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Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao)

Close up of Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao) in white background

What is Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao)?

Donkey-Hide Gelatin (e jiao, 阿胶), also known as Colla Corii Asini in Latin, refers to the dry glue pieces made from the hide of Equus asinus L, a type of donkey that belong to the family Equidae. To soften the donkey’s skin, it is first soaked in water before having its hair removed. The skin is then chopped into small pieces, put in boiling water, and the gelatin will then be separated from the skin. Afterwards, the gelatin is boiled further and then left to cool down and ultimately dried into solidified pieces.

This herb’s name is derived from its origin in the ancient times, where it was produced in Dong’e County in the Shandong province. Nowadays, it mainly comes from the provinces of Shandong, Zhe jiang and Jiangsu. Initially, Ejiao was not just made from donkey hide, but also cowhide and other animals’ skins. In fact, cow and pig skin used to be more common materials for concocting blood enriching tonics, until Donkey’s hide was found to be more effective in the Tang Dynasty.

Initially listed and classified as one of the top grade herbs in The Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, 神农本草经), Donkey-Hide Gelatin has developed a reputation as an effective gynaecological medicine and blood enricher, which is used to treat a variety of ailments and prevent miscarriage.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Donkey-Hide Gelatin falls under the category of ‘Herbs that invigorate the Blood’. Such herbs tend to stimulate blood flow, aid the circulation of blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities, as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. 

Neutral in nature, Donkey-Hide Gelatin does not affect the yin-yang balance in the body. Sweet in taste, Donkey-Hide Gelatin can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, the herb targets the Kidneys, the Liver and the Lungs.

Functions and Benefits of Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Donkey-Hide Gelatin has the following health benefits.

Donkey-Hide Gelatin can tonify blood, and is thus indicated for syndromes of Blood Deficiency with bleeding. The herb is often stewed with millet wine or combined with other blood tonics to relieve dizziness, sallow or pale complexion and palpitations. Believed to improve blood circulation, Donkey-Hide Gelatin is also used as a blood tonic by people with anaemia, low blood cell counts or reproductive problems.

A great herb to stop bleeding, Donkey-Hide Gelatin can also nourish yin. It is indicated for haemorrhage with yin and blood deficiency. For example, it can treat hematemesis, hematochezia, excessive menstruation, metrorrhagia, metrostaxis, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy or post-delivery, and even prevent miscarriages. Also, it can help to treat other symptoms caused by yin deficiency, such as peeling skin on feet and hand tremors.

By nourishing yin and moistening dryness in the Lungs, Donkey-Hide Gelatin can treat syndromes of Yin Deficiency such as dry cough with little phlegm or blood in phlegm due to excessive Heat in Lungs. In addition, Donkey-Hide Gelatin can help to relieve restlessness and insomnia caused by Yin Deficiency with effulgent Fire.

Pastry made of donkey hide gelatin, jujube, walnut, rose and sesame.Ejiao.
The pastry made from Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao) is good for nourishing blood.

How to Use Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao)

The recommended daily dosage of Donkey-Hide Gelatin is 5 – 10g, when smashed into powder after being melted or stir-baked. 

Donkey-Hide Gelatin can be dissolved in hot water or alcohol to be used in food, drink or as part of herbal formulas. Also, Donkey-Hide Gelatin is used in beauty products such as face creams.

Some manufacturers produce a bar made with Donkey-Hide Gelatin called Gu Yuan Gao (固元膏). It is made up of Ejiao, nuts, sesame, Chinese dates and cooking wine.  It can be eaten directly as a snack, or be used as an edible coating for dates, producing another type of snack.

Donkey-Hide Gelatin and its products can be found in some herbal stores and certain Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao)

Donkey-Hide Gelatin should not be used by individuals experiencing Spleen or stomach deficiency, poor appetite, loose stools, nausea, vomiting or retention of Dampness. This is because Donkey-Hide Gelatin is greasy, and thus it might trigger indigestion.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Donkey-Hide Gelatin to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Donkey-Hide Gelatin (Ejiao):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 阿胶
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): ē jiāo
  • Herb name (English): Donkey-hide Glue
  • Herb name (Botanical): Colla Corii Asini
  • Origin of species: Equus asinus Linnaeus
  • Part(s) of herb used: Animal skin
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Neutral; Administrates the Lung, Liver and Kidney Meridians
  • Actions: Nourishes the blood to relieve anaemic conditions; Eases bleeding symptoms and dry coughs

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