2003-03-08 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Ephedra Risks and Benefits
By Dr. Nancy Gahles
Health & Harmony

Health & Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Ephedra Risks and Benefits

The recent death of a prominent athlete has been linked to his use of the herb Ephedra. As with any herb, its phar­macology should be understood prior to ingestion and ideally, it should be discussed with a knowledgeable pro­fessional as to the efficacy of this herb for your particular condition and with your personal medical history in mind.

The herb Ephedra is one of the most powerful of the medicinal plants and has a time honored history in Chinese herbology for its use in respiratory con­ditions. For over 5,000 years, Ma Huang, the Chinese name for Ephe­d­ra, has been used to treat colds, coughs, fevers (including malaria), and headaches and skin eruptions.

The active ingredient in Ma Huang is Ephedrine. It is made synthetically as Epinephrine and when used in this form there are danger warnings re­garding its use. CAUTION: Ma Huang (Ephedra) is contraindicated in cases of heart problems and high blood pressure and should not be taken during pregnancy.

Ephedrine is a bronchial and blood vessel relaxant thus its effectiveness in relieving bronchial and chest congestion and the bronchial spasm of asthma.

Ephedrine stimulates the heart muscles, constricts the blood vessels, increasing circulation and blood pressure. This increased blood pressure for­ces more blood into the head and extremities, stimulates the brain and nerve centers, giving the impression of increased energy and stamina and re­ducing fatigue. This is the basis for the use of Ma Huang or Ephedra as a popular "diet drug". When blood is diverted from the digestive organs to the ex­tremities, hunger is decreased. When used appropriately Ma Huang does indeed have a beneficial effect in burning off excess body weight. In combination with other herbs, thermogenesis can be created in the body. Heat is created and the metabolism is in­creas­ed. This state facilitates the burning off of excess body weight. The caveat is Buyer Beware. Informed choice of pro­ducts containing Ephedra must be made in consultation with a profes­sion­al and used under their supervision.

It is a foible of human nature to want instant weight loss. We want to take a magic pill to immediately lose the body fat that we have accumulated over a period of time through poor eating habits and lifestyle choices. It didn’t hap­pen in an instant and it will not go away in an instant. Losing weight is a conscious choice of changing the habits that created the condition. As always, we are directly re­sponsible for creating the conditions of our life. With proper guidance and personal motivation to be the best that you can be, miracles do indeed happen.

May The Blessings Be!

For information on this subject or any other health concern, e-mail me at askDrNancy@aol.com.


Return to top


Email Us
Contact Us

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Wave Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved

Neighborhoods | History