Ancient Chinese Remedies For Arthritis
By Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., Ph.D.
As the population of America ages, the most
common health concern of physically active baby-boomers is the condition of
their joints. It is estimated that 70 million Americans have some form of
arthritis. Furthermore, countless Americans undergo surgical procedures for
joint injuries every year. Besides obvious traumas, common causes of arthritis
include heredity, infections, aging and environment. If left untreated,
arthritis and joint problems can be crippling and vastly affect one’s quality of
Chances are you or someone you know has arthritis. Arthritis
is one of the most common diseases in the U.S. and is the leading cause of
disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out
of every three Americans is affected by one of the more than 100 types of
arthritis. These include conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid
arthritis, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, lupus, Lyme disease, ankylosing
spondylitis, bursitis, tendonitis and fibromyalgia to name a few.
The cause of most types of arthritis is unknown. Scientists
are currently studying aging, genes, environment and lifestyle factors that
contribute to the development of arthritis. The most common symptoms involve
pain, stiffness and swelling around the joints or soft tissue. This can
contribute to difficulty in daily activities that require movement. Other
symptoms may include fatigue, fevers, depression and weight gain.
The one common characteristic of any arthritic condition is
inflammation. The inflammation is an immune system response to a foreign
invasion (virus), injury or dysfunction (auto-immune response). Conventional
treatments include anti-inflammatory agents, steroids and other immuno-suppressant
drugs complemented by physiotherapy. The side effects of conventional treatments
can be immense and often trouble arthritic patients for the rest of their lives.
There is another way to obtain relief from arthritis without
the side effects of taking drugs—the Chinese medicine way. This alternative to
western medicine is several thousands of years old with a strong track record of
In Chinese medicine, arthritis is called a “Bi” or “stagnation
and stasis” condition. We categorize “Bi” conditions according to their
symptomatic characteristics such as location, intensity of pain, amount of heat
or inflammation and amount of swelling and disability. For example, arthritic
pain that moves from joint to joint is called “Xin Bi” or moving arthritis.
Both external and internal factors can cause arthritis.
External causes include invasion by pathogenic factors such as wind, cold or
dampness that obstruct the normal flow of Qi and blood, thereby resulting in
swelling, stiffness, numbness and pain of the joints and soft tissues. Internal
causes include emotional stress weakening the defensive ability of one’s immune
system and depletion of the Kidney/
Vitality system resulting in degeneration of
one’s bones, tendons and cartilage.
Treating arthritis in Chinese medicine focuses on ridding the
body of the invading pathogens, restoring normal circulation and flow of blood
and Qi, promoting emotional harmony and fortifying the Kidney/
Effective treatments include acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal and dietary
therapy, exercise therapy, cupping and massage.
Acupuncture has been found to be clinically effective in reducing arthritic pain
and improving mobility and circulation. Often, localized acupuncture therapy
directly on the joint or tissue itself, with or without electrical stimulation
or moxa (heat therapy with the herb mugwort) can be extremely helpful in
managing arthritis. This obviously requires obtaining treatments from a licensed
Herbal therapy is useful in reducing inflammation, nourishing joints and soft
tissues and improving one’s energy. It may also be a useful replacement for
anti-inflammatory drugs that some people find upsetting to their stomach.
Besides relieving arthritic symptoms, it is as important to nourish and prevent
the onset of arthritis. There is good news for arthritis sufferer unable to
access acupuncture treatments.
Traditions of Tao, a company dedicated to the research of
herbal products for modern needs formulated
Healthy Joint and Arthritis Elixir
to help people nourish and promote the proper function of their joints. It also
offers relief of symptoms of arthritis.
Healthy Joint and Arthritis Elixir is specially formulated based on long
years of Ni Family clinical success in helping their patients with joint
This proprietary formula contains licorice root and peony
root, which soothe pain and spasms; notopterygium root and Korean ash bark
dispel dampness from the joints and restores flexibility; eucommia bark and
mulberry stem nourish the joints; dang gui root, sheng di root and Szechwan
lovage root promote proper lubrication of the joints; astraglus root modulates
and balances the immune system; Chinese lovage root, peach kernel and safflower
support proper circulation; and finally poria root helps proper stomach and
Dietary Therapy advocates avoiding foods that produce dampness or mucous that
may further obstruct the flow of qi and blood in the channels, therefore
exacerbating the arthritis.
Foods to avoid:
- cow milk products (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, etc.)
- night shade vegetables (tomato, eggplant, peppers, potato)
- deep fried and fatty foods
- processed and refined foods
- cold and raw foods (salads, fruits)
- red meat
Exercise Therapy focuses on joint mobility, increasing circulation and
strengthening tendons, ligaments and muscles. The best types of exercise include
water exercise, taiji, qigong, gentle yoga, stationary bike, walking and light
Cupping and Massage
Cupping and Massage are treatment modalities designed to vastly increase
circulation to affected areas, ridding toxins and waste products that aggravate
inflammation and introducing the joints and tissues to fresh nutrients and
oxygen. These techniques are effective for reducing swelling, stiffness and
There is no reason why you cannot live a full and active life,
even if you suffer from arthritis. The therapies listed above, either alone or
in combination can vastly improve your quality of life if you practice them
Dr. Maoshing Ni, a Licensed Acupuncturist and a Diplomat of
Chinese Herbology, is currently in general practice at the Tao of Wellness
Clinic in Santa Monica, California. The Tao of Wellness Clinic is one of the
oldest in Los Angeles, established in 1976. (310) 917-2200