Yunnan Baiyao is an ancient oriental medicine that was developed in 1902. During the Vietnam War, soldiers carried the drug as a way to stop bleeding should they get injured.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years. Their safety and effectiveness have been studied for years. Unfortunately, many of those studies have been of poor quality. As of 2022, there have been no firm conclusions.
This herb has 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.
After reading this post you will better understand:
- what Yunnan Baiyao is
- how to shop for the real-deal (not a knock-off)
- dosage recommendations
- potential side-effects
What is Yunnan Baiyao Exactly?
The main ingredient in this traditional Chinese medicine are kept hidden from consumers. In fact, even the people who work to create the formula only have very limited knowledge of the full list of ingredients.
Generally speaking, Yunnan baiyao is a blend of herbal ingredients that has been used for thousands of years in China. It was developed by Chinese medicine practitioner, Dr. Qu Huanzhang of Yunnan, China, in 1902. It’s most famous application was during World War II in which it was used to treat and stop serious bleeds in wounded solders.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this traditional Chinese medicine works in reducing bleed times although most recent studies have been conducted on horses and humans.
What is it Used For?
In dogs, herbal remedies like Yunnan baiyao are thought to extend the life of dogs with bleeding cancers because of its pro-coagulation properties. Uses include:
- topical application to stop bleeding in wounds
- 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
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 hemangiosarcomas
Cons of Yunnan Baiyao
- Should not be used in dogs with liver disease
- Unknown serious side effects
- Long-term effects of oral Yunnan 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. Safety Questions
Whether or not Yunnan baiyao is safe for dogs is the million dollar question. It is best used with traditional methods prescribed by your dog’s veterinarian.
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 Yunnan Baiyao Used For?
Yunnan Baiyao has been sold on the shelves for years with no prescription required and has been reportedly used to treat the following:
- Canine cancers that cause bleeding.
- Palliative care to complement other medical therapies.
- Bleeds of all kinds (internal and external)
- Alleviate arthritis swelling
- Pain management
- Skin ulcerations by activating the platelets. Platelets are the small blood components that help make blood clot.
Blood is designed to clot on its own, but, in some cases, added measures are needed to keep severe bleeds under control.
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. How Does Yunnan Baiyao Work?
The actual synergistic effects of the ingredients in Yunnan Baiyao have not been scientifically identified. Anecdotally, 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. 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.
Watch Out for Imposters
Interested in trying Yunnan Baiyao for your dog? If your veterinarian suggested the supplement, he/she will either have some on hand or will be able to refer you to the best source.
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 he/she is 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.
I hope you found this post useful and I’d like to ask you to please share!
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.