Did you know in Chinese, the character 醫 (yi) – “Medicine”, by itself means “using alcohol to treat illness”?
Medicinal alcohol use in Chinese culture can be dated back to 4000 years ago. The earliest record of its use was around 200 BC, in the most ancient herbal formula classic called Wu Shi’er Bing Fang (Prescriptions for 52 Ailments). There were about 35 prescriptions mentioning alcohol use, for both topical application and internal intake to treat mainly venomous snakebites and skin diseases.
Modern science has proved alcohol to be an excellent solvent for medicinal herbs; as many non-water/oil soluble molecules can be extracted by alcohol (certain alkaloids, tannins, organic acids, resins, pigments etc. ). Nowadays, medicinal alcohol in China is more commonly used to help revitalize our body and promote general health rather than treating diseases.
In Chinese medicine, alcohol is warm in nature; pungent and sweet in taste; it moves Qi and Blood. A small amount can improve blood circulation, restore body function, disperse pathogens and promote relaxation; however, excessive alcohol consumption can create damp heat, burden liver and engender toxins; therefore leading to various health problems.
Use with caution, as always.
The medicinal alcohol we prepared for cold/flu prevention is called Yu Ping Feng (The Jade Screen), it is known to tonify Qi and stabilize the exterior; in other words, to boost our immune system and shield us from outside pathogens.