Journal of Natural Medicines

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 303–311 | Cite as

Non-alkaloidal composition of Ephedra Herb is influenced by differences in habitats

  • Naohiro OshimaEmail author
  • Tadatoshi Yamashita
  • Nahoko Uchiyama
  • Sumiko Hyuga
  • Masashi Hyuga
  • Jinwei Yang
  • Takashi Hakamatsuka
  • Toshihiko Hanawa
  • Yukihiro Goda


Ephedra Herb is a crude drug defined as the terrestrial stem of Ephedra sinica, E. intermedia, or E. equisetina. It is often used to treat headaches, bronchial asthma, nasal inflammation, and the common cold. In this study, we isolated characteristic non-alkaloidal constituents from the extracts and identified them in relation to the habitat of Ephedra Herb. Extracts were prepared from Ephedra Herb collected from Inner Mongolia and Gansu. High-performance liquid chromatography was performed to quantitatively analyse the amount of ephedrine alkaloids in each extract. We compared the chemical compositions of the extracts by thin layer chromatography (TLC) to find spot characteristics depending on the habitat. 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR, and 2D-NMR spectra of the samples were also examined. The ephedrine content of all extracts satisfied the quality standard stated in the Japanese Pharmacopoeia. Nonetheless, we found each notable constituent characteristic to the Ephedra Herbs from both habitats. In order to identify them, Ephedra Herb extracts were separated by column chromatography, resulting in the isolation of (±)-α-terpineol-β-d-O-glucopyranoside (1) and (E)-7-hydroxy-3,7-dimethyloct-2-en-1-yl-β-d-O-glucopyranoside (2) as the characteristic constituents in Ephedra Herb from Inner Mongolia. Epheganoside (3), a new eudesmane-type sesquiterpene glycoside, and scopoletin (4) were found to be the characteristic constituents in Ephedra Herb from Gansu. The results obtained from this study can be used to distinguish between the habitats of Ephedra Herb.


Ephedra Herb Habitat Terpenoid Inner Mongolia Gansu 



Part of this work was supported by Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Kitasato University, National Institute of Health Sciences, and Functional and Phytochemical Laboratory of Tokiwa Phytochemical Co., Ltd., have applied for a patent under the regulation of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (The EPHEDRA EXTRACT STRIPPED OF EPHEDRINE ALKALOIDS, METHOD FOR PRODUCING SAME AND USE OF SAME, PCT/JP2014/080605) as co-applicants although we have not received royalty of patent right and license fee. Kitasato University, National Institute of Health Sciences, Matsuyama University, Functional and Phytochemical Laboratory of Tokiwa Phytochemical Co., Ltd., and Zeria Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., are co-applicants for relevant patent applications (the application number: 2018–13399). The Oriental Medicine Research Center of Kitasato University has received financial donations from TSUMURA & Co. (Tokyo, Japan).

Supplementary material

11418_2018_1265_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (596 kb)
The NMR spectra of 3 (Fig. S1–S3); structures of compounds that are similar to that of 3 (Fig. S4); detailed data for the identification of 1, 2, and 4; and results of the semi-quantitative analyses of 14 in Ephedra Herb extracts are available as Supplementary Material. (PDF 595 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naohiro Oshima
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tadatoshi Yamashita
    • 2
  • Nahoko Uchiyama
    • 3
  • Sumiko Hyuga
    • 4
  • Masashi Hyuga
    • 3
  • Jinwei Yang
    • 2
  • Takashi Hakamatsuka
    • 3
  • Toshihiko Hanawa
    • 4
  • Yukihiro Goda
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesTokyo University of ScienceNodaJapan
  2. 2.TOKIWA Phytochemical Co., LtdSakuraJapan
  3. 3.National Institute of Health SciencesKawasakiJapan
  4. 4.Oriental Medicine Research CenterKitasato UniversityTokyoJapan

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