Ma Huang Tea or Ephedra Tea has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for any number of ailments. Currently, it is most popular as a weight loss supplement – especially among bodybuilders who want to cut body fat fast. While there are many formats you can take ephedra in, some individuals prefer drinking it as a tea so that they can spread their dosage out over a longer period of time. However, when making ephedra tea it is important that you use the ma huang leaves of the ephedra plant to ensure that you are actually getting ephedrine alkaloids which is the active ingredient in this herbal supplement.
Before looking at how to prepare ephedra tea, let’s consider how ephedra actually works to cause weight loss. Ephedra Sinica or Ma Huang is a greenish shrub that grows in dessert climates in areas such as Eastern Asia. Within the stems and leaves of this plant there are a number of chemical compounds with medical properties. The one we are most interested in is known as ephedrine. This alkaloid actually mimics adrenaline when you ingest it. As a result, your body temperature increases, your heart rate increase, your appetite is suppressed, and mental focus improved.
These effects on their own can cause weight loss by enhancing athletic performance and burning fat through something called thermogenesis. But ephedrine also boosts levels of a hormone known as norepinephrine that breaks down fat tissue and releases it from cells so that your body can burn it easily for energy. Ephedrine has been proven most effective when taking it with caffeine in an ECA Stack. Together, these compounds have been scientifically tested to cause an average of 2.2 lbs of additional fat burned a month. That can add up to 26 pounds in a year!
When making ephedra tea for weight loss, the first step is to ensure you are getting the right type of ephedra to use in your tea. Some products marketed as “ephedra extracts” do not contain any ephedrine at all. Other species of the ephedra plant contain minimal levels of the alkaloid. For example, Ephedra Nevadensis is a close relatively of the Ephedra Sinica plant that is often sold in preparations known as Mormon Tea or Brigham Tea. While it is true that this plant is in the ephedra species, it contains no traces of actual ephedrine and will not be very helpful when trying to lose weight!
If you are making ma huang tea, you must ensure that you are getting real Ma Huang or Ephedra Sinica from China to use in the tea. It can be difficult to get your hands on these herbs as they are now banned in the USA and around the world. That is why most bodybuilders will now use pure ephedrine HCL which is legal and safe for their weight loss. Should you manage to get your hands on real ephedra, here are the steps to follow in order to brew it into a tea:
Make Ephedra Tea
Step 1: Clean your ephedra stems and leaves of any unwanted impurities. If you know the ephedrine content of your herbs, you should make sure not to exceed a 25 mg dosage of ephedrine in total. Then grind the materials with a coffee grinder into small pieces. (If you do not have a coffee grinder, you can cut up the plant or add it to your tea whole, but you will not get as high a concentration of ephedrine in your tea). If you have a powdered ephedra extract you can skip this step.
Step 2: Boil one cup of water with 500 milligrams of Vitamin C (This will make the ephedra more soluble). Add the ephedra plant leaves and stems into the cup using a strainer. Allow the mixture to sit for five minutes.
Step 3: Strain the ephedra tea to remove the stems and leaves. Add cinnamon or honey to improve the flavour of the tea. Drink it slowly at first to ensure you do not get too high a dose of ephedrine at once. After thirty minutes, gauge any resulting side effects to determine whether you should drink more.
Optional: Some individuals prefer to drink their ma huang tea in an iced format so they can continuously consume it over the course of a few hours. If you would prefer to do this, place the tea in the fridge after boiling it and allow it to cool.
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- Vukovich MD, et al. Caffeine-herbal ephedra combination increases resting energy expenditure, heart rate and blood pressure. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. (2005)
- Bukowiecki L, Jahjah L, Follea N. Ephedrine, a potential slimming drug, directly stimulates thermogenesis in brown adipocytes via beta-adrenoreceptors. Int J Obes. (1982)