: any of a genus (Ephedra of the family Ephedraceae) of jointed nearly leafless shrubs of dry or desert regions with the leaves reduced to scales at the nodes
: an extract of ma huang containing ephedrine and related alkaloids and used as a dietary supplement

Examples of ephedra in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Its claim to fame occurred after the FDA banned ephedra, and dieters were desperate to find a substitute that could raise the body’s core temperature as ephedra was known to. Norcal Marketing, Chron, 4 Feb. 2021 According to a summary of the supplement’s dangers published by Harvard Medical School, dangerous reactions reported in association with ephedra include heart attacks, strokes, seizures and sudden deaths. Emily Anderson Stern, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Sep. 2023 Despite several high-profile public health disasters related to supplements, including the herbal stimulant ephedra causing a wave of heart attacks and other adverse effects, regulatory control over the supplement industry remains startlingly lax—even as the market has exploded in popularity. WIRED, 31 July 2023 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a list of contributing risk factors, including alcohol, antibiotics, antidepressants, caffeine, cocaine, cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, cold and allergy medicines, methamphetamines, and supplements including creatine and ephedra. Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2021 In 2009, Iovate Health Sciences International — makers of Hydroxycut — recalled the product after the FDA reported cases of high blood pressure, arrhythmia, heart attack and stroke due to its key ingredient ephedra, a plant extract now banned in supplements in the United States. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 8 Feb. 2023 The cactus collection alone ranges from the more familiar prickly pear and saguaro to the alien-esque Peruvian apple cactus, the spindly Death Valley ephedra, another ancient plant, and the massive domed Moroccan Mound. Erin Stone, The Arizona Republic, 15 Nov. 2020 Around his burial site lay various plants, including the stimulant ephedra. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 9 Apr. 2018 Local producers shifted from using over-the-counter medicines — used in the rest of the world to make ephedrine — to the widely available ephedra, growing wild on Afghan hillsides. Mustafa Salim, Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ephedra.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, genus name, from Latin, equisetum, from Greek, from ephedros sitting upon, from epi- + hedra seat — more at sit

First Known Use

circa 1889, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ephedra was circa 1889

Dictionary Entries Near ephedra

Cite this Entry

“Ephedra.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ephedra. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


capitalized : a large genus of gymnospermous shrubs (family Gnetaceae) of dry or desert regions with jointed stems and leaves reduced to scales
: any plant of the genus Ephedra
: an extract of any of several Asian ephedras (especially E. sinica) that contains ephedrine and related alkaloids, was formerly used as a dietary supplement especially to promote weight loss and increase energy, and was banned in the U.S. by the FDA in 2004 due to adverse side effects
The FDA is also analyzing reports linking a weight-loss and energy supplement, ephedra (ma huang), to heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and fatalities in otherwise healthy adults.Consumer Reports

called also ma huang

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