Send to

Choose Destination
J Nat Med. 2016 Jul;70(3):571-83. doi: 10.1007/s11418-016-0979-z. Epub 2016 Mar 4.

Ephedrine alkaloids-free Ephedra Herb extract: a safer alternative to ephedra with comparable analgesic, anticancer, and anti-influenza activities.

Author information

Oriental Medicine Research Center, Kitasato University, 5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8642, Japan.
National Institute of Health Sciences, 1-18-1 Kamiyoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 158-8501, Japan.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, International University of Health and Welfare, 2600-1, Kitakanemaru, Ohtawara, Tochigi, 324-8501, Japan.
TOKIWA Phytochemical CO., Ltd., 158 Kinoko, Sakura-shi, Chiba, 285-0801, Japan.
Department of Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Matsuyama University, 4-2 Bunkyo-cho, Matsuyama, Ehime, 790-8578, Japan.
Oriental Medicine Research Center, Kitasato University, 5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8642, Japan.


It is generally accepted that the primary pharmacological activities and adverse effects of Ephedra Herb are caused by ephedrine alkaloids. Interestingly, our research shows that Ephedra Herb also has ephedrine alkaloid-independent pharmacological actions, such as c-MET inhibitory activity. This study describes the preparation of an ephedrine alkaloids-free Ephedra Herb extract (EFE) by ion-exchange column chromatography, as well as in vitro and in vivo evaluation of its pharmacological actions and toxicity. We confirmed that EFE suppressed hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-induced cancer cell motility by preventing both HGF-induced phosphorylation of c-Met and its tyrosine kinase activity. We also investigated the analgesic effect of EFE. Although the analgesic effect of Ephedra Herb has traditionally been attributed to pseudoephedrine, oral administration of EFE reduced formalin-induced pain in a dose-dependent manner in mice. Furthermore, we confirmed the anti-influenza virus activity of EFE by showing inhibition of MDCK cell infection in a concentration-dependent manner. All assessments of toxicity, even after repeated oral administration, suggest that EFE would be a safer alternative to Ephedra Herb. The findings described here suggest that EFE has c-Met inhibitory action, analgesic effect, and anti-influenza activity, and that it is safer than Ephedra Herb extract itself. Therefore, EFE could be a useful pharmacological agent.


Analgesia; EFE; Ephedra Herb; Influenza; Kampo; c-Met

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center