Performance Enhancement Herbs: SAN QI

Herbal medicine is a great supplement to any sports training program. It is simple to take a few extra pills each day, and the results can be amazing.


One of the first uses is for pain and bruising. There is a long tradition in martial arts for using herbs. If you walk into a martial arts studio (and many locker rooms), one of the first things you’ll notice is the smell of sweat combined with camphor and menthol from all the lineaments, pads and sprays used externally to combat pain and bruising. These work a lot like BenGay — but have the addition of an important herb that strongly moves blood and reduces inflammation and pain: San Qi or Tian Qi. Formulas based on San Qi are sometimes called ‘Hit Formulas.’ For external use, they come in the form of herbal pads, sprays, and lineaments, and they are effective for most traumatic injuries — including those that are self-inflicted from heavy training. I use these a lot in my office. Here’s a picture of the San Qi plant and that’s the raw medicinal form of the herb above.


You can also use this herb in pill form and it is a great find for anyone who is training really hard. Taken daily, it can prevent or reduce feelings of muscle soreness and pain, and speed recovery time: meaning, you can train harder and suffer less afterward, with less off time between training sessions. Of course, the internal formulas are better known for their use after serious injury for speeding healing. Besides their preventative use in sports, I recommend these formulas for patients who have been in car accidents, who are recovering from surgery or other kinds of physical injuries such as sprains and strains. In fact, San Qi is known for helping almost any traumatic injury.

Avatar Written by Byron Russell LAc

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