Allergy medications like Allegra and Nasacort are one way to go if you need an allergy medication. Another general allergy relief product is the Chinese Herbal Medicine, Jade Windscreen. Traditionally, it is indicated for allergy prevention and frequent colds. This Q&A about child allergy gives information about all of this, and discusses the plum flower brand herb formula made by the Mayway Corp.
Question: I am new to Chinese Medicine and have taken my adult-sized 13 year old to an Acupuncturist who has prescribed Plum Flower brand Jade Screen Tea Pills for her (Yu Ping Feng San Wan). She has been directed to take 12 pills 1X daily to help her with her immune system and allergies. It is distributed by Mayway and has huang qi, bai zhu, and fang feng. I am trying to investigate these herbs to determine if they could harm her in any way. She is currrently taking Allegra and Nasacort, a steroid nasal spray, for allergies. Do you have any info or recommendations of sources of info for me? Many thanks!
A: Marjie, that is a great question!
I’m glad you are trying to stay informed- a bit of skepticism toward any medicine makes sense these days… There is a lot of weird stuff that gets passed under the guise of ‘Alternative Medicine.’
Welcome to Oriental Medicine! Chinese herbal medicine is quite different from western pharmaceutical medicine. I am glad that you are seeing a practitioner for herbs- herbal self-prescription can be dangerous. If your acupuncturist has been trained in herbs (the degree of herbal training varies by school and by state), then they should know what they’re doing.
YPFS (Yu Ping Feng San) is often prescribed for exactly the purpose you described. It is also commonly taken to prevent colds, especially if they are chronic. It may take 1-5 months for the effect to take hold. YPFS is indicated for people with symptoms of: aversion to drafts, spontaneous sweating (without exercise), recurrent colds, shiny pale complexion, and these signs: pale Tongue with white coating, floating deficient soft Pulse.
Explaining the actions of any herbal formula can be as complex as one of those pharmaceutical package inserts with all the biomchemistry, drawings of molecules, etc. Oriental Medicine is its own complete system of medicine complete with its own set of terms and concepts. But I will attempt to explain YPFS to you in regular English:
Huang Qi (astragalus) strengthens the qi, and regulates the exterior; this means that it strengthens the wei qi (the type of qi that most closely correlates with white blood cell immunoactivity). By stabilizing the exterior, HQ prevents inappropriate sweating and makes it hard for pathogens (allergens, viruses, etc.) to enter. HQ is a very safe herb. More on Astragalus and viruses.
Bai Zhu (atractylodis) strengthens qi in the center of the body (the digestive system), which according to Oriental Medical theory, indirectly strengthens wei qi.
Fang Feng (ledebouriellae) is also generally a wei qi level herb which expels wind (Wind is an Oriental Medical concept, not easy to explain in a few words, but perhaps you can think of it as “any external disease-causing agent that could overwhelm the immune system.”). F.Y.I. the word feng means wind… just the same in this herb’s name as in the name of the formula.
‘Jade Windscreen’ is so named because the formula creates a screen between the patient and wind invasion. The formula is said to be as precious and valuable as jade.
To get back to your question- “Can these herbs harm her in any way?” The answer is No so long as your practitioner’s diagnosis is correct. The herb formula in itself is quite safe, and has no real cautions or contraindications.
Pharmaceuticals, Patent Herbs, & Personalized Herbs
1. Allegra and Nasacort both have short and long-term side effects:
Allegra Side-Effects: Cold/flu’s, nausea, dysmenorrhea, drowsiness, dyspepsia, fatigue
Nasacort Side-Effects: Oral candidiasis, hoarsenss, dry throat, irritated throat, dry mouth, wheezing, cough, facial edema
If the YPFS works, these drugs might become unnecessary or redundant. Of course, that needs to be decided by a qualified practitioner familiar with your daughter’s medical history.
2. Pharmaceutical prescription is more potentially harmful than Chinese Herbal medicine, especially when patients are on more than one drug for the long-term. This is because even when properly prescribed, pharmaceuticals still can cause side-effects. When properly prescribed, Chinese herbal formulas do not cause side-effects. In Oriental Medicine, there is not one herb or formula for each disease. We take the disease into account, but we also figure in each person’s unique internal landscape. Appropriate herbal prescriptions have much fewer and more benign side-effects than pharmaceuticals because they utilize multiple active ingredients to prevent any one agent from causing imbalance.
3. It is possible to achieve good results with patent (pre-formulated) herbal formulas like the mayway pills, but the ultimate form of Chinese Herbal medicine is personalized prescription. These are available in powdered and raw herb forms, and require the attention and prescription of a highly-trained OM practitioner. Not all acupuncturists are trained to this degree, and many of those that are still rely heavily on patent herbs anyway.
Hope this helps- If you have any other questions, let me know!