Although the February 17 heatstroke death of 23-year-old Baltimore Oriels pitcher Steve Bechler has re-raised concerns about the use of the ma huang herb and its derivative, ephedra , practitioners of Traditional Chinese medicine say that Chinese medicinal uses of the herb are both safe and beneficial when prescribed and administered under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist . While no therapeutic Chinese herbal formulas have been linked with the serious adverse reactions being reported in the media, the FDA is considering banning the substance from being used.
Ma Huang , which is native to China but is also now found in the Mediterranean region, India , Persia , and the western portion of South America , has been used safely and effectively for centuries among practitioners of Chinese medicine . The herb was first mentioned roughly 3,000 years ago in The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing) . This classical text was the first to lay the foundation for study in Ch inese medicinal herbs . In this text ma huang herb is described as: " Non-toxic, treating mainly a form of the common cold, headache, and warm malaria. It causes the body to sweat, suppresses cough and counter - flow of qi (asthma), eliminates cold and heat, and breaks concretions and hardness, accumulations and gatherings. " 1