Yunnan Paiyao (Baiyao) Pre Surgery?
Don't take this before surgery!
Question: A friend recommended something... There
is a tiny pill that she said folks can take two days before
any surgery. It helps prevent blood clots and potential
strokes that may result from the surgery. I believe the
name is Yunan Bai Yawl (there are variations thereof. You
buy a little $2 bottle of the powder (which is used on cuts,
external problems) and the little red pill is in the bottle.
I think I may have butchered the phonetic spelling. She
says her acupuncturist/Chinese Medicine doctor swears it would do away
with 60% of complications from surgery.
WHOA! If I had your phone number I'd call you right now (note:
I did get an email to this woman in time). This makes me very
nervous. Why? Because Yunnan Baiyao is an herbal formula that
stops bleeding. That means it is a coagulant. The herbs
in Yunnan Baiyao do slightly move blood (similar to a 'blood-thinning'
action) according to Jake Fratkin's "Chinese Herbal Patent
Formulas." But the main indication is bleeding, and overall
it stops bleeding. It actually would make you more likely to have
clots and a stroke than to prevent it. In all my training, I have
never heard any Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor recommend
this formula pre surgery.
Yunnan Baiyao/Yunnan Paiyao - Chinese
Supposedly, the Viet Cong carried it with them during the Vietnam
War (They called it the "American War"). It's a powder
that stops bleeding. It's especially useful for big cuts when
stitches aren't readily available. The red "emergency pill"
was to be taken in the case of gunshot wounds- for very serious
bleeding. It can also be an effective emergency treatment for
menstrual (uterine) bleeding that doesn't stop... as long as other
risk factors for coagulative problems aren't present.
I can't imagine suggesting Yunnan Baiyao before surgery- and
if your doctor knew (sorry, it sounds kinda like "wait til
your Dad comes home and finds out") you were considering
taking a strong coagulative herb formula pre surgery, they would
be alarmed, and rightly so.
Surgery and Blood Stagnation
Along these lines, reliable Chinese Medicine doctors know that surgery can
cause 'blood stagnation.' So, post-op herbal programs may include
blood moving as well as re-strengthening the body and immune system.
However, it is unlikely that yunnan bai yao would be part of even
Don't Take Amateur Advice about Chinese
This should all be done in consultation with your MD and Chinese Medicine
doctor. There are so many ins and outs to medicine, western or
eastern... You should rely on professionally trained people. I
don't care who your friend is; if she's not trained in medicine,
she shouldn't be making healthcare recommendations. That's irresponsible
and dangerous. Surgery can be life-threatening; if you take amateur
advice beforehand, you're putting your life in her hands.
By the way, find out where that acupuncturist was educated, and
how many academic hours and real years of herb training and experience
they've had. Of course, a la the "telephone game," your
friend may have misunderstood the Chinese Medicine doctor... another good reason
to see a professional directly.
Communicate with Your Physician
Using Yunnan Baiyao, or prescribing yourself any herbs
before surgery is too risky. If you are worried about the risk
of stroke during the surgery, your MD/Surgeon would be the best
practitioner to talk to. If you're just worried about blood stagnation
post-op, you can take other formulas for that then. Please, for
your own sake, communicate with your physician, and don't take
herbal recommendations from amateurs!
All the best!
Read the follow-up to this article
which includes expert opinions on this topic!