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This is the Chinese name for ephedra, a low-growing evergreen shrub native to the arid desert regions of Asia and the Americas. It contains ephedrin, an alkaloid that has been shown to reduce excess weight in over-weight animals by speeding up the burning of fat into energy and by satisfying hunger. Its action is improved if used with caffeine and theophylline.
Caution: Ma Huang shouldn't be used by hypertensive people, or those with a heart condition.