Sufficient evidence exists to confirm the identity of the legendary Soma plant of the early Indo-Aryans, as the ephedra plant.This identification may be confirmed through archaeological findings, through a study of the traditional usage of ephedra as a medicinal herb, and through a critical study of the numerous Rigvedic references to the forms and other properties of Soma as plant.
The great significance of the Soma, or ephedra plant, for the early Aryans, who were nomads and hunters, lay in its energizing and euphoric properties. Thus, the Aryan as hunter made himself indefatigable by consuming Soma juice. To extract the juice, the plant was washed free from dust, crushed between two stones and the juice filtered through fleece. It was consumed thrice daily, often mixed with additives like milk and honey, to mask its naturally bitter taste.
Being of great value to the nomadic Aryans, Soma continued to grow in their estimation and came to be regarded as drug of rejuvenation-cum-longevity. It later became an agency of resurrection, which is confirmed by an archaeological finding. Eventually, the plant was deified as god Soma and came to be regarded as a panacea, capable of curing each and every ailment. With Soma as god, there arose a system of faith-cure which was a boon for the nomadic people.
References in Rigveda describe Soma juice as being a pacifier of hunger, an energizer, euphoric, antisomnolent, aromatic and bitter. It was not intoxicating, and has been clearly distinguished from Sura which was an alcoholic drink, in fact beer. The habitat of Soma has been described in Rigveda as mountainous and hilly regions. Soma as energizer made the Aryan an indefatigable procurer of foodstuff; he thus became an efficient "grocer." Fire turned inedible foodstuffs consumable and made him an efficient "Cook". Thus arose the association between Soma and Agni so obvious in Rigveda. But according to the proto-cosmology of Rigveda fire was born out of water and moreover Soma had to impregnate water for it to deliver fire. Fire was born as the son-of-water. Moreover, Soma also consecreted fire whence this continued to remain ever-burning. At that early period kindling fire was a time-consuming procedure and it was more convenient to keep fire ever-burning. Thus, Soma became soul while fire the body; its acceptor. Soma according to Rigveda is Auspicious Energy. This is a synonymous term for Creative Energy and Soma represents ProtoAkasha or Proto-Brahma. We have three cosmic powers in Rigveda, Water, Fire and Soma, the last being protoAkasha.