Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1% of the caucasian population or about 40 people in a 100,000 pool. The causes of this problem from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective have been already discussed in other posts and in this post we will look at some of the common herbs that may be used.
Are there many different Chinese herbs that may be used for rheumatoid arthritis?
It is important to note that when Chinese herbs are prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, they are done so in accordance to suit the individual diagnostic needs of the patient. This is why there will never just be one Chinese herb or even one Chinese herbal formula that suits all people. Modern medicine, under the influence of the pharmaceutical giants, is focused on just getting one drug such as methotrexate to be then used across the board for all sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are numerous individual herbs that may be used for rheumatoid arthritis or that are added to formulae.
What is Bi Syndrome?
The term rheumatoid arthritis comes under the traditional Chinese medicine classification of Bi syndrome. Bi syndrome is when the acupuncture meridian lines flowing through the joints become blocked with environmental factors such as cold, wind and damp. It’s well accepted in modern medicine that rheumatoid sufferers feel increased aggravation with sudden weather changes. In fact this is where some people remark they can feel in their joints a couple days before its going to rain.
Modern Chinese medical texts have chapters devoted to herbs that treat wind damp or treat cold damp. Some of these herbs also have a diuretic quality which are prescribed to urinate out the toxins lodged in the joints.
The herb sang ji shen
Sang ji shen is a vine that grows on mulberry trees and is used for wind damp conditions. It also has the reputation to strengthen sinews and bones and may be used to help low back pain. It is not a pain killer as such but used to address the weakness in the low back.
Jiang huo and du huo
Some Chinese herbs address their action to specific areas of the body such as du huo which is used for wind damp painful obstruction in the lower part of the body. If there was a problem in the upper body such as the shoulder jiang huo and jiang huang might be selected as part of a herbal formula combination.
Ba ji tian
When people complain that their joints and reheumatoid pain gets worse in cold weather, herbs that have the function to remove cold and damp could be selected. An example is ba ji tian which is classified in the yang tonic category. It is said to tonify the kidneys and liver and has also been used for premature ejaculation and infertility as well as painful joints.
How to find a qualified and experienced Chinese herbalist in New Zealand
Acupuncture New Zealand has over 700 members throughout New Zealand and can be contacted to find a member who is also qualified with an additional degree or training in Chinese herbs.
Heiko Lade has a Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the University of Technology and has had over 30 years of experience.