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Difference between Ma Huang and Ma Huang Gen


Can anyone please tell me the diffenece between Ma Huang and Ma Huang Gen?



A quick search through our tcm herbal database reveals that ma huang is ephedra, ma huang gen is ephedra root.


According to Peter Holmes&#39 Jade remedies Ma Huang (Ephedra stem) is pungent, bitter and astringent, warm, very dry, relaxing, stimulating, dispersing, and decongesting. Usually used for Lung Qi constraint with cold and external wind cold.

Where as Ma Huang Gen (Ephedra root) is astringent, pungent, sweet, neutral temprature, astringing and restoring. It is generally used in cases of Yin deficiency and Qi Deficiency.

So as you can see they have pretty different energetics, and should not be used interchangably. Consult a trusted materia medica.


The Chen and Chen, Chinese Mediccal Herbology and Pharmacology, (p.39) book discusses:

"Ma Huang constricts blood vessels and should be used with caution for hypertensive patients. The strong diaphoretic effect contraindicates its use for weak patients or those experiencing excessive sweating. However, Ma Huang Gen (Radix Ephedrae) has the exact opposite effect. It dilates the blood vessels to lower blood pressure and consolidates the wei (defensive) level and stops perspiration. When used together, the herb and root regulate respiration and increase the physiological efficiency of the lung without causing the side effects of hyperactivity or increased blood pressure."

Interestingly it also doesn&#39t list ephedrine alkaloids as being present in Ma Huang Gen, which are present in Ma Huang. This may explain differing regulatations between the two herbs in countries such as Australia / US where access to Ma Huang is restricted, but not Ma Huang Gen.

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