Random Plant: Jointfir AKA Ephedra

Jointfir (Ephedra sp., Ephredraceae) photographed 03/10 near Kingman Arizona.

Jointfir (Ephedra sp., Ephedraceae) has long been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for congestion.  It contains the compounds ephedrine and its diastereomer pseudoephedrine.  These stimulants increase heart rates, constrict blood vessels, and dilate bronchial tubes.  It was this latter effect that made pseudoephedrine valuable in cold medicines until a few years ago.  It became heavily regulated due to its use in the production of methamphetamine.

A closer look at jointfir.

Ephedra was also popular in weight-loss supplements.  The FDA banned ephedra use in supplements in 2004 because of a variety of adverse side effects, including fatal heart attacks.   Chronically increased heart rates and high blood pressure sometimes lead to that.

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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