At the end of my TCM Herbal Formula Types article, I mentioned I would talk separately about medicinal wine. Medicinal wine is a bit more specialized, as it's used for the treatment of both internal and external problems. For example, Die Da Jiu (Dit Da Jow), an herbal wine made for treating external bruises, has been made very popular from martial arts and kung fu films. Wu Jia Pi Jiu, a medicinal wine for drinking, helps clear blood stasis, stagnation, and warms the body.
Wine, specifically Bai Jiu and Mi Jiu (White wine/Rice wine), helps to invigorate the blood and clear stasis in Chinese medicine. In small/moderate quantities, it helps to keep the blood flowing and warms the body. However, the addition of herbs can help to enhance these qualities, depending on what function needs improving. Wu Ji Pi is very good with improving circulation to help with arthritis pain and Lu Rong helps to strengthen TCM Kidney function. Even Dang Gui can be used in a wine to help TCM Liver function and ease trouble with menstruation.
Wait, wine that helps the Liver?? Are you a quack?!
Again, this isn't the type of wine you guzzle when you're stressed. Medicinal wines for drinking are used twice a day, at the most, with a dosage the size of a shot glass. Many of today's health problems occur from consuming too much food and drink. Too much wine will hurt and eventually damage the Liver, just like too much sugar can damage the muscles and create insulin resistance. Just enough medicinal wine can help TCM based functions and help circulation, just like just enough sugar can help ease muscle spasms. When you consider the wine as a medicine, you're not supposed to keep taking it once you're better. You would be harming your body instead and creating another problem.
How do Medicinal Wines Work
Drinking wines help internally with circulation and invigorating the blood. This can help with a number of things from colds to sexual dysfunction (think invigorating the blood and improving circulation as the main focus ... not getting drunk). Adding herbs such as Dang Gui and Huang Qi can improve blood quality and the wines' invigorating property. San Qi (Tian Qi) can help strengthen the blood vessels and clear blockages. Rou Gui (Cinnamon) can warm the body internally and warm the hands and feet by reaching the small capillaries there. Du Zhong can help with pain in the back. These are only examples of symptom treatment though. You would need other medicine to help the causes of those types of conditions, as the wine taken over a long time would not be suitable. You could become dependent and addicted to the pain relieving effects of the wine, much like painkiller pill abuse.
Wines used externally also help circulation, but are usually formulated for bodily injury and bruises. They can help the body heal faster and also help relieve pain. For example, external wine with Bu Gu Zi and tonify kidney herbs can help bone mend faster, Ji Xue Teng can help with the tendon injuries in the arms and legs, and San Qi can help with muscle bruises. Supplemental herbs used in external medicinal wines, such as Zhong Nao and Zi Ran Tong, are not suitable to drink. Topically, they're safe. There are Die Da wines that can be taken internally, but many of the most effective herbs are removed.
I hope you've enjoyed this article. If you're still interested about more about medicinal herbal wine, there are many articles, recipes, and formulas online. Shifu Lee Yokota of LakeParkKungFu.com did a wonderful youtube video showing a time lapse of how Die Da Jiu works on a bruise. If you want to make your own wine, many of the herbs you can pick up at your local Asian market and you can use any type of alcohol that's 20-40%. If you want to be really traditional, you can even make your own rice wine! Just don't drink too much or you'll be seeing orange ninjas.