Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae) is from the herbaceous stem of Ephedra sinica, Eintermedia schrenk and E. equisetina, family Ephedraceae. The medicinal material is collected in the autumn, dried in the shade and then cut into pieces. It is most commonly used in this crude form, or sometimes after being prepared with honey.
Category: Exterior releasing – Diaphoretic.
Common Name: Ephedra Stem.
Channels Entered: Lung and Bladder.
Properties and Functions: Ma Huang is pungent and slightly bitter in flavour, and warm in nature. It helps to release the exterior and disperse Cold by inducing sweating; it circulates and guides Lung-Qi downwards to stop cough, wheezing and asthma; it promotes diruesis to reduce oedema.
Indications: It is used in practice to treat:
- Exterior Wind-Cold syndrome manifesting as aversion to cold, fever, lack of sweating, headache and stuffy nose, with a floating and tight pulse.
- Asthma, cough and wheezing due to stagnation of Lung-Qi, or Cold, Heat, Phlegm or fluid retention, regardless of the presence of exterior syndrome.
- Wind oedema with exterior syndromes.
Dosage: 3 – 9g
Cautions and Contra-Indications: It should not be used excessively and is contra-indicated in cases with spontaneous sweating due to exterior deficiency, night sweating due to Yin deficiency or in patients with high blood pressure or those who are pregnant.