A-Z Guide to Navigating a Chinese Pharmacy

A-Z Guide to Navigating a Chinese Pharmacy
Mar 16, 2015 By Kate Williams , eChinacities.com

Getting sick in China can be quite inconvenient, but that doesn’t mean we should refrain from seeking proper medical treatment. While Chinese pharmacies may seem daunting with all the mysterious elixirs and concoctions, they can actually prove to be very useful in dealing with a variety of common ailments. Most pharmacies are conveniently organized into different departments, including pediatric, external use medicine, facial care, dietary supplements, sanitary materials, family planning, and internal health. Be warned that most product labeling is entirely in Chinese, so come prepared.

A-Z Guide to Navigating a Chinese Pharmacy
Photo: chinadaily.com.cn

Pharmacy staff are generally quite helpful when it comes to assisting you in finding the right treatment. Just be sure you are able to clearly communicate what the problem is or what specific medicine you are looking for. As always, a doctor’s advice is second to none in most situations, thus any recommendations from a pharmacist should be taken at your own risk. Nonetheless, the following list of commonly used medicines might come in handy the next time you find yourself face-to-face with one of the following conditions. Note: This information is not all-inclusive and is provided for informational purposes only. The medicines listed below are suggestions for commonly used treatments that were provided by a Chinese pharmacy.

1) Acne 

Compound Pientzehuang Ointment
复方片仔癀软膏 (fùfāng piànzǐhuáng ruǎngāo)             
Price: 32.60 RMB
This medicine detoxifies and provides pain relief. It is used for the treatment of acne and a variety of viral and bacterial skin diseases, such as herpes zoster, herpes simplex, impetigo, and inflamed hair follicles.

2) Allergies

Loratadine Capsules
氯雷他定胶囊 (lǜ léi tā dìng jiāonáng)      
Price: 28.60 RMB     
This medicine is used for relief of allergic rhinitis symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal itching, nasal congestion and eye itching and burning sensations. This oral medication provides quick alleviation of nasal and eye symptoms. It is also used to treat itching skin and other allergic skin conditions.

3) Body, Joint or Muscle Pain

Pain and Swelling Patch
痛肿灵 (tòng zhǒng líng)              
Price: 29.00 RMB
This medicine comes in the form of a stick-on patch. It is used for swelling and pain. It can be specifically used for inflammation or pain in the joints, muscles or tissues, and can also clear up bruises.

Red Flower Oil
正红花油 (zhèng hóng huā yóu)                
Price: 21.50 RMB            
This medicine provides quick and temporary relief of pain and discomfort when rubbed directly on the skin. It is used to treat minor aches and pains in the neck and shoulders, arthritis, rheumatism and joint pain. It can also be used for numbness, bruises, and insect bites.

4) Bronchitis, Cough

Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide Syrup
右美沙芬糖浆 (yòu měishā fēn tángjiāng)
Price: 29.80 RMB            
This product is suitable for a dry cough or a phlegm-producing cough. It is effective in easing frequent, severe coughing.

Acute Bronchitis Particles
急支颗粒 (jí zhī kēlì)                    
Price: 22.50 RMB
This product can loosen phlegm and ease coughing. It is used for the treatment of colds, coughs, and bronchitis.

Ma Xing Cough Relieving Tablets
麻杏止咳片 (má xìng zhǐké piàn)               
Price: 11.00 RMB
This antitussive and expectorant is used to treat acute, chronic bronchitis and wheezing.

5) Cold Sores

Aciclovir Cream
阿昔洛韦乳膏 (ā xī luò wéi rǔ gāo)                  
Price: 3.50 RMB
This cream is directly applied to treat cases of herpes simplex or herpes zoster infection.

Ftibamzone Liniment
酞丁安搽剂 (tài dīng ān chá jì)
Price: 13.00 RMB
This medicine is used for treating herpes simplex or herpes zoster infections. It can also be used for the treatment of fungal infections such as jock itch, athlete’s foot, or ringworm.

Penciclovir Cream
喷昔洛韦乳膏 (pēn xī luò wéi rǔ gāo)
Price: 25.30 RMB
This cream is used for facial herpes simplex occurring on the lips or for the treatment of genital herpes.

6) Common Cold

Cold Relieving Capsules
伤风停胶囊 (shāngfēng tíng jiāonáng)                    
Price: 20.00 RMB
This medicine is used to treat the symptoms of a common cold, including chills, fever, headache, nasal congestion, runny nose, muscle aches, itchy throat, cough, and mucus. It is suitable for treating upper respiratory tract infections, colds, rhinitis, etc.

Four Season’s Cold Tablets
四季感冒片 (sìjì gǎnmào piàn)                   
Price: 16.00 RMB
This soluble tablet is used to treat cold symptoms such as fever, headache, runny nose, cough, dry mouth, sore throat, nausea and loss of appetite.

Compound Paracetamol and Amantadine Hydrochloride Capsules
复方氨酚烷胺胶囊 (fùfāng ān fēn wán àn jiāonáng)            
Price: 13.50 RMB
This medicine is used to relieve the symptoms of the common cold or influenza. Symptoms include fever, headache, nasal congestion, and sore throat.

7) Cuts, Scrapes, Burns

Burn Cream
烧烫伤膏 (shāo tàngshāng gāo)                 
Price: 25.00/32.00 RMB
This medicine is used for the relief of water and fire burns.

Rivanol Trauma Cream
利凡诺创伤膏 (lì fán nuò chuāngshāng gāo)
Price: 5.00 RMB
This cream is used to disinfect and sterilize skin surface wounds or trauma.

8) Constipation, Diarrhea

Run Chang Soft Capsules
润肠软胶囊 (Rùn cháng ruǎn jiāonáng)                   
Price: 21.00 RMB
This laxative can be used to alleviate abdominal fullness or constipation.

Chang Run Tea
常润茶 (cháng rùn chá)
Price: 59.80 RMB
This colon cleansing tea promotes regular bowel movements.

Levofloxacin Eye Drops
左氧氟沙星滴眼液 (zuǒyǎngfúshāxīng dī yǎn yè)         
Price: 10.70 RMB
This product is suitable for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye.

9) Female Health

Clotrimazole Vaginal Tablets
克霉唑阴道片 (kè méi zuò yīndào piàn)
Price: 35.00 RMB
This medicine is used to treat yeast infections in women.

Metronidazole Tablets
双唑泰泡腾片 (shuāng zuò tài pào téng piàn)                
Price: 32.00 RMB
This antibiotic is used to treat bacterial vaginosis and other bacterial infections in the vagina.

Feminine Wash
复方苦参洗液 (fùfāng kǔ cān xǐ yè)
Price: 22.80 RMB
This feminine wash contains plant extracts and vitamin E and is used for personal care and cleansing. It can provide a cooling and comforting effect on irritated or delicate skin. 

Female Anti-Inflammatory Tablets
妇炎康片 (fù yán kāng piàn)
Price: 23.00 RMB
This is an anti-inflammatory medication and pain reliever.  It is used to treat pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginal infections, and urinary tract infections.

Usana PhytoEstrin
妇康宁 (fù kāngníng)
Price: 22.00 RMB
This pain-relieving and nourishing pill is appropriate for use during a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is effective in reducing menstrual cramps.

Menstrual Painkillers
调经止痛片 (tiáojīng zhǐtòng piàn)
Price: 24.80
This painkiller promotes blood flow and reduces pain resulting from a woman’s menstrual cycle.

10) Hair Loss

Hair Nourishing Capsules
养血生发胶囊 (yǎng xiě shēng fà jiāonáng)                   
Price: 5.50 RMB
This medication nourishes the kidneys and is used to treat hair loss, itchy scalp, and dandruff.

Hair Nourishing Tablets
滋补生发片 (zībǔ shēngfā piàn)
Price: 89.00 RMB
These tablets nourish the liver and kidneys to promote hair growth.

11) Hangover

Millions of Cheers
万和干杯 (wàn hé gānbēi)                  
Price: 158/28.80 RMB
This pill is taken prior to consuming alcohol to reduce the likelihood of a hangover or other discomfort from drinking.

King Drink
海王金樽 (hǎiwáng jīn zūn)               
Price: 47.50/9.00 RMB
This pill is used before consuming alcohol to reduce the likelihood of a hangover.

Nature’s Bounty Hangover Helper
酒前酒后 (jiǔ qián jiǔ hòu)                  
Price: 18.00 RMB
The ingredients contained in this product can accelerate alcohol metabolism, reduce alcohol and chemical toxins from causing liver damage, and effectively reduce headaches caused by drinking. It can be taken before or after consuming alcoholic beverages. 

12) Headache

Ibuprofen Capsules
布洛芬胶囊 (bù luò fēn jiāonáng)
Price: 21.00 RMB
This medicine is used to relieve mild to moderate pain, such as headaches, joint pain, migraine, toothache, and muscle pain. It also can be used to treat fever caused by the common cold or influenza.

Zheng Tian Pill
正天丸 (zhèng tiān wán)                     
Price: 11.50 RMB
This medication promotes blood circulation and has a nourishing effect. It is used to treat pain headache, nervous headache, or premenstrual headaches.

Gastrodia Elata Headache Tablet
天麻头疼片 (tiānmá tóuténg piàn)
Price: 19.80 RMB
This medication is used to treat headache, chills and nasal congestion. It is also appropriate for reducing pain associated with the common cold. 

13) Heartburn or Indigestion

Stomach Engraved Tablets
胃刻宁片 (wèi kè níng piàn)
Price: 25.60 RMB
This medicine reduces stomach pain and controls stomach acid. It is used to treat cases of stomach pain, belching, and acid reflux.

Omeprazole Enteric-Coated Capsules
奥美拉唑肠溶胶囊 (ào měi lā zuò cháng róng jiāonáng)
Price: 36.00 RMB
This medicine provides short-term relief of heartburn and acid reflux symptoms caused by excess stomach acid.

Stomach Inflammation Reducer
胃炎康 (wèiyán kāng)                        
Price: 22.00 RMB
This medicine provides urgent relief of excess stomach acid, burning and discomfort. It can also be used to treat stomach ulcers.

14) Influenza

Oral Anti-Viral
抗病毒口服液 (kàng bìngdú kǒufú yè)
Price: 12.50 RMB
This medicine is used in cases of fever and upper respiratory tract infection, influenza, mumps, viral hepatitis and other viral infections and diseases.

Ben Lamge Granules
板蓝根颗粒 (bǎnlángēn kēlì)
Price: 10.00 RMB
This is a detoxifying medicine used to treat sore throat and stomach discomfort.

15) Motion Sickness

Phencynonate Hydrochloride Tablets
盐酸苯环壬脂片 (yánsuān běn huán rén zhī piàn)         
Price: 16.50 RMB
This medicine is used to prevent motion sickness.

Clear Route Carsickness Patch
途爽晕车贴 (tú shuǎng yùnchē tiē)                  
Price: 10.00 RMB
This medicine is used for the prevention of motion sickness, nausea, or dizziness when flying.

16) Oral Health

Stomatitis Spray
口腔炎喷剂 (kǒuqiāng yán pēn jì)
Price: 28.00 RMB
This is an oral spray used for detoxification and reducing inflammation and pain. It is suggested for the treatment of stomatitis, mouth ulcers, or pharyngitis; it is also used in pediatrics.

Propolis Mouth Strips
蜂胶口贴膜 (fēngjiāo kǒu tiēmó)
Price: 18.30 RMB
These dissolvable strips are used to treat reoccurring mouth ulcers or canker sores.

Compound Pearl Canker Particles
复方珍珠口疮颗粒 (fùfāng zhēnzhū kǒuchuāng kēlì)         
Price: 29.80 RMB
This medicine is used to treat mouth sores, oral ulcers, redness and swelling in the mouth. It can also treat pain from burns, dry mouth, bad breath, and inflamed tongue.

17) Sinus Infection

Nose Health
优鼻 (yōu bí)                         
Price: 49.00 RMB
This nasal spray is used to treat a stuffy nose, runny nose, cough, dry nose, or nasal allergy symptoms.

雷诺考特 (léinuò kǎo tè)                    
Price: 60.90 RMB
This nasal spray is used to treat nasal symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and runny nose caused by seasonal or year-round allergies. 

Deep Nasal Relaxation Liquid
鼻渊舒口服液 (bí yuān shū kǒufú yè)
Price: 18.50 RMB
This medicine is used to detoxify the nasal passage. It is used for the treatment of rhinitis or chronic sinus infections.

Cocklebur Rhinitis Capsules
苍耳子鼻炎胶囊 (cāng ěr zi bíyán jiāonáng)
Price: 29.00 RMB
This medicine is used to treat nasal disease, including acute and chronic rhinitis, sinus infection and allergy-caused rhinitis.

18) Skin Conditions

Danpifen Ruangao
丹皮酚乳膏 (dān pí fēn rǔ gāo)
Price: 23.00 RMB
This cream is used to treat eczema, dermatitis, mosquito bites, redness and other skin disorders.

Hydrocortisone Butyrate Ointment
丁酸氢化可的松乳膏 (dīng suān qīnghuà kě de sōng rǔ gāo)
Price: 16.50 RMB
This cream is used to comfort and treat dermatitis, eczema, and other skin conditions.

19) Weight Loss

L-Carnitine Tablets
左旋肉碱片 (zuǒxuán ròu jiǎn piàn)                
Price: 179.00 RMB
A weight loss pill that can be purchased over the counter but should be used at your own risk. L-carnitine helps the body produce energy. It is important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and many other body processes.

Herbal Slimming Tea
碧生源减肥茶 (bìshēngyuán jiǎnféi chá)                
Price: 38.00 RMB
This product is also referred to as ‘Brigitte Germ Diet Tea’. It is formulated from high-quality green tea and a variety of slimming herbs. It should be consumed after meals, morning, noon and night.

Over the Counter Drugs

1) Antibiotics
There are many types of antibiotics available over the counter in China. This list includes just a few examples of antibiotics used for the treatment of some specific conditions. 

Anti-Inflammatory Tablets
消炎片 (xiāoyán piàn)                        
Price: 16.50 RMB
This antibiotic is used to treat upper respiratory tract infections, fever, bronchitis, cough or swollen boils.

Pudilan Anti-Inflammatory Tablets
蒲地蓝消炎片 (púde lán xiāoyán piàn)                   
Price: 32.00/28.00 RMB
This antibiotic is used to reduce inflammation and swelling. It can be used to treat swollen boils, sore throat, or tonsillitis.

Pharyngitis Tablets
咽炎片 (yānyán piàn)                         
Price: 23.00/21.00/18.00 RMB
This antibiotic has throat clearing, antitussive and anti-itch properties. It can be used to treat chronic sore throat, dry throat, itchy throat, or irritating cough.

2) Oral Contraceptive, Morning After Pill, Condoms

妈富隆 (mā fùlóng)
Price: 21.00 RMB
This is a 21-day oral contraceptive that is sold over the counter with no doctor’s prescription required.

Levonorgestrel Capsule
左炔诺孕酮胶囊 (zuǒ quē nuò yùn tóng jiāonáng)              
Price: 26.00 RMB
This is a form of short term (emergency) contraception for women, commonly known as the morning after pill.

Invisible Condom
隐形避孕套 (yǐnxíng bìyùn tào)
Price: 86.00 RMB
The invisible condom is a foam spray that is injected into the vagina to form a protective layer that can kill sperm and a variety of viruses, acting as a contraceptive and preventing infection.

Durex Condoms
杜蕾斯保险套 (dùlěisī bǎoxiǎn tào)
Price: Varies (63.00 RMB for package of 12)
Durex is a common brand of male condom that can easily be purchased in China at pharmacies, supermarkets or convenience stores.

3) Vitamins/Supplements
There are a variety of vitamins and dietary supplements available at most pharmacies in China. They offer a range of brands, including both Chinese and foreign. A reputable brand that is relatively easy to find in China is Nature’s Bounty. A selection of their vitamins is listed below. In addition to Nature’s Bounty, pharmacies also offer Centrum for multivitamin needs or Caltrate for calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Nature’s Bounty Multivitamin
自然之宝多种维生素  (zìrán zhī bǎo duō zhǒng wéishēngsù)           
Price: 299.00/289.00 RMB
Formulated with 11 vitamins, this high-potency supplement gives you the vitamins you need every day in an easy, one-tablet dose.

Nature’s Bounty Vitamin B
自然之宝维生素B  (zìrán zhī bǎo wéishēngsù B)        
Price: 139.00 RMB
Vitamin B is a vitamin complex that plays an important role in cell metabolism. B vitamins are essential for all things mind-related, such as mood and memory.

Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C
自然之宝维生素C  (zìrán zhī bǎo wéishēngsù C)        
Price: 129.00 RMB
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that can protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and possibly even skin wrinkling.

善存 (shàn cún) 
Price: Varies (65.00 RMB for 60 multivitamin tablets)
Centrum is a brand of multivitamins for targeted age groups containing key nutrients to fill dietary gaps. Centrum Silver is their notable line for the over-50 age group.

钙尔奇 (gài ěr qí)
Price: Varies (67.60 RMB for 60 Calcium/Vitamin D3 Tablets)
Caltrate is a brand of calcium and vitamin D supplements that are used to promote bone health, osteoporosis prevention, menopausal health and colorectal health.

For further information on specific medications and their uses, please refer to the following Chinese-language websites:



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Keywords: Chinese pharmacy guide Chinese medicine list


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This is an old article... the prices should be updated..

Mar 20, 2015 11:48 Report Abuse



traditional Chinese herb medicines can be very effective, without the side effects of pharmaceuticals, if you know someone familar enough with them to offer informed advice

Mar 18, 2015 06:53 Report Abuse



DITTO other comments.....one of the best articles ever published here....

Mar 16, 2015 12:05 Report Abuse



Brilliant article - just "what the doctor ordered". Wish I'd seen it the first time it came out, as I was sick with various stomach / intestine bug things for almost the whole time during my first 5 months in china. I'm printing this list off and bookmarking the page...

Mar 16, 2015 08:11 Report Abuse



Amazing article! I read it a month ago and forgot to save it, of course I've been sick two times since then (kindergarten and kids coughing and sneezing in your face) and now I can prepare myself for next time. Thanks!

Dec 29, 2013 12:18 Report Abuse



As a long time practitioner of tai ji and gong fu, I am used to the TCM treatments. Often, but not always they work better and quicker.

Nov 09, 2013 10:25 Report Abuse



I found this an excellent article. I always had certain apprehensions aboout using Chineses Medicines and would prefer not to use them. But after reading this article, I am more relaxed and will now use them. Ignorance and my inability to understand Mandarin made me shy away from using them before. I am an expat from Wales living in Nanning suffering from arthritis and I will go now ask my Chineses friend to get some of the medicines for me. Well done on writing an excellent article.

Dec 26, 2012 07:48 Report Abuse



My initial reluctance to use Chinese traditional medicine has been totally killed off after using some pills to kill a stomach bug I had for 9 days, to cure a fever, to cure an unexpected attack of gout and the itch prevention cream I discovered here has no equal in western medicine. This list has added some interesting alternatives if required and is very helpful. I will print this off and keep for later. Thanks.

Dec 23, 2012 12:46 Report Abuse



Nice article...very helpful..thanks

Dec 23, 2012 10:43 Report Abuse