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What Is Bao He Wan?

Bao he wan advocates say it can help ease excessive belching.
Advoates of bao he wan say it can help treat gastric disorders like acid reflux.
Some people find that the local Chinatown is a good place to look for a Chinese herbalist who may sell bao he wan.
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  • Written By: James Franklin
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Images By: Dan Race, Bilderzwerg, Guillaume Baviere
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2014
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Bao he wan is a long-used Chinese herbal remedy used to alleviate a number of digestive problems. In addition to soothing stomach complaints, proponents say it also helps regulate the digestive system. Some also say that the herbal concoction can help people lose weight, but there has been no scientific evidence to back such a claim.

As they have for centuries, many people in China still rely on bao he wan as a home treatment for digestive discomfort. Advocates say it can cure maladies such as acid reflux disorder, constipation, indigestion, gas, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, hiccups, excessive belching and even bad breath. Some sellers say that it can even be used to treat anorexia, but this claim should be treated with caution if not skepticism until any scientific evidence is found to support the claim.

There are numerous herbal formulas invented long ago to ease a variety of ailments, with bao he wan being one of them. The term translates to “preserve harmony pill.” The notion of harmony is deeply imbedded in traditional Chinese medicine, meaning that emphasis is placed on keeping the health of internal organs in balance so they can function smoothly together. The importance of balance also is linked to the ancient Chinese ideas of yin and yang, opposing forces that must be kept in harmony.

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Common ingredients — which can vary — for bao he wan can include the native Chinese hawthorne fruit, pinellia root, radish seeds, tangerine peel, forsythia fruit, wheat sprouts and other substances. Recommendations for dosage vary widely, with some herbalists advising taking the herbal remedy three times a day and others urging seven or eight doses during the same period. The amount contained in each pill also varies according to the seller.

Bao he wan is easy to obtain, is sold at many health food stores and is available from online merchants. Experts recommend that anyone taking it should avoid oily foods, spicy foods or anything that typically is considered hard to digest, which is good advice for anyone with gastrointestinal problems no matter whether they take herbal remedies. Most agree it is safe for both adults and children, but women who are lactating should avoid the herbal concoction. There are no confirmed side effects.

This herbal concoction is credited to the ancient Chinese physician Zhu Danxi, who lived during the latter part of Yuan dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries. Zhu believed that many health problems were caused by overindulgence, particularly with food. He encouraged a bland diet as well as moderation in all pleasures, including sex. Arguably, his approach to life had its merits, because he outlived most men of his day, dying at age 77.

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