Huáng Yuányù discusses Bǎi Hé

With today being the arrival of ‘Major Cold ‘(大寒 – the 24th solar term in the Chinese calendar lasting until Feb 3), what better day than today, to sit down with a cup of warm Wulong or Hongcha to translate passages from some of my favourite books.
The following is a direct translation from the Bǎi Hé section of Huáng Yuányù’s (1705-1758) excellent ‘Interpretation of Medicinals’ (黃元御藥解).

Huáng Yuányù discusses Bǎi Hé

– Translated from Huáng’s Interpretation of Medicinals (黃元御藥解)

百合 味甘、微苦,微寒,入手太陰肺經。涼金瀉熱,清肺除煩。

Bǎi Hé – Sweet flavour, slightly bitter and slightly cold. Enters the hand Taiyin lung channel. Cools metal, drains heat, clears the lungs and eliminates vexation.


The Jīn Guì’s Bǎi Hé Zhī Mǔ Tāng

Bǎi Hé 7 pieces
Zhī Mǔ 2 liǎng [listed as 3 liǎng in the Jīn Guì Yào Lüè]

Treats Bǎi Hé disease following the induction of sweat. Following cold damage, pathogenic qi shifts, and the hundred vessels are diseased. This is Bǎi Hé [disease]. Its symptoms present with disturbance to sleep and appetite, the occurrence of diarrhea and vomiting, difficulty differentiating between cold and heat, disquietude whether sitting or laying down, a bitter taste in the mouth, red urination, heart vexation, and a confused state of mind, with an inability to point to any specific channel or visceral disease. Now, the qi of the hundred vessels is received in the lungs, as the lungs are the ancestor of the hundred vessels. Thus, it is appropriate for the lungs to be clear. Following the promotion of sweat, the fluids [may be] desiccated and metal burned. Bǎi Hé clears the lungs and generates fluids. Zhī Mǔ cools metal and drains heat.


Huá Shí Dài Zhě Tāng

Bǎi Hé 7 pieces
Huá Shí 3 liǎng (broken)
Dài Zhě Shí (a pellet sized piece)

Treats Bǎi Hé disease following purgation. Purgation damages the yang of the central stomach duct, [resulting in] earth-damp counterflow [of the] stomach and depressed steaming lung heat. Bǎi Hé clears the lungs and drains heat; Huá Shí and Dài Zhě percolate dampness and downbear counterflow.


Bǎi Hé Jī Zǐ Tāng

Bǎi Hé 7 pieces
Boil the decoction and add one egg yolk, blend until smooth, and boil. Treats Bǎi Hé disease following vomiting. Vomiting damages the fluids of the lungs and stomach, resulting in the dryness of both metal and earth. Bǎi Hé clears the lungs and generates fluids. Jī Zǐ Huáng [egg yolk] supplements spleen essence and moistens dryness.


Bǎi Hé Dì Huáng Tāng

Bǎi Hé 7 pieces
Shēng Dì Huáng juice 1 jīn [listed as 1 shēng in the Jīn Guì Yào Lüè]
Add to Bǎi Hé decoction, boil and take. The stools should be like lacquer. Treats Bǎi Hé disease when neither sweating, vomiting or purgation have been used, and the disease appears as in the beginning. [Here] sweating, vomiting or purging have not been used and there is excess steaming of stasis heat [as well as] turbidity [which] has not been drained. Bǎi Hé clears the lungs and drains heat, while the juice of Shēng Dì cools and drains the stomach-intestines, and purges foul turbidity.


Bǎi Hé Xǐ Fāng [Lily bulb wash]

Bǎi Hé 1 jīn [listed as 1 shēng in the Jīn Guì Yào Lüè]
Use 1 dǒu of water and soak overnight. Use [the liquid] to bathe the body. After bathing, eat boiled cake, and avoid salt. Treats Bǎi Hé disease, which has not resolved within a month, and has resulted in thirst. [Here] fire flares and dries metal, resulting in lung heat which fails to resolve, leading to thirst. The lungs govern the skin and hair, and the Bǎi Hé is used to wash the skin and hair, thereby clearing lung heat.


Bǎi Hé Huá Shí Sǎn

Bǎi Hé 1 liǎng
Huá Shí 2 liǎng [listed as 3 liǎng in the Jīn Guì Yào Lüè]
Powder [the ingredients], and take a square-inch spoonful in liquid, three times per day. When there is slight diarrhea, stop taking, as [this indicates that] heat has been eliminated. Treats Bǎi Hé disease, which has transmitted into heat effusion. [When] dampness is stirred, the stomach runs counterflow, resulting in lung depression that generates heat. Bǎi Hé clears metal and drains heat; Huá Shí disinhibits water and eliminates dampness.


Bǎi Hé is a superior medicinal, which cools metal, moistens dryness, drains heat, disperses depression, and depurates the qi layer. It’s various treatments include stopping tearing, stopping sadness, opening throat impediment, disinhibiting welling-abscess of the lung, clearing lung heat, treating vomiting of blood, disinhibiting urination, lubricating the large intestine, controlling deafness and ear pain, rectifying subcostal and breast welling-abscesses, and effusing the back of various sores. Steep Bǎi Hé in water overnight. [When] white foam appears, discard the water, and then decoct with spring water and use.

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