Peng Sha – Borax – Sodium Borate / Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate

Nature: sweet, salty, cool.

Enters: Lung, Stomach.

Topical Actions: Dries dampness, relieves toxicity, prevents putrefaction.

Topical Indications:

• Blisters between toes caused by damp-toxicity.
• Sores, including nasal, pharyngeal, vaginal sores.
• Used internally or externally for pain and swelling in the throat, open sores in the mouth (canker sores), white draining vaginal lesions (e.g. severe candidiasis).

Internal Actions: Clears heat; dissolves phlegm; transforms stones, relieves toxicity, prevents putrefaction.

Internal Indications:

• Phlegm-heat obstruction with difficult-to-expectorate sputum.
• Painful urinary dysfunction with stones.
• Used internally or externally for pain and swelling in the throat, open sores in the mouth, white draining vaginal lesions (e.g. severe candidiasis).
• In the Bensky/Clavey/Stoger Materia Medica, this substance is classified as “obsolete,” which the authors claim is due to its toxicity. I have not seen Peng sha referred to as toxic in other resources on Chinese herbs. However, in the Wikipedia entry on borax, its toxicity is discussed at length. Here is an excerpt:
“Borax, sodium tetraborate decahydrate, is not acutely toxic. Its LD50 (median lethal dose) score is tested at 2.66 g/kg in rats: a significant dose of the chemical is needed to cause severe symptoms or death. The lethal dose is not necessarily the same for humans.
“Sufficient exposure to borax dust can cause respiratory and skin irritation. Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal distress including nausea, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Effects on the vascular system and brain include headaches and lethargy, but are less frequent. ‘In severe poisonings, a beefy red skin rash affecting palms, soles, buttocks and scrotum has been described. With severe poisoning, erythematous and exfoliative rash, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and renal failure.’
“Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. The SVHC candidate list is part of the EU Regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006 (REACH), and the addition was based on the revised classification of Borax as toxic for reproduction category 1B under the CLP Regulations. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child”.”

Internal Dose: 1.5-3g

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