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In Chinese medicine, arthritis pain is referred to as “bi syndrome,” a painful condition that attacks the bones and joints. Just as in Western medicine, Chinese medicine works to help relieve joint pain by reducing inflammation, but goes even further to restore the health of the tissues to prevent further damage.
Weather and Arthritis: Arthritis sufferers often claim that they can predict the weather with their pain. This is due to the direct effect weather (especially cold fronts, dampness, rain, and wind) has on our bones and joints.
Zuo Bi: This type of arthritis, or bi, feels heavy and numb and is a caused by dampness.
Re Bi: This type is sharp and painful and often involves swelling.
Xing Bi: This type is not fixed to one location; the pain moves from joint to joint.
Tong Bi: This type of arthritis involves severe pain and is often soothed with warmth. Cold temperatures and too much activity tend to make this type flare up.
Yin or Yang:
Yang: red, inflamed, swelling, hot, worse in summer
Yin: cold, weak, achy and sore, worse in cold weather or rain
Qi and Blood:
Qi: Arthritis is often a condition that happens in older age as our qi, or energy, starts to decline. A lack of qi in the joints will cause weakness and eventually deterioration. Those who suffer from arthritis tend to have low energy and benefit from activities like exercise.
Blood: Arthritis typically involves a lack of blood flow or poor blood quality. Blood is like water for our garden. When our hose is full and straight, there is a good flow of water to nourish all of our plants. When there’s not enough water or there’s a kink in the hose, we aren’t able to properly care for our plants. In some cases, they even get dry and brittle. This is the main idea behind the importance of proper blood flow for healthy bones and joints.
Chinese medicine recommends a few different treatments to help restore joint health and protect the body’s skeletal system. Acupuncture and moxibustion are popular treatments that improve blood and qi flow throughout the body, while also relieving pain. Topical herbal ointments are useful for relieving pain throughout the day. Many Chinese medicine practitioners also recommend an anti-inflammatory diet and regular exercise to keep the joints strong and lubricated naturally.
Because of its strong effect on enhancing blood quality, boosting energy, and nourishing the joints, herbal medicine is a natural choice for relieving arthritic pain. Many formulas are taken internally to restore joints while other herbal formulas can be used topically as an analgesic.
The following are important herbs used in arthritis and joint pain formulas.
Du Huo/Angelica pubescentis: Du huo is one of the most commonly used herbs in “bi syndrome” formulas. This herb is especially good at reducing pain that worsens in cold, wet, windy weather.
Huang Qin/Baikal skullcap: Huang qin is a deep yellow herb that improves circulation while attacking inflammation. This herb is in formulas for hot-type arthritis with swelling, heat, and sharp pain.
Menthol and peppermint: Peppermint and menthol are commonly used in topical herbal products for arthritis like balms, oils, and tinctures. The cooling and tingling effect of menthol works to relieve pain and increase blood flow to the painful area to stimulate healing.
You don’t have to suffer from the pain of arthritis. Shop our collection of Chinese herbal formulas to heal and nourish the joints.