Ephedra (Ephedrae herba)

Published January 17, 1991.
List of German Commission E Monographs (Phytotherapy)


Name of Drug

Ephedrae herba, ephedra, ma huang.

Composition of Drug

Ephedra consists of the dried, young branchlets, harvested in the fall, of Ephedra sinica Stapf, E. shennungiana Tang [Fam. Ephedraceae], or other equivalent Ephedra species, as well as their equivalent preparations in effective dosage.

The herb contains alkaloids; main alkaloids are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.


Diseases of the respiratory tract with mild bronchospasms in adults and children over the age of six.


Anxiety and restlessness, high blood pressure, glaucoma, impaired circulation of the cerebrum, adenoma of prostate with residual urine accumulation, pheochromo-cytoma, thyrotoxicosis.

Side Effects

Insomnia, motor restlessness, irritability, headaches, nausea, vomiting, disturbances of urination, tachycardia.

In higher dosage:

drastic increase in blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, development of dependency. Interactions with Other Drugs In combination with:

Cardiac glycosides or halothane: disturbance of heart rhythm. Guanethidine: enhancement of the sympathomimetic effect. MAO-inhibitors:

Greatly raising the sympathomimetic action of ephedrine. Secale alkaloid derivatives or oxytocin: development of hypertension. Dosage Unless otherwise prescribed:

Single dosage:


Herb preparations corresponding to 15 - 30 mg total alkaloid, calculated as ephedrine. Children:

Herb preparations corresponding to 0.5 mg total alkaloid per kg of body weight. Maximum Daily Dosage Adults:

Herb preparations corresponding to 300 mg total alkaloid, calculated as ephedrine. Children:

2 mg total alkaloid per kg of body weight. Mode of Administration Comminuted herb, as well as other galenical preparations for internal use.

Duration of Administration

Ephedra preparations should only be used on a short-term duration because of tachyphylaxis and danger of addiction.

Note: Ephedrine-containing preparations are listed as addictive by the International Olympic Committee and the German Sports Association.


In animal experiments:

antitussive Ephedrine acts by indirectly stimulating the sympathomimetic and central nervous system. Bacteriostatic