You may or may not know that Chinese Medicine is a complete system of medicine. Long before Allopathic (Western) medicine came around, Chinese Medicine took care not only of general health and chronic issues, but emergency care as well. There was battlefield medicine, medicine for broken bones, injuries, even some types of surgery. Some of this medicine still exists, but unfortunately much of it has been lost over time - or is in the process of being lost as some of the Chinese Medicine physicians that survived The Cultural (Maoist) revolution and the purging of the “Four Olds” are now passing away, often taking with them knowledge they were unable to pass down to the next generation of physicians.
I am thankful to leave surgery and broken bones to someone else to take care of, but I do bring emergency Chinese Medicine into my home in a small way in the form of my first aid kit. I can take care of fairly significant bleeding (something that may typically require a few stitches), minor to moderate burns, any level of bruising injury, as well as care for a sprained ankle or other joint injury.
Most injuries are also significantly helped by getting an acupuncture treatment as soon as possible - so after taking care of the immediate trauma, I typically call my acupuncturist straight away for the first available appointment the same day or next.
Yunnan Bai Yao
“Yunnan White Powder”
Historically, Chinese soldiers each carried a vial of Yunnan Bai Yao in case of bleeding trauma. It is used by directly applying the powder to the wound, and/or by taking it internally. The powder is said to both help coagulate the bleeding quickly, and help knit the flesh together and bring circulation back to the area for efficient healing. It is also suppose to be helpful in healing various circulatory issues such as blood pressure or menstrual cramps, though it is mainly famous for it’s bleeding injury applications.
I did (unfortunately) have an occasion to try out the powder when I sliced open my thumb while dicing vegetables. With significant bleeding it is admittedly a little difficult to get the powder to stay on your skin, but I found that putting the powder onto a piece of gauze and pressing it into the skin did the trick. I was amazed at how quickly I healed without any scarring!
“As an indication of its value, it is noted that during the 1940's, army commander Wu Xuexian was seriously injured in his right leg. The French hospital in Kunming (capital of Yunnan) recommended amputation to save Wu's life. Mr. Wu turned to Mr. Qu for help, and to everyone's surprise, recovered without the need for an amputation. Yunnan Baiyao gained the reputation as a miracle remedy.” (itmonline.org, 2014)
Yunnan Bai Yao is not currently approved by the FDA, in part because imports of Yunnan Bai Yao are not always consistent in their formulations, and some brands can contain contaminants.
Chinese Medicine has a very long history of herbal treatment of all types of burns. Traditional ointments not only prevent infection and speed healing, but they immediately take away the feeling of blistering heat on the wound. For stronger burns, I find the first application only reduces pain for a minute or two, but a few rapid applications take the burning sensation away completely. Use of the ointment also helps the skin heal completely, without leaving behind a scar. I am partial to the Spring Wind brand burn cream as I’ve found it to both be very effective and for Spring Wind’s reputation of clean sourcing of herbs and third party testing. I carry the cream in my clinic, or it can be purchased directly from Spring Wind on their website.
Dit Da Jow
"Hit and Fall Wine"
The name of this liniment is quite a literal description of it’s purpose, to aid in healing of bruising trauma, as well as reducing swelling, and reducing pain. DDJ typically comes in two formulas: External DDJ for use on the extremities (arms and legs), and Internal DDJ for use on the torso or to be ingested. The External DDJ typically has medicinal levels of toxic herbs, which is why it is not recommended for internal use. DDJ is a blend of herbs that has been then soaked in whiskey (in the case of the external formula) or rice wine (in the case of the internal formula). Often the exact components of the formula are secret, though a few recipes can be found online or published in books. Typically, the secret formulas kept within martial arts lineages are often the most effective, though Tom Bisio’s formula from Tooth From The Tiger’s Mouth is surprisingly good! In my clinic I carry the secret formula from the North American Tang Shou Tao Association - I soak and bottle the liniment myself from the herb packet I purchase from the Association. It is soaked for a minimum of 3 months as longer soaks allow for stronger liniment.
In the case of bruising trauma (no broken skin), DDJ should be applied liberally, with vigorous massage twice daily. It can also be used to strengthen the tendons and ligaments by applying it to the joints after martial arts training. I’ve often recommended it for those prone to tendonitis to use after repetitive use of the sensitive joints. For active tendonitis, other types of liniments are recommended.