The Mormon tea plant may be the medicinal herb that has been used for the longest. It was early known in China, where it was called mahuang, and the Chinese had used it for several thousand years. Western medicine did not discover this plant until the 19th century. In 1926, its active principle, ephedrine, was first synthesized by Merk Laboratories in Germany. Since then, it has become part of several medicines.
Healing Properties and Warning
The whole plant contains ephedrine, an active alkaloid that acts on the nervous system, tannin, saponin, flavons, and an essential oil. Ephedrine acts in a way similar to adrenaline, stimulating the sympathetic nervous system (sympathomimetic action). It increases blood pressure, produces tachycardia, relaxes the bronchial muscles, increases perspiration and gastric and salivary secretions, and provokes mydriasis (dilation of pupils).
WARNING! It is a toxic but not deadly plant. Only medical professionals can correctly prescribe this plant due to its complex actions on the human body.
Mormon Tea Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Bringham Young weed, desert herb, ephedra, desert tea, squaw tea, teamster’s tea.
- French: Ephedre.
- Spanish: Efedra, uva de mar.
- Environment: Dry, arid, rocky soils both on the coastline and in the hinterland. Native to Central Asia, nowadays, it has been naturalized in dry areas of Europe and America.
- Description: Vivacious shrub of the Ephedraceae family, growing up to 25 cm high, with fine branches in whose knots grow yellow flowers. The fruit has a red-wine color.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The stems and branches.
How to use Mormon Tea
- Pharmaceutical preparations: drops, pills, suppositories.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 303. Print.[mormon tea]