English Name: Borax
Pharmaceutical Name: Borax
Medica Category: Substances for Topical Application
Properties: Peng Sha enters the Lung and Stomach channels; it is sweet and salty in nature; cool in temperature, and a potentially toxic substance.
The Chinese Herb Peng Sha is borax, which a naturally occurring mineral salt (sodium tetraborate) that occurs naturally as a mineral deposit that is left behind after the evaporation of seasonal lakes. Borax can also be mined or synthetically produced. Its use in the TCM tradition goes back to the 8th century AD, when it was used both internally and externally treat various disorders of the eyes, throat, and oral cavity. For use as medicine, is can be taken in pill or powder form or used topically as a powder, wash, or gargle. Unprocessed, it more effectively clears heat and eliminates toxins, and its calcined form is better at drying dampness and reducing swelling.
It should be noted that Borax is toxic and any use of it as medicine is banned in many countries (see safety/clinical notes below).
Peng Sha relieves toxicity and prevents putrification of flesh to treat various disorders involving the presence of heat-toxins and swelling. It can be used as a gargle to address thrush, stomatitis, throat infection, tonsilitis, and ulcerations in the mouth and gums. It is also used (as a wash or as drops) to address redness, swelling, and pain in the eyes (often in tandem with Lu Gan Shi (calamina)).
Peng Sha dries dampness and can be applied topically to address blisters between the toes caused by excess dampness.
Peng Sha clears Lung heat and dissolves phlegm and can be used to address chronic cough with difficult to expectorate sputum and sore throat that is caused by heat attacking the Lung.
Borax is toxic and should be used only with great care and under the supervision of a trained TCM practitioner. Recommended dosage of Peng Sha for oral administration is 1.5 – 3 grams in powder form (from Chen & Chen p. 1068); lethal dose in humans is from 12 – 30 grams (from Dr Joel Penner of American Dragon).
Contraindicated during pregnancy.
Contraindicated for long-term use.
Use with caution in cases of yin deficiency with heat and/or dryness.