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*Banned in the U.S. (There is a weaker version of the plant called Mormon Tea. See the Desert section). Thin leafless, jointed stick like stalks (red berries in summer). Ephedra is a very effective decongestant herb that has been banned in some countries because of side effects and some deaths resulting from overuse of the synthetic isolate ephedrine. These side effects are not as prevalent when taking the whole plant in its natural state. The ephedra plant has been used for 5000 years for treating asthma, hay fever, lung and breathing problems, congestion, and as a performance enhancer in sports. The pharmaceutical isolate ephedrine raises blood pressure, but the whole plant contains other alkaloids that prevent blood pressure from rising. It’s a stimulant who’s main active constituents are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine,which stimulate brain and increase heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase metabolism and body heat (weight loss), while expanding bronchials in lungs, making breathing easier. Used for colds and flu, promotes sweating. Side effects from taking too much may include anxiety, nervousness, headache, insomnia, trembling, sweating, dehydration, seizures or worse. If taken correctly, it has made people breath better and relax because of its ability to stop asthma attacks. I was given it as an asthmatic child and worked wonders. Like anything, it’s about proper usage, not abuse. I am not prescribing here, just informing historical data :-)