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HISTORY OF EPHEDRA

EPHEDRA (AKA EPHEDRINE, EPHEDRAE HERBA, EPHEDRACEAE, MA HUANG, EPHEDRINE ALKALOIDS) DATES BACK MORE THAN 5000 YEARS WITH ORIGINS IN CHINA. OFTEN USED AS A THERAPEUTIC RESPIRATORY STIMULANT FOR THOSE SUFFERING BREATHING AILMENTS, THE LEAVES AND STEM OF THIS NATIVE SHRUB WAS A LITTLE UNDERSTOOD, BUT A WELL PROVEN MEDICINAL REMEDY FOR BRONCHITIS, PNEUMONIA, ASTHMA, AND CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISORDER (COPD). THIS WAS TYPICALLY ADMINISTERED AS A TONIC OR TEA CALLED YELLOW RIVER, MORMON TEA, OR WHOREHOUSE TEA. THE EFFICACY OF ITS BROCHIODILATORY EFFECTS WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED AND UTILIZED IN PALLIATIVE TREATMENT FOR A VARIETY OF COMMON AFFLICTIONS OF THE SINUSES AND LUNGS. ITS POPULARITY AND USAGE GREW TO ENCOMPASS THE WESTERN WORLD AND INTRODUCED IN THE AMERICAS BY NATIVE TRIBES IN UTAH TO MORMONS AS A COFFEE SUBSTITUTE. EARLY IN ITS DEBUT, THE LEAF AND STEM WERE BOTH DEEMED VALUABLE IN MEDICINAL USE, HOWEVER, AS THE STIMULANT EFFECTS WERE RECOGNIZED TO SURPASS THOSE OF CAFFEINE, NEW FORMS WERE CREATED USING ONLY THE MOST POTENT PART OF THE PLANT: THE ALKALOID EXTRACT. ISOLATED IN 1885 BY A JAPANESE CHEMIST, EPHEDRA ALKALOIDS WERE FURTHER RESEARCHED FOR THEIR PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS. IN THE 1920S THE SCIENTISTS LINKED AN EFFECT EXACTED BY THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM THAT SHOWED AN ADRENALINE STIMULATED MOOD ENHANCEMENT OF INDIVIDUALS PARTICIPATING IN THE STUDY. THE LIST OF BENEFITS WAS RAPIDLY GROWING, AS WAS THE DEMAND FOR EPHEDRA AVAILABILITY.

SUCCESSIVE STUDIES ALSO DESCRIBED THE THERMOGENIC EFFECTS AND ACCOMPANYING WEIGHT LOSS THAT EPHEDRA INDUCED, AS WELL AS THE INCREASED ENERGY PROVIDED BY THIS ORGANIC GIANT. AS THE RESEARCH CAPITALIZED ON THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF EPHEDRA INTAKE, DRUG COMPANIES TOOK NOTICE AND ITS FEVERISH MANUFACTURING AND MARKETING TOOK ROOT AND ITS POPULARITY SPREAD WORLD WIDE. THIS DEMAND WAS THE PRECURSOR TO A HIGHLY DESIRABLE COMMODITY THAT IS OFTEN, AND UNAVOIDABLY, SUBJECT TO THE ABUSE BY THOSE WHO SEEK AN INTESIFIED EFFECT OF AN ALREADY EFFECTIVE SUBSTANCE ENDING IN THE EVENTUAL BAN OF EPHEDRA BY THE FDA IN 2004.

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