Panax notoginseng (Yunnan bai yao): A must for the first aid kit

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 10-31-94 6(3): 12

During the Vietnam war, captured Viet Cong and North Vietnamese prisoners were often found to have a tiny bottle containing a Chinese patent medicine. The bottles contained Yun Nan Bai Yao, a formula containing the powdered root of Panax pseudoginseng and, on the top, a small red pill to control shock. Panax pseudoginseng  is a first aid medicine thai can reduce severe bleeding, swelling, and pain. It can be useful for conditions ranging from severe traumatic injuries, like gunshot wounds, to sports injuries, to gynecological or arthritic pain. Pseudoginseng has been found in the laboratory to reduce both bleeding time and clotting time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has a paradoxical effect in that it reduces bleeding, but also disperses “Congealed Blood.” The Congealed Blood syndrome, which may include bruising, swelling, some menstrual problems, some kinds of arthritic pain, and some pains associated with internal medicine, is a condition where clotting, stagnation, and poor circulation, are responsible for pain. Because Pseudoginseng both reduces bleeding, including internal bleeding, and breaks up Congealed Blood, it is very widely used in Chinese medicine.

Pseudoginseng has attracted the attention of Western researchers as a source of potential constituents helpful in heart attacks. The medicine is available from Chinese pharmacies or other suppliers under the name Yunnan Paiyao. This patent lists only Panax notoginseng as an ingredient, but also contains unspecified other proprietary substances. It may be taken internally, or sprinkled directly into a bleeding wound, followed by pressure on the wound. [Note: do not take the red pill on top except in case of severe shock-inducing injury.].

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