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What is Yin Chiao?

By Deborah Walker
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Yin chiao is an herbal cold remedy developed over centuries of testing by physicians practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It contains a mix of flowers, mint, and roots that, when taken at the first sign of a cold, may arrest or shorten the length of the illness. According to practitioners of TCM, this remedy is safe and has no side effects. It may be purchased at local markets or online, although not all brands are equal. Some yin chiao produced in China may contain unlabeled acetaminophen, a pain reliever, or caffeine, and/or chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine, in the formulation.

The primary ingredients of yin chiao are honeysuckle and forsythia. These flowers are said to clear heat, expel wind, and eliminate toxins from the body. According to TCM, another ingredient called balloon flower transforms cold phlegm, circulates lung energy, and directs the active components of other herbs upward towards the head. Peppermint, another ingredient, may clear the head and eyes of congestion. The herbal supplement is reportedly also good for the throat.

Additional ingredients in yin chio include edible burdock, schizopeta, crested grass, fermented soy bean, and Chinese licorice root. Edible burdock and schizopeta may disperse wind, benefit the throat, and detoxify the body. Crested grass and fermented soy bean may decrease irritability and relieve thirst. Chinese licorice root is believed to tone the spleen, detoxify the body, free blocked chi, as well as moderating and harmonizing other herbs.

TCM doctors may recommend taking yin chiao at the first sign of cold or flu, although it may be started as late as the second day of symptoms. When a person anticipates being in a situation where exposure to germs is likely to occur, he may take several doses beforehand as a preventative measure. According to the packaging, five or six tablets, should be taken on an empty stomach at the first signs of a cold or flu; no more than 18 pills should be taken in 24 hours. After the first dose, two or three pills may be taken every four hours until symptoms subside. It is recommended that this Chinese remedy be used at least one full day and a maximum of seven days per episode of illness.

There are no known side effects when yin chiao is taken with prescription medication or other supplements. It is believed to be completely safe for everyone, including pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, and children. Even so, it may be wise to check with a physician prior to self-medicating with this herbal preparation.

Yin chiao may be purchased in powder, liquid, or tea form at a local health food store or online. There are many different brands of yin chiao, some of which are manufactured in China. A very few brands made in China have been found to contain acetaminophen, caffeine, and/or chlorpheniramine, although these compounds were not listed on the label. Those who want to try the unadulterated formulation might want to carefully research the ingredients of different brands before purchasing.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By anon989778 — On Mar 22, 2015

"may contain acetaminophen, caffeine?"

Both wreak havoc with my system. Seems like they need to get that on their FDA Label.

By Certlerant — On Jan 02, 2014
There are a variety of websites that list and compare brands of yin chao available for purchase. Some of these include user reviews and potential concerns.
By Glasis — On Jan 01, 2014

The article says some brands are better than others. What is the best way to find out which are the better ones?

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