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Introduction to Gao Yao/Herbal Plaster


Herbal plaster is a mixture of formulated herbal powder and other substance (honey, ginger juice, sesame oil, milk, rosin, Vaseline, etc.) Herbal plaster can be applied on the body surface esp. acu-points. It has the advantages of herbal medicine and acupuncture. As a typical external treatment, the acupoint herbal plaster (AHP) is a non-invasive, minimal-dose, transcutaneously absorbed, pharmacological treatment modality. Technically, its performance is based on the classical acupuncture and herbal medicinal theories. It is used for different treatment purposes in a much gentler format but can still achieve almost the same results of needling acupuncture.

1. OTC Plaster in Pharmacy

In China, herbal plaster are widely used in the treatment of muscle pain, joint pain, arthritis, skin disorders, and asthma etc. Plasters belongs to OTC medicine. For instance, Shang Shi Zhi Tong Gao (Damp-Pain Plaster), with the effect to remove wind-damp, move blood and arrest pain, can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, muscle pain and joint pain, Phlebitis, frostbite, neurodermatitis, flat warts, and so on.

Interestingly, there is a therapy called Qi Liao (Navel Therapy) with the application of plasters on RN8. The therapy is a popular method to treat pediatric, gynecology, andrology and digestion system disorders.

A popular pediatric plaster called Ding Gui Er Qi Tie (Clove Cinnamon Child Plaster) is a effective plaster to strengthen spleen qi and arrest diarrhea. They herbs including clove, cinnamon and long pepper (piper longum), which holds warm nature and aromatic/spicy taste are commonly used to treat diarrhea.

2. Homemade Plaster

Besides the commercial plaster which is sold in pharmacy, it’s also possible to make various plasters at home.

White Pepper Plaster

White pepper (1g), vinegar, on BL13 to treat cough

White pepper resolves phlegm and arrests cough

Yongquan (KI1) Plaster

Garlic 12g, cinnamon powder 6g,camphor 3g or menthol 0.5g for kidney yin xu fire e.g. insomnia, bleeding

Cinnamon draws the floating kidney yin xu fire downwards. Garlic and menthol promote the absorption of the cinnamon powder.

Edema Plaster

Narcissus head 2 pieces, castor bean 30g

Above herbs should be smashed and ground and applied for edema

Cinnamon Plaster

Cinnamon powder 10g

It is mixed with snaps and applied on KI1 to treat kidney yang xu

3. Cautions

Like acupuncture, massage, and other external therapies, herbal plaster shouldn’t be used on the skin lesion. If the body is allergic to plaster or certain herbs in the plaster, it shouldn’t be used. Most of the commercial plaster contains herbs which could cause abortion, therefore, it’s forbidden to apply herbal plaster.

#Gaoyao #HerbalPlaster

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