Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish, DVM
In a world where pharmaceuticals are often favored ahead of herbal remedies, you might be surprised to learn that some veterinarians use Yunnan Baiyao to help heal wounds and reduce inflammation in animals.
Yunnan Baiyao is an ancient oriental medicine that is currently used in a variety of medical applications. During the Vietnam War, soldiers carried the drug to stop bleeding should they get injured.
Chinese herbs have been used by veterinarians to treat abdominal bleeds, bleeding into the sac surrounding the heart, bleeding from the nose, and bleeding brought on by certain cancers.
Keep reading to get a better understanding of the pros, cons, and side-effects of using Yunnan Baiyao for your dog.
What is Yunnan Baiyao
Yunnan Baiyao (also known as yunnan paiyao) is a traditional Chinese medicine that originated in the Yunnan province of China.
It is a proprietary blend of traditional Chinese herbs and minerals, the exact ingredients and proportions of which are not disclosed. However, it is believed that Tienchi ginseng root is one of the ingredients in Yunnan Baiyao (Sanqi).
Tienchi ginseng, also known as Panax notoginseng, is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a wide range of ailments, including bleeding, bruises, and other injuries.
In dogs, it is commonly used as a wound healer and an anti-inflammatory. It is said to help stop bleeding, reduce inflammation, and promote the healing of injuries, including sprains, strains, and bruises.
It comes in a variety of forms, including capsules, powder, and topical ointments, and is often used in conjunction with other treatments. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving it to a dog.
The main ingredient in this traditional Chinese medicine is kept hidden from consumers, although it’s thought to contain a blend of natural herbs and minerals with specific blood clotting properties.
Its most famous application was during World War II, when it was used to treat and stop serious bleeding in wounded soldiers.
Does it Really Work?
Whether it works or not depends on who you ask.
Generally speaking, it’s thought to slow active bleeding by activating the platelets that help form clots. When platelets are active they begin to collect and change shape.
The hope is that they work quickly to form a mesh that plugs the injury. In a perfect world, this would work efficiently all of the time. However, there are many different things that can slow down the clotting process.
Blood-thinning medication, underlying disease, and cancer are some situations in which the blood may not clot properly.
It’s use in human medicine is more widely understood than its use in dogs. However, it is not approved for use by the FDA. Clinical trials (see below) suggest some benefit in dogs undergoing surgery:
A clinically focused pilot study (published 2021_08_August_AJTCVM_V16,12_FC_F.indd) was performed to determine whether Yunnan baiyao would help slow bleed times during and after surgery.
These dogs had tested positive for tickborne disease and/or heartworm. The significance of this is that dogs with these underlying conditions are at risk of excessive bleeding during surgical treatment.
The dogs were divided into two groups of six.
Half of the dogs were given 3 oral doses of YB (0.5g/5kg) every twelve hours and the other half were given a placebo. The last dose was given the evening before surgery. Prothrombin time (PT) – which measures how quickly the blood will clot – was measured before the first dose of YB and after the third dose.
The amount of blood loss during the operations was estimated by blood-soaked gauze sponge counts. The findings suggested possible evidence of preoperative benefits from the group of dogs administered Yunnan Baiyao.
This, however, was a small test group. Researchers hope to support a clinical trial with a larger sample size.
Pros of Yunnan Baiyao
- May help slow bleeding
- May have wound healing properties
- Could have antimicrobial effects
- Sometimes used to help treat skin conditions
- May reduce uterine bleeding
- Sometimes may be used to treat bleeding ulcers
- Sometimes used in palliative care to treat aggressive cancer
- Used to help slow bleeding in internal hemangiosarcoma
Cons of Yunnan Baiyao
- Should not be used in dogs with liver disease
- Unknown serious side effects
- Long-term effects of oral use ofYunnan Baiyao are unclear
- Lower quality studies
- Needs more clinical research
5 Crucial Things You Should Know About Yunnan Baiyao
You may have guessed by now that the ingredients in Yunnan baiyao are a trade secret by the manufacturers. That should cause a degree of concern.
This Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years and is thought to offer significant improvement in bleeding disorders. But is it true?
The reality is, it may be helpful for some people and animals. That can’t be said of every person or every animal.
Before you consider using Yunnan baiyao for yourself or your dog, please consider the following.
1. Common Side Effects of Yunnan Baiyao in Dogs
Yunnan baiyao is considered safe when prescribed by a veterinarian. However, it may cause side effects in some dogs. The most common side effect of yunnan baiyao in dogs is upset stomach.
There are limited studies available to determine with absolute certainty whether Yunnan Baiyao is inherently safe for dogs.
The reason for the lack of scientific evidence is because this herb is considered a supplement and doesn’t require “proof”.
In circumstances where other prescribed treatments are problematic (unacceptable side-effects, expense, or simply not working the way they should) Yunnan Baiyao is generally considered an acceptable option.
2. What is it Used For?
Yunnan Baiyao is used orally to stop internal bleeding and topically to stop bleeding and optimize healing in wounds.
It is commonly used to treat internal bleeding caused by cancers such as hemangiosarcoma of the liver, splenic hemangiosarcoma or heart in dogs. In some cases, it may also be used for bleeding bladder tumors in dogs and cats.
It is most commonly administered orally as a capsule, but the capsule contents can be used directly to stop bleeding in small sounds.
Yunnan Baiyao can even be used on nails and quicks as a natural alternative to laboratory-derived styptic.
Yunnan Baiyao should only be used after consultation and collaboration with a licensed veterinarian. The following is a list of potential uses for yunnan baiyao in dogs:
- topical application to stop bleeding in wounds
- treats blood clots in dogs by promoting blood coagulation
- hasten healing of open wounds
- help control internal bleeding associated with certain cancers including hemangiosarcoma of the liver, spleen or heart in dogs.
- control internal bleed of bladder tumors in dogs
- support the immune system in humans
- provide pain relief in humans
Some homeopathic veterinary hospitals use Yunnan Baiyao to treat dogs with:
- Accumulation of blood in the abdomen (known as hemoabdomen)
- Excessive storage of fluid within the pericardial sac that surrounds the dog’s heart (known as pericardial effusion)
- Acute nosebleeds (known as epistaxis).
- Neoplasia (unusual growth or tumor within the body. Can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Keep in mind that some of the uses noted above have been used in humans and animals.
3. What Does Yunnan Baiyao Do For Dogs?
Yunnan baiyao works by activating blood platelets. When taken by mouth, it has been shown to decrease liver bleeding in lab animals.
Yunnan Baiyao has been shown to:
- Stop bleeding
- Improve blood circulation
- clear toxins from the body
- reduce swelling
The main use of Yunnan Baiyao in dogs is to reduce or stop internal and external bleeds.
4. Dosage Guidelines for Dogs
Yunnan Baiyao isn’t an instant remedy and may take several days for it to reach its full effect.
According to Epsilon Acupuncture Curated Chinese Medicinals commonly used guidelines for dogs (as prescribed by a veterinarian) depend on the circumstances.
Active Internal Bleeding
One capsule per 15 – 20 pounds of body weight. Capsules are given four times a day for 1 to 2 days.
After active bleeding has stopped
One capsule per 20 – 30 pounds of body weight. Capsules are given two to three times a day for up to 3 – 7 days.
The recommended maintenance dose is 1 capsule per 30 – 50 pounds of body weight given two to three times per day.
The general dosing guidelines are:
Weight 15 – 20 pounds
1 capsule 4 times per day for up to 2 days.
Weight 20 – 30 pounds
1 capsule 2 – 3 times per day for up to 7 days (or between 3 and 7 days).
Weight 30 – 60 pounds
2 capsules 2 times per day.
Weight over 60 pounds
2 capsules 3 times per day.
These dosing guidelines are not designed to take the place of the advice from a licensed veterinarian.
Yunnan Baiyao is not recommended as an ongoing treatment. Some evidence suggest it could elevate liver markers if used for a longer period of time. Should not be taken by pregnant dogs, dogs with liver or kidney disease, and may cause serious adverse effects.
5. Shopping for Authentic Yunnan Baiyao
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of supplements on the market that claim to treat a wide variety of conditions. Each supplement may have different ingredients depending on the manufacturer. That includes additives and non-medicinal ingredients.
Yunnan baiyao capsules are the most common form of the product. You can, however, get it in powder form for external use. In addition, yunnan baiyao is available as an injection, plaster, and as an ointment.
Watch Out for Imposters
Interested in trying Yunnan Baiyao for your dog? If your veterinarian suggested the supplement, they will either have some on hand or be able to refer you to the best source.
Shop the Real Deal
Dr. Xie’s Jing Tang Herbal Inc. is recommended by veterinarians as the “real deal”. Ask your veterinarian about this product. Orders can only be placed by licensed practitioners.
Hand-picked Reading For You
At the end of the day, you want to get the most authentic product you can afford. Yunnan Baiyao is widely used and, as a result, may be hard to find in stock.
If you find yourself having a difficult time getting the capsules online, ask your veterinarian to order you a supply or ask to be put on a wait list if they are waiting for capsules to arrive.
It’s not necessary to order in bulk since the capsules are not designed to be used long-term anyway.
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Veterinary Place. www.veterinaryplace.com, https://www.veterinaryplace.com/dog-medicine/yunnan-baiyao-for-dogs/. Accessed 7 July 2022.
Yunnan Baiyao | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. www.mskcc.org, 15 Jan. 2021, https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/yunnan-baiyao.