Nine Chinese Herbs Used for Pain Relief

Aches, pain, and body discomfort are some of the most common health complaints.  Unfortunately, pain can also be one of the most difficult conditions to treat.  There are many types of pain and just as many potential causes.  Managing pain can be a frustrating and complicated process.  Fortunately there are numerous methods to manage pain.  I’ve recommended traditional Chinese medicine and herbalism to many people who have found solutions to the conditions causing them pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine and what it can do for you

Traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, is a complex system of health and healing whose origins go back thousands of years.  TCM is comprised of several healing modalities, two of which are especially well known in the West.  Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbalism have gained considerable popularity in Western countries over the past several decades.  There is a growing body of clinical evidence to support the healing claims made by a practice that has helped countless generations of Chinese people.

Both acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbalism are practiced by people who have undergone many years of disciplined training.  Though there are certain treatments that you can prepare for yourself at home, I’d recommend consulting a professional TCM practitioner before selecting a remedy.  Because the remedies prescribed in TCM are potentially quite potent, they should only be prescribed and managed by a trained professional.

Traditional pain management remedies

As you read through this list you’ll find that each of the herbs have numerous benefits listed.  Chinese herbalism is complex and the remedies prepared by TCM herbalists often have several ingredients.  This is done to give each patient a targeted form of therapy.  There’s a good chance that many of the herbs listed here will be recommended in your treatment, though the amount and the frequency of the dose will be tailored to your specific needs.

There are thousands of professional TCM practitioners at work today and you can still benefit from this rich tradition of healing even if there aren’t any working in your area.  There are many herbal teas and other products intended for use at home.  You’ll probably find several of these herbs I’ve listed here inside these helpful products.

Corydalis yanhusuo/Corydalis root

The corydalis or crested lark is a type of flowering plant native to many Northern Hemisphere regions; it is found most abundantly in China and East Asia.  It is used in many traditional Chinese herbal remedies and it is valued for its pain relieving qualities.  Depending on how it is used, corydalis can be used as a muscle relaxant or as a stimulant for the circulatory and cardiovascular system.  It can also promote restful sleep.


The camphor tree gives its name to this waxy substance derived from the wood of the tree.  The camphor tree is a large, long-lived evergreen tree found throughout eastern Asia.  It has a distinctive pungent, refreshing scent.  The camphor wax can be rubbed on the skin for topical pain relief.  Because of its pungent smell, it is often included in topical remedies to relieve the chest congestion associated with colds and the flu.

Bai shao (white peony root)

The peony flower is treasured for its beauty and its usefulness.  Dried and chopped white peony root is used in many women’s health remedies.  It’s most often used in remedies treating menstrual disorders and can be used as a component in cures that treat PMS and menstrual cramps.

Qin Jiao (large gentian root, Gentiana macropylla root)

This bitter-tasting root is believed to impact the energy meridians affecting the stomach, liver, and gall bladder.  It is often used in remedies intended to treat stomach complaints; as such large gentian root’s pain relieving properties work best in alleviating the pain of stomach aches, indigestion, constipation, and related concerns.

Du huo (angelica root)

Angelica is a flowering plant whose pain-relieving properties are well-known in European herbalism.  The Asian varieties of the angelica plant have been used to treat joint inflammation and the pain of arthritis; it is believed that du huo especially benefits pain in the lower half of the body, such as low back pain and sciatica.  It is found in many remedies intended to treat chronic arthritic pain and is believed the help strengthen the body against injury.

Tao ren (peach seed)

Inside the peach fruit is a stone pit and inside the pit is the seed itself.  This small almond-shaped seed is harvested from the stone and allowed to dry before being added to traditional remedies.  Peach seeds work on several internal organs including the heart, lung, liver, and large intestine.  On its own peach seed preparations can be used to relieve different kinds of abdominal pain including menstrual pain, constipation, and postpartum abdominal pain.  Tao ren is most frequently used in combination with other herbs for a more targeted healing effect.

Yu jin (turmeric root, turmeric tuber)

The bright yellow powder of the turmeric root is used frequently in Indian cooking; it has been long valued as a healing plant in Ayurveda, India’s native tradition of healing.  In both Ayurveda and TCM turmeric is believed to be beneficial to the blood.  When used in traditional Chinese herbalism yu jin is intended to move the blood to promote healing at the site of a bruise or injury.  It can be used to treat sports injury pain, cramps, menstrual pain, and chest pain.  Recently Western medical research has been investigating the role that turmeric might play in cholesterol levels.

Hong hua (safflower)

Dried safflower is a beautiful golden red color; it has a warm pleasant scent.  It is used to relieve abdominal pain and swelling, especially in women experiencing postpartum pain.  Traditionally hong hua is understood to invigorate the blood thereby stimulating healing and promoting healthy circulation, particularly in areas where the body is injured.

Mu dan pi (tree peony root)

Tree peony is different from the small flowering bushes with the same name; the root of both plants is recognized as beneficial though in different ways.  Tree peony root is used to stimulate the circulatory system in order to flush out the stagnant blood that collects around bruises.  Mu dan pi is also used to treat headaches, eye pain, to reduce swelling, and to drain pus.

If you are interested in relieving pain with Chinese herbs, check out Solstice Medicine Company, an online company offering both eastern and western remedies.