What is ma huang?
If you’ve never heard of ma huang, let me tell you, you’re missing out. This little herb has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and it’s still making waves today.
So, what the heck is ma huang?
Ma huang (or Ephedra sinica) is a plant native to southern Mongolia that’s been used in China for thousands of years. The extract from its stems contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – two active compounds that can have stimulating effects on the body.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s often used to treat respiratory issues like asthma or hay fever as well as colds and flu. Some practitioners also use ma huang to help with low blood pressure or promote weight loss.
But here in the West, we tend to focus on its more stimulating qualities…
Ma huang vs caffeine: a battle for your morning fix
Let’s start by comparing caffeine and ma huang. They both work by activating your nervous system and boosting energy levels but they do so in slightly different ways.
Caffeine primarily affects adenosine receptors which are responsible for helping us feel sleepy at night (and if you don’t know this already – where have you been?) By blocking these receptors, caffeine makes us feel alert and awake even when our bodies might still be telling us we need rest.
Ma huang works differently; instead of blocking receptors it directly stimulates the release of epinephrine (aka adrenaline) in your body. That means when you take this stuff suddenly everything feels kinda exciting!
It’s like drinking 5 cups of coffee…but without all the jitters (Who wouldn’t want that??) And because there are other compounds present in Ephedra extracts working alongside ephedrine- such as flavonoids- some studies suggest using such extracts can help improve cognitive function and provide more sustainable effects than coffee, without the crash.
But wait…there’s a catch
Of course, as with most stimulants (as well as everything in life really) there are some caveats to consider before you start stocking up on ma huang extract:
- It isn’t safe for everyone: people with high blood pressure/ cardiovascular conditions should avoid taking ephedrine until consulting their doctor
- Dosage matters: like all materials, over-consumption of Ma Huang is clearly not suitable. And is simply dangerous
- Side-effects aren’t pretty: never forget it has possible side effects. These may include increased heart-rate/blood pressure/hyperthermia which could lead to any number of health issues!
That being said – if you’re generally burning the candle at both ends, your body could probably use a little pick-me-up now and then (it certainly sounds fun right?)
What form does ma huang come in?
Like most herbs these days, you can find Ephedra sinica products (including whole plant or extracts) online but do be careful when choosing where/how you get them from. You don’t want knock-offs making things worse for ya! Some common dosage forms include :
Ma Huang comes crafted into convenient tablets.
Super easy for travel!
These pills either contain pure Ephedra Concentrate or an herb mix containing other natural energizing herbs such as ginseng.
This version incorporates finely ground Ephedra powder that individuals take added water of green tea alongwith depending on choice.
Liquid Extract: A highly concentrated mode available as drops or tincture. Only one drop needed! Like poof magic! Note that extraction-based intake ensures quick results…but also increases risk!!
It’s essential to always follow usage guidelines provided by manufacturers /herbalists because improper usage can also lead to harm.
Ma huang and your workout: a match made in heaven?
One of the more popular uses for ma huang in recent years has been as an athletic performance booster. The thinking here is that because it stimulates adrenaline, it could help you push harder, move faster and get the most out of your time spent sweating (AND THAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN??).
But despite mixed data customers swear by it.,most health professional experts usually tend to speak defensively about advertising Ephedra supplements or recommending its use without adequate understanding on usage/appropriate dosage …So stick with discussing this one with coaches/ trainers!
While there’s definitely a lot still unknown about how exactly ma huang affects our bodies… we have ample proof showing us that they certainly make things exciting! Whether you’re looking for a way to power through those morning runs (or )burn some extra calories before beach season (not just me who didn’t realize were’s already past summer right?) – there might be something there worth exploring. Just remember- proceed responsibly folks!!