The ephedra plant has been used for thousands of years. A 60,000 year old burial site excavated in Iraq was found to contain a variety of medcinal plants, one of which was Ephedra. Ephedra contains strong stimulant properties derived from ephidrine and pseudoephidrine, which act on the sympathetic nervous system and reduce the swelling of mucous membrances. It is also used for low blood pressure in flu and pneumonia sufferers. The chemical structure of ephidrine is very similar to adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Modern use of ephedra is restricted in some countries.