Yunnan Bia Yao (YB) is finally getting its due now that western medicine has started to open its mind about herbal therapy.  Ten years ago, you could not find YB in any veterinary hospitals.  Today it is in all emergency animal hospitals and most general practices.  

YB is know for its ability to stop bleeding.  It can be used topically and internally.  It use has been documented in China for many years and they have been using it mostly for surgery patients to prevent bleeding during and after the operation.  

YB was created and is still manufactured solely in the Chinese province of Yunnan and supposedly the formula is still a secret since it accounts for a large percentage of the province’s source of income.  This is why you cannot find options for purchasing the supplement.

So, how did it end up in the US?  What is its use in pets?  What is its benefit with pets that have hemangiosarcoma and what is really the emergency protocol when a bleed occurs?

Let’s start with how it ended up in the US.  We discovered its use during the Viet Nam war when we found out that it was carried by Viet Cong soldiers in their packs for emergency use.  Basically, this is how the emergency protocol works:  If you are shot by the enemy, take the capsules in the package and the red pill.  If you live, congratulations.  If you die, well, we know that you will be reincarnated.  That is it.  Nothing more.  No directions that say, If you are still alive in four hours, take two more capsule.  If you are still alive in six hours, take another red pill and so on.  It is a “one time” emergency protocol in hopes of saving the life of a soldier who had been shot.

Any and all protocols that have been established for pets with cancer are theories and hopeful hypothesis.  They did not nor do they use YB to prevent bleedings.  They used it to stop bleeding IF POSSIBLE.  What about the infamous red pill?  The red pill is another Chinese herb (Baoxianzi) that is used for shock, which most soldiers who were shot developed shock.  The combination of the YB and red pill was their best herbal attempt to save a life that had been severely traumatized and was likely bleeding to death.  The YB was to hopefully stop the bleeding and the red pill was to help with shock.

If we are to understand how the red pill works, and stop guessing as to how it works, we need to understand what shock is and how the red pill attempts to treat shock.  Shock is simple defined as “cardiovascular insufficiency” caused by an acute situation, mostly trauma.  We see it most of the times in vet medicine with trauma patients, particularly pets that have been hit by cars.

Imagine a dog being hit by a car.  It has likely obtained severe injuries including soft tissue injuries, fractures, hemorrhage and sever pain.  The totality of these insults to the body will cause the dog to go into shock.  Shock is an attempt of the body to stay alive until it can get some help.  The cardiovascular insufficiency occurs because the blood is diverted to the primary life-sustaining organs; brain, heart and lungs.  Since the body only has x-amount of blood, it diverts blood away from the non-vital organs like the spleen, GI system, liver, kidneys, muscles and peripheral tissues.  This is why the pet’s gums are pale; no blood supply to the gums.

If the shock is not treated, in a very short time, the organs that were deprived of blood will start to fail and if it continues, the patient will die.  The primary treatment for shock is IV fluid therapy, ASAP to re-establish normal blood pressure and flow to all organs and tissues.  This is why you see on tv, the first thing the rescue team does in a trauma case is to push IV fluids.  

All practitioners who do emergency work, both humans and vets, know how shock affects the body and must take this into consideration with treatment.  One thing we all know is that when we start eliminating shock and correcting the blood pressure, there is a good chance the patient will start to hemorrhage again.  Remember, the blood during shock has been diverted away from the liver, spleen, etc.  If the dog has a fracture in the spleen and the low blood pressure during shock has stopped the bleeding, chances are when the blood pressure returns to normal and the blood returns to the spleen, the dog will start hemorrhaging again.  This happens with dogs who have HSA with a major bleed causing shock symptoms.  The shock will help slow the bleed but once the shock has stopped, the bleed may start again.

How does this affect our emergency protocol?  We start by looking at how the red pill works to control shock?  The red pill acts as a vasodilator that will promote blood flow and normalize blood pressure in hopes of saving a life.  But, we must consider that in doing so, it will likely promote bleeding if there is a source of a bleed that has not been corrected.  In the emergency room, we do this by surgically repairing the source of the bleed.  Repeating the red pill will increase the potential for more bleeding.  That is why there is only one red pill in a sleeve with the YB.

Now we know how these herbs work.  Both have different purposes and they must be realized if we are to help our dogs during a bleeding episode.  We give the capsules to help stop the bleeding and it is assumed that repeating it every four hours will not cause a problem, but again, there is no research to tell us that this will help or not.  Reasoning and common sense is what we rely on.  However, we can see that repeating the red pill is not likely going to help and will certainly increase the potential for more bleeding.  If you research the side effects of “Baoxianzi” you will see that causing hemorrhage is one of its side effects.

Obviously, there are other supplements that may help stop the bleeding such as the homeopathic remedy phosphorus.  It certainly should be included during a bleeding episode and since it is homeopathic, without biochemistry, it repeated use will not cause any side effects.

Beyond this, it is all supposition.  Now, you know the facts.