Top Five (5) herbs – Bai Shao is second!

June 18, 2012

bai shao“There are 120 medium class medicinals which are used as ministers. They mainly nurture personality and correspond to humanity. They may or may not be toxic, and [therefore] one should weigh and ponder before putting them to their appropriate use. If one intends to control disease, supplement deficiency, and replenish exhaustion, one should base [one’s efforts] on the middle class.” [i]

Bai Shao or Shao Yao (Paeonia Lactifloarae, Radix) is considered a middle class herb. Why is used the second most – at least according to our statistic? When combined with Sheng Di Huang and Dang Gui, it nourishes the blood, so is it an indication that the most frequent used herb is Dang Gui and then Bai Shao because today’s people or patient need supplementing blood?

And would blood need to be nourished because of suppressed or weak spleen or an exaggerated liver? Or is the problem deeper – at the level of the kidney energy?

“Bai Shao is bitter and treats evil qi and abdominal pain, eliminates blood obstruction, breaks hard gatherings and cold and heat mounting accumulation, relieves pain, disinhibits urination and boosts the qi. It grows in rivers and valleys” from the Shen Nong Ben Cao to “Bai Shao is cool and sour, and is best at restraining the yin to extinguish wind in cases of dizziness and headache, or to stop sweating from various causes. Bai Shao also nourishes the Liver blood to soften the Liver and relieve painful cramping and other pain in the flanks and abdomen due to Liver disorders…”[ii]

This is by no means an academic article, it’s out of personal interest and contemplation to compare various eras of our medicine and should be both entertaining and encourage the reader to keep an open mind.


[i] The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica  A Translation of the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing by Yang Shou-zhong).

[ii] Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Media, 3rd edition compiled and translated by D Bensky, S Clavey, E Stoeger with A Gamble.

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