Welcome to Part Three of this series of blog posts introducing some basic principles in Chinese Medicine First Aid. This series explores effective traditional remedies that you can use yourself for minor injuries, using readily available ingredients and techniques. As always, implement these strategies with common sense and please note that these suggestions do not replace (but rather complement) standard first aid protocols. You can find Part One and Part Two here.
Chinese Medicine has a vast repertoire of remedies to stop bleeding wounds. The first one listed is probably the easiest to find and use, but I have listed a few alternatives for your interest.
1. Yunnan Bai Yao Powder
This is another inexpensive product that I believe should be in every home's first aid cabinet. Yunnan Bai Yao powder has legendary status in China and has been used by Chinese soldiers for centuries. It is famous for being carried in the first aid kits of the Vietcong during the Vietnam war.
Yunnan Bai Yao powder is effective for any type of acute traumatic bleeding, from a cut with the kitchen knife, to a gunshot wound. The powder is applied directly to the wound. It simultaneously stops bleeding at the surface while promoting the blood circulation underneath to resolve bleeding, pain and swelling, and is antibacterial to fight infection. It is also useful for surgical wounds and is shown to reduce clotting time by up to 55%. You can find this amazing remedy at any Chinese herbal shop.
2. Roasted ginger powder - You can make this at home in large batches to keep on hand. Wash your chosen quantity of fresh ginger and cut it into very small, thin pieces. Dry it in the sun, or in the oven at a very low heat, until it is completely dried. This may take several days in the sun. Pulse in a spice grinder or a high-speed blender, sieve, then pulse again. Dry roast the resulting powder and keep on hand to sprinkle on minor cuts to stop the bleeding. You could also use powdered ginger that you have in your kitchen cupboard, roasted until it is fragrant before using for first aid.
3. Buy a small quantity of Hai Piao Xiao (Cuttlefish bone - apologies to any vegetarians reading this) from your local Chinese herbal store, grind it in a mortar or spice grinder and sprinkle on any wounds to stop bleeding and promote coagulation.
4. Human hair - believe it or not this is a real remedy - for the adventurous readers out there! Take a portion of human hair and bake it at a fairly high heat in a covered cast iron pot in a room with lots of ventilation. The hair will 'melt' into a shiny, black obsidian-like mass. Crush to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle, and sprinkle it on cuts to stop the bleeding.
Insect bites and stings
Here are a few easy and effective remedies for any kind of bite or sting that is painful, itchy, red or swollen.
1. Apply fresh garlic juice or a poultice of fresh crushed garlic to reduce swelling and soothe itching. Because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties, garlic can also be applied if scratching the bite has broken the skin, to prevent infection.
2. Take a green tea bag and steep in boiling water. When it has cooled to room temperature, you can either wring out the tea bag and place it over the bite, or you can bathe the affected area with the cooled tea (this is helpful if a large area is affected).
3. If you have loose green tea leaves, you can chew these to mix them with saliva, and then apply the chewed, moistened leaves as a poultice. For basic instructions for how to make a poultice, please see the burns section in Part One.
4. Cook potato or taro root, and mix it with a little white flour to make a paste. Apply this as a poultice as above.5. Procure some taro root powder from an Asian grocery store. Mix this with a little water to make a soft dough, and apply this as a poultice as above.
Did you ever imagine that there were so many wonderful remedies right under our nose? There will be more easy and effective ideas to share in the future, so stay tuned. May you stay happy and healthy.
Click here to find the next installment of Chinese Medicine First Aid: Part 4 - Herbal Ice
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