Page 1

Laurie Ayres – Herbalist, Acupuncturist, Tui Na Practitioner Lic OHM, Lic Ac, Lic Tui Na, BSc (hons), MRCHM, MBAcC

Chinese Medicine & Rheumatoid Arthritis What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that primarily affects the joints, but can also affect other areas of the body. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system turns on itself and attacks its own tissues, causing swelling, pain, stiffness and a feeling of heat in the joints, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms and fever, weight loss, loss of appetite, skin nodules, and anemia. Rheumatoid Arthritis in Chinese Medicine ‘The three qi of wind, cold, and dampness all arrive in miscellaneous ways and combine to cause painful obstruction [in the joints]’ Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen Ch43 ‘if there is pain there is no flow, if there is flow there is no pain’. A Chinese medical saying From a Chinese medical perspective arthritis occurs when wind, cold, and dampness from the outside environment effect the body causing a blockage to the flow of blood and energy (qi) through the joints, this helps to explain why many people with arthritic conditions notice a change in certain weather conditions. Blockage in the joints causes pain and stiffness, and a disruption to the circulation of fluids leading to swelling. When the movement of energy is blocked heat is created, leading to inflammation and a feeling of heat in the joints, and over time this heat can attack the joints cause them to become deformed. Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis? Chinese medicine has a long history of treating arthritic conditions, with many references to the treatment of joint problems with herbal medicine being found in texts dating back two thousand years. In the west Chinese medicine has a good reputation in the treatment of painful conditions, a reputation which is growing all the time. Chinese medical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis aims to remove the obstruction from the joints, clear heat that has build up, and encourage smooth flow of blood and qi through the joints. This is done with combinations of herbs called formulas, which are drunk, and the insertion of acupuncture needles at specific points in the body. What Can Chinese Medicine Actually Do For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis? Chinese medicine is effective at relieving pain and inflammation in the joints and improving their range of motion, and offers an alternative to the strong pain killing and antiinflammatory medication commonly prescribed to sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, which often produce unpleasant side effects. Joint deformities are rarely reversible but pain accompanying these deformities can be reduced. Research The amount of research into the effect of Chinese medicine on rheumatoid arthritis is sadly inadequate and often fails to illustrate its full effectiveness, but below is an outline of three studies that show positive results. 6 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis received ten acupuncture treatments over a period of two months. Pain, range of motion in the joints, and the patients’ mood and level of disability in daily activities all improved significantly over the course of treatment. Therapeutic effects of acupuncture in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective study using (18)F-FDG-PET. Ann Nucl Med. 2009 May;23(3):311-6)

38 patients (average age 58) with rheumatoid arthritis were divided into three groups, one receiving traditional acupuncture, another receiving electro-acupuncture, and the third ‘placebo acupuncture’. All had a total of twenty treatments over a period of ten weeks. 29 people completed the study, with the majority of dropouts being in the placebo group due to inefficacy. In both the traditional acupuncture and electro-acupuncture groups there was a significant improvement in joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Efficacy of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): A Double-blind Controlled Pilot Study. American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting, November 2006). Continued.

07787 508 378 • laurie@easternhealingarts.co.uk • www.easternhealingarts.co.uk


Laurie Ayres – Herbalist, Acupuncturist, Tui Na Practitioner Lic OHM, Lic Ac, Lic Tui Na, BSc (hons), MRCHM, MBAcC

21 patients with rheumatoid arthritis where divided into three groups, one group took a high dose of the Chinese herb Lei Gong Teng, another took a low dose of the same herb, and the third group received a placebo. After a period of four weeks 80% of people in the high dose group showed a rapid improvement in symptoms, while 40% in the low dose group show similar improvements, compared with no improvements in the placebo group. Side effects were minor for all groups. Arthritis & Rheumatism 2002;46(7):1735-43 About the Author Laurie Ayres is a practicing Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist, and a member of both the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) and British Acupuncture Council (BAcC). He practices at the Self Centre in Bury St Edmunds, and in north London. Laurie can be contacted for appointments and enquiries by phone on 07787 508 378, email at laurie@easternhealingarts.co.uk, and his website can be viewed at www.easternhealingarts.co.uk. Enquiries can also be made via Self Centre reception.

07787 508 378 • laurie@easternhealingarts.co.uk • www.easternhealingarts.co.uk

Chinese Medicine and Rheumatoid Arthritis  

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that primarily affects the joints, but can also affect other areas of the body. It is an a...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you