Yin chiao, also known as honeysuckle forsythia, is a traditional Chinese mixture of nine herbs developed to combat the symptoms of the common cold. This herbal therapy was widely used during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that plagued many Asian countries in 2003. Always consult a physician before self-medicating with alternative medications.
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Yin chiao is a type of kampo, or kanpo, medicine, which is a Japanese adaptation of traditional Chinese medicine, developed in the early 1700s. Yin chiao consists of nine herbs, including honeysuckle, forsythia, balloon flower, peppermint, edible burdock, crested grass, Japanese mint, soy bean and licorice root.
A study published in the March 2007 issue of “Phytotherapy Research” investigated the preventative effects of yin chiao on pulmonary fibrosis, the scarring and inflammation of the lungs, in experimental rats. The researchers induced pulmonary fibrosis in the test animals and supplemented half of them daily with 1,000 mg of yin chiao for each kg of body weight; whereas, the other half served as a control group, which received a placebo. The researchers concluded that yin chiao treatment displayed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and inhibited collagen formation in lung tissue.
Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Yin Ciao
An article appearing in the June 2011 issue of the “Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine” explored the anti-inflammatory effect of the balloon flower, Platycodi grandiflori radix, using a rat model of a common respiratory disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The researchers divided 40 rats into four groups: a placebo group and three others treated with balloon flower alone or in combination with forsythia, or with forsythia and honeysuckle. The study found that all treatments significantly reduced lung inflammation as compared to the control group; but, the combination of balloon flower, forsythia and honeysuckle showed the best results.
Active Ingredient of Forsythia
A study included in the November 2009 issue of the “Journal of Hygiene Research” identified a component of forsythia, named LC-4, which is responsible for the plant’s antiviral effects. The authors isolated the compound and found that LC-4 inhibited the replication of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) within cells. The study concluded that LC-4 is a safe and effective antiviral medication.