White-Patterned Snake (Ba'i Hua She')
Agkistrodon and Bungarus
Pharmaceutical name: Agkistrodon seu Bungarus
Zoological name: Agkistrodon acutus, Bungamrus multicinctus
Family: viperidae (agkistrodon), elapidae (bungarus)
Ted Kaptchuk in his book The Web that has no Weaver describes the six Evils (liu-xie) on pages 118-128. This is a very good and complete introduction to TCM. It is easily read by non practitioners. Wind is one of the six Evils and can be treated with bai hua she or the White-Patterned Snake. This herb is very useful to treat disorders caused by Wind, The other evils are Cold, Fire, or Heat, Dampness, Dryness, and Summer Heat. (Kaptchuk, p.118).
Some of the Wind disorders that can be treated with this snake are skin rashes and numbness of the skin. It also treats muscles and nerve disorders such as muscle weakness and paralysis. It is used to treat facial paralysis, aphasia, or hemiplegia due to strokes. It can treat any kind of spasms, tremors, or seizures. It is often used with other herbs to treat joint pain, weakness, and stiffness due to wind-dampness.
Research has shown that Agkistrodon and Bungarus have a sedative, hypnotic and analgesic effect in mice. Tests on dogs have shown it to lower blood pressure.
When the white-patterned snake is used as an herb, the inner organs are removed and the snake is dried. The snake should be completely intact. The Agkistrodon should be thick with a clear pattern; the Bungarus should have pale yellow meat and be lustrous and relatively small, as infant snakes are used. They are harvested in the summer from several provinces in China: Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, (agkistrodon); Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangxi (bungarus). In English it is also known as the multibanded krait.
This snake is used in decoctions (3-10g.) or as a powder, (1-1.5g). It cannot be used by people who are blood deficient or people who are yin deficient with heat signs. In other words, this herb should be prescribed only by an acupuncturist with training in herbology and TCM diagnostics.
Chinese and Western Herbs are not to be taken without the personal advice of an Herbologist able to diagnose your condition. The information on these pages is only for knowledge not for self medication purposes.