Name: Ephedra middle – ephedra intermediate
Ephedra middle (Ephedra intermedia); ephedra empty; ephedra intermediate
A very branched dioecious bushy plant of the ephedra family, up to 1 m tall. Annual twigs are gray-green, straight, smooth or rough, longitudinally grooved, jointed, with internodes from 2 to 6 cm; the lower branches are placed in a ring, the upper ones are opposite. The leaves are opposite, reduced in the form of scales, triangular. The flower is small, unisexual, collected in spikelets; male spikelets – in spherical inflorescences. The fruit is a two-seeded red fleshy spherical cone berry. Blooms in May – June.
Spread. Middle ephedra occurs on the plains, in the lower belt of the mountains of Central Asia and Siberia.
Procurement and storage . For the manufacture of medicines, green non-woody shoots of the plant (Herba Ephedrae) are used. Harvesting of raw materials begins in April and ends in late autumn, stopping it only during the period of growth of new twigs (approximately from mid-May to the end of June). The raw materials are dried directly on the field, folding them into strips 1-1.5 m wide and 1-1.5 m high of any length. 50-60% of dry raw materials are obtained. The validity period is 1 year. The ephedra herb is a raw material for the industrial production of the alkaloid ephedrine, it is not sold by pharmacies.
Chemical composition . Thin green shoots of ephedra medium contain alkaloids (0.5-2.2%), tannins (up to 8%) and dyes and flavonoids. Alkaloids include pseudoephedrine (70-75%), ephedrine and other substances.
Pharmacological properties and use. The therapeutic activity of the plant is due to the presence in it of the alkaloid ephedrine, which belongs to sympathomimetic agents; it causes vasoconstriction, increases blood pressure, promotes bronchial expansion, inhibits intestinal peristalsis, and slightly increases blood sugar. In addition, ephedrine stimulates the central nervous system, stimulates the respiratory center. Compared to adrenaline, ephedrine acts weaker, but longer. The use of ephedrine is indicated for low blood pressure, collapse, bronchial asthma, whooping cough, hay fever, urticaria, seasickness, and poisoning with drugs and sleeping pills. It is also used when it is necessary to dilate pupils and narrow blood vessels in ophthalmological and otorhinolaryngological practice. Ephedrine is part of the complex anti-asthmatic agent theophedrine. Ephedrine has the ability (especially in overdose) to cause a number of undesirable toxic phenomena, namely: nausea; vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, arterial hypertension, nervous excitement, insomnia, tremors of limbs, anuria, hyperhidrosis and skin rashes.
Medicinal forms and applications .
Internally – ephedrine hydrochloride (Ephedrini hydrochloridum) is prescribed 1 tablet 2-3 times a day before meals, and 0.5-1 ml of a 0.5% solution is injected subcutaneously to stop an attack of bronchial asthma.
It is contraindicated to use ephedrine in case of hypertension, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, cardiosclerosis, hyperthyroidism and diabetes.