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What Are Po Chai Pills?

Some people take Po Chai pills to relieve the nausea associated with hangovers.
Po Chai pills were first developed in China.
Po Chai pills are sometimes used to treat heartburn.
Po Chai pills can be used to treat bloating caused by excess gas.
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  • Written By: Solomon Branch
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2014
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Po Chai pills, also called Bao Ji wan, are tiny pills made from Chinese herbs. They are used to treat common and mild gastrointestinal issues, such as heartburn, excess gas causing bloating, stomachache, and nausea and vomiting. Many individuals also have experienced relief from symptoms caused by hangover or overeating.

Ingredients in these pills are all herbal, and there are up to 14 herbs in each formulation. Citrus peel, magnolia bark, sprouted barley, chrysanthemum, mint, and barley are some of the more familiar ingredients. Hoelen, saussurea, red actractolydes, agastiche, angelica, and kudzu make up the rest of the formula for the pills, as well as Tricosanthes fruit.

The packaging for Po Chai pills is very distinctive. These pills are very small and come in a plastic vials that contain around 100 pills each, and there are eight vials to a box. One or two whole vials is the recommended dosage, taken every two hours for a couple of days until symptoms are relieved. Children receive a half-dose.

Traditionally, Po Chai pills treat what Traditional Chinese Medicine calls damp-heat in the intestines. They were primarily used for diarrhea in climates that were hot and humid, but were also used when over-indulgence in rich food and alcohol was the cause. In modern times, the pills can be used for travelers’ diarrhea, acute gastroenteritis, summer flu, and hangover. Some people also use it for food poisoning, although only for mild cases.

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These pills were first developed in China by Li Shui Kei in 1896. His company, Li Chung Shing Tong, was originally based in China, but at the onset of the communist revolution he fled to Hong Kong and reestablished manufacturing operations. The Chinese government took over operations of the China location, and it was renamed the Guangzhou Wanglaoji Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

Po Chai pills can often be purchased online or in stores that carry Chinese herbs. There are still only two companies that are official manufacturers of the pills. Guangzhou Wanglaoji Pharmaceutical Company Limited handles distribution in China, and Li Chung Shing Tong is responsible for all global distribution and sales. It is wise to make sure that the pills have the official seal of one of these two companies to verify their authenticity. Many counterfeit products exist on the market, but they are often of an inferior quality and there have been reports that some of these products are tainted.

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Discuss this Article

discographer
Post 4

@fBoyle-- If you get Bao Ji Wan from a good place, then it's safe. I buy mine from a reputable online store. Every single herb that's included in the pills are listed on the label. It is also nicely packed with an expiration date.

I use Bao Ji Wan herbal supplements whenever I have an upset stomach and it works right away. But I don't use more than necessary and I never use it more than a few days in a row. I've never had any negative side effects from it.

fBoyle
Post 3

@anon340097-- I don't think Po Chai should be used at all and you shouldn't even think about using twenty year old ones.

First of all, Po Chai pills are known to contain dangerous chemicals like phenolphthalein and mercury. I've also read that some of these pills have antibiotics and steroids in them.

Since these pills are not tested and regulated, there is no way to know what is exactly in them. I'm not denying that it may have some beneficial herbal medicine. But it's not pure and is tainted with dangerous chemicals.

ysmina
Post 2

Will Po Chai pills help with nausea caused by vertigo (motion sickness)?

I have vertigo and get extremely nauseated when I ride in vehicles. I've tried lots of different things but nothing has worked. I want to try herbal supplements now.

anon340097
Post 1

Can po chai pills last 20 years? I bought some in Hong Kong about 20 years ago, and wonder if I can still use it, or is it risky?

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