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Is the Talc contained in TCM safe?


Hi. I have been suffering from very bad side effects from a western medicine that was prescribed to me two years ago. It destroyed my mucous membranes, gave me burning and achy pains, tinnitus, among other things. Now it seems that my digestion is being affected and I have a lot of loose stools and sometimes diarrhea. I have been taking homeopathic medicines and it only helped to a point so I decided to also work with an accupunturist. After ten accupunture sessions of trying to strengthen my liver with “heat” he gave me Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan to aid in my loose stools and digestion along with other things.

My question is that since it contains talcum will this be harmful to me? There have been recent findings to show that talc is a carcinogen. I am wary about putting anything in my body since what happened with western medicine but I am hoping for relief somewhere.


The best person to ask is the practitioner who prescribed this formula to you. Hua Shi (“talcum powder”) is used in Chinese Medicine and with the proper diagnostic reasoning and over an appropriately controlled time frame it is considered not just safe, but clinically useful, from a TCM perspective.

Most of the research you seem to be alluding to is related to the use of topically applied talc powder which in some studies, not conclusively by any means, has shown a potential link with ovarian cancer when applied vaginally (lengthy research here).

A relevant quote from the aforementioned study:
"The absence of mesotheliomas in patients treated with therapeutic concentrations would appear to demonstrate a high degree of safety.

The biological rationale for talc carcinogenicity has been misunderstood in terms of its chemical and physical properties, and other suggested mechanisms such as inflammation have not been supported by epidemiologic data. Talc is not fibrous and not genotoxic (Endocapron et al., 1993), and lifetime whole body exposure experiments in female laboratory rats found that ovarian tissue was not contaminated with talc and that ovarian tumor incidence was not increased (Boorman and Seely, 1995)."

Now all that said, unless they gave you a custom formulation - jia wei xiao yao wan does not normally contain hua shi, so I’m not entirely sure why it is in your formula. Some of the manufacturers use small amounts of it in their teapill formulations - so I’m assuming that is why. Again, it isn’t a concern generally from a practitioner standpoint and is in larger amounts in some fairly commonly used formulas that have 800+ years of a clinical usage.

As for jia wei xiao yao wan, that is easily one of the most prescribed formulas in the world and is used incredibly often by practitioners globally. I can’t comment on whether it is appropriate for you with just a few of your symptoms listed, but your practitioner will work with you to get your symptoms resolved and may change the formulas around from time to time to facilitate that process.


Thank you for your reply.
The western medicine I took seems to be slowly destroying my immunity. I first got severe burning pains, muscle pains, severe body twitches, hazy vision with floaters, hormonal issues, extreme dry eye and mouth… now I feel as I have induced IBS from all the stress of all these health issues for the last two years. I get really bad cramps whenever I eat anything so I barely eat and have already lost 10 pounds. I haven’t had a normal stool in over a year.

I have been taking homeopathic medicine and both my accupunturist and homeopathic doc say it’s fine to take them simeltaniously, however I wanted to get another opinion.

Also, why do you think the tea pills I was prescribed don’t match up with my symptoms? At first my accupunturist told me I had a liver and kidney issue… but since my digestion went downhill this month, when he checked my pulses last week he said all my organs were doing poorly. He also said my tongue was extremely coated and white due to a lot of water retention.

Do you think accupinture and Chinese medicine can cure all these symptoms? How long does it typically take?


These are definitely questions for your practitioner as they are far more familiar with your health history, your responses to treatments, etc. - Generally speaking the issues you are describing would be in the 3-9 month time frame depending on a whole host of factors. Everything you are describing is well within the realm of Chinese Medicine to resolve.

Also, I didn’t say that the formula is inappropriate for you, I said I can’t comment on that because I’m not your practitioner…


Thanks again for your reply.

Just wanted to ask a follow up question. I have been using the tcm prescribed to me by my accupunturist after reading about talc and have been feeling much better! I am in awe as I have just been using them for 4 days with even half the dosage since my sensitivities to medications. I hope it improves and doesn’t plateau like it did when I was taking homeopathy medicines.

Is it possible to feel better this quickly with TCM herbs or am I experiencing some type of placebo effect? I really hope I gradually improve and not plateau like before.


With some herbal formulas, and certainly with jia wei xiao yao wan (which is part of why it is used so often), yes, it is very possible to feel a near immediate effect.

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