Ephedra sinica (also known as Chinese ephedra or Ma Huang) is a plant species native to Mongolia,Russia (Buryatiya, Chita, Primorye), and northeastern China (Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning,Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi).
Ephedra is a medicinal preparation from the plant Ephedra sinica. Known in Chinese as ma huang (麻黃; pinyin: má huáng, which literally translates into English as “hemp yellowed”). 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. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. Native Americans and Mormon pioneers drank a tea brewed from other ephedra species, called “Mormon tea” and “Indian tea”.
In recent years, ephedra-containing dietary supplements have been found to be unsafe, with reports of serious side effects and ephedra-related deaths. In response to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths related to ephedra, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of ephedra-containing supplements in 2004. The ban was challenged in court by ephedra manufacturers, but ultimately upheld in 2006 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
(From Wikipedia, July 2015)