Friday, February 20, 2009

Chuan Xin Lian, Kold Kare, Kan Jang

Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon write a syndicated column called "The People's Pharmacy." Recently they ran an item from someone who asked about a product called Kan Jang, produced by the Swedish Herbal Institute. Kan Jang not being available on the U.S. market, they recommended something called Kold Kare. The main ingredient in both products is andrographis, known to the Chinese medicine community as 穿心蓮 Chuan Xin Lian.

Chuan Xin Lian is extremely cold and bitter, and goes to the Lung, Stomach, Large Intestine, and Small Intestine meridians. It's often used for its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effects. One study shows that a decoction of Chuan Xin Lian enhances the immune system and increases the phagocytic activity of white blood cells (Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Ying Yong Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Herbs, 1983:824).

Although the People's Pharmacy column discusses the use of andrographis for colds, I recently used a Chuan Xin Lian product to help control an infection that developed after a puncture wound in the palm of my hand. A friend tossed me a key, and as I caught it between my hands, the point dug into the center of my palm, almost exactly where the acumoxa point Laogong PC-8 is located. I ignored for a day or two, but it wound started to throb and get redder. I even started to feel some pain up my forearm. Then I squeezed some yellow pus out of the wound. That worried me, to say the least.

Along with an external application of 三黃散 San Huang San, I took 穿心蓮抗炎片 Chuan Xin Lian Kang Yan Pian. San Huang San, the "three yellows powder," consists of Huang Qin, Huang Lian, Da Huang, Hong Hua, Pu Gong Ying, and Zhi Zi. I mixed a small amount of the powder with green tea, put it directly on the wound and covered it with a band-aid. The pills I took at a high dose for three days, and continued to change the San Huang San each day. After three days my hand and forearm no longer hurt and the wound had almost completely healed over with no redness or swelling.

Chinese herbs have incredible antibacterial and antiviral effects. People sometimes tell me that they canceled an acupuncture appointment because they "felt sick." That makes no sense! Go to the acupuncturist when you get sick! A lot of people only see the acupuncturist for physical pain, but acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are excellent for treating the common cold, flu, infections and so on.

Chuan Xin Lian Kang Yan Pian and San Huang San are both available from Fat Turtle Herb Company (online shopping coming soon).

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