine for common cold, hay fever, asthma, bronchitis, cough with breathing difficulty, joint symptoms, inability to perspire, swelling and pain in the bones. More recently used in countries like Germany, Japan and India, for common cold, hay fever and allergies, it is used in the United States as a dietary supplement and as a natural source for alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. It is also used for weight loss and to enhance athletic performance, though it is not approved in the United States for this purpose. Ephedra is a stimulant which constricts blood vessels, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. It has been found to be used as a physical and mental stimulant, however, doubtful it may be in this role, as they are believed to cross the barrier protecting the brain from undesired elements in the blood and imitate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system as the “fight or flight” reaction by interacting with various neurotransmitter receptors and is also credited to increase the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and stimulate alpha- and beta-adrenergic receptors.

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