How to use Zheng Gu Shui

How to use Zheng Gu Shui

Cara O. Frank, L.OM

Often, I find myself explaining the same instructions repeatedly to my patients. This takes time (which I don’t mind, but perhaps I could use my time more wisely) Well- old dogs can learn new tricks and it finally occurred to me that I could create a  series of simple handouts. I’m starting with instructions for one of our favorite liniments. Why is it one of our favorites? Because it’s so effective for helping people recover from injuries quickly. 

You can download these instructions for your personal use here

If we’ve given you a bottle of Zheng Gu Shui, then chances are you’ve injured a tendon, ligament or bone. Zheng Gu Shui (Jhunng Goo Shway) translates as Bone Righting Water and is a popular analgesic liniment that we often use to help speed the recovery from injuries.

The primary actions of the formula are to promote circulation, reduce bruising and swelling, help strengthen connective tissue and assist in mending bone fractures. Often used by often used by athletes and martial artists, this highly effective liniment can be used for tendinitis, sprains, strains, and even bruised bones. We like to use it to help alleviate the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.

In Chinese Medicine, we would say that Zheng Gu Shui Invigorates the blood to dispel blood stasis and moves qi in the channels. 


Tendons Ligaments and bones are deep tissues with limited circulation. Thus, the liniment works best when applied for an extended time period.


  • Gauze pads or Flannel squares. Cotton balls can also be used
  • Old towel for resting on


Moisten a gauze pad, or a piece of flannel with Zheng Gu Shui. You’ll want it saturated, but not dripping. Apply to the affected area and allow to absorb for 30-90 minutes. The liniment stains, so rest the affected part on an old towel that can get stained. You can loosely cover the area with saran wrap and then go about your day if the compress will stay in place. It’s best to limit movement. Watch TV, look at Facebook, read a book, pay your bills. Try to just stay put. Afterwards, you can store the compress in a zip lock baggie and re-use the next day.

Ingredients and actions:

Notoginseng Radix 田漆 tián qī Stops bleeding, Eliminates blood stasis, reduces swelling, and stops pain
Curcumae rhizoma 莪朮 é zhú Promotes the circulation of qi and blood, breaks accumulations.
Polygoni Cuspidati Rhizoma 虎杖 hǔ zhàng Invigorates the blood, dispels stasis, opens the channels and stops pain
Cinnamomi Ramulus 桂枝 guì zhī Releases the muscles, promotes circulation, warms
Crotonis Crassifolii Radix 鸡骨香 jī gǔ xiāng Treats bruises, sprains inflammation and alleviates pain
Angelicae Dahuricae Radix 白芷 bái zhǐ Alleviates pain and spasms
Moghaniae Radix 千斤拔 qiān jīn bá Eliminates wind damp, clears heat and toxins
Inulae Cappae Herba 白牛胆 bái niú dǎn Dispels wind, eliminates dampness, reduces joint pain
Mentholum 薄荷脑 bò hé nǎo Topical analgesic
Camphora 樟脑 zhāng nǎo Invigorates the blood, dispels wind and Stops pain,

Precautions: Zheng Gu Shui is a hot liniment that can irritate skin. Bearing that in mind:

  • Wash hands thoroughly after applying. DO not rub your eyes and avoid those delicate lady parts if the liniment is on your hands.
  • Do not use Zheng Gu Shui on open wounds.
  • Do not use Zheng Gu Shui near an open flame, as it is flammable.
  • Discontinue use if the skin is irritated. Use your common sense and wait until the skin is healed.

About Cara Frank, L.OM.

Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 33 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. In 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with Chinese herbs. Since then, she has devoted her life to studying and teaching the topic.

Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts and Six Fishes Neighborhood Acupuncture, both in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of two warm and lively offices. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.

Disclaimer: This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. 

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Well, where to start. I found Cara via a circuitous route of desperate calls and failed visits to Chinese ‘professionals’ to complement my traditional medicine. I’d been to Chinese doctors who, though I’m certain ‘knew their business’, were unable to extend a personal and caring element that I immediately felt when I contacted Cara.

I knew as soon as I spoke to her on the phone, and spent a full 1/2 hour telling her of the myriad of coexistent problems I was experiencing. Though initially I contacted her for womens’ health issues and simple gallstones, eventually, I ended up with very serious health concerns that she was able to assist with as well. She weaves her natural approach to care with a solid awareness of traditional approaches, and – on the rare occasion when purely natural approach is not sufficient on its own – will recommend a solid combined approach.

She is not focused solely on her own type of care, if a combination of several ends up helping her patient. It’s not even a question as to whether I would recommend her. I’ve done so repeatedly in the more than 10 years I’ve known her!

Pros: visits are like a 4year old to the cookie jar – comfortable warm surroundings, with goodie benefits