e·phed·ra (ĭ-fĕdrə, ĕfĭ-drə)
1. Any of various usually shrubby gymnosperms of the genus Ephedra, having jointed green stems and small scalelike leaves, some species of which are used as a source of ephedrine.
2. A drug containing ephedrine derived from one of these plants, used in traditional Chinese medicine as a stimulant and decongestant and sold in the United States primarily as a dietary supplement for weight loss before it was banned because of toxic side effects in 2004. Also called ma huang.
[Latin ephedra, horsetail, from Greek ephedrā, from feminine of ephedros, sitting upon : ep-, epi-, epi- + hedrā, seat; see sed- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.