We’re all aware that better quality herbs yield better treatment results, but are you using processed herbs in your dispensary? Besides the common method of cooking a herb to make it more nourishing, i.e. Sheng Di Huang to Shu Di Huang, there are many other methods to change the efficacy and properties of a herb. This is where Pao Zhi processing comes in.
Most herbs are processed in one way or another, this includes the most basic methods such as removing non-medicinal parts of the plant, slicing or pulverising the herb.
As herbalists we are always looking to improve the potency and efficacy of a herb, whilst ensuring safety of the patient by removing or reducing toxicity. Other reasons for processing can be to purify a herb or even to modify the nature of the herb. Furthermore, processing can also improve the shelf life of herbs.
Here are the most common methods of Paozhi processing:
Dry frying (chao)
This method increases the spleen awakening and stomach strengthening actions of herbs.
Stir frying with salt (Yan)
Stir frying with salt directs their actions downward to the kidneys. This form of preparation also nourishes the yin and reduces the resulting fire signs.
Frying with bran (Fu Chao)
enhances function on digestive system.
Frying with liquids
Frying with honey (Mi Zhi) increases a herb’s tonifying and moistening actions.
Frying with vinegar (Cu Zhi) enhances its astringent, analgesic, blood-invigorating and detoxifying actions. This property soothes liver qi stagnation.
Frying with wine (Jiu Zhi) enhances its ability to clear blockage from the channels, expel wind and alleviate pain.
Frying with ginger juice (Jiang Zhi) reduces the tendency of bitter and cold herbs to upset the stomach.
Quick frying (pao)
Herbs are fried at a very high temperature until it browns or becomes cracked. This method reduces its toxicity or modifies its harsh characteristics.
This method refers to steaming and then drying the herbs. This is a process that is used to alter the properties of various herbs. For example, transforming Ren Shen (Panax Ginseng C.A.Mey) to Hong Shen ( Panax Ginseng rubra).
Roasting in ashes (wei)
This process involves wrapping the herb in a moistened paper, with paste or with mud and then heating it in hot cinders until the coating is charred or cracked and its core has reached a high temperature.
This method involves dry stir frying until the herb is carbonised. By doing this, the herb can then be used to inhibit bleeding.
This entails placing a substance directly or indirectly in the flames until it is thoroughly heated and turns red. The purpose of this is to render the substance brittle and thus easy to pulverise.
Boiling (Dan, zhu)
In this method, herbs are soaked with boiling water to remove the skin, then the herb is washed. It is then boiled once more to reduce toxicity.
Other methods of processing include:
Fermenting (fa jiao)
Dry curing or baking (hong or bei)
As part of our extensive range at Phoenix, we stock over 70 Paozhi Processed Herbs on our online shop. Just login as a customer and select the Authenticated Dry Herbs or the Concentrated Herbal Granules category and refine by ‘PAO ZHI PROCESSED’ on the menu on the left.
For more information, please contact the team or leave a comment below.
Stöger, E., Gamble, A., Bensky, L.L. and Clavey, S. (2004) Chinese herbal medicine: Materia Medica. Edited by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, and Erich Stoger. 3rd edn. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press.