The General of Respiration

The General of Respiration

The General of Respiration

At the base of Mount Charleston and Red Rock in the Las Vegas valley, dotted between other low elevation desert plants like yerba santa, yucca, and sage, a peculiar, spindly shrub sticks out compared to the rest.  This shrub has been described as “resembling a naked, barkless, stunted pine tree.”  In the early spring, its stems are a vibrant green with bright yellow seed cones, and by the end of spring those seed cones almost seem to burst like popcorn.  By mid fall, the seed cones are gone and the green stems dull to an olive green.  We are fortunate to have a variety of this plant family native to our region as it is not widely available or cultivated.  It is quite special to still have this plant available in-store by itself and some prepared supplemental forms.  It is one of the best herbs to promote respiratory and cardiovascular health. This is Ephedra, the General of Respiration.

There are approximately 40 different identified varieties of the Ephedra plant around the globe, but the most common varieties for supplemental purposes are Sinica(Asia) and Viridis(North America). Oftentimes, the information found on these varieties can be applied synonymously to either strain even though other varieties are far less potent than Sinica.  Archeological evidence suggests that humans have been safely using the Ephedra plant for its benefits for at least 60,000 years, and documented use of Ephedra Sinica, or Ma Huang, can be found in China dating back to 220 BC.  This is important to note because there are often many cautions on products which may contain ephedra due to abuse of its constituents and synthetic variations in the 1990’s.  When consumed in the whole form, as an herbal infusion or tea, powdered and encapsulated, or made into traditional extracts, there are virtually no known negative responses associated with the consumption of Ephedra.

Ephedra Nutrients, Constituents, and Benefits

  • Ephedra is known to contain Ascorbic Acid(Vitamin C) and Chromium, but most of its benefits come from its namesake constituents: Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, N-Methyl-Ephedrine, N-Methyl-Pseudoephedrine, Norephedrine, and Norpseudoephedrine

Ephedra can help to:

  • Support healthy inflammatory and histamine response in the respiratory system
  • Relax and open airways, and calm spasms
  • Support the elimination of mucus from the respiratory system
  • Encourage the uptake of more oxygen into the blood through the lungs
  • Promote a strong, steady heartbeat and healthy blood flow to the head and extremities
  • Stimulate brain and nerve function 
  • Stimulate metabolism, discourage appetite, and promote energy and stamina

Searching for information on Ephedra can be tricky.  Ma Huang is the best known common name for Ephedra Sinica, but Viridis and its lesser varieties can be known by many names including: American Ephedra, Brigham Tea, Cowboy Tea, Desert Herb or Tea, General of Respiration, Joint Fir,  Miner’s Tea, “Mormon” Tea, Popotillo, Squaw Tea, Teamster’s Tea, and Yellow River.