Seven Effective Products I Stock in My Home Herbal Pharmacy
When I started my practice, I tried to stock herbal formulas and products that might be useful to my patients. I quickly realized this was too broad of a goal! So, now I stock products that I know I’ll use myself. Here’s a list of my favorite home first-aid and wellness products for you to consider stocking at your house, too.
1. Wu Yang Plasters
These medicated plasters are great for acute sprains or strains, especially in areas where there are big muscles (shoulders, low back, hamstrings). You can also cut them to fit smaller areas. I like to leave them on overnight, but any eight-hour stretch will work. They have a slight menthol scent, so some people don’t like to leave them on at work. Some people experience reactions to the adhesive, so it may be a good idea to test a small strip before committing to the full treatment.
2. Yunnan Baiyao Powder.
This is magic in a bottle. Originally developed as a formula to treat gunshot wounds, we use the tablets, taken orally, to stop internal bleeding (e.g. from trauma or excessive menstruation). But the powder is incredibly effective and useful for any cuts or scrapes that are bleeding, and also encourages rapid tissue growth. My local knife store carries it at the checkout counter, which is brilliant. I’ve even used Yunnan Baiyao powder on my cat when she had a wound on her paw that she kept opening, and it helped close the wound before she could get the gauze covering off.
This isn’t Chinese medicine, but I’ve loved using Traumeel (now sold as T-Relief cream) for achy areas and acute injuries since my massage therapist days. I often recommend it to patients who are recovering from an injury. Same goes for oral arnica, which is also helpful taken before a surgery to minimize bruising, swelling, and pain. If you can get your hands on fresh or dried arnica, it’s fantastic boiled into a tea and used to soak aching or healing tissues.
4. Po Sum On Oil Or Zheng Gu Shui Liniment
These are both topical herbal preparations that are popular with martial artists for treating bruises, sore muscles, and sprains. Note that they can be especially effective when combined with heat (e.g. a heating pad). Apply liberally throughout the day if possible. Liniments consist of herbs soaked in alcohol, which we understand to move the blood better, but I slightly prefer the oil since the viscosity makes it easier to apply.
5. Curing Pills
This is the most widely appropriate Chinese formula I know—it’s helpful for anyone of any constitution experiencing upper digestive distress related to excessive food consumption (gas, bloating, abdominal fullness). I often recommend patients pass this one out at the Thanksgiving table! I’ve also found it helpful for mild food intolerances (e.g. I can have a *little* bit of cheese if I take some Curing Pills first), and after eating rich foods you don’t normally eat. Different herbal companies sell this under different brand names; I prefer Kan Herbs which sells “Peaceful Earth”.
6. Wellness Formula
This product isn’t strictly Chinese medicine, although this blend definitely contains a lot of fantastic Chinese herbs that are commonly used to treat infections and boost the immune system. This is my go-to immune support—I take 1-2 tablets per day when I think of it throughout cold and flu season, and load up with the maximum dose when I feel the first throat tickle coming on. I find it less helpful once you’re in full-blown illness, but some people say you can continue taking it for the duration of your symptoms for a faster recovery.
7. Elderberry Syrup
Here’s another immune booster, and this one tastes good! For that reason, I often recommend it to my patients and friends with children. A little nip of this every day helps keep colds away, probably partially because elderberries are so high in vitamin C.
That’s a solid start to your own home herbal pharmacy! If you’re in San Francisco, you can pick most of these up from my office, otherwise contact me to have orders shipped. As always, please do see an herbalist and/or a physician if you have a specific concern that requires attention.