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Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks


Yunnan Paiyao (Baiyao) Pre Surgery?

by Brian Benjamin Carter

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.

Jump To:

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 Patent Medicine

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 that program.

Don't Take Amateur Advice about Chinese Herbs

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!


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