English Name: realgar
Pharmaceutical Name: Realgar
Medica Category: Substances for Topical Application
Properties: Xiong Huang is acrid and bitter in nature and warm in temperature: it considered to be toxic.
The Chinese Herb Xiong Huang is realgar, an arsenic-sulfide mineral found in the mountains of Western and North/Central China (among other places around the world). It has a long history in Chinese culture dating back at least two thousand years, most notably as an ingredient in Xionghuang Jiu, a traditional alcoholic beverage consumed at the height of summer as a part of the Dragon Boat Festival. In modern times, Xiong Huang is known to be toxic and for medical purposes is primarily only used topically to address dermatological conditions (although its internal effects are noted as well in the section below).
Xiong Huang relieves toxicity and kills parasites. Topically, it is used to address scabies, ringworm, damp rashes, and fungal infections as well as abscesses and lesions, suppurative inflammation, and ulcerated sores. It is also indicated for use with snakebite.
It is used internally (in small doses and in combination with other herbs) to address intestinal parasites with abdominal pain and cerebral cysticercosis.
Xiong Huang eliminates phlegm and can be used internally (in formula) to address such conditions as asthma, malaria, seizures, and tetanus.
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.
Xiong Huang is contraindicated in pregnancy and for persons with yin or blood deficiency.
Xiong Huang is not suitable for long-term use or over a large area of the skin.
Xiong Huang should not be decocted or mixed with hot water, as exposure to heat produces an extremely toxic compound called arsenic sulfide.
Acute overdose of Xiong Huang is characterized by severe vomiting and diarrhea; chronic overdose by lack of appetite, fatigue, blurred vision, and dizziness. Severe cases of overdose are life-threatening and the person should be admitted to a hospital immediately.