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Golden Ointment (Jin Huang Gao) – an Indispensable Herbal Formula

Jin Huang Gao (Golden Ointment)  is a unique and very adaptable herbal formula for external use. It has many applications including treating trauma, infected wounds and various kinds of boils and sores.

Jin Huang Gao and Sports Injuries

Poultices, or Gao, can be used for a wide variety of problems. In relation to sports or martial arts injuries, Gao can be very useful for dispersing the residual swelling that we often see in Stage 2 (sub-acute) injuries, characterized by residual swelling, pockets of swelling, and less pain, but there may also be stiffness, and reduced ROM. The stagnant, congealed blood and thickened fluids that are stuck in the layers of soft tissue around the injured area are one of the prime causes of enduring pain that can be present years afterward. Dispersing this stasis is critical to complete healing, and using Gao is an effective way of making sure that congealed blood and fluids are reabsorbed.

After an injury such as a bad ankle sprain, if there are still pockets of fluid swelling, and/or if there is a bit of residual heat, Jin Huang Gao is the treatment of choice.

Jin Huang Gao – Ingredients

大黃  Da Huang  15 grams

黃栢  Huang Bai   15

薑黃  Jiang Huang    15

白芷  Bai Zhi    15

天南星  Tian Na Xing (Raw)  2

陳皮  Chen Pi    2

蒼朮  Cang Zhu    2

厚朴  Hou Po    2

甘草  Gan Cao     2

天花粉  Tian Hua Fen    30

Traditionally Jin Huang is made by grinding the herbs listed above and mixing them with beeswax and sesame oil. This  process preserves the herbs so they can be stored and are readily  available for immediate use.

Kamwo Meridian Herbs makes the formula in the traditional way, with beeswax and sesame oil, so that it can immediately applied to a sprain, a broken bone or a pulled muscle. This product is called Extra Strength Golden Ointment (Qiang Li Jin Huang Gao) and is available from Kamwo. A small amount of Tibetan Hong Hua has been added to increase the strength and effectiveness of the formula.

To make a poultice or Gao, coat the injured area with a thick layer of the ointment and then wrap with gauze and an elastic bandage in order to gently compress the herbal material against the skin. Leave the poultice on overnight, or even as long as 48 hours. If you have sensitive skin, I recommend only leaving the poultice on at night and letting the skin breathe during the day.


  • This formula is usually made into a paste or plaster using tea water, honey, fresh juice from Flos Chrysanthemi Indici Ye Ju Hua, sesame oil, wine, petroleum jelly, etc.
  • For hot swellings it is best with green tea and/or a tea from Flos Chrysanthemi Indic (Ju Hua).
  • Tea made from Chinese scallions can be used to make a paste for encouraging the expulsion of pus.
  • Use yellow wine to soften carbuncles and expel pus.
  • For open toxic sores with pus, sprinkle powder into the lesions and cover with a clean dressing.
  • Mix with black vinegar if the infection is deeper.
  • Sesame oil can be used for burns or lacquer sores or daubed on herpes sores.
  • If the powder dries on the skin one should spray a bit of warm water to rehydrate it.
For instructions on how to make Jin Huang Gao with beeswax and sesame oil read the article by IAI Instructor Adam Wassermann on
Making Medicine: Gaos – Plasters/Pastes

Other Uses of Jin Huang Gao

In its powdered form, Jin Huang Gao has many uses beyond sprains and strains. When the herbs are ground to a fine powder and either used in this form, or mixed with specific mediums to make a paste, Jin Huang Gao can be used for a wide variety of sores, infections, and skin problems

1. For boils or summer boils

Presenting as red swelling, itching, burning pain, mix Jin Haung Gao with honey to make a paste and apply it locally to draw out the toxic root. Cover the head of the sore to help facilitate eruption.

2. Skin abscesses

Skin abscesses often appears as a swollen, pus-filled lump under the surface of the skin. Mix Jin Huang Gao with honey to draw out the toxic elements.

3. Toxic Open Sores with Pus

Sprinkle Jin Haung Gao Powder over the sore and cover with gauze.

4. Furuncles and Carbuncles

Multiple boils occurring at the same time (or with repeated occurrences), which often occur on the neck, back, and hip. Mix Jin Huang Gao with honey to draw out the toxic elements.

5. Acute mastitis

Acute mastitis is usually a bacterial infection and is seen most commonly in the postpartum period. Bacteria invade the breast through the small erosions in the nipple of a lactating woman, and an abscess can result. Mix Jin Huang Gao with tea made from scallions in order to create a paste that encourages the expulsion of pus.

6. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to a substance. Mix Jin Huang Gao with tea made from Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua) to make a paste and put over the local area, and cover with a light gauze dressing.

7. Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

Mix Jin Huang Gao with tea made from Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua) to make a paste and put over the local area, and cover with a  light gauze dressing.

8. Acute Parotitis

Swelling of one or both of the salivary glands. Acute bacterial suppurative parotitis is caused most commonly by Staphylococcus aureus and mixed oral aerobes and/or anaerobes in the setting of debilitation, dehydration, and poor oral hygiene, particularly among older postoperative patients. Take a small amount of Jin Huang Gao Powder in your mouth and mix it with your saliva. Swish your mouth with it and then swallow the saliva and powder.

9. Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous Cysts are slow-growing bumps under the skin. If left untreated, benign cysts can cause serious complications including infection – the cyst fills with bacteria and pus, and becomes an abscess. If the abscess bursts inside the body, there is a risk of blood poisoning (septicaemia). Mix Jin Huang Gao with black vinegar and apply over the local ares. Cover with a light gauze dressing.

10. Erysipelas

Erysipelasis a superficial form of cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection affecting the skin. Mix Jin Huang Gao with tea made from Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua) to make a paste and put over the local area, and cover with a light gauze dressing.