Allegedly Bai Hua She’s property of curing scabies was found from an accident discovery. Once upon a time, there was a man who suffered from one kind of rare disease, which caused symptoms like hair loss, severe pruritus, rash and shingles over his whole body, and fester due to scratching all the time. Out of fear he was excluded to a discarded shack where was once a brewery. He found half vat of wine left there and drank it everyday. After a while, he found that his disease was cured miraculously. According to his narration, later folks checked out the vat and found an agkistrodon snake soaked and rotten there. Now it was like dawn coming and folks came to realize that it is the snake that worked. Of course, its herbal healing power doesn’t end here. This special animal-type Chinese herb covers a variety of different illness, especially symptoms and signs related to wind-stroke.
What is Bai Hua She?
In west it refers to dried gutted trunk of Agkistrodon or Bungarus Snake. And it is also one of commonly used herbs for stroke.
Dried Agkistrodon snakes curl up like a disc, head in middle, 18 to 25cm in diameter, trunk about 3cm in diameter. They have a triangle but flat head, nose on top, wide mouth, and long poisonous fangs in upper jaw. The back is dark brown, covered with diamond scales, and 24 lengthways grey square stripes. The belly is white, with bigger scales, mixed with many black spots. The horny tale is taper shape, and triangle in the end. Inside belly it is yellowish-white, with prominent vertebra, and flanked with ribs. They have slightly fishy smell. The quality criteria are bigger trunk, intact head and tale, and clearer stripes and spots. The leading producers are Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Fujian provinces.
Dried Bungarus snakes are with smaller trunk. Likewise they curl into disc shape, head in middle, and slender tale tucked into mouth. The disc’s diameter is about 3.5cm while trunk’s is about 4mm. The back is black brown, glossy, with many white stripes, and a prominent spine. Belly is yellowish-white. They have slightly fishy smell and taste slightly salty. Main producers are Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. In addition, Elaphe moellendorffi (Boettger) is also one of alternative in these areas.
What is it used for?
It is sweet, salty and warm in nature and administers meridians of liver and spleen from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Main functions are to dispel wind, unblock meridians, and relieve spasm. Regular uses and indications are rheumatism, obstinate arthralgia, numbness, muscular constricture, facial paralysis or hemiplegia due to wind-stroke, tetanus, leprosy, scabies, rash and other types of skin diseases caused by wind pathogen.
Regular dosage is 3 to 4.5 grams in decoction and 1 to 1.5 gram in powder.
Related Chinese herbal formulas
Bai Hua She Jiu, from Pin Hu Ji Jian Fang (Simple Formulas Collated by Pin Hu), is mainly for wind stroke, illness due to intemperance, hemiplegia, Bell’s palsy, joint pain, aged tinea, boils, and leprosy etc. Other herbs include Qiang Huo (Notopterygium Root), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Tian Ma (Gastrodia Root), Qin Jiao (Gentiana Macrophylla Root), Wu Jia Pi (Acanthopanax Root Bark), and Fang Feng (Siler Root).
Di Gu Pi San, from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence), mainly treats frequent headache and migraine. Other ingredient herbs include Di Gu Pi (Wolfberry Root Cortex), Tian Nan Xing (Arisaema), Jing Jie Sui (Spica Schizonepetae), and Shi Gao (Gypsum).
For treatment of chronic wind-damp and cramping of the sinews, Xi Qian Cao (Siegesbeckia aboveground), Du Huo (Angelica Root), and Wei Ling Xian (Clematis Root) can be used along with;
For treatment of facial paralysis, slowness in speech, spasms, and convulsion of children, Wu Shao She (Black Striped Snake) and Wu Gong (Centipede) can reinforce the function;
For treatment of leprosy, scabies, and tinea, the combination of Wu Shao She (Black Striped Snake) and Xiong Huang (Realgar) can enhance the effect of dispelling the wind and counteracting toxic.
Possible side effects and contraindications
Snake venom contains thrombin substance, esterase, and 3 types of anticoagulation. Bungarus snake has α-Bungaro-to-Bungaroto-xin, which is a neurotoxicant. The toxic effect to heart is similar to digitalism. Furthermore, it may also cause toxicity symptoms of digestive system, such as vomit, stomachache, diarrhea, and tingle in lips and limbs. The treatment is to clear away the poison matter, like gastric lavage, enema, catharsis, venous transfusion, oxygen uptake, oral albumen, and drinking a large amount of water and strong tea. Other regular way is to give drugs like atropine and potassium chloride in west medicine practice. In TCM, licorice or mung bean decoction is also a proper option.
In terms of TCM practice for wind stroke cures, Bai Hua She should be avoided in those of internal heat due to yin deficiency. Otherwise, it may aggravate the condition or results in other unexpected situation. So please make sure that before using it.