Health Articles:
Ask A Doctor (Forum)
What is Chiropractic? About My First Visit What's Best for Me?

Herbs & Botanicals

horizontal rule
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
horizontal rule
Talc (hua shi)

What is talc? What is it used for?

While not an herb, talc is nevertheless an oft-used ingredient in herbal remedies and some forms of traditional Chinese medicine. Talc is a mineral, composed of magnesium, silicon, hydrogen and other elements, and found worldwide.

In its natural state, it is white or whitish-yellow, and resembles soap in texture and appearance (which is why talc is also sometimes known as soapstone). Talc is often broken down mechanically into a fine powder before it can be used in herbal formulas and traditional remedies.

In traditional Chinese medicine, talc is associated with the Kidney meridian, and has sweet and cold properties. It functions to promote urination and clear heat, especially heat caused by bladder lin syndrome, and absorb dampness.

Although talc can also be taken internally, most of the time it is used externally as a cosmetic powder. Talc's adsorbent properties help keep a person's skin dry, soft and smooth. When applied to skin that is broken or inflamed, talc can absorb chemical irritants and toxins, protecting the skin from more serious damage. Some studies have shown that talc can prohibit the growth of some types of bacteria, including typhoid bacillus and bacillus paratyphosus A.

In addition to its healing properties, talc is used in a variety of industrial settings. In many industrial processes, materials are coated with talc to prevent them from sticking together and to keep equipment clean. In pharmaceuticals, talc is sometimes used to help in the molding of pills, and facilitates the ingestion of solid drugs. In paints, it is used to improve adhesion and increase "covering power" - the amount of space a given quantity of paint can cover sufficiently.

How much talc should I take?

The recommended dosage of talc depends on if it is being consumed internally or externally. Internally, the recommended dosage is 9-24 grams per day as part of a decoction, or 2-5 grams taken in a 5:1 concentrated decoction. Externally, large amounts of powdered talc can be applied to the skin to help heal wounds and keep the skin soft and smooth.

What forms of talc are available?

Talc is most often available as part of a skin cream or powder to be applied to the face and other areas of the body. Some shops also sell talc pills or powders to be taken internally.

What can happen if I take too much talc? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Talc should not be used by patients with high fever, or patients with spleen and stomach deficiencies. In addition, talc should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with talc. As always, make sure to consult with a license health care provider before taking talc or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica, State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai Science and Technology Press, 1998.
  • Amaro J. Chinese medicine: the most significant substances and their indications. Dynamic Chiropractic June 16, 1997;16(13).
  • Chen XQ, et al. Revised Materia Medica, 13th ed. Beijing: People's Medical Publishing House, 1992.
  • Yu ZY, et al. Measuring the main components of hua shi. Journal of Drug Analysis 1993;13(2):119-120.
  • Zhao ZJ, et al. Quality standards for medicinal hua shi. Journal of Materia Medica 1988;11(6):30-33.
horizontal rule