Scientific name: EphedralesEnglish name: Vietnamese name: Ma hoàngOther name:
Ephedra refers to the plant Ephedra sinica. E. sinica, known in Chinese as ma huang (??; pinyin: má huáng), has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years for the treatment of asthma and hay fever, as well as for the common cold. Several additional species belonging to the genus Ephedra have traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, and are a possible candidate for the Soma plant of Indo-Iranian religion. Native Americans and Mormon pioneers drank a tea brewed from an Ephedra, called Mormon Tea.
In recent years, the safety of ephedra-containing dietary supplements has been questioned by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the medical community as a result of a high rate of serious side effects and ephedra-related deaths. In response to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths related to ephedra, the FDA banned the sale of ephedra-containing supplements on April 12, 2004. A suit by an ephedra manufacturer was upheld by a Federal District Court judge in Utah on April 14, 2005. The FDA appealed this ruling, and on August 17, 2006 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the FDA's ban of ephedra. As of June 2007, the sale of ephedra-containing dietary supplements remains illegal in the United States due to their health risks.