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28Jan/10Off

Story of Yunnan Baiyao (part 3)

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(cont'd from part 2)

Yunnan Baiyao is best known to stop bleeding - A haemostatic medicine. however, because it contains many activating elements with complicated medical reactions, there are many uses other than stopping bleed:

Haemostatic medicine

Yunnan Baiyao is very effective with bleeding diseases and injuries. It can accelerate the haemostatic process and shorten the span of disease. There was research explaining the major role of Yunnan Baiyao is to shorten time for blood clotting and increase thrombin, while also leading blood platelets to gather and release. The haemostatic use of Yunnan Baiyao is very wide including bleeding through injuries, bleeding in digestive system, respiratory system, brain bleeding and a lot more.

Recovery of inflammation

Yunnan Baiyao can suppress the inflammatory elements. It's effective on improving blood circulation and vascular permeability. During treatment, it works to relieve swollenness and bruises. Besides, it helps suppress the activity of bacteria and prevent the wounds from further inflammation.

Cure immune system disease

Yunnan Baiyao catalyze the secretion of adrenal cortex hormones, hence it helps healing the immune system.

Fight against tumors and cancers

In 1980s, the research bureau in United States discover that there are some elements in Yunnan Baiyao that helps treating tumors and cancers. In Japan there are some successful stories curing tumors and cancers using Yunnan Baiyao. However, it's still waiting for further research to prove that.

Pain relief

The improvement of blood circulation and recovery of inflammation results a pain relief for injuries, dysmenorrhea and inflammatory pain. The relief of angina can be cause by the use of Yunnan Baiyao on increase of vascular notorious blood flow. Also Yunnan Baiyao can slow down heart beats, adjust blood pressure and reduce the vascular oxygen consumption.

26Jan/10Off

Story of Yunnan Baiyao (part 2)

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(cont'd from part 1)

As mentioned in last post, the formula and the production method of Yunnan Baiyao has been a top secret and there's only one copy heavily guarded in Chinese armed forces. Somehow certain books and magazines revealed a few formula and production methods, but the original Yunnan Baiyao owner said they're all incorrect. The active ingredients and chemical structure have been a big concern for medical scientists around the world. They have tried a lot of different modern analysis to figure out what it is. They found many active compound including calcium phosphate.  However, different teams of researcher found different mixed components with different proportions. So it's still a mystery of how it works.

For about half century, Yunnan Baiyao was in powder form in slightly yellow color with a special scent. It tastes a little bitter and sour, and brings a little cool and numbness to the tongue. However, powder form has a disadvantage of hard to determine serve size, and hard to swallow. As the medical industry grows, the forms of Yunnan Baiyao developed into different forms including pills, paste, and spray forms. On the other hand, according to the seriousness of the diseases or injuries, experienced traditional Chinese doctor would add Yunnan Baiyao into other herbal medicines and create other forms. Right now powder form is 4 grams a bottle and comes along with an emergency pill called "insurance pill". It's a little red pill and slightly brown inside, tastes bitter. I heard it saves people from death many times.

(to be cont'd)

24Jan/10Off

Story of Yunnan Baiyao (part 1)

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Last post we talked about "Yunnan Paiyao" to stop nosebleed. Yunnan Baiyao (or Yunnan Paiyao) (simplified Chinese: 云南白药; traditional Chinese: 雲南白藥) is a haemostatic powdered medicine. In fact, it's become one of the most valuable patent formula in China and officially categorized as one of the two "Class -1 protected traditional patented formula" in 1995 by the government. It was famous being carried by Vietcong to stop bleeding during Vietnam War.

"Yunnan Baiyao" was created in 1902 by a Chinese doctor called Dr. Qu Huangzhang. He's famous in Jiang Chuan county at Yunnan. However, in order to escape from the war, he wandered around and researched for 10 years with other doctors and finally invented this formula. His medicine and a few more formulas were patented in 1916 and allowed for sale. It became popular real quick because it's inexpensive and really worked well, especially during the wars. Then he put more efforts on improvements and created variable forms of Yunnan Baiyao including pills, powder, sprays for different uses. There is even a pill that's for emergency use - like a person is deeply hurt and about to die. So because of military purpose, the formula became a top secret that the government helps to keep.

22Jan/10Off

Nosebleed cont’d

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(cont'd from last post)

Well, other than Perilla leaf, which is probably not easy to find any fresh ones around. There is another patent formula that stops bleeding. It's a very famous medicine invented about a hundred years ago and commonly used during wars. For nosebleed, the use is a little different:

Mandarin pronunciation: Yun Nan Bai Yao (Meaning "Yunnan province white medicine"), also known as Yunnan Baiyao.

Description: To use this medicine to arrest a nosebleed, break open two capsules, pour the loose powder onto a cotton swab, then apply directly to the wound. Or, the powder can be inhaled or snuffed into the bleeding nostril. Apply direct pressure immediately, pinch and hold the nose for ten to fifteen minutes.

Caution: Pregnant woman MUST NOT use this medicine or it can cause miscarriage.

Dosage: It comes in boxes of 16 capsules, with instructions on  dosage.

(source: Chinese Herbal Medicine Made Easy, by Thomas Richard Joiner)

13Oct/09Off

How to find out if you pick the right medicine or a right doctor

I recently read a Chinese article written by a traditional Chinese medicine doctor and found it interesting. It's about how we know if we find the right doctor, right treatment or right medicine. Of course, this doctor didn't say he's the best. Rather, he respect whatever treatment or whoever we believe in. The point he's trying to make is to tell us how to indicate by ourselves that we're really getting proper treatment and are going on the right direction. I'll try to translate what he said here.

There are so many diet supplements, Qi Gong classes, and certain doctors are exaggerating how good their treatments are. All these various methods, classes, medicines and supplements are making people wondering which one is working for them. It really doesn't matter which method people believe and insist on trying, as long as it benefits the patient, any kinds of treatment should be respected. However, if those treatments are not working and makes the patients waste a lot of money and most importantly, miss the best timing for the cure, that's going to be the worst.

Actually, there's a simple indication in general to differentiate what works and what doesn't. And the plan is to continue the treatment if the indicator shows that it works, stop the treatment if it's the opposite. Here is the indicator: a healthy person always feel warm with the limbs, and relatively cooler on the face and the head. If limbs are getting cold, that means sickness is already there in the body. So when we don't feel well for whatever reason, the limbs will be colder than usual. Then after you start the treatment with medicines / vitamins / diet supplements / exercises / herbs / Qi Gong / surgery / chemical therapy / acupuncture etc, if your limbs are feeling even colder, that means those treatments fail. If your limbs are starting to feel warmer, that means those treatment works, and you're on the right track of recovery.

So sometimes whenever a person tells you that "I'm taking XXX supplement", ask this person if his/her limbs feel colder or warmer after taking it. If the answer is colder, that means this supplement is not just fail on this individual, it even "feeds" the potential disease like cancer and virus. Same theory, if the Qi Gong master or the TCM doctor or the acupuncturist makes the limbs feel from cold to warm, that means they're good for the patient and fit the needs. If it's the opposite, the patient better switch to some other treatments.

19Aug/09Off

Forms of Chinese herbal medicines

I sort of talked about herbs, foods, over the counter, tonic tinctures few days ago. Today I'll continue to talk more about these different forms as an introduction of the coming few detail posts about these forms of Chinese herbal medicines. Each form has its own advantages. Take the form that match our particular needs and use the form most appropriate to the urgency of the situation. Also consider the time of preparation required for cooking and curing the herbs.

1. Raw form - decoction - herbs made into tea

Usually because decocted raw herbal formulas are normally taken as it is. Most of the time it's going to challenge your tolerance of unpleasant taste. Mostly are bitter in taste, while there are also some exceptions. However, this form is more potent and that usually gives quicker cure than patent formulas.

2. Raw form - tonic tinctures - herbs made into medicinal wine

Like decoction, making herbs into alcohol solution (medicinal wine) produces a potion that is more potent and provides quicker cure. Although the preparation is quite easy and you can make a big bottle at one time for longer consumption. Most these wines takes 60-90 days to make. On the other hand, medicinal wine tastes better than decoction because normally it's sweetened by honey or crystallized rock sugar.

3. Patent form - over the counter -  in pill form, salves, syrup, herbal oils, tablets and ointments

Patent formulas are usually over the counter medicines or premixed packets, or in pill, syrup, tablets form. Taste doesn't seem to matter in this case. And it's the most convenient way to take herbal medicine. However, as I mentioned in that last article, the function of these medicines are quiet broad and not tailor-made for individuals.

One thing worth mentioning about the ingredients of herbal formulas is that we mentioned in the last article that there are some animal parts involved like tiger bone or deer antler in certain exotic prescriptions. However, since it raised both ethical and legal issues, now they've already found herb replacements for those animal ingredients. There are less animal getting killed or injured for that reason now - in fact there aren't many animals left for herbal medicinal use after all the widespread killings these years. Now a lot of these animals are protected from further killings. Of course, the "under the counter" trade in Chinese herb shop still happens.

Another thing I want to clarify is that just because a patent formula or a name of a prescription has the word "tiger" doesn't mean it contains tiger parts. Most of the time these names are not literal. For example, "tiger" just signifies power and strength to Chinese people, kind of like the meaning of dragon, which doesn't even exist.

(sources: Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner.)