Ephedra is an evergreen shrub from the genus a gymnosperm. The stem has long been used in China and India as medicine to treat respiratory illness. The various species of Ephedra are widespread in many arid regions of the world including North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
An alkaloid called ephedrine is extracted from ephedra and used as a decongestant drug. Ephedrine is used to treat stuffy noses, asthma, bronchitis, motion sickness and allergies. Ephedrine is administered nasally and is a prescription drug whereas pseudoephedrine is taken orally and is available over the counter.
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