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A Definitive Guide to Pao Zhi

What is Pao Zhi? What separates Huang Qin and Huang Qin (Jiu)? If you’ve had these questions in the past, this article is for you!

As Eric Brand describes, Pao Zhi is “a distinctive and uniquely developed feature of Chinese herbal medicine.” It includes a variety of methods used to process herbs before usage. The effects of Pao Zhi vary by item and process – Pao Zhi can be used to:

(1): Enhance the effect of ingredients and improve efficacy of herbs
(2): Reduce or eliminate the toxicity or side effects of herbs and ensure safety
(3): Expand the scope of its an herb’s applications
(4): Facilitate more stable storage
(5): Purify the extract to ensure quality
(6): To correct odor and taste for ease of consumption
(7): Guide herbs into specific channels to facilitate targeted effects

Pao Zhi is an essential part of Tianjiang’s production process, and as such we have a wide variety of Pao Zhi herbs available.The specific processing for each herb is based on a mixture of traditional knowledge, extensive chemical research, and on the standards of the Chinese Pharmacopeia. 

In Chinese, Pao Zhi is usually a prefix to the names of herbs (example: Mi Zhi Gan Cao is the honey-treated version of Gan Cao).  However, in English, Pao Zhi is usually a suffix to the names of herbs.  This is because sorting alphabetically by the name of the herb rather than sorting by the Pao Zhi naturally groups multiple versions of the same herb together.

Some of the most common Pao Zhi methods are listed in the table below. 

NameChineseProcessing Method
ShengUnprocessed
ZhiCook
Yan Zhi盐炙Cook With Salt
Jiu Zhi酒炙Cook in Wine
Cu Zhi醋炙Cook in Vinegar
Jiang Zhi姜炙Cook with Ginger
Chao Stir-Fry
Fu Chao麩炒Stir-Fry with Wheat Bran
DuanCalcinate (heat to high temperature)
JiaoBurn
TanCarbonize
ChanBoil


Note: Sometimes “Zhi” is omitted from the names of herbs; for example, “Huang Qi (Mi Zhi)” is often known as “Huang Qi (Mi)”.  Conversely, sometimes “Mi” is omitted from the names of herbs; for example “Gan Cao (Mi)” is often known as “Zhi Gan Cao”.

Pao Zhi can have distinctive effects on the benefits and usage of a particular herb, so it’s important to understand the usages of each version. For example: Gan Cao is a neutral temperature herb, but turns into a warm herb when processed with honey into Gan Cao (Mi).

We carry unprocessed (Sheng) versions of most herbs. Very often, we also carry in Pao Zhi versions that are very hard to find or simply not available elsewhere. Some herbs are toxic without preparation – in these cases, we won’t carry the unprocessed version at all (for example, we carry Chen Pi (Chao) but not Chen Pi).

Nicholas Duchnowski of TCMStudy also has a great video on the topic of Pao Zhi with illustrations and explanations of each process:

If you have any additional questions about particular herbs, you can set up a consultation with Dr. Wang, or send us an email at herbs@treasureoftheeast.com