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Ephedrine has effects on the human body. It can be used as a stimulant or a decongestant. It is also used to treat certain forms of low blood pressure or to help hunger. Ephedrine is like amphetamine and methamphetamine.
The herb má huáng (麻黄, Ephedra sinica) is used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in it. Nagayoshi Nagai was the first person to take ephedrine from Ephedra vulgaris in 1885. The substance called soma, mentioned in old Hindu books such as the Rig Veda, may have been ephedra extract.
The production of ephedrine in China has become a multi-million dollar industry. Companies extract $13 million worth of ephedrine from 30,000 tons of ephedra per year, 10 times the amount that is used in traditional Chinese medicine.