Growing in the hillside, in the damp grass, or beneath the woods, wild Ban Xia begins blossoming in the May, before being harvested in the summer. Like all of our herbs, Ban Xia is grown using the DaoDi concept so they are of the highest quality as we believe that is what makes herbs the most effective.
To improve the effectiveness, we process herbs using traditional PaoZhi methods. There are many reasons why it is advisable to treat or process a herb before it is ingested or applied. One is to increase its potency or direct its actions to a certain place, both from traditional and biomedical perspectives. There are different ways to accomplish this, the most basic of which is to slice or pulverize the herb to increase its surface area. Common forms of preparation involve frying, steaming or baking. Processing herbs is important and can significantly extend the utility of some herbs, and will definitely increase their efficacy.
Are you using toxic Ban Xia?
Raw Ban Xia (Sheng Ban Xia) is toxic so it is processed to reduce its toxicity. The toxic herb is not to be used internally, with some practitioners choosing to use it externally. Ingesting the raw form can cause severe irritation of the mouth, pharynx, and gastrointestinal tracts, and has toxic effects on the nervous system. Symptoms of toxicity include a dry mouth, numbness of the tongue, gastric discomfort, burning sensations and swelling of the mouth, tongue, throat and salivation. In serious cases ingesting Ban Xia can result in hoarseness, spasms, dyspnea and asphyxia.
However, raw Ban Xia can treat aliments externally. It was traditionally used by puffing powdered Ban Xia into the nose to treat comas, fainting and obstruction of the throat. Ge Sheng (late Yuan dynasty) wrote; ‘when presented with a case of sudden collapse, the patient will revive when powdered Ban Xia is blown into their nose for the purpose of eliciting a sneeze’. More recently, the unprocessed herb is now used to help swelling of boils and goiters, stopping pain and to treat skin diseases.
Unprocessed Ban Xia is usually a small round white rhizome with brown spots. It is used to treat coughing, phlegm, dizziness, vomiting and headaches. However, processing the herb can result in the appearance and indications altering slightly. Practitioners also need to be aware that there are unofficial substitutes of Ban Xia on the market which may also be dangerous. Find out how to spot fake herbs here.
The raw herb is first soaked and rinsed until it is only slightly spicy. It is then mixed evenly in a decoction of an alkaline solution of Gan Cao (liquorice) and lime and where it is soaked until the centre becomes yellow without. The originally powdery rhizome becomes horn-like and semi-transparent. The drying action of Fa Ban Xia is somewhat more moderate than that of other forms and it is often used to treat Spleen deficiency encumbered by dampness and internal retention of phlegm and thin mucus. As processing a herb with liquorice makes it less fiercely drying, it can be used for treating patterns of both cold from deficiency as well as damp-heat.
The rhizomes are soaked and rinsed until it has only a slightly spicy, numbing taste. It is then boiled with fresh ginger and alum until cooked through. The herb is then dried in the open until it is about 60-70% dry. It is then is moistened again to be sliced, and then dried completely. When a herb is processed with ginger, the toxicity is reduced and the nature changes from fiercely acrid and hot to warm and drying with the ability to dry dampness, transform phlegm, direct qi downward and alleviate nausea. Jiang Ban Xia is best used for treating phlegm and thin mucus to Spleen deficiency, or for cold-phlegm that causes coughs and rebellious Qi.
To ensure the best results when prescribing Ban Xia, we recommend taking into consideration the different processing methods and properties. If you would like to know more about PaoZhi processing or Ban Xia, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.