Ephedra Equisetina Plant Extract Medicinal Uses [Review]
Ephedra equisetina (Bluestem joint fir, Muzei Ma Huang) is one of over 60 different species of the ephedra plant.
E. Equisetina grows in certain mountainous, dry, rocky regions of East Asia and North China. This herb and other species in the Ephedraceae family have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years.
According to one herbalist, ephedra is the first plant that practitioners learn about when studying Chinese medicine. This bitter plant is brewed into a tea for its energizing and invigorating properties.
Ephedra equisetina is a source of ephedrine alkaloids, which is what gives this plant its medicinal effects. Ephedrine is commonly used in asthma and allergy medications to provide relief from nasal congestion and help open airways.
Ephedra plant extracts are also used to promote weight loss, energy enhancement, libido, physical stamina, mood enhancement and more. However, the availability of this herb in dietary supplements has been banned in many parts of the world. Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
Ephedra equisetina is just one of over 60 recognized species of ephedra growing around the world. All species of the ephedra shrub are members of the evergreen conifer family.
What makes this species unique is its dense blueish-colored stems. It is often referred to by the nickname of blue stem joint fir.
Like other forms of ephedra, it produce yellow blooms and red berries during the spring species. This species of ephedra is commonly found in gardens because of its adaptability to varying levels of moisture and its drought tolerance.
Many forms of ephedra plants are used in traditional Chinese medicine, prepared into herbal remedies or brewed as teas. The most commonly used species is Ephedra Sinica (Ma Huang) which has the highest content of the active alkaloids, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Not all ephedra species contain these alkaloids. The ephedrine and pseudoephedrine content of various species of ephedra can differ greatly.
For example, some species contain ephedrine alkaloids, but little to no pseudoephedrine. Others contain mid- to low-levels of pseudoephedrine and no ephedrine.
Both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are Central Nervous System stimulants primarily used today in promoting weight loss or energy enhancement.
Ephedra equisetina has a similar alkaloid profile to E. Sinica extract. It also contains similar levels of other components like antioxidants, flavonoids, tannins and phenolic constituents.
The total alkaloid content (TAC) in the Chinese Ephedra Sinica species varies between 42 and 49 mg per gram (dry weight). E. equisetina potency is also within this range, depending on location, season, cultivation period, growing patterns and environment.
The alkaloid content of E. equisetina is predominantly made up of ephedrine. Therefore, this species is likely to provide many of the same benefits as the E. Sinica species.
Mechanism of Action
Most of the benefits of consuming Ephedra equisetina extract come from the ephedrine alkaloid content in this plant. While there are other active phytochemicals, their physiological effects are generally more modest.
The primary mechanism of action of ephedrine is as an agonist to beta-2 adrenergic receptors found throughout the body. These are cellular receptors involved in the sympathetic nervous system that respond to the chemical messenger adrenaline.
Ephedrine mimics the effects of the body’s own adrenaline hormone and promote stimulation of the nervous system. It can make users feel more awake, alert and energized.
Specifically, ephedrine has been shown to behave as a bronchodilator, meaning that it cases the bronchi and bronchioles to dilate and increases airflow to the lungs. This explains why E. Equisetina is sometimes used in the treatment of asthma, allergies and upper respiratory infections.
Ephedrine also promotes blood vessel dilation, increased oxygenation of the blood, enhanced circulation and boosts the rate at which your body breaks down stored calories and burns them for energy.
Drinking herbal Ephedra equisetina tea can essentially provide many of the same effects as a natural adrenaline rush, causing users to feel more motivated, concentrated, energized and invigorated.
Ephedra Equisetina for Weight Loss
Can you use this species of ephedra for weight loss? Because of its stimulating effect on metabolism, ephedrine and ephedra have been widely used to promote fat loss.
A number of studies have shown that use of ephedra-based products can promote weight loss, independent of diet and lifestyle changes. In some studies, users have been able to lose between one to two pounds per month while taking these products
Ephedra equisetina can cause your body to burn calories faster by raising your basal metabolic rate. This is a measure of how many calories you burn per day, even when not exercising.
The ephedrine alkaloid is a thermogenic agent, which means that it prompts you to expend more calories and convert that energy into heat. Even a small increase in core body temperature can result in a significant increase in calories burned.
Potential users of ephedra equisetina should be aware that increased metabolism does not always equate to increased weight loss. For optimal results, appropriate diet and increased levels of activity/exercise are recommended.
Ephedra supplements can also help users lose weight by controlling appetite and increasing energy and desire to work out. Users often take this product in pre-workout formulas before they hit the gym.
Bodybuilders have long relied on combining species of ephedra with other stimulants including caffeine or Bitter Orange to boost their results. However, doing so can contribute to increased risk for negative side effects.
All products with stimulant effects should be used with caution due to the potential for adverse reactions. Excess use of these products can be dangerous to your heart function and can lead to long-term side effects.
Note that it is generally believed that taking Ephedra equisetina herbal products is significantly safer than using synthetic ephedrine HCL on its own. However, there is still a possibility of experiencing negative effects when using any products that contain ephedra.
A number of common side effects are associated with ephedra extracts. The frequency and severity of side effects will depend on dosage, how the product is taken, how long it is used for, whether it is combined with other ingredients and personal tolerance or sensitivity levels.
Among the most common side effects include:
- Racing heart
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased sense of anxiety
Overuse, misuse, and abuse of any form of ephedra equisetina, can contribute to more serious side effects including:
- Tachycardia – an increased heart rate
- Arrhythmias – irregular heart rhythm
- Myocardial infarction
These side effects are more likely if taking synthetic forms of ephedrine alkaloids or using them in combination with other stimulants.
Before using any form of ephedra supplement, tea or herbal remedy, consult with a doctor to determine whether this product is safe for you. Not everyone should use this herb, including people with heart conditions, liver or kidney problems, glaucoma, a history of stroke, mental health conditions and more.
Check with a doctor before combining ephedra extracts with other supplements or drugs. Consult with a trained herbalist or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner before taking ephedra equisetina products to treat any health conditions.