History of Yunnan Baiyao

Development and Early Use

Yunnan Baiyao was developed by Qu Huanzhang, a Chinese herbalist from Jiangchuan County in Yunnan Province. Qu embarked on an extensive exploration of the region, tasting and testing hundreds of herbs. In 1902, he created a formula known as “Qu Huanzhang Panacea,” which later became Yunnan Baiyao (“White Medicine from Yunnan”).

During the Battle of Taierzhuang in 1938, Qu donated over 30,000 bottles of Yunnan Baiyao to the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, purportedly saving many soldiers’ lives. Its effectiveness in this context cemented its reputation as a powerful remedy.

Notable Cases and Government Involvement

In the 1940s, army commander Wu Xuexian sustained a severe leg injury. The French hospital in Kunming recommended amputation, but Wu sought help from Qu Huanzhang instead. Remarkably, Wu recovered without needing an amputation, enhancing Yunnan Baiyao’s status as a miracle cure.

After Qu’s death, his wife, Liao Lanying, donated the secret recipe to the government. Qu Huanzhang had earlier registered a trademark using his image in 1935, marking the first intellectual property (IP) protection attempt for Yunnan Baiyao.

Modern Production and Intellectual Property

Large-scale production of Yunnan Baiyao began in 1956 when Liao Lanying donated the recipe to the Chinese government. The Yunnan Baiyao Factory was established in 1971, but the company only started focusing on IP protection in the late 1990s due to the proliferation of counterfeit products. During this time, Yunnan Baiyao registered several trademarks, including “Yunfeng” and “Yunnan Baiyao.”

By 2004, Yunnan Baiyao was valued at 2.18 billion yuan (approximately US$269 million) and ranked 263rd on the World Economic Forum and the World Brand Lab’s list of the top 500 Chinese brands.

Patents and Technological Innovation

Prior to 2005, Yunnan Baiyao invested nearly 1 million yuan (US$123,300) in patent registration, product industrialization, and technological innovation. The company applied for three invention patents in 2002, bringing the total to 14 by 2004. As of October 2005, Yunnan Baiyao had applied for 36 invention patents and 40 design patents, underscoring its commitment to innovation and IP protection.