Interview With a Formula: Yunnan Baiyao
Posted by Kat Powers on
Chinese vs American Approach to Herbs
In the interest of understanding Yunnan Baiyao, it is important to know that historically Chinese culture values family. In that, comes the regard of family secrets. Historically, herbalists considered worth going to were the ones that were known to have the best family secrets.
This is VERY DIFFERENT from how modern Americans want to look at herbs. They want to know the science i.e. what's in the formula, what has been studied about it, how are the plants classified, and are there any interactions or precautions. (Rest assured, your licensed providers have that knowledge and training.)
This formula is closely guarded as a family secret, and is nationally protected. There are some guesses however, and some other ingredients allegedly stated to the FDA. Here's the Wiki page and a blog that are taking a stab at it. Epsilon Acupuncture does not officially stand behind either site.
One of the herbs generally agreed to likely be in this formula is Tian Qi/San Qi or notoginseng. This herb stops bleeding AND invigorates the blood. It is common for plants that have one of these properties to also have the other. That is why a formula like Yunnan Baiyao can paradoxically can help with too much or too little clotting. Like much of Chinese medicine, the goal is to bring the body into a balance called homeostasis.
Yunnan Baiyao was originally formulated as emergency medicine. It was allegedly carried by soldiers in the Vietnam war to treat an emergency bullet wound until they could get to a hospital. In modern times it is considered best practice to get a person with a bleeding emergency to the ER, and not use herbs in that moment.
This formula is most often prescribed by veterinarians for animals (usually dogs) that have bleeding cancerous tumors.
Off label uses have been reported as well, such as help regulating the blood of the menstrual flow with painful uterine cramping.
As always, it is best to ask your herbalist or veterinarian before using Yunnan Baiyao. Check our dosage guidelines for more info.