I have written previously about acupuncture for fibromyalgia as well as qi gong for fibromyalgia and now I would ike to write a piece about Chinese herbs for fibromyalgia.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are many as well as diverse. Most patients, however complain of pain as being the most distressing symptom. The pain that these people suffer is regarded as dull and constant and can be anywhere in the body but there are certain areas that seem common to many.
Other symptoms involve the mind and can include insomnia, depression, flatness, inability to concentrate and even restless legs.
The diagnosis is often overlapped or confused with other conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Migraine.
Fatigue can also be a major component of fibromyalgia. From a western medical perspective there is no known cause and medications like pregabalin and duloxetine, though approved by the FDA, and often taken together have the side effect of severe drowsiness. The drug regime only manages the pain.
The most common painful areas experienced by fibromyalgia sufferers correlate to specific acupuncture points and these points correlate to a diagnostic system known in Chinese medicine as the six divisions.
The famous Chinese medicine doctor Zhang Zhong Jing wrote the landmark diagnostic book the Shan Han Lun around 200A.D. One way to look at this diagnostic system is to imagine that the body is composed of 6 onion layers and diseases can penetrate and stay in either of the layers. Some diseases may even lodge in more than one layer, giving a slightly different diagnostic picture. One way disease can penetrate into these layers is via a cold or virus bringing in the pathogen and then lodging in one or more of the layers. The Shan Han Lun book has over 100 formulas to expel such pathogens and the formulas themselves may cause the person to sweat or they even purge through the bowels.
From a western medical perspective some of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia such as cystitis and painful bladder also correlate with the signs and symptoms of the specific patterns associated with the shang han lun diagnostic system.
In modern day China, this classic text is still regarded as one of the four most essential texts and many physicans opt to specialise in this diagnostic system. Other physicians use a more modern hospital style herbal medicine approach and use what is called organ pathology diagnosis.
In fibromyalgia there are a number of organ pathologies associated and include Liver/Spleen disharmony, Damp-Heat imbalance, Qi and Yin deficiency, Liver blockage and Kidney yang defiency.
Chinese medicine diagnosis always views each individual as a seperate entity and thus each person requires different treatment. This is why there is not one particular herb or herbal formula that is used across the board in the treatment of individual patients presenting with symptoms of fibromyalgia. For example, the formula Xiao Yao San may be used in one person and in another person the formula Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang is used instead.
In the book, The Treatment of Modern Western Medical Diseases with Chinese Medicine by Bob Flaws, there is a whole chapter devoted to the treatment of fibromyalgia with over twenty formulas and numerous suggestions for additions and modifications to suit specific requirements of the individuals unique presenting picture. There are two main western pharmaceuticals used for fibromyalgia but there are hundreds of Chinese herbal options. One size does not fit all when thinking about using Chinese medicine.
There are over 700 members in Acupuncture NZ and some of them have also completed an additional degree in Chinese herbal medicine.