Are ephedra seeds and plants affected by the FDA’s ban on the ephedrine alkaloid?
For thousands of years, various cultures around the world have turned to the ephedra plant for a number of its health benefits. It’s used as a stimulant that provides energy and focus.
In ancient folklore medicine in China and India, various portions of the plant were administered for the treatment of colds, asthma, bronchitis, and other breathing issues.
Under US law, it is legal to buy ephedra sinica (ma huang) seeds online and grow your own plant at home.
You can also purchase other versions of this plant including the E. Nevadensis and E. Californica species which are native to the United States.
In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration issued a ruling that prohibits the sale of any dietary supplements that contain ephedrine alkaloids. The government also imposed new restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter drugs that contain ephedrine.
However, these rules do not affect the sale of the bulk ephedra herb or seeds of this plant. What do you need to know about ordering ephedra plant seeds online and growing this herb at home? Click here to buy ephedra supplements online legally without a prescription.
A number of online sources advertise real ephedra sinica seeds for sale online. Some websites also sell live plants over the internet.
This plant has been used in traditional herbal medicine for over 2,000 years. It is used as a natural remedy for cough, wheezing, chills, fever, headache and more in Chinese medicine.
Herbal medicine practitioners would commonly prepare the raw herb into a tea and some cultures used the fruits of this plant as foodstuff.
Growing your own ephedra plant at home is one way to acquire this now highly regulated herb. But not all species of this plant contain the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine alkaloids which are believed to promote many of the health benefits.
Also note that it can take a long time for the plant to reach maturity and be ready for harvesting. Furthermore, this plant needs a very specific climate to grow in.
One of the most popular species in regard to its medicinal use is known as Ma Huang, otherwise called “real” ephedra sinica or Chinese ephedra.
It is a good source of the ephedra alkaloids that relieve lung and sinus congestion. These same alkaloids have stimulant-like properties that are used by dieters and athletes for their ability to enhance metabolism and weight loss.
Other popular species sold throughout the United States do not contain high amounts of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. For example, the E. Nevadensis species has little to no alkaloids and the E. Viridis species contains pseudoephedrine but not ephedrine.
Where to Buy Online
Ephedra plant seeds are available online from numerous sources. The quality and cost will vary considerably depending on where you purchase from.
If you live in the USA, the easiest species to find sold near you will be the American varieties including E. nevadensis or ‘Mormon tea’.
Based on one supplier’s website, the seeds from this species can cost anywhere from $3.50 to $4 for a pack of 50 seeds. Larger quantities of 50 to 500 seeds are also available.
Another American species is that of E. viridis, also known as Green Mormon tea. These seeds can range in price from $4-$15 for approximately 10 g or 50 seeds.
If you are looking for seeds from other species such as the Ephedra Sinica plant, eBay is one of the best sources for this product. The Ma Huang seeds are available at a cheap price of $3.95 per 50 seed pack. One supplier advertises their location as San Jose, California.
When browsing through sellers on eBay, a user can find various other species including E. Distachya, E. Fragilis, and E. Intermedia from such locations as Italy, France, and China.
Choosing the Right Ephedra Plant
When selecting the right species of ephedra plant to grow at home, the presence of the ephedrine and pseudoephedrine alkaloids is a key factor for consideration.
Some people are only interested in growing these plants to cultivate extracts containing these alkaloids while others prefer to grow plants that do not contain ephedrine. You can learn more about which species contain these alkaloids in our Ephedra Plant Guide.
Each species may require different growing environments. Most ephedra plants are noted to prefer dry, desert-like or arid growing conditions with full sunlight. Most grow well in sand and rocky locations.
Depending on where you live, you may need to grow your plant indoors. This plant does not like cold weather and does not do well in moist environments.
The herb is often prepared into a tea for medicinal purposes. Recommended recipes differ depending on reason for using this tea as well as preferences for taste. Not all portions of the ephedra are edible or recommended for ingestion.
In most cases, the tea is made from a dry powder from of the plant or brewed from fresh stems and leaves.
Ephedra tea should not be consumed at a dosage of greater than than two cups daily in order to reduce the risk of side effects.
Side Effects and Plant Dangers
Ma Huang and other species of ephedra plants can cause serious adverse effects when used in high dosages. Extracts from this plant have been known to cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, psychosis and stroke in some cases/.
Depending on the species of ephedra seeds you’ve purchased, you can expect a number of side effects when using the raw plant parts in or on various foods. Among the most common include:
- Increased sense of anxiety, nervousness, or jitteriness
- Hand tremors
- Heart palpitations
The side effects are linked to the stimulative properties of the plant, primarily its ephedrine and pseudoephedrine content.
Even those ephedra species which have little to no alkaloids can cause negative effects. Adverse reactions will be more severe in individuals with low tolerance to stimulant ingredients, including in combination with any source of caffeine.
Ephedra seeds are not to be eaten in whole form. Some people do crush them and sprinkle them into beverages and foods, but this is not recommended.
Some species, such as the E. sinica variety , are more potent than that of the E. nevadensis or E. viridis species and may produce more stimulatory side effects such as heart palpitations and anxiety.
Ephedra seeds are legal to buy and sell, but always refer to a local laws and regulations regarding use of this product. Shipping the seeds into or out of your state, country, or province may also require special permits or requirements.