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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.

14Aug/09Off

Traditional Chinese Medicine – herbs, foods, over the counter, tonic tinctures

Traditional Chinese medicine shops usually stock 100-200 natural medicinal substances. Although they include minerals and items of animal origins, they're commonly referred to as "herbs". It's interesting that some people who're introduced to Chinese herbology tend to feel weird or strange about certain  elements being used for medical purpose. Like the medical use of precious minerals - jade, pearls and gold or animal parts like deer antler and tiger bone in some of more exotic prescriptions. These actually function like herbs in the prescription to adjust the perverse energies like "wind, heat, coldness, dampness, dryness" and Yin Yang in a sense.  Too bad sometimes this unusual aspects of traditional Chinese medicine often overshadows the basic commonsense advice of the tradition, such as the importance of healthy diet.

Among the herbs, there are many items that are indeed foods. For example, nuts (walnuts, cashews, peanuts), mushrooms (black mushrooms, black ear fungus, white ear fungus), different dried beans, figs, barley and abalone. Many of these items are critical ingredients in the extensive soup cuisine of the Cantonese. Others are imply exotic and expensive foods. This tradition somehow shows that Chinese believe that food and medicine are part of a continuous spectrum, varying in potency but not mode of action.

Besides food, there are also patented, over the counter medicines. Usually these are based on prescriptions  that have been developed over decades, or even centuries, of use. The function of these medicines are usually quite broad and not tailor-made for everyone. Buying these will be more convenient for Americans or people from the other countries, but be very cautious on the instructions in the box or the bottle.

Another form of medicine are called tonic tinctures, or medicinal wine. These are special tonics, usually stored in large (1-2 liter) jars full of herbs immersed in a dark liquid. These are prepared by very complex combination of herbs in rice wine for months or even years. Three basic types: tonic for yin essence, tonic for yang essence, and tonics for the elderly. They're quite expensive and usually have to drink regularly in small quantities. Some of them are very exotic, (like "snake wine" for example) so usually it's hard to find in America or outside China.

For wounds, bruises, bleeding injuries or rash on the outside of the body, normally herbs will be used as paste on a sticker and stick on the bruises or wounds for a while or for a few days. Tonic tinctures that are for external use are pretty common too. The smell may be bad, but Chinese often use them for healing and pain relief when there's an injury.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner.)