Ephedra, an extract of the plant Ephedra sinica, has been used as a herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of asthma and hay fever, as well as for the common cold. It is known in Chinese as ma huang .Ephedra is a stimulant that constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Several additional species belonging to the genus Ephedra has traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes and is a possible candidate for the Soma plant of Indo-Iranian religion. Native Americans and Mormon pioneers drank a tea brewed from an Ephedra, called Mormon Tea, but North American ephedras lack the alkaloids found in species such as E. sinica.