Ma Huang - Ephedra

TCM Materia Medica

Ma Huang TCM Herb Classifications and Usages

The TCM herb "ma huang" which in english is "ephedra", is categorized within the "herbs that release the exterior wind cold" functional grouping. It is thought to enter the lung and urinary bladder channels and exhibits acrid, bitter (ku) and warm (wen) taste/temperature properties.

Dosages and preparations will vary according to each individual and the overall approach of a formula, but generally this herb has the following dosage and/or preparation guidelines:

  • Dosage: 3-9g

Of many possible clinical applications, it may be considered to influence the following issues/symptoms:

  • Induce sweating to release the exterior, disperse cold
  • Disperse lung qi, wheezing
  • Promote urination and reduces edema

Ma Huang has some precautions to be considered (see our precautions list).

  • Not for long-term use as sweating will weaken the qi
  • Use cautiously in deficiency condition
  • May cause and/or contribute to hypertension, insomnia, mental restlessness

While it may not always be included depending on the manufacturer or herbalist making the formula, ma huang is generally included in the following 2 formulas:

ViewGe Gen Wan (Kudzu Decoction)

Wind-cold invasion with upper neck and back pain - cold or flu, mild fever, no sweating, stiffness.

ViewQing Bi Wan (Clear The Nose Decoction)

Sinus issues arising from damp-heat pattern in Chinese Medicine - yellow and sticky discharge, sinusitis, rhinitis acute or chronic. Sinus headache, decreased olfactory sense.  

As noted above, ma huang is within the herbs that release the exterior wind cold functional group. All the herbs in this category are listed below.

(truncated intro "... many are acrid and warm used when fever is mild, chill severe, headache, body & neck pain, no thirst focus is on the superficial layer of the body and lung precautions: do not overdose herbs that promote sweating – disperses qi too much a…)".

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