Ephedra distachya (syn. E. vulgaris) is a shrub in the family Ephedraceae, about 25 cm to 50 cm high, that grows in southern Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Its local names include somlatha.
It is used to relieve acute muscular and rheumatic pains (when it is called teamsters' tea), as a stimulant, and in the cardio tonics in Ayurveda. It is sometimes identified with the legendary drug soma, as described in the Avesta and the Rig Veda, the respective ancient sacred texts of the Zoroastrian and Hindu faiths.
Ephedrine, an alkaloid, is obtained from its dried branches and is used as a stimulant, often to control asthma. It was isolated from the plant by Nagayoshi Nagai in 1885. All parts of the plant contain up to 3% ephedrine.
- "Ephedra distachya information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
- "Meerträubel (Ephedra distachya) im GIFTPFLANZEN.COMpendium - www.giftpflanzen.com". www.giftpflanzen.com. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
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