Dit Da Jow Herbal Remedy for Pain

Dit Da Jow herbal remedy for pain relief and rapid healing

Last year, our whole family started taking Jujutsu. We all enjoy it, but the rolls, throws and climbing aspects definitely come more easily to the kids! Any activity that involves wooden swords and rolling will inevitably create some bumps and bruises along the way.

After one class that left us particularly sore, the Sensei (teacher) shared a traditional herbal remedy that has been used in Asian countries for pain relief and rapid healing for years. It is called Dit Da Jow (literally translated “hit wine medicine”) and is essentially an herbal tincture that is packed with healing herbs. According to this article:

Dit Da Jow is an analgesic liniment traditionally preferred by martial artists. Often a martial arts master blends his unique mixture of many aromatic herbs such as myrrh and ginseng, which are combined to stimulate circulation, reduce pain and swelling, and improve healing of injuries and wounds. The tradition became known as “hit medicine”. Many people have also found this sort of liquid analgesic to be useful for reducing the aching of muscles, and arthritis and rheumatism discomfort.

I researched traditional Dit Da Jow recipes and while it was hard to find many of them (most are considered secret family recipes), I finally found a mixture that works really well for us. I used herbs that can be found in the US, so this wouldn’t be considered true Dit Da Jow, but it has been very effective for our bumps and bruises. It also helps speed recovery of non-martial arts related injuries so we keep it on hand. Store bought Dit Da Jow is available, though I haven’t tried it to know if it is as effective.

As with any herbs, vitamins or drugs, consult with a doctor before using, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. This recipe is for external use only. I buy all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, but any quality sourced organic/wild-crafted herbs will work. It is not inexpensive to make but it is very effective. I’ve seen it get rid of bruises and pain overnight.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place all of the herbs in a glass mason jar (at least 16 ounces).
  2. Pour boiling water to just dampen all of the herbs. (This step is optional but helps to draw out the beneficial properties of the herbs)
  3. Fill the rest of the jar (or the entire jar if not using hot water too) with alcohol (drinkable, at least 80 proof) and stir with a clean spoon.
  4. Put the lid on the jar. Store the jar in a cool/dry place, shaking daily, for at least three weeks and up to six months. (I usually leave herbs for six weeks)
  5. Strain through cheesecloth and compost the herbs. Store the tincture in colored dropper bottles or clean glass jars.
  6. Use on skin as needed to help with bruises, sore muscles and pain. Do not use on cut or broken skin.

Do you make any herbal remedies? What is your favorite? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for all your hard work. You are helping me change my life in many positive ways. Question: is this formula appropriate for daily long-term use? Such as when suffering from fibromyalgia?

    • Yes good to see this recipe but there is one major ingredient missing we should be able get here in the US. I lived in Okinawa for almost 30 years and the dojo’s there grew the Chinese Foxglove flower. On Okinawa, they use a very strong rice wine called Awamori as the base. Used externally only, it would help after training called bone conditioning (Kotokitai) which always left bruises and welts and a little Dit Jow made the bruises disappear the next day. That about five other ingredients what the big deal was the alcohol with high alcohol proof and the Chinese foxglove flower. We would get ready to make some we will just pick some of the flowers in front of the dojo.

  2. I’ve used just arnica flowers processed the same way as a remedy for years. My the sons were raised knowing to come to mom for arnica and a bandaid to cure nearly any bump or bruise they had.

  3. How far do the uses for this extend? Is it effective for use with chronic pain? What types of cautions should be taken with use. Lets say a person over does it for a workout and their muscles ache all over is is safe enough to rub all over the body? How many drops for a little bruise? I am interested in learning more.

    • As a Kung Fu teacher I would advise not to use Jow all over your body. Only the effected area as it simulates the damage area and promotes blood circulation. Also keep away from eyes mouth and private organs.

  4. How long is the tincture typicallyy good for?

    • Indefinitely. In fact, in the traditional methods, they often leave the herbs in and store the jar for up to 20 years and then strain and use. The alcohol keeps it good for years and years.

  5. Love it! Thanks for sharing such a unique remedy. Mountain Rose Herbs is awesome. I have been using them to buy supplies for years now & the quality never wavers!
    I make a lot of herbal remedies, but my favorite is a tea that is so simple it’s ridiculous:
    dry organic Rosehips and dry organic Elderberries steeped for at least 30 minutes (usually longer). Gently reheated and then flavored with fresh lemon and honey to taste. I drink this any time I am feeling under the weather.

    *Emma

  6. Answer to do you make your own, yep and even grow my own, like wormwood–not for ingestion but as muscle pain relief plus insect repellant and houseplant aphids killer. About extraction with alcohol, I learned living in a duty free port where hi-proof rum was cheap. Just a pint of U.S. Everclear (which collegiates used for Purple Passion) is great extraction plus can always dilute it later. One tip from my own teacher: when you get a painful blow to extremity, like stubbed toe or finger burn, if you immediately clamp other hand between the boo boo and heart/brain it helps stop the pain/shock from flooding your central processors. For ppls who can’t make their own goodies, Absorbine Jr has wormwood in it (the “senior” version is in feed and veterinary supplier stores and is stronger-both are good formula). Big thank you for all you do and share.

  7. Thank so much for posting! A couple of questions – can essential oils be substituted for the frankincense, myrrh, fennel seeds and clove powders? If so, how much should be used? Also, can this be “steeped” in a slow cooker for several hours instead of cold infusing it?
    Thank again!!

    • Yes, but they need to be added after the herbs are strained out. It can be steeped in a slow cooker, but i do it in a jar inside a slow cooker with a lid so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate. It won’t be as strong doing it this way but it will work.

  8. Nice article, being a instructor in Wing Chun and also studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I have used Dit Da Jow for close to 20 years. I purchase my kits from eastmeetswest dot com and they are high quality. I like your recipe you posted and have tried something similar but with comfrey root and it was almost as good as the authentic Dit Da Jow.

  9. Has anyone used apple cider vinegar instead of alcohol?

    • Yes, the vinegar version is equally effective. Vinegar, being acidic, drives the nutrients into the affected area while the alcoholic tincture works by creating a layer over it and letting the herbs work.

      However the process method is slightly different, plus the vinegar version does not last as long as the alcoholic one. This is also why traditional versions are often rice wine-based.

      Hope this helps 🙂
      Nick Sigma CWC,EH

  10. Love the name “east meets west.com” Can you tell me if your pleased with their products? Are they easy to work with? Love this idea of purchasing straight from the source!

  11. Looks an awful lot like a tinture I made for a friend a few months ago. He has an old back injury that the doctors cant get figured out and his pain tolerance is pretty high so when hes in pain, hes /REALLY/ in pain. I finally got out the book and basically made a tincture of everything I had that was good for pain, lol. It looked a lot like that list, but with lobelia and a few other added in.

    Generally for bumps, bruises and sprains I use straight up lobelia tincture. Sore muscles and joints get a tiger balm treatment and their all better.

  12. Can’t wait to make my own! I know this is used at the Dojo, and that particular formula is like a miracle!

  13. Can you add this tincture to tea for pain relief?

    • this is an external medicine. don’t drink it

  14. Great information, I was recommended to your site from eastmeetswest dot com, they have a link to your site. After reading your post I purchased the herb kit from east meets west and it is wonderful, thank you so much and you have so much great information here.
    J

  15. Thank you for this!! I have had the same jar for 15 years and just getting low. My ex-husband made it and left it and I had no clue how to make more. It definitely works! I store it in the top of my closet. He said to keep it in a cool dark place if it is a clear jar.

  16. Hi Katie I’m enjoying your articles. Wanted to share a discovery I made with you. I’m taking a weekly course to become a yoga teacher, we meet just once a week for several hours. I’m normally ridiculously sore the next day and sometimes even the day after that. One evening after my yoga class I took a bath with a cup or two of apple cider vinegar in an attempt to get rid of a yeast infection (which worked)! But imagine my surprise when it got rid of my sore muscles as well- I had no pain the next day at all. My friend who’s taking the yoga class with me was just as sore as usual. This may be a quicker easier fix for sore muscels than herbs- which are lovely but can be costly and labor intensive

  17. Would you use this during or after childbirth? I had a lot of bruising and pain after the births of my first 2, needed PT, etc. I had natural childbirth, but the pain in the weeks following childbirth was far worse than childbirth! Now that I’m pregnant with number 3 I really want to have a plan for pain management. I am taking the Pregnan-Tea daily.

    Thanks for your WONDERFUL blog!

    • To my understanding and according to my sons sifu (teacher) a girl who is Menstruating or pregnant should not touch the stuff. If you’re bleeding at all it will cause you to bleed out.

  18. Just started Kuk Sool Won and plan on giving this a go for the inevitable bumps and bruises.

    Quick question, could this be made into a lotion? Not sure if the alcohol would make it unsuitable.

    • Alcohols are used in lotions often. It could be. I haven’t tried it but it is a great idea.

      • I will give it a go and then update here…

        Fantastic blog, found it while looking for some “western” jow recipes but found soooo much more on here. Love it. Thank you for all of your hard work.

  19. I forgot where I read it, maybe wikipeadia??, but supposedly testing found the main ingredient in comercial Dit Dar Jow was camphor and methanol – the same thing in Tiger Balm. You could use witch hazel for your extraction, then mix with aloe and tiger balm to make a gel. Going to try this.

  20. Dit Da Jow saved me from having a black eye for my bachelorette party. I was on the receiving end of a line drive while playing baseball with a 7 year old. Unfortunately my eye caught the ball. It was a week away from my bachelorette party. I was incredibly blessed to have a massage instructor who also practiced martial arts and carried it with her. It was amazing how effectively and quickly it healed. I was one thankful bride-to-be. ????

  21. First of all.thanks for sharing this amazing recipe
    I use dit da jow since I started practicing kung fu, it has incredible results in sore muscles and injuries.
    I have just a small question, how much water should I put in a bottle of 16 onces?

    • You don’t need to put water. i have never heard of putting water when making tinctures in any of my course books I make tincture often and only put vodka and allow to sit 2-4 weeks before using if i need it right away.

  22. Great post, iIjust purchased a kit to make a gallon of this Dit Da Jow from eastmeetswest dot com for a Xmas gift for my husband who just started karate and is always getting banged up, so thanks for your article and Happy holidays!

  23. Hi Katie, thanks for all your hard work bringing forth great information. Would it work to double the herbs to make this liniment stronger? Or use 1 and a half recipe? Would either work OR would the liniment be too strong??

    Thanks

  24. I’ve healed broken toes with this miracle tincture. It’s one of my favs!

  25. Hi,

    I was just wondering if the Horsetail is the one on Mountain Rose site as well as the Frankincense, Angelica Root, and Myrrh Powder?
    Also, you stated that this could last indefinitely… can you keep it in the jar to continue getting stronger and just take out what you need or is it better to strain all at once?

    Thanks in advance.

    • MRH should have all of the ingredients, and as long as you use a strong alcohol, you can leave in the jar to just get stronger and stronger (that is what the Japanese do with the traditional recipe)

  26. Could this be made as an infused oil? Our family does not purchase alcohol.

  27. Hi Katie,

    Is there a decent alternative to arnica, I don’t mind if I need to add a blend of additional herbs. Arnica seems to be quite difficult to obtain in the UK without paying really really high prices.

    I tried growing it but we just don’t have the altitude either.

    Many Thanks

    Gee.

  28. hi

    just checking as to see which variety of dried Angelica Root you used ? there are many types to use with different properties

  29. Is this just rubbed on once, or is a towel soaked in it and left to sit on the bruised/injured area? How often should it be applied?

  30. sounds like morse code

  31. Hi, first time EVER hearing about you and these types of remedies. And believe me I’ve looked at everything possible for pain.
    I’ve heard of Chinese herbal remedies but in passing, nothing concrete. Never thought to look deeper into them. Glad I found you. Maybe there’s something in this that’s beneficial since nothing else has worked. I don’t do martial arts or anything like that. But my fiance is interested in it and in fact he’s the one that came across your link and told me. I used to work out a lot in my younger years. Jogging, biking, extensive long walks, speed walking, gym machines, and weights. Now I can’t do any of it. I’ve had rheumatoid now for the past 15 years. But last year I came across a really awesome workout and I can do it with no pain involved. I was on vacation in Florida visiting with family. I was over weight because after years of just doing moderate to no working out and doing this for years I gained a lot of weight. And after years of not going into water either at the beach or a pool. I decided to buy a bathing suit and go into my sister’s pool. Immediately after being in there not more than a minute I began to instinctively do what was familiar and normal to me as far as doing aerobics. I couldn’t believe that for the first time in years I was actually jumping and doing jumping jacks and kicking my legs and twisties and all sorts of other workouts. I mean I was moving hard and fast. I actually cried in my sister’s pool because I had found a workout that I could do pain free. I was moving again. I felt useful again. And I was doing what I always loved to do. WORK OUT. So I spent all this summer working out at the community out door pool and loving it. Now for Autumn and winter I joined a gym with an indoor pool. Loving it too.
    However remember I said I do have rheumatoid. And that’s the main issue. I do have to deal with pain in between before and after my workouts. I do take meds for pain management but I just think I’m supporting some big wig over at big pharmas expensive life style.
    I’ve tried supplements, all kinds. And in fact now because I came across some interesting info I’ve stopped eating meat and I don’t consume sugars. Because they say that both cause inflammation plus other nasty stuff to happen in the body. The sugars I stopped since 2013 because I was put in the hospital due to a diabetic incident. I never was a diabetic before but because of tremendous weight gain and bad eating my body was giving up and the sugar went really high. But thankfully I’ve been cleared from that. And am no longer considered a diabetic. Right now I’m in experiment mode with the meat out of my diet because they said that it takes 6 to 8 weeks to start feeling the results from being off meats and on the 4th of December it will be a month so I still have a few weeks to go. I hope that works. Now the question.
    Will this remedy or any other remedies help rheumatoid pain sufferers. Because I’ve tried all sorts of balms. Tiger balm, manteca de ubre, icy hot, even ointments with cayenne in them. . So will this help. I am so tired of pain and right now as I write this I am experiencing a flare up. Which makes the paid more intense.
    Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    • I haven’t tried so I can’t say. It definitely helps with sore muscles though, so give it a try and see.

  32. As a relative newcomer to this remedy (gung fu student), I have heard that very advanced herbalogists/traditional practioners will add live pit vipers and scorpions to the brew when concocting (stressing absolute caution against internal digestion or absorption into the bloodstream)…..what is the reasoning behind the notion of adding these ingredients?

  33. What is dried Horsetail? Where would one buy such a thing?