Traditional Chinese Medicine for Pain Relief

By: Bill Schoenbart & Ellen Shefi

Traditional Chinese 701 and Hua Tuo Plasters

Traditional Chinese 701 and Hua Tuo Plasters are dressings that have been treated with aromatic healing herbs. Applied directly to the body, they relieve pain due to injuries or muscle tension by stimulating circulation.

Chinese name: Hua Tuo (hwah twaw) Plasters


Also known as: 701 Plasters


Pain from sprains, traumatic injuries, or muscular tension


Stimulates circulation, relieves pain


Packaged as four adhesive squares, 701 Plasters are coated with highly aromatic herbs that assist in blood circulation and pain relief. To use, peel off the plastic backing sheet and place the plaster over the sore area. Within a few minutes, you will feel warmth in the area, which disappears a short time later.

The pain-relieving effects last about 24 hours, after which you peel off the plaster and discard it. It is best to wait a few hours before applying another plaster, since some people can experience mild irritation from them.

These patches are very effective for soreness due to muscle strains or injuries; however, never apply them over skin that is broken. When using them to treat muscle tightness, especially in the upper back and shoulders where people typically store tension, it is important to apply them bilaterally, even if only one side is sore. If the patch is applied to one side only, it is very common for the pain to move to the opposite side!

From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, this phenomenon is easily explained. Pain that comes and goes, such as muscle tension, is considered a condition of wind. By its nature, wind comes and goes unpredictably; it also can appear in different places without warning. Since the nature of the plaster is to disperse wind, it is important to ensure it does not have any place to reappear.

Hua Tuo plasters are nearly the same as 701 Plasters; the only real difference is they stick more tenaciously to the skin. For this reason, they are more appropriate for areas that flex, such as joints. Because 701 Plasters don't stick quite as well, they are ideal for hair-covered areas; removing them causes very little pain from hair pulled by the adhesive.

Manufacturer: Guangzhou Medicines & Health Products

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For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see: