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A Guide To Chinese Martial Arts Herbal Trauma Formulas:

Part 2 – Herbal Medicines Grouped By Type

By David Bock C.Ac. Dipl.Ac. Dipl.CH.

Editors’s Note: This is the second in a series of article on Chinese martial arts related herbal medicines. Part 1 introduced the topic. Also discussed are the four categories of medicines: The Aromatics that quickly reduce pain but do not necessarily promote healing; Blood Movers that reduce pain, but also have more effect in regards to long-term tissue repair and/or stop bleeding; Hot Herbs which are hot or warming in nature, have some pain relieving or tissue repair properties and are used for old or re-injured tissue where there is no redness or swelling, and Cold Herbs used when there is redness, swelling, and the tissue feels warm to the touch. Part 2 discusses Herbal Medicine recommendations grouped by injury type.

Tissue Damage From Trauma, Strains, Tears, Contusions, and Bruises

Classic Die da formulas (Dit Dat Jow) are generally based on the ancient formulas Qi Li San, or Die Da wan. They tend to be very good at tissue repair and healing burns, stopping bleeding, reducing pain and swelling as well as long term wound care. Some can be applied to an open wound. They vary in “temperature”, some hot, some cold, and some neutral. Cool formulas are better in acute trauma where there is redness and swelling. Hot formulas are better when there is no redness or swelling. Many of the secret iron fist skin toughening formulas are variations of Die Da formulas. Note that some are meant for immediate treatment after an injury and others are specific for long-term recovery use, or for skin toughening (Training).

--Tieh Ta Yao Gin (Chu Kiang Brand) (Great on severe bruises)
--Tieh Ta Yao Gin (United Pharm.)
--Die Da Wan Hua (Jingxiutang Pharm.) (Good on burns)
--Wan Hua Oil (United Pharm) (Good for hard swellings, burns, necrotic wounds)
--Tien Qi Tieh Ta Yao Jiu (Five Photos Brand) (Can be used on open wounds)
--Wu yang Plaster for bruise (Better than ice on acute injuries)
--Yang Cheng Medicated Herbal Plaster (Similar to Wu Yang brand)
--Felursa Plaster For Bruise (Zhanjiang)
--Dragon’s Blood Liniment (Blue Poppy) (For swelling and pain when there is no
redness or heat.)
--Shaolin Dee Dat Jow (Blue Poppy) (For acute injury with redness and swelling)
--Hua To’s Eight Immortals Dit Da Jow (Oriental herb Co.) (For post trauma
--Iron Hand Liniment (East Earth) (Designed for training as well as injury)
--Iron Fist Liniment (Oriental Herb Co.) (Designed for training as well as injury)
--Hua To’s Eight Immortal’s Iron Palm (Oriental Herb Co.)
--Jade Goddess (Oriental Herb Co.) (Training formula, tissue repair, cooling)
--Imperial Pheonix (Oriental Herb Co.) (Training formula, hot)
--Tie Bi (Oriental Herb Co.) (Training formula, cooling)
--Die-Da Analgesic Essence (China National)
--Fastt Patch (Wei Labs) (Long term use plaster for healing injuries)
--Eighteen Budda Tit Da plaster
--Feng Liu Sing Tincture (Warm)

Bleeding, External and Internal, Severe Bruising

--Yunnan pai (bai) yao, ( Means “White medicine from Yunnan province”). This is THE stop bleeding formula. There are others that are similar, however, but most people prefer the original. Powder can be packed into deep cuts. It can also be taken internally for possible internal bleeding (seek medical attention). Internally it is useful to control heavy menstrual bleeding. The red pill that is often packaged with the formula is to be used when there is severe trauma with the possibility of the patient going into shock. (Again, seek medical attention).
--san qi powder, tien chi powder (Many suppliers).

Joint Strain or Sprain

These are variations of Die da formulas and are specific for “white” tissue, connective tissue with low blood flow, bones, ligaments and tendons.

--Zheng Gu Shui (Yulin Drug) (Means “heal bone water” great on any joint pain including carpel tunnel, overuse soreness and tennis elbow. Apply to feet before standing for hours; it really helps.)
--Sprain Ointment (Blue Poppy)
--Ni Tian/Yee Tin Tong Oil
--Xi Shang Le Ding (Pham. Factory of TCM)
--Spring Wind Herbal Muscle and Joint rub (Spring Wind)
--Dr. Shir’s Liniment (Spring Wind brand)

Over-worked Exhausted Muscles, General After Workout Soreness and Pain

These are common muscle rubs and tend to be oil based with a lot of menthol and camphor.

--Tiger balm white (Classic, great all around for sore muscles)
--Essential Balm (Similar to Tiger Balm)
--White Dragon Balm (Similar to Tiger Balm)
--White Flower oil (Cool – For acute muscle strain or muscles that feel hot)
--Joseph’s Si Chi Pain relieving oil
--Eagle oil
--Wood lock oil
--Stop Pain (Blue Poppy)
--Mopiko (Indicated for pain as well as itch from insect bites and eczema)
--Yunnan Baiyao liniment
--Yunnan Baiyao Plasters
--King Care Original Formula
--King Care Sports Pain Formula
--Golden sunshine patches/spray Cream (Cool)
--Notoginseng Herbal Analgesic Liniment (Camphor free)

Old (cold) Injury Cches and Pains

No redness or swelling. Heat applied to the area feels good. This is especially true of old injuries that have been over iced, or controlled through over the counter painkillers. These are formulas with warm and hot herbs.

--Tiger Balm Red (Warm)
--Red Dragon Balm (Warm)
--Chili Plasters (Hot)
--Porous Capsicum Plaster (Hot)
--Po Sum On (Warm to neutral, good massage oil for sore muscles)
--Axe brand oil (Warm)
--Dr. Bob’s Medicated oil (Blue Poppy) (Warm to neutral)
--Green Willow liniment (Blue Poppy) (Hot)
--E Mei Shan Plasters (Warm)
--Dragon Fire Liniment (Oriental Herb Co.) (Hot)
--Hua Tuo Plasters (Kwang Chow United) (Warm)
--Huo Tuo Plasters (Jingxiutang Pharm.) (Warm)
--Kwan Loong (Warm to neutral, also indicated for itching)
--Salonpas Plasters (Warm to neutral, focused on pain)
--Bao Zhen Gao/ Shang Yao Plasters (Warm)
--Zhitong Gao/ Shang Yao Plasters (Warm)
--Tokhuon Plasters (Warm)
--King Care Arthritis Pain Formula (Warm)
--Kou Pi Analgesic Plasters (Beijing Tung Jen Tang) (Warm)
--Kou Pi Analgesic Plasters (Tientsin Drug) (Warm)
--Xin Fang Shang Shi Bao Zhen Gao Plasters (Shanghai Med. Works) (Warm)
--Yun Xiang Jing liniment (Yulin) (Hot)
--Mao She Xiang San Xiong Dan Rheumatic oil (Kwangchow) (Warm)
--Musk Rheumatic oil (Guangdong Medicines) (Warm)
--Flower oil (Shanghai medicines) (Warm to neutral)
--Notoginseng Herbal Analgesic Liniment (Guangxi Med.) (Warm to neutral)
--Whitee Patch (Wei Labs) (Warm)
--ABC Plaster (Hot)
--Yun Xiang Jin (Warm)

Re-injured Joints or Other Tissue

No redness to tissue, possible water or swelling around the joint, dull achy pain. Most of these are musk-based formulas; other camphor/menthol-based formulas can also do well.

--Musk plaster (Jingxiutang Pharm)
--Zheng Gu Shui (Yulin Drug)
--Kupico Plaster (Great Wall Brand)
--Shang Shi Bao Zhen Medicated Plaster (Shanghai Med. Works) (Warm)
--Anti-Rheumatic Plaster (Tientsin Drug)
--Musk Rheumatism-Expelling Plasters (Guilin Fourth Pharm.)
--Musk Anti-Contusion Plasters (Tianjin Drug)
--Musk Rheumatic oil (Guangdong Medicines) (Warm)

Red Painful Muscles & Joints Due To Chronic Injury, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout

--Three Angels Liniment (Blue Poppy) (Cool)
--White Tiger Liniment (Oriental Herb Co.) (Cool, for red muscle swelling)

Abrasions, Cuts, “Gi Burn” and Open Wounds

--Tieh ta yao jiu (Five Photos brand) (Great on “Gi burn” and abrasions)
--Yunnan Bai Yao powder (For bleeding open wounds)
--Compound Prescribed Watermelon Frost (Guilin) (For non-healing or infected
open wounds with redness and swelling)
--Wan Hua Oil (United Pharm) (For hard swellings, burns, necrotic wounds)
--Ching Wan Hung (Great Wall) (Best burn cream, heals tissue, can be applied to
open wounds to reduce scarring)

There are countless formulations available as well as secret formulas. These were the products that I was able to get at least an ingredient list for. There are many good herbal formulas for which I could not find any information. I tried to group formulas as best I could, based on the information I have. I have used some of these formulas (not all) on myself and on patients. Comments about the effectiveness of a particular formula are based on my personal experience. There are many products listed that I believe are also very good. I just haven’t had opportunity to use them.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Formula Chart (.PDF)

Recommended Reading:

Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines by Jake Fratkin

Shaolin Secret Formulas For The Treatment Of External Injury, Transmitted by Patriarch De Chan, Translated by Zhang Ting-liang, Bob Flaws

Chinese Medicinal Wines and Elixirs, by Bob Flaws

Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica by Dan Bensky, Andrew Gamble

Chinese Herbal Medicines Formulae

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About the Author:

David Bock, C.Ac. Dipl.Ac. Dipl.CH, is a teacher of Wadokai Aikido (under Roy Suenaka Sensei), a Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist, NCCAOM National Board Certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology, author of the online column “The Practical Herbalist” at He can be reached at

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

martial arts medicines, shang ke, Chinese trauma medicine, Die da

Read more articles by David Bock

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