Ancient Chinese Secrets To Heal Common Yoga Injuries

At the height of my lyme disease I could not move, would sleep for 20 hours of the day, my heart was paliptating fast, arthritis pains overwhelmed me, hallucinations were the order of each day, I was crying, a doctor was suggesting a heart transplant...

Then I got cured.

"If common sense is so common, how come few people have it"? Said a famous martial arts teacher to Tom Bisio, -the author of "A Tooth From A Tiger's Mouth"- a book that goes beyond previous work published on the subject of treating injuries and offers a complete, yet simple, almost encyclopedia on how to treat our potential injuries while at home, cooking herbs (sometimes with vodka!), and other exotic sounding treatments like: cupping and moxibustion.

Needless to say, I am fascinated by the book.  Ever since coming across Dr. H and seeing how Chinese medicine restored all my organs back to balance, I have fallen in love with their far east approach to healing.

I am a believer because I have seen it work on me, and have tried at least 70% of the treatments mentioned in the book at one point or another, through Dr H of course. But now, after reading the book and having a basic understanding I can see how all these remedies can be used and experimented with, except -perhaps- acupuncture.

I grew up watching my Italian heritage family in the north of Argentina using cupping and moxibustion (of some kind).  It was natural and common.  Why are we losing this?


The most interesting thing to me is the complete and free sharing of information, no detail is spared!

The Chinese treatment of injury works mostly with reducing inflammation and restoring the circulation around areas of injury.  The book has a wealth of indications and contraindications so you can try the procedures safely.

He also warns that if you are to build your own mix to not replace eastern herbs that sound like the ones he mentions because Chinese herbs are very specifically chosen depending on where they come from and what time of the year they were planted, harvested, etc.  There is a lot of intelligence behind them.

Some of the treatments that stand out are:


The West has always treated inflammation happening  due to sprains or strains -even fractures- following what is known as RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation).  Chinese medicine maintains that this is not the way because "ice is for dead people" (as the author was once told by a wise medicine practitioner). when you think about it, it makes sense, ice maintains dead substances longer, but does not help a living organism with flowing Qi (blood, life energy, prana).


And so Chinese medicine uses SAN HUANG SAN,  the "Herbal Ice".  San Huang San (or three yellow powder) : "is composed of three cooling herbs that reduce inflammation while dispersing congealed blood and fluids... it is the single most useful herbal formula for the first aid treatments of sprains, strains, muscles pills or severe contusions". [My underline]


I had never heard of linements and was surprised to see how easy to use they are for bruises, muscle pulls, sprains and strains etc. You would just rub them.  Some of them have intriguing names like Black Ghost oil.

One of them, U-I Oil contains cinnamon, peppermint and lilac oil as well as dragon blood (tree resin), an herb noted for its ability to relieve pain and dispel congealed blood... penetrate obstructions, activate local circulation and drive out cold.


Last week I felt a strain in my back which stopped me from practice, that is how much it hurt. DR H applied both moxibustion (see next point)  and cupping for about 20 minutes. Alas! my back was new.

Bisio says that when he tells patients they need cupping they tell him it sounds "medieval", and, "in a sense they are right".  He points out how cupping has been around for centuries and it is still used in Eastern Europe, and Northern Argentina, if I may add.

Gwynette Paltrow after cupping
What cupping does is "pull stagnant qi, blood, and fluids out of or away from an injured area". I have just ordered a small cupping set to try it for back pain both on me and on James who has been sitting at the computer way too long.


The first time Dr H. used Moxibustion on me I loved the smell of whatever it was he was doing.  The fragrance was akin to sage, and I would feel the heat near my skin.  When it got too hot I would say: Stop! and Dr H. would count five more so that the heat and the oils would further penetrate my skin in certain acupressure points around my skin (mostly just the places where it hurt).

It worked very well in relieving blockages, tiredness and pain for me. Page 246 explains what Dr. H. was doing it in detail:

"After the moxa pole is lit, blow on it softly until the tip forms a round shape.... the idea is to create warm, spreading heat that builds over 5-10 minutes. Continue until the area is pink.... can be used in conjunction with U-I oil increasing their effect..."

I also bought myself a box of them and started using for points alongside my arm that still sometimes bother me (after the Lyme disease).


While cupping is obviously for large areas (like the back), the moxibustion and accupressure can be applied to areas where it hurts or, to the points that Bisio goes over which are the most common.

Two of them can be useful to you right now, without even reading a lot:  one is a point called ST 36 ("located about  four fingers width below the lower edge of the kneecap in the muscles outside the tibia").  This point is known in Chinese as zu san li which points to why it is used.  Zu san li translates as "leg three-lit point" "because of the ability to energize the legs so one could walk three more li, a distance of about three miles."

The Point That Energizes You Into Walking 3 More Miles
The other one is LI 10, located two fingers width below the elbow crease, which energizes the upper limb and relieves pain, etc.  There are quite a bit more of the common ones explained, including a great explanation on how to massage all body points through the ear.


There are recipes for "Trauma Pills", which you can cook with honey and that are "the all purpose remedy for falls, contusions, sprains and fractures.  Most kung fu schools keep a jar of them for injuries that accompany training... [the trauma pills] clear blockages of qi blood, and fluids that have accumulated at the site of injury preventing blood from congealing in the tissues of the injured area".

He says that although many Kung Fu schools pride themselves on having an "exclusive" formula, most of them end up using the general version.  There are plenty of cooking recipes in the book and an appendix on where to find the herbs or premade bags with the mixes.
Why is the book called A tooth from the Tigers Mouth? because it contains: 

"knowledge difficult and even dangerous to obtain"

Other topics from the Table of Contents include:
  • Fasting, Liver Detoxification and Colon Cleansing
  • Sex, Health and Athletic Performance
  • Cuts and Lacerations
  • Strength Training
  • Massage for Sports Injury
  • Poultices and Plasters
  • And Part IV with treatments for specific ailments like: ankle sprain, dislocations, jammed finger, foot pain, groin muscle, hip pain, knee, muscle cramps, etc. etc. etc.


  1. happy new year
    i am learning patience and it is good, thanks for your blog it is always inspiring

  2. Thank you Claudia, I too am a huge supporter of Eastern Medicine, I love that you share all this so everyone can benefit! I want that oil and the book! Another great TCM book is "The Web That Has No Weaver" very intense:) Be well my friend!

  3. Fascinating. Just bought a copy. I feel discomfort RIGHT on ST 36!

  4. Happy new year Lilasvb! :-) patience , yes, I am also on that one!

    JayaK thanks for the recommendation. Will check it out

    Sereneflavor, really? exactly on ST 36? amazing! well, looks like you may be walking three miles soon! :-)

  5. Claudia, thanks for this!! I am going to buy the book today. I also want to try out the U-I Oil; it sounds interesting. I re-injured my leg the other day and used a castor oil pack on it. It has helped some, but I am interested in trying the U-I oil.

    I was wondering if you have you used an acupressure mat? I have heard a lot of great things about them. I just bought one the other day, but haven't had a chance to try it yet.

    Thanks again for the great info!!

  6. thanks, Claudia, i found this useful.

  7. Autum, you just reminded me of that accupressure mat... it is making me curious now... I am also waiting for the oil, the book says you can use it pre-practice... cant wait

    Arturo great!


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