In Chinese, there is an ancient saying “If there is free flow, there is no pain. If there is no free flow, there is pain.” According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain is the result of blockages within the flow of “qi”, vital energy, of the body. The goal of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is not only to manage the symptoms, but also to treat the root cause. The use of TCM diagnostic principles such as pulse and tongue diagnosis allows Chinese medical practitioners to determine which pathological factors dominate ones arthritis. This enables a proper treatment plan, tailored to ones indications. Not your typical aches and pains, this chronic condition causes severe joint pain and inflammation which greatly impacts the quality of life. The term “arthritis” encompasses more than 100 types of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, lupus and juvenile arthritis to name a few. Arthritis is no longer a disease of the old; it knows no limitations – affecting anyone at anytime, regardless of age, ethnicity or physical condition. Unfortunately, no one knows the exact cause of arthritis. However, much can be done to manage arthritis.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are three key pathological factors which dominate arthritis
Natural and herbal supplements, as well as acupuncture, continually show clinical results in relieving symptoms by treating the root of arthritis. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are three key pathological factors which dominate arthritis: feng (wind), shi (damp) and han (cold). With proper diagnosis, TCM helps to eliminate the factors which cause slowing cartilage disintegration and improving circulation. Feng (wind) dominant arthritis often corresponds to early stages of rheumatoid arthritis and mostly affects the upper extremities.
This term is also used to describe the sudden onset of arthritic symptoms ranging from decreased mobility of the affected site, joint inflammation and/or sensitivity to changes in the weather. Poor blood circulation combined with a deficiency of qi (the vital energy necessary for life) allows invasion of wind into the body, therefore resulting in pain. Shi (damp) dominant arthritis most often affects the lower parts of the body and has characteristics of swelling and stiffness of the joints. Symptoms such as swelling, stiffness and numbness are associated with damp-type arthritis. These symptoms are often times aggravated and worsened by exposure to damp, humid and wet environments, therefore causing joint dysfunctions. TCM believes this type of arthritis to be associated with weakened spleen function which has caused disorders in fluid metabolism within the body.
Han (cold) type arthritic patients experience worsened pain symptoms when exposed to the cold. The hands and feet where circulation is poorest, as well as the lower back, is often where the pain resides. Due to a decline in kidney function, the body is unable to dispel chillness therefore resulting in a debilitating and chronic pain. Whether it is wind, damp or cold induced, no two cases of arthritis are ever the same according to TCM.
The combined use of acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs allows for specific and individually tailored treatment methods. Arthritis causes disfigurement and is even linked to reduced life expectancy. If you experience symptoms believed to be associated to arthritis, seek treatment as early as possible to lessen the severity of this debilitating condition.
Unlike western herbal formulas, Chinese herbal formulas often consist of a range of herbs that act together to produce a desired effect. Listed below are three common herbs found in Chinese pain-relieving formulas. The main purposes of these herbs are to remove obstructions to facilitate blood circulation and alleviate pain.
Tian Qi – ” Notoginseng Known for its exceptional curative effects, Tian Qi is the herb of choice for traumatic injuries. Noted by the Chinese as the herb “not to be exchanged for gold”, Tian Qi is a superb “blood invigorating” herb. Capable of stopping bleeding, reducing swelling and alleviating pain, Tian Qi functions to promote and stimulate blood circulation. Extensive research has shown its ability to dilate coronary artery and increase coronary blood flow therefore reducing cardiac flow to reduce pressure and to improve damaged heart tissue. A relative of the Ginseng root, Tian Qi stands as one of the greatest health preserving herbs known to man.
Du Zhong – ” Eucommia Bark Named after the man whom discovered its healing properties, Du Zhong bark originated in the temperate weather conditions of central China. Its Latin name Eucommia translates to “good gum”, referring to its latex bearing bark which is used to strengthen the tendons, ligaments and joints of the body. Since conditions of pain arise when the body is weak and easily penetrated by “wind”, “damp” and “cold” factors, the consumption of Du Zhong is well known for its ability to tonify the liver and kidneys. Individuals with symptoms such as a weak or painful back and knees and frequent urination are commonly prescribed formulas containing this herb.
Qi Ye Lian – ” Scheffler Root With its powerful, yet non-addictive analgesic properties, Qi Ye Lian provides a healthy alternative to for those who find themselves dependent on pain-killing medications. This herb provides relief to rheumatic pains by stimulating blood circulation and alleviating inflammation of the joints.
There is no doubt that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a great deal to offer when it comes to the treatment of arthritis. Results that have been achieved by the use of herbs and acupuncture are nothing short of superb and research proven. Since no two cases of arthritis are the same, TCMs ability to tailor treatments specifically for the individual help to treat arthritis effectively. Always be sure to speak to a trained professional when deciding which herbs are right for you.
Dr. Mable Cheung is amongst a handful of licensed & practicing Acupuncturists and one of the firsts to introduce both Cosmetic & Cellulite Acupuncture. She is also a 3rd generation Chinese Medical Doctor at Cheung’s Trading Company Limited. For more information, feel free to contact her at 519-252-9228 or at http://www.cheungstrading.com