Why is ma huang banned in Canada and what are its pros and cons?

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Dear Ms. Landis,

Tell me more about why ma huang is banned in Canada and about its pros and cons.


Dear Donna,

Thank you for your question. The ephedra controversy is a wonderful example of so many things I try to teach: why it is so important for consumers to be well informed about herbs and their uses; to question and investigate authorities' actions and their reasons for those actions (the whole story of which may not always be presented clearly by the media); and to develop an appropriate, proportional sense of risks.

The misunderstandings, assumptions, and distortions that have been generated around this millennia-old Chinese herb, with its many helpful applications in healing, are a textbook study of our cultural botanical illiteracy. This lack of understanding includes an inability of the media and health professions-- and by turn of consumers-- to distinguish between responsible medicinal herb use and the abuse of products never inended for medicinal use. There is also the double standard in which healing herbs in their extremely rare cases of abuse are vilified, while the monstrous abuse of pharmaceuticals in this culture barely registers with most people. That these important distincitons are lost is at the heart of the ephedra controversy, as well as other misunderstandings I also cover the "Urban Myths" chapter of Herbal Defense, which I included to present the facts logically and educate people to think more critically and consciously about these issues.

I have already answered your question (and probably then some) in a four-page section of that chapter. That section is called "The Ephedra Chronicles" (pp. 483-487 of Herbal Defense). Rather then rewrite all that material, I have posted an excerpt on this site as the newest "Excerpt from Herbal Defense." It should answer all your questions, but if not, there is further information throughout Herbal Defense on ephedra and its uses and benefits, history, cautions and more.


~ Robyn Landis


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