Shou Gong San Formula

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The Kootenays are covered under a thick blanket of snow, and we’re guessing that we’re not the only ones taking advantage of all the fresh powder up at Whitewater Ski Resort. It seems like the perfect time for us to share this great herbal remedy for sore muscles, bruises, cuts and scrapes from our resident Taiji Master and TCM expert (also, one of our favourite instructors) Kevin Wallbridge.

The formula is called “Shou Gong San”

This is sometimes translated as “Harvest the Training Powder,” but I feel “Receive the Benefit of the Work Powder” would be more accurate. It was developed by the monk Zhan Hua during the last Chinese dynasty, the Qing. It is designed to be used to deal with the bumps, bruises and contusions that occur during rigorous martial arts training. Unlike most liniments, which are intended only for external use, this one contains no very toxic herbs and can be taken internally as well. This makes it especially useful for body injuries, such as when your friend accidentally bruises your ribs in sparring or the strains of “leg day.” A potent but mild formula, it is good for everyday use.
The formula consists of:
Dang Gui (Angelica) 1.5 oz
Chen Pi (Aged Citrus Peel) 1 oz
Chen Xiang (Aquilaria Wood) 1 oz
Hong Hua (Safflower) 1 oz
Jiang Xiang (Rosewood) 0.5 oz
Zhi Shi (Immature Bitter Orange) 0.5 oz
Tao Ren (Peach Pit Kernel) 0.5 oz
There are a couple of ways this can be used. Ground into a powder it is taken 1-2 grams at a time with hot water as an infusion after each practice session. This would be common practice in the spring season when the more vigorous martial arts training was undertaken. Monks practicing Muscle Tendon Changing Qigong might have used something like this through the season. There is a bit of arsenic on peach kernels, but the dosages are so low you would have to be eating them like almonds to see the effect. All the same you wouldn’t want to just take it all the time all year long.
Another way to use it, and the one I prefer, is to make a liniment/tincture with alcohol. I usually add San Qi (Notoginseng) 1 oz as it was a favourite trauma herbs of my teachers in China. I place the whole herbs into a large jar with a couple of liters of strong alcohol and put it away for several months, agitating it every couple of weeks or so. Any alcohol will do but my anecdotal experience is that tequila seems to penetrate the tissue better than vodka. It can be simply rubbed onto a bruise or strain as needed. If a body injury occurs, such as some cracked ribs, a shot glass of the tincture can be taken internally. Be warned, it tastes like essence of tree bark and is not pleasant on the palate.