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Gout in Chinese Medicine

Are you one of the 8.3 million Americans who suffer from the excruciating pain of gout? If so, we have good news: you don’t have to live with that searing pain in your big toe (or other joints) any longer. Chinese herbs for gout can help! 

Read on to learn how Chinese medicine understands and treats gout naturally. Then, discover which Chinese herbs for gout could help you best.

What is Gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by severe burning joint pain, usually in the big toe. The pain usually comes on suddenly and without warning – even in the middle of the night. 

While the most commonly affected joint is the big toe, it can occur in other joints too. Ankles, elbows, knees, fingers, wrists, and other areas may suddenly become red and painful. 

Extreme gout pain and immobility tend to last between 4-12 hours, but the lingering discomfort can stick around for days or even weeks. 

What Causes Gout?

Western medical doctors see gout as a complex type of arthritis, caused by increased levels of uric acid in the blood.

Uric acid formation occurs naturally when the body breaks down compounds called purines. Purines are often found in foods like red meat, seafood, beer, and sugary drinks. 

Uric acid typically passes through the kidneys and leaves the body as waste. But, when there is too much uric acid in the blood, the acid forms crystals that attach to joint tissues and cause a gout flare.

Because gout is closely related to diet and eating purine-rich foods, those who have a rich diet are at a higher risk of developing gout. 

How Does Chinese Herbal Medicine Treat Gout?

At its simplest, Traditional Chinese Medicine sees gout as an imbalance in the body’s flow of qi and blood. 

The TCM treatment of gout is largely based on a group of disorders, known in TCM as “bi syndromes.” Bi syndrome or bi pattern usually happens when qi stagnates in the channels. This leads to pain, fluid accumulation, and other accompanying symptoms.

There are different types of bi syndrome that require different types of Chinese herbs to restore balance and ease the pain. Here are a few of the most common types of bi syndrome related to gout:

  • Heat Bi (or Heat-Damp Bi)
    Heat bi causes pain in the joint that is predominantly hot signs like redness, swelling, radiating heat, and joint pain. Heat and dampness often combine into Heat-Damp bi, the most common pattern of gout. 
  • Cold Bi (or Cold-Damp Bi)
    Cold bi causes localized and severe pain that is exacerbated by cold and comes with other cold signs like heaviness, lethargy, and no heat or redness.
  • Damp Bi
    Damp bi also has signs of dampness, like swelling, numbness, thick tongue coating, bloating, digestive upset, and increased pain with damp environments or weather.


Are Chinese Herbs for Gout Effective?

Before jumping into the Chinese herbs and medicine that treats gout, let’s look at the science. 

From empirical evidence to systematic reviews of clinical studies, the research shows that Traditional Chinese Medicine is a helpful natural remedy to relieve gout. 

In one systematic review, researchers studied “the pharmacological mechanism and the chemical compounds of TCM formulas in treating gout” and found that Chinese medicine for gout provided new and effective treatments.

Other studies found that the TCM formulas combined with chemical drugs showed better effect than chemical drugs applied alone. They also found that the rate of adverse side effects was much lower in groups that only took Chinese herbal medicine, versus groups that used Western drugs. 


Best Chinese Herbs for Gout: Si Miao Wan 

The most famous Chinese herbal formula to treat gout is Si Miao Wan or Four Marvels Pills. This formula is used to help treat hot-type arthritis pain that is common in patients with gout, with the help of four key herbs:

Huang Bai – Clears heat, inflammation, and dampness

Yi Yi Ren – Reduces dampness and supports the Spleen 

Cang Zhu – Dries dampness and supports the Spleen 

Huai Niu Xi – Strengthens the bones and joints, supports the Liver and Kidneys, and improves blood circulation  


Si Miao Wan also addresses other issues that might accompany gout, like lower back pain, numbness, joint swelling, or muscle weakness or tension. 

From a Western medicine point of view, Si Miao Wan helps alleviate gout by moderating the cytokines that cause inflammation. 


Chinese Herbs for Gout: Additional Support

Depending on the pattern of bi syndrome you have that is causing your gout flares, other herbal formulas may also be helpful. 

  • If your gout pain is severe, hot, and very swollen, consider Wu Wei Xiao Du Wan. Use this only during acute attacks, then prevent future gout flares with Si Miao Wan.

  • If you struggle with additional symptoms like aching back, general arthritis, and sore muscles, try a more comprehensive formula like Joint Obstruction Teapills.

  • For external, topical support, Relief & Recovery Pain Relieving Rub (Shu Huan Zhi Tong You) by Bamboo Pharmacy works great. This formula cools and soothes painful joints on contact. 


Chinese Tea for Gout 

There is no specific Chinese tea for gout, but there are a few teas that can help support the body to restore balance and prevent gout attacks. 

  • Triple Joint Relief Tea is the best choice for anyone who wants to keep gout flares at bay while also improving their overall joint health. This tea reduces inflammation and supports healthy circulation.

  • Kidney Health Tea is a great way to improve Kidney function to help clear uric acid from the blood more efficiently.

  • Blood Circulation Tea helps improve overall qi and blood flow through the body to clear uric acid, improve joint mobility, and ease tension. 

Treat Your Gout Naturally with Chinese Herbs

At this time, there are no effective drugs for patients with gout in the Western medicine approach. Thankfully, Chinese medicine does. 

Chinese herbs for gout, as well as acupuncture for gout, can help patients stop suffering from pain and start finding their balance. 

Find relief with these formulas, or see our other Chinese herbal medicines for joint health and support! 

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About the Author

Kaitlan Downes, MSAOM, L.AC

Kaitlan Downes, MSAOM, L.AC

Kate Downes is a Chinese medicine practitioner with a passion for herbal medicine. In fact, it was her love for plant and earth medicine that first drew her to study Chinese medicine.

Kate has a MSAOM (Master of Science, Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) certification and practiced acupuncture in Indianapolis, IN for five years before packing her bags to roam the world. In order to stay in touch with the wellness community and continue to help others thrive with herbal medicine, she transformed her work from face-to-face patient care to spreading wellness through words. Her life as a remote herbalist and writer has allowed her to work with a variety of wellness brands, health pioneers, and her wonderful clients. She has a special interest in working with women’s health.

Kate thoroughly enjoys writing educational and useful pieces for Best Chinese Medicine. Her goal is to help the public gain a better understanding of the wonders of Chinese herbal medicine so they can be empowered in their own quest for natural, vibrant health.

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