In using herbal remedies, what’s ideal is to consult with a trained herbalist who can create a formula designed specifically to address your unique circumstances. This is true whether the herbs in question are from western, Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic or any other tradition.
However, there are times when this isn’t possible – and so the best we can do is to find a good over-the-counter remedy. In either case, the following three Chinese patent herbal formulas are (in my opinion) great ones to have on hand, in your home medicine chest or traveling first-aid kit.
Bi Yan Pian
Bi Yan Pian does a wonderful job of clearing and healing the sinuses. Whether your nasal congestion or runny nose (and associated symptoms like sneezing and itchy eyes) is from a common cold, or allergies, or hay fever, or a bacterial infection, Bi Yan Pian is likely to be useful — and is a great alternative to western pharmaceutical decongestants. Tip: go for uncoated tablets – Plum Flower is a good brand.
Ching Wan Hung
Ching Wan Hung is a burn cream whose effectiveness can seem almost miraculous. There are a plethora of accounts of its use on even third-degree burns (which hopefully you’ll never have to experience) in burn wards of hospitals. I recommend keeping a jar in your kitchen – for those times when your forearm brushes an oven rack, or you accidentally pick up a hot pan. Apply it immediately, and watch how quickly the pain resolves, and then how fast the wound heals.
Yunnan Baiyao — whose precise formula is still considered a Chinese state secret — was originally developed for use by soldiers to stop bleeding from traumatic war wounds. It can be used both externally – as a poultice directly on a wound – as well as internally. One very interesting and cool thing about Yunnan Baiyao is that it works not only to stop bleeding but also to “invigorate blood” or “resolve blood stasis.” What this means is that it can assist in the healing of bruises, etc. A package of Yunnan Baiyao typically includes a tiny red pill for use in life-threatening bleeding. Hopefully you’ll never need to use this — but I consider carrying it around in my wallet as something akin to knowing CPR: It really could save someone’s life.