Monday, July 21, 2008

TCM Remedy for Conjunctivitis

Many of us have experienced pink-eye - you wake up in the morning, and all of a sudden one eye opens. What about the other one? It's glued shut with dried, crusty mucus which has been exudating and drying all night long.

You go to the bathroom, wash your face carefully, and take a look. The white of your affected eye looks bloodshot. It may be itchy. You try and resist, but eventually you forget, touch your bad eye, then touch the other one. Congratulations! Now you have bacterial conjunctivitis in both eyes. (If there is no mucus, you probably have viral conjunctivitis.)

If you wash carefully, rinse with saline solution and avoid touching your eyes, pink-eye usually goes away within two weeks, without lasting damage. But suppose it doesn't go away. Or suppose you want it to go away faster. Today I'd like to share with you a Chinese herbal remedy for conjunctivitis, from Complete External Therapies of Chinese Drugs, by Xu Xiangcai.

  • Jin Yin Hua - honeysuckle flower - 12 grams
  • Da Qing Ye - isatis leaf - 10 grams
  • Ban Lan Gen - isatis root - 6 grams
  • Ye Ju Hua - wild chrysanthemum flower - 6 grams
  • Pu Gong Ying - dandelion - 10 grams
  • Bo He - field mint - 6 grams
  • Qian Li Guang - ragwort - 6 grams

The ingredients above are soaked in half a liter of water in an earthenware pot for about 20 minutes. Then turn the fire on high until it comes to a high boil. Then turn down to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes. Then filter the dregs using a fine strainer or cheesecloth. Wait until the liquid has cooled slightly but is still warm. Soak a clean cloth or piece of absorbent cotton and wash the outside of the eye slowly and carefully. Don't worry if some of the herbal tea gets in your eye, it's not dangerous. But don't try and pour the liquid directly into the eye - the main therapeutic benefit is from washing the external surface.

Too close for comfort? Here's another recipe that is even more indirect. It's prepared the same way, but all you do is steam the eye over the hot herbal tea for about 20 minutes each time - no dipping, no washing.

  • Long Dan Cao - gentian root - 10 grams
  • Ju Hua - chrysanthemum flower - 10 grams
  • Xia Ku Cao - prunella or self-heal spike - 10 grams
  • Chan Tui - cicada husk - 10 grams
  • Di Gu Pi - lycium root bark - 10 grams
  • Shi Jue Ming - abalone shell - 10 grams
  • Mi Meng Hua - buddlejae flower - 10 grams
  • Xuan Shen - scrophularia root - 15 grams
  • Bai Ji Li - tribulus fruit - 10 grams
  • Sang Ye - mulberry leaf - 10 grams

Whether steaming or washing, use the herbal tea warm for best effect. You can reuse the same herbs 3-4 times a day. The next day make a fresh batch.

You can ask your acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist to order this formula for you.

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