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Ephedra viridis or Mormon tea

Ephedra viridis or Mormon tea ob the bank of a small stream in Titus Canyon, April 2013

Mormon tea or Ephedra sinica is a plant common in Asia including China and Kasahstan and also in Death Valley. Different members of Ephedra family were been used in traditional Chinese and Asian medicine to treat multiple medical conditions including bronchial asthma, colds, flu, allergies, and hives. Mormon pioneers learned from Native Americans to brew tea from Ephedra viridis, that is how it gets its name.
Ephedrine alkaloids are active ingredients from Ephedra are also used to enhance weight loss and improve athletic performance. When I was a student, we used a syrup  from Ephedra to not sleep the whole night when preparing for tests. Ephedra alkaloids are prohibited in the United States due to their serious adverse effects.

More about this trip…