English Name: mylabris, blister beetle
Pharmaceutical Name: Mylabris
Medica Category: Substances for Topical Application
Properties: Ban Mao enters the Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Liver, and Kidney channels; it is acrid in nature, cold in temperature, and considered toxic according to TCM theory.
The Chinese Herb Ban Mao is the dried body of the Chinese blister beetle (aka yellow-banded blister beetle– Mylabris phalerata Pall.) that is processed by dry-frying to reduce toxicity and foul odor.
Ban Mao is toxic and in TCM theory operates under the principle of the doctrine of similarity to clear toxins from the body. It is used clinically to address sores, carbuncles, scrofula, psoriasis, and other skin conditions characterized by heat and toxicity.
Ban Mao breaks blood stagnation and disperses nodules and can be used internally in very small doses (30 – 60 mg.) to break up palpable masses and nodules.
General comments about TCM substances for topical application: these substances are categorized differently because many of them are toxic and so should not be used internally; nor should they be used for prolonged periods or at large dosages. This word of caution extends to using these substances over damaged or broken skin, or near sensory orifices through which they can be absorbed and do damage to sensitive/specialized tissues and mucosa. Furthermore, many of these substances are no longer used in TCM and have been added to this glossary for informational and academic purposes.
Ban Mao is very toxic and not recommended for internal use; if used internally, recommended dosage is very small (0.03 – 0.06g). Adverse reactions may begin in as little as ten minutes (at this 60mg dosage level, lower for sensitive individuals) and include such symptoms as nausea, vomiting salivation and hematemesis. Fatalities have been reported for dosages as low as 1.3 grams.
It is contraindicated (for both internal AND external use) during pregnancy and for persons with general deficiency.
Ban Mao is very irritating to the skin and mucous membranes and should not be used long-term, over large areas of skin, or near broken skin and sensory orifices of the body.