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Yunnan Baiyao
Published: February 23, 2021

Yunnan Baiyao is a traditional Chinese medicine herbal formula that is used in human and veterinary medicine. Yunnan refers to the Chinese province where the herbal formula originated. Bai means white and Yao means medicine, so it’s a white medicine from Yunnan.

Photo courtesy Depositphotos

In our bodies, blood is constantly moving to supply oxygen and other nutrients, remove waste, and protect against infection. In some circumstances, our blood is not flowing correctly, a state that traditional Chinese medicine refers to as blood stasis, or stagnant blood. In a healthy body, the blood does not stagnate. The herbal formula is often used orally in first aid and for cases in which internal bleeding is known to be occurring, such as hemoabdomen (blood in the abdominal cavity) or major traumas. One of the most common uses is for nose bleeds. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used for pain relief. 

Although there are not many studies about its use in the veterinary literature, Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston and other well-known veterinary hospitals around the country have been using it for years along with typical Western medicines to prevent bleeding in certain cases.

It originated in its current form in 1902 by a Mr. Qu who developed this formula for a variety of uses including wound healing, pain relief, and to stop bleeding. It became famous during a battle in 1938 when it was used to help save the lives of wounded soldiers. After a Chinese commander was documented to have saved his leg from amputation, the legend of Yunnan Baiyao was born.

Yunnan Baiyao is often used topically and orally. It comes as an encapsulated powder, an aerosol, and as a plaster. It appears to work by activating platelets, which are small circulating elements that stop bleeding in injured blood vessels. It can treat bleeding as well as minor pain and may inhibit infection.

Its ingredients are a closely kept secret.  There are many brands available for purchase over the counter, though that does imply that not all brands are checked to see if they are effective or have contaminants. 

It is important to check the source and research the manufacturer of the product.

Yunnan Baiyao is usually available as a box of capsules, each containing 0.25 grams per capsule. There is a little red pill along with the regular capsules. This pill is called the “emergency pill,” to be given when there is significant shock or hemorrhage, not instead of the regular capsule.

Side effects in pets are mild. They include nausea, vomiting; diarrhea; stomach upset; rash; chest pain; itchiness; and even flatulence. It should be used with caution in dogs with liver disease as it can cause an increase in liver enzymes.

The drug is registered for use in humans only. Yunnan Baiyao is a drug and before you use it on your pet it should be dosed by your veterinarian or a veterinarian with training in alternative and complementary medicine. It can be used daily. The dosage depends on what type of bleeding is occurring and how long it's been going on. The capsule contents can also be opened and sprinkled onto a bleeding site.

It is our policy not to give dosing information over the Internet.

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