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Ephedra Plant: What Are The Different Types of Ephedra?

ephedra plantThe Ephedra plant has been used for thousands of years as a source of natural medical benefits. First discovered by ancient Chinese populations over 5,000 years ago, it has been used to treat coughs, fevers, flu symptoms, and breathing problems. In present times, the ephedra plant is recognized as one of the most powerful herbal weight loss solutions as a metabolic booster. But there are a number of different versions of the ephedra plant and the extracts from these plants contain different amounts of ephedrine – the active component of ephedra that burns fat. The following is a guide to the most commonly encountered versions of the Ephedraceae family of plants.


Ephedra Sinica (Ma Huang)

When most people refer to using ephedra for weight loss purposes, they are usually taking about using alkaloids from the Ephedra Sinica plant. This plant was the original species of Ephedraceae employed in Oriental medicine. Typically found in dry desert-like Asian climates, it is a green shrub with multiple stem-like offshoots and small pollen cones. It contains the highest percentage of ephedrine alkaloids which makes it the most potent of all ephedra plants.


Ephedra Viridis (Mormon Tea)

The Ephedra Viridis species of the herb is native to southern portions of the United States and Mexico. It was used historically by the Native American people who prepared it in a formulation known as Ephedra Tea or Brigham Tea. This version of the plant contains a very small portion of ephedra alkaloids and often does not contain any ephedrine at all. Some unscrupulous companies will sell Ephedra Viridis products and try to pass them off as real ephedra.



Ephedra Nevadensis (Nevada Ephedra)

Named because it grows predominantly in desert climates like Nevada and Oregon, this species of the plant was also prepared as a tea known as Mormon Tea. This species of the plant does not in fact contain any ephedrine alkaloids and should be avoided when looking to buy real ephedra products online. Nowadays, it is used mostly as forage for sheep and cattle.


Ephedra Vulgaris (Ephedra Distachya)

Ephedra Vulgaris was originally used in the Ayurveda medical tradition and can be found growing naturally in the Himalayas. The green flowering shrub can grow as tall as 25 to 50 cm high and all portions of the plant from the seeds to the stems to the leaves to the roots have been used for medical purposes. It is known among Zorastrian and Hindu faiths as somlatha and is often identified with the mythical drug known as soma. The plant contains approximately 3% ephedrine alkaloids making it less concentrated than Ephedra Sinica, but more concentrated than many other versions.

Ephedra Californica

This species of the Ephedra herb which is native to California is known locally as California jointfir, California ephedra, Desert Tea, or Canatillo. Baring much finer stems than its desert relatives, this plant is more commonly found in grassland areas where it can grow taller than a meter high. The alkaloid content of this plant varies greatly but it generally contains far less pure ephedrine than its Asian or European counterparts.


Ephedra Gerardiana

ephedra herbEphedra Gerardiana grows mostly in East Asia, particularly in stony or gravelly areas at the foot of the Himalayas. It features small and delicate red fruits which are edible, making it unique among ephedra plants. The herb has an alkaloid content in powdered extract format ranging from .28% to 2.79% and it is regarded as highly safe when using the whole plant in medical preparations. The juice of the berries that grow from Ephedra Gerardiana can also be prepared into a liquid ephedrine syrup to treat upper respiratory difficulties.

There are many more different species within the Ephedra genus, such as Ephedra Torreyana, Ephedra Trifurca, Ephedra Fragilis, and Ephedra Funerea. All of these plants feature a different mix of alkaloids and different concentrations of ephedrine. When buying any ephedra weight loss supplement product, make sure you know exactly what source of herb is being used and try to learn as much as you can about that plant. It is always recommended that you purchase pure ephedrine HCL rather than other forms of ephedra to prevent any adverse side effects and to ensure you are receiving the correct dosage size. While there are many different types of ephedra plant, there is only one major active ingredient and that is ephedrine. By purchasing pure ephedrine you will receive the full weight loss benefits without exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.


Complete Inventory of Known Ephedra Plants:

• Ephedra alata
• Ephedra altissima
• Ephedra americana
• Ephedra antisyphilitica
• Clapweed
• Erect Ephedra
• Ephedra aphylla
• Ephedra aspera
• Boundary Ephedra
• Pitamoreal
• Ephedra boelckei
• Ephedra californica
• California Ephedra
• California Jointfir
• Ephedra campylopoda
• Ephedra chilensis
• Ephedra ciliata
• Ephedra coryi
• Cory’s Ephedra
• Ephedra cutleri
• Navajo Ephedra
• Cutler’s Ephedra
• Cutler Mormon-tea
• Cutler’s Jointfir
• Ephedra dahurica
• Ephedra distachya
• Joint-pine
• Jointfir
• Ephedra Helvetica
• Ephedra equisetina
• Ephedra fasciculata
• Arizona Ephedra
• Arizona Jointfir
• Desert Mormon-tea
• Ephedra fedtschenkoae Pauls.
• Ephedra foliata Boiss. ex C.A.Mey.
• Ephedra fragilis Desf.
• Ephedra frustillata
• Patagonian Ephedra • Ephedra funerea
• Death Valley Ephedra
• Death Valley Jointfir
• Ephedra gerardiana
• Gerard’s Jointfir
• Shan Ling Ma Huang
• Ephedra holoptera
• Ephedra intermedia
• Ephedra lepidosperma
• Ephedra likiangensis
• Ephedra lomatolepis
• Ephedra macedonica
• Ephedra major
• Ephedra minuta
• Ephedra monosperma
• Ephedra multiflora
• Ephedra nevadensis
• Nevada Ephedra
• Nevada Jointfir
• Nevada Mormon-tea
• Ephedra pachyclada
• Ephedra pedunculata
• Vine Ephedra
• Vine Jointfir
• Ephedra procera
• Ephedra przewalskii
• Ephedra regeliana
• Xi Zi Ma Huang
• Ephedra saxatilis
• Ephedra sinica
• Cao Ma Huang
• Chinese ephedra
• Ephedra strobilacea
• Ephedra torreyana
• Torrey’s Ephedra
• Torrey’s Jointfir
• Torrey’s Mormon-tea
• Cañutillo
• Ephedra trifurca
• Longleaf Ephedra
• Longleaf Jointfir
• Longleaf Mormon-tea
• Popotilla
• Teposote
• Ephedra viridis


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