The external use of Chinese herbs goes back more than two thousand years when herbs and their indications were first documented by Shen Nong who wrote the major textbook on herbal medicine, the Classic of Materia Medica. In modern day China, practitioners can choose to specialize in treating external injuries and musculo-skeletal problems. These specialist practitioners use a combination of acupuncture, tui na (Chinese massage) and the external application of herbs. The external herb formula can be applied via a number of methods including boiling the herbs and applying the warm liquid with a cloth to the area. Another way is to grind the herbs into powder and then mixed with honey and water, to be applied as a paste to the required area. A bandage is put over the area to keep the paste in place.
Golden Sunshine, is a company based in Colorado, USA and has been faithfully serving the health care community since 1998. Classical Chinese medicine knowledge and modern technology have combined to make Golden Sunshine herbal pain relief products a must for your pain management needs. One product that they offer, Herbal Balance Heat Patches, has been made using their own unique Chinese herbal formula for external-use. The herbal ingredients in the patches are as below with a brief use of each herb according to traditional Chinese medicine.
What herbs are in the patches?
chi shao– Invigorates blood circulation to assist with swelling and pain associated with traumatic injury
gu sui bu– Used to support recovery of ligamentous injuries and simple fractures. Traditionally regarded as one of the major herbs to promote mending of bones.
dang gui– Invigorates blood flow and strengthens the blood
hong hua– One of the major herbs to promote blood circulation to injured areas
zi ran tong– Promotes healing of bones and sinews (ligaments and tendons)
xue jie– A commonly used herb for external application known as dragon’s blood. Particularly used for pooling of blood around serious injuries or chronic stubborn joint problems. It has the reputation to generate new blood.
ru xiang– Used to provide soothing support from pain due to trauma and alleviates wind damp causing pain in joints (Arthritis)
mo yo– Reduces swelling and pain from trauma
chuan xiong– Harmonizes and regulates blood flow
huai niu xi– Used for post traumatic injury pain by invigorating blood flow
wu jia pi– Strengthens the sinews (ligaments and tendons), stops pain and dispels wind dampness from joints and muscles
shi chang pu– For wind damp painful obstruction causing pain to joints and muscles
bai zhu– benefits the spleen which is the organ that controls the muscles according to traditional Chinese medicine
mu xiang– helps circulates stuck energy in traumatic injuries and chronic arthritic complaints to reduce pain
ba ji tian– For pain, swelling and muscle weakness
qin jiao– Dispels wind dampness (rheumatism) and sooths sinews (ligaments and tendons) and particularly used for cramping
she chuang zi– Traditionally used for itchy skin and used here for balancing the effects of applying external herbs
rou gui– cinnamon bark to warm the area
fu zi– Analgesic
ban xia– Injuries and chronic arthritic conditions can allow dampness to accumulate (fluid retention) and ban xia helps to prevent this
shi hu– nourishes the yin fluids of the body and hence moistens the ligaments and tendons to relax contraction
bi xie – In modern day traumatology wards in Chinese hospitals, bi xie has been used for rheumatic pain of hips and knees. Traditionally has been used for relaxing the sinews and muscle aches.
What else is in the patches?
In addition to the herbs in the formula, the patches contain the carrier oil wintergreen and menthol to help the active ingredients of the herbs penetrate deeper to the tissues.
These patches are unique in that they also have crystal particles from tourmaline which creates a piezoelectric field, thus acting as a heating agent to further enhance the therapeutic effect.
What conditions can the patches be used for?
In summary, the patches can be used for all acute injuries as well as those with inflammation to the joints and muscles. The formula is balanced between hot and cold and can be also used for chronic cold rheumatic complaints where classically the pain gets worse in cold weather or the joints stiffen up in changes of weather. As many of the herbs promote blood circulation, they can be applied to any area where there is bruising, strain or sprain. From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, when the blood and energy circulation is improved, there will be less pain.
I personally have used them for many injuries including
- Tennis elbow
- Knee sprain
- Chronic shoulder problems including frozen shoulder
- Lumbar sprain and strains
- Carpal tunnel
- Chronic back and neck problems such as ankylosing spondylosis
- Herniated disc
- Rheumatic and arthritic aches, pain and stiffness
- In addition, patients report relief in chronic degenerative conditions where for example the discs have been subject to years of wear and tear.
When are the patches applied?
They can be applied day or night. They are a great adjunct to be used in between acupuncture sessions to accelerate the recuperative process whilst providing extra relief from pain.
How long do the patches last?
The patches are easy to use and can be applied in a matter of seconds. The heat can last often more than 8 hours, helping you sleep through the night.
Where can they be obtained?
Patients can obtain them here at The Acupuncture Clinic or along with practitioners, are available from the New Zealand distributor Kinetic Distributions.