In Pan’an County, there is a long history of processing traditional Chinese medicinal materials. Prince Xiao Tong of Nan-Liang Dynasty once lived in seclusion in Dapan Mountain, where he reclaimed herbal gardens to teach others how to plant and process medicinal materials, thereby generating the industry of medicinal material processing. In Period Tianyou of Tang Dynasty (904-906), people started planting rhizoma corydalis, thereby developing the corresponding processing crafts. In the first year of Shao Sheng Period of Northern Song Dynasty, people started planting bighead atractylodes rhizome, thereby developing the corresponding processing crafts, which later got mature. In 1135 of the Southern Song Dynasty, due to the planting of precious radix paeoniae alba, Baiyun Mountain was called the Silver Mountain. Dongyang County Annals in Longqing Period of Ming Dynasty recorded that the county started planting rhizoma corydalis in late Tang Dynasty, and widely planted bighead atractylodes rhizome, radix paeoniae alba, and radix scrophulariae in Song Dynasty, which entitled it the Town of Medicinal Materials. in addition to planting, it also engaged in processing. It could be noticed that the processing of bighead atractylodes rhizome, radix paeoniae alba and radix scrophulariae had reached an outstanding level in Song Dynasty.
Among the traditional Chinese medicinal materials, only a few species such as drynaria rhizome and fresh rhizoma phragmitis can be taken as fresh medicinal materials after collection; and most of them would first be dried, to prevent mildew deterioration and facilitate grading, packaging, storage and transportation. For further processing of medicinal slices, they should be processed at the place of origin. Due to the wide variety of traditional Chinese medicinal materials, and the differences in planting scale and regional medication habits, there would be different processing methods：
Seeds: Generally, the fruits will be directly dried after harvesting, and then threshed to collect the seeds. Some medicinal materials require seed coat or cortex, such as semen coicis and semen cassia; some require crushing of seeds; and some require steaming to destroy the easy-deteriorating and allochromatic enzymes, such as schisandra chinensis and ligustrum lucidum ait.
Flowers: In order to keep the bright color and integrity of flower-type medicinal materials, they shall be spread out at a ventilated place to dry in the shade or rapidly baked at a low temperature after being collected, so as to avoid the loss of active ingredients, and maintain the strong aroma, such as carthamus tinctorious, scarle, lonicera japonica, rose and Chinese rose. A few species shall be steamed before drying, such as chrysanthemum morifolium ramat.
Fruits: Generally, the fruit-type medicinal materials can be directly dried or baked after being collected, but the large ones being hard to dry, such as fingered citron, bigarade and fresh papaya shall be cut for drying. The medicinal materials of pulp or cortex, such as trichosanthes kirilowii, cortexium citri reticulatae, and cornus officinalis, seeds removing or peeling shall be performed before drying. In addition, a very small number of medicinal materials, such as fructus mume, shall be processed through baking and smoking.
Cortex: Generally, they shall be cut into pieces or blocks after collection, and then dried. But for some species, the outer layer shall be removed when they are fresh before drying, such as cortex moutan, ailanthus altissima and cortex phellodendri. Some bark-type medicinal materials shall first be boiled with boiling water, and then stacked together to make them sweating. When the internal parts become purple-brown, steam them and scrape off the bark, which will later be cut into pieces or rolled into tubes for drying, such as cinnamon, mangnolia officinalis and eucommia ulmoides.
Grasses and leaves: They shall be placed in a ventilated place for drying in shade or airing after collection, especially the medicinal materials containing balsam volatile oils, such as mint, herba schizonepetae, and musk, which shall not be dried in the sun, to avoid the loss of active ingredients. Some grass-type medicinal materials shall be tied into small bundles before drying, such as perilla nankinensis and mint. Some meat leaves with high water content, such as portulaca oleracea, shall be slightly boiled with boiling water before drying.
Roots and underground stems: These medicinal materials shall be cleaned to remove soil, fibril and residual branches and leaves after collection, and then graded by size; later, they shall be cut into pieces, blocks or sections, and then dried or baked, such as radix angelicae dahuricae, salviae miltiorrhizae, cyathula officinalis Kuan, radix peucedani and blackberry lily. Some carnose tuberous roots and bulbs with higher water content, such as asparagus fern, radix stemonae and allium macrostemon, shall first be slightly boiled with boiling water, and then cut into blocks for drying or baking. The hard and thick roots that cannot be easily dried, such as radix scrophulariae and radix paeoniae alba, shall first be boiled with boiling water, and treated through repeated sweating for completely drying. Other medicinal materials, such as Chinese yam and fritillaria, shall be fumigated with sulphur for quick drying, maintaining the color white and sufficient mealiness, and for insect disinfestations and mildew proof, to facilitate storage.
On the basis of summarizing the traditional processing crafts of traditional Chinese medicinal materials, Dasheng greatly improved the processing crafts of the five types of Chinese medicinal materials in Pan’an County, and formed the relatively mature processing crafts, which have been promoted among the herb growers in Pan’an.
1、Processing of bighead atractylodes rhizome
From late October to mid November, the stems and leaves of bighead atractylodes rhizome would start withering. Their rhizomes would be collected and stalks would be cut off. In winter, due to the low temperature, they would not be easily dried, so the method of baking would usually be taken. After collection, they would be spread on ground to remove part of the surface moisture, and then the fine roots would be burned with fire. Later, a baking station can be constructed with bricks, on which, a bamboo hat would be placed, and a wooden oven without cover would be placed on the bamboo hat. Bighead atractylodes rhizome would be baked in this oven, which would be completed in three steps. First, repeatedly bake with 80oC of fire for about 1 hour, turn over to remove the fine roots, and then bake with 70oC of fire to eighty percent of dry; later, take out the bighead atractylodes rhizome and place them on ground for several days for full evaporation and surface softening. Finally, bake with 60oC of fire to produce medicinal fragrant, and then they can be taken as medicines. During storage, they shall be dried in sun frequently.
The processed bighead atractylodes rhizome would be hard and deep in color; the sections would be featured in cutin with chrysanthemum patterns; they would be thick and easily stored, without oily surface, tall stalks and fibril.
The bighead atractylodes rhizome processed through the specific craft in Pan’an would look like frogs, with chrysanthemum patterns on sections and attractive fragrance, so they are called “frog atractylodes”, the treasure of bighead atractylodes rhizome.
2、rhizoma corydalis process
For rhizoma corydalis, rhizoma would be used as medicine. They would be generally harvested on sunny days from May to June when the stems and leaves are wilted with the tools such as four- tooth rake, and pick up the rhizoma. After digging, perform deep digging again to fully pick up the rhizome, which would then be transported to specific rooms for spreading and drying. The rhizoma corydalis can be processed through sun-drying and boiling. During sun-drying, the rhizoma corydalis shall be cleaned to remove impurities, and placed on the sunning ground for 10~15 days, until they are dried as sun-dried rhizoma corydalis.
As for water boiling, the rhizoma corydalis shall first be graded and cleaned to remove soil and impurities, and then placed into bamboo baskets and immersed in boiling water, until the sections become yellow without white core; later, take them out for drying for 3~4 days, and placed indoor for 1~2 days. After exosmosis of internal water, they would be dried as water-boiled rhizoma corydalis. During storage, they shall be dried in sun frequently.
The processed rhizoma corydalis would be yellow bright and plump. Rhizoma corydalis in Pan’an can be cut into pieces, but such processing is not common in other regions.
3、fritillary bulbs process
For fritillary bulbs, the dried bulbs would be used as medicine. They are generally harvested on sunny days from May to June when the over-ground parts are withered. Short-handed two-tooth rake would be used to dig from the edge, the rake shall be placed between two lines, and the bulbs shall be picked up while digging, to prevent breaking the underground bulbs.
After harvesting, the fritillary bulbs shall be placed in bamboo baskets to clean with water, for removing soil and impurities; and after draining the water, divide them in three grades: shoe-shaped bulbs, pearl bulbs, and bulb cores. The larger bulbs would be processed into shoe-shaped bulbs after removing the buds, and the buds would be processed into bulb cores. The smaller ones would be processed into pearl bulbs without removing the buds. The processed products would be placed into a sideswipe cage, which would be pushed by two persons at both sides to make the bulbs wipe with each other, so as remove the cortex. When 50%-60% of bulbs complete cortex removing, the ash burned with shells would be placed in (3kg~5kg shell ash for 100kg bulbs) to continue cortex removing. When all bulbs are mixed with shell ash, place them under the sun for drying for 3~4 days, and then collected in jute bags. Finally, place them for 1~3 days to let water content permeate on the surface, and dry them again.
Or they could be placed in a sideswipe cage to remove the cortex with quicklime, and then soaked with lime water, to make the lime fully permeate into the bulbs, which would be processed to ninety percent mature. The degree of mature can be judged by sound through pinching with fingers (if there is sound, the bulbs have not been mature, but mature without any sound). Later, they could be dried or baked. During baking, the temperature should not be higher than 70oC, and they should be timely turned. The bulbs can be used as medicine after processing in this manner. During storage, they shall be dried in sun frequently, to protect them from damp. The sections of the processed bulbs are yellowish white, which is consistent. The bulbs without the color of jade are the best.
Since the 1980s, the traditional shell ash processing method has been gradually replaced by the sulfur fumigation method, because the bulbs processed with this method could be white in color and easily stored without deterioration. The Pharmacopoeia 2010 issued in the new century determined a standard limiting the process of traditional Chinese medicinal materials with sulfur. It also raised an objection to the process of fritillary bulbs with shell ash. Local herb growers and experts invented the cutting and baking method for processing fritillary bulbs, which has been matured and vigorously promoted.
4、radix scrophulariae process
The radix scrophulariae could be harvested when their ground stems wither, and before harvesting, the ground stems and leaves shall be removed. After digging out the underground roots, they shall be dried for 1~2 days and then the soil and fibril may be shaken off. Later, they shall be stacked together to sweat for 3~4 days, and in the process of sweating, they shall be frequently stirred, until the inside and outside parts become black purple, and the texture becomes soft. They shall be dried again, until they are all dried.
Or they could be spread on ground for airing after digging; during airing, they shall be frequently stirred, to make them heated evenly. When partial water content is removed, they can be baked in the self-made baking station (the same as that for baking bighead atractylodes rhizome), with the temperature controlled at 40~50 oC. With the baking station, 250 kg of radix scrophulariae can be baked in one day and one night. They can be deemed as mature when the inside parts become black. During storage, they shall be baked and dried frequently. The processed radix scrophulariae are thick and strong, with hard texture, and black sections, but without impurities.
5、radix paeoniae process
The radix paeoniae alba can be harvested from August to October after growing for 3-5 years. They shall be harvested on sunny days with the tools such as hoes. When the underground roots are dug out, the soil and fine roots shall be removed, and then graded. After harvesting, the head and tail shall be cut, both ends shall be scraped, and then rootlets and projecting parts shall be removed. Later, the processed radix paeoniae alba shall be peeled and immersed in hot water of 75 ~ 80 oC, during which, turn them over and maintain the water slightly boiling. They may be taken out when the color of the sections become consistent. The boiled radix paeoniae alba shall be dried under sun for 1~2 days, during which, they shall be frequently stirred, and gradually stacked for drying. If the sun at noon is too strong, they shall be appropriately covered with reed curtains. After drying for 3~5 days, they may be placed indoor for moisture regain for 2~3 days, and then dried for 4~5 days, and stacked indoor for 3~5 days. Later, they shall be fully dried. The processed radix paeoniae alba would have fine wrinkles in a good color.
6、Processing of Dasheng broken-wall ganoderma spore powder
In Shi Shenhai's company, there is a GMP plant of traditional Chinese medicine decoction pieces, a medicine and health care product purification plant with cleanliness of 100,000 and a product testing center. The company is able to process ganoderma spore powder. After collection of ganoderma spores, they would first be screened, and the shriveled spore and dust impurities shall be removed with advanced equipments according to the GMP standard, to make ganoderma spores even in fine plumpness and purity and in high content. Later, they shall be subject to scientific sterilization. Pan'an Foreign Trade Medicine Co., Ltd. boldly adopts the innovated sterilization method to ensure the effectiveness of sterilization and fully maintain the active essence of ganoderma spores. Due to the fact that chitin of ganoderma spores is insoluble in water, they are hard to be absorbed by human body. Therefore, the wall breaking technique for ganoderma spore powder is quite important. Dasheng exclusively uses the most advanced wall breaking equipment imported from Germany, which can make the breaking rate up to 99.9% with the ultra-low temperature airflow physical wall breaking technique. After wall breaking, the ganoderma spore powder would not be added with any ingredients, to maintain the power authentic. The high-tech enrichment technology can solve the shortcoming of poor solubility. Without the addition of any extract, the process can ensure that the medicinal ingredients would not be lost. In the process of packaging, in order to ensure the quality of the products, Pan'an Foreign Trade Medicine Co., Ltd. adopts the method of oxygen-proof packaging in a standard workshop with cleanliness of 100,000, which can ensure the long storage time of the ganoderma spore powder, and maintain the medicinal properties and smell unchanged. In order to ensure the quality of the products, Pan'an Foreign Trade Medicine Co., Ltd. implements the quality control and traceability system, which can guarantee 100% quality of the ganoderma spore powder.