Po Chai pills, also called Bao Ji wan, are tiny pills made from Chinese herbs. They are used to treat common and mild gastrointestinal issues, such as heartburn, excess gas causing bloating, stomachache, and nausea and vomiting. Many individuals also have experienced relief from symptoms caused by hangover or overeating.
Ingredients in these pills are all herbal, and there are up to 14 herbs in each formulation. Citrus peel, magnolia bark, sprouted barley, chrysanthemum, mint, and barley are some of the more familiar ingredients. Hoelen, saussurea, red actractolydes, agastiche, angelica, and kudzu make up the rest of the formula for the pills, as well as Tricosanthes fruit.
The packaging for Po Chai pills is very distinctive. These pills are very small and come in a plastic vials that contain around 100 pills each, and there are eight vials to a box. One or two whole vials is the recommended dosage, taken every two hours for a couple of days until symptoms are relieved. Children receive a half-dose.
Traditionally, Po Chai pills treat what Traditional Chinese Medicine calls damp-heat in the intestines. They were primarily used for diarrhea in climates that were hot and humid, but were also used when over-indulgence in rich food and alcohol was the cause. In modern times, the pills can be used for travelers’ diarrhea, acute gastroenteritis, summer flu, and hangover. Some people also use it for food poisoning, although only for mild cases.
These pills were first developed in China by Li Shui Kei in 1896. His company, Li Chung Shing Tong, was originally based in China, but at the onset of the communist revolution he fled to Hong Kong and reestablished manufacturing operations. The Chinese government took over operations of the China location, and it was renamed the Guangzhou Wanglaoji Pharmaceutical Company Limited.
Po Chai pills can often be purchased online or in stores that carry Chinese herbs. There are still only two companies that are official manufacturers of the pills. Guangzhou Wanglaoji Pharmaceutical Company Limited handles distribution in China, and Li Chung Shing Tong is responsible for all global distribution and sales. It is wise to make sure that the pills have the official seal of one of these two companies to verify their authenticity. Many counterfeit products exist on the market, but they are often of an inferior quality and there have been reports that some of these products are tainted.