The formula and production processes surronding Yunnan Baiyao

The formula and production processes of Yunnan Baiyao are closely guarded trade secrets. According to the company’s website, the formula includes the steroid progesterone, various saponins, alkaloids, and calcium phosphate. The intricate production process involves thirteen separate teams, each responsible for different herbal ingredients without knowledge of the other teams’ components. A final team combines the prepared mixtures in specific proportions without knowing the individual ingredients.

Chemical analysis has identified protopanaxadiol and panaxatriol, sapogenins found in ginseng (Panax ginseng) and notoginseng (Panax pseudoginseng), in Yunnan Baiyao powder through capillary supercritical fluid chromatography. It is advised not to use Yunnan Baiyao with alcohol or during pregnancy.

Disclosure and Ingredient Lists

In December 2010, purported lists of Yunnan Baiyao ingredients were published on and the FDA’s website. These lists, allegedly containing eight active ingredients of a liquid form, were part of correspondence between the FDA and a distributor. Ingredients for the powdered and capsule forms were also listed on However, the exact proportions and manufacturing processes remain undisclosed.

The 2010 FDA document listed the following active ingredients in Yunnan Baiyao products:

  • Notoginseng (Panax pseudoginseng) root
  • Borneol (Dryobalanops aromatica) crystal
  • Boea clarkeana entire plant
  • Inula coppa root
  • Lycopodium complanatum rhizome
  • Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposita) rhizome
  • Galanga (Alpinia officinarum)
  • Cranebill (Erodium stephanianum) aerial parts
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) crystal extracts
  • Peppermint (Mentha haplocalyx) leaves

Secrecy and Legal Protection

Under the “Law on Guarding State Secrets,” Yunnan Baiyao’s formula and production processes receive the highest level of protection under Chinese trade law, preventing disclosure on packaging in China and within the production facility. In the U.S., Yunnan Baiyao products sold as dietary supplements must list their ingredients per FDA regulations. Yunnan Baiyao Group officials have denied allegations of double standards, asserting that ingredients are reported only to drug authorities, and any unauthorized disclosure should result in legal accountability.

Regulatory Issues

In early 2013, Sichuan province officials banned the sale of Yunnan Baiyao powders and pills due to defective wrappers causing water contamination and the presence of mold. In February 2013, Hong Kong’s Department of Health found undeclared potentially toxic aconitum alkaloids in Yunnan Baiyao products, prompting a mandatory recall and temporary sales ban in Hong Kong and Macau.