Mormon tea is both the name of a small shrub found in the south-western desert of the United States and Mexico, and the tea made from its stems. The stems can be used dried or fresh. The stems are usually pounded into powder form before use.
Mormon tea may also be called Ma Huang, which is a similar plant that grows in China. The names Mormon Tea and Ma Huang are sometimes used interchangeably and may be confused as the same plant. However, the plants are distinct as only the Ma Huang contains a chemical known as ephedrine, which is known to be both a decongestant and a stimulant.
The plant appears like a thicket of green, jointed stems with conspicuous nodes and small, scale-like leaves.
The name Mormon Tea most likely comes from its use by Mormon settlers as a caffeine-free thirst quencher.
Mormon tea has a sharp and penetrating taste that can be confronting at first taste, but most drinkers have described it as surprisingly refreshing.
Health benefits of mormon tea
Mormon Tea and Ma Huang are used for many folk remedies. Ma Huang, in particular, is one of the world's oldest medicines.
Firstly, Ma Huang is known as a decongestant, due its high concentrations of ephedrine. It is said to open the bronchial passages, and is recommended for use to treat asthma, hay fever and the congestion due to colds and flu.
Ma Huang is also known to stimulate the heart, increase blood pressure, metabolism rate and urine production. Mormon tea contains a chemical known as norpseudoephedrine, which is a stronger central nervous system stimulant than ephedrine.
As a central nervous system stimulant, Ma Huang increases the metabolic rate, meaning that it stimulates the body to burn calories faster. Ma Huang may therefore help in weight reduction.
Ma Huang is also useful in women's health. It causes uterine contractions and is useful in initiating menstruation.
Ma Huang should not be used if heart diseases, diabetes, glaucoma or over-active thyroid gland has also been diagnosed, as its stimulant qualities may exacerbate these conditions. Ma Huang should also not be used by pregnant women, due to its ability to cause contractions. Both Ma Huang and Mormon Tea may also cause insomnia, and therefore should be taken early in the day.
As Mormon Tea does not contain ephedrine, its medicinal use is limited to being a stimulant.
Using Ma Huang and Mormon Tea
To take advantage of Ma Huang and Mormon, it is recommended that one teaspoon of dried Ma Huang (or powdered Mormon Tea) is used per cup. When the water is boiled, the tea should be brewed for 10-15 minutes before consumption. Up to two cups should be consumed per day.