Yunnan Baiyao means “white medicine from the Province of Yunnan” in Mandarin. Yunnan Baiyao (YB) is a well-known proprietary traditional Chinese medicine product. The original formula is believed to contain multiple herbs with a form of ginseng as the main ingredient. Current products may vary by manufacturer and are proprietary so the true ingredients are unknown. Yunnan Baiayao was formulated over 100 years ago and was used on the battlefields during WWII and the Vietnam War, where soldiers carried it in their first aid kits to manage wounds.
In the last few decades, Yunnan Baiyao has been expanded into a product line that includes pills, tinctures, sprays, powders and patches. It has been promoted as a dietary supplement that can be used both externally and internally to stop bleeding and to treat cancer in humans and in animals. Other claims include relief from minor aches and pains.
Veterinarians often use Yunnan Baiyao manage bleeding tumors. Common cancers such as hemangiosarcoma, nasal tumors, and bladder tumors. A small study demonstrated that YB can cause hemangiosarcoma cell death in a laboratory setting. It has yet to be determined if YB can prolong life for dogs with hemangiosarcoma.
Side effects of YB include gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. It can also cause topical irritation if applied directly to wounds or mucus membranes. At high doses, YB may affect the function of the bone marrow.
Herbal medications may be contaminated with toxic ingredients such as heavy metals and pesticides and they can vary in composition. Herbal medications and supplements are not formally regulated and there are no standards for quality. Care must be used when choosing a source of Yunnan Baiyao and it should be administered under the guidance of a veterinarian.
- A veterinarian should be contacted prior to starting Yunnan Baiyao
- The dose typically changes in the case of active or recent bleeding