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Ephedra—laying the foundations for modern autonomic pharmacology 

Ephedra—laying the foundations for modern autonomic pharmacology
Ephedra—laying the foundations for modern autonomic pharmacology

Munir Pirmohammed

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date: 27 February 2021

Ma Huang, identified as Ephedra vulgaris var. helvetica Fam. Gnetaceae, is described by the Pentsao Kang Mu as a diaphoretic, circulatory stimulant, antipyretic, sedative in cough, etc., and is an ingredient of many famous Chinese prescriptions. It was one of the medicinal herbs tasted by Emperor Shen Nung some 5100 years ago and was placed by him in the ‘medium class’. It is sold by Peking drug shops in the form of brownish green sticks about 1 mm. in diameter and 10 to 15 mm. long. The drug was investigated by Nagai who isolated from it an alkaloid which he named ephedrine. With this alkaloid he later conducted various physiological experiments. Merck obtained from the European variety of E. vulgaris an isomeric alkaloid which he called pseudoephedrine.

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