Yunnan Baiyao Herbal Formula Found Helpful for Colitis / Inflammatory Bowel Disease

By Chad Dupuis
Tagged in Herbal Medicine and Research

There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease - crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.  Both have unpredictable courses and are very often difficult to treat effectively.  Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have long been used to treat these conditions and may often have stronger results due to the nature of the way they view and treat these conditions within the TCM diagnostic framework (i.e. treating the root causes instead of the symptoms).  What follows is information on using a classic Chinese herbal formula, Yunnan Baiyao, (traditionally used for bleeding disorders from acute traumas or other acute/chronic conditions) on inflammatory bowel disease. 

Chinese researchers recently conducted an animal model study exploring the effects of Yunnan Baiyao on inflammation in the bowel.  Using mice with induced experimental colitis (DSS- and TNBS- models) researchers found anti-inflammatory and/or immunosupressive functions from the formula which alleviated symptoms and induced repair of the colon and other effected tissues.  Yunnan Baiyao (YNBY) also shows anti-bacterial functions in its uses with wounds, however, however this was not thought to be a factor in this model.  They found that the herbal formula, taken orally in drinking water, decreased the levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines in colonic mucosa - TNFα, IL-12p40, IL-17.  Changes were found systemically in addition to the colon which means the formula will have broader functions in the body making it useful for Crohn's or other IBD associated symptoms.  

Researchers found that "YNBY suppressed the growth of multiple T- and B-lymphocytes, including Molt-4, Jurkat, and EBV-transformed human B-lymphocytes, more potently than 6-mecaptopurine (6-MP) and 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), two of the most commonly used first-line drugs in IBD therapy. In sharp contrast, YNBY exhibited no cytotoxicity to colonic epithelial cells (Caco-2 cells), even at the concentration 10-fold higher than that used in the lymphocyte model; and instead promoted cell spreading and wound healing."

They conclude that Yunan Baiyao has effective anti-inflammatory properties and promotes epithelial wound healing making it an effective first line treatment for IBD. 

While this is an animal model study, Yunan Baiyao has been used widely in human populations for over a hundred years.  Further studies should be performed in human population particularly to gauge effective doses and treatment lengths.

Yunnan Baiyao Herbal Formula Found Helpful for Colitis / Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Authored by: Chad Dupuis on 5 December 2011

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