I have arthritis, My knees hips and lower back are always sore. They are so bad that in the morning it takes me an hour to get going. Can Acupuncture help my condition?
Arthritis is a condition where chronic swelling and inflammation cause damage to various joints in the body. It is currently the leading cause of disability in persons above the age of 65. Of the many forms of arthritic conditions, including rheumatoid, autoimmune, psoriatic, septic and gouty, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form, affecting over 21 million Americans. Unlike Rheumatoid arthritis, where there is an actual active inflammatory process occurring at the joints, OA is a degenerative disease where the soft cartilage of the joints are slowly degraded. The causes of OA are not well understood, though several risk factors and underlying conditions are thought to be involved, including increasing age, genetic predisposition, obesity, metabolic and hormonal disorders, repetitive use injuries and even gout. The onset of OA is gradual and symptoms mainly appear after the age of 50. The most common symptoms include deep, aching joint pain (more often affecting the back, knees, hips, spine and fingers), which get worse with movement, stiffness upon waking and with inactivity, joint swelling and warmth, inflexibility and limited range of motion in the joints accompanied with crunching or crackling noises with movement. In severe cases, there may be formation of abnormal bony growths such as the characteristic bumps appearing on the outermost finger joints. One of the best preventive measures for OA is exercise and weight loss. Research has shown that with regular moderate exercise, symptoms of pain and inflexibility can be reduced by at least 25 percent.
There are a variety of disease factors that can cause arthritis according to Chinese medicine theory. These include colds invading the joints, pathogenic wind disturbing the joints, dampness congealing in the joints and heat scorching the joints. Often these conditions can be seen together as in the case of dampness and heat or dampness and cold. Chinese medicine differentiates arthritis into these forms primarily identifying with the symptoms. In each case the predominant symptom being pain. My treatments focus on proper differentiation of the type and treatment with acupuncture, herbal and dietary remedies and Qi Gong or Tai Chi movement exercises. Here are my recommendations according to type.
Cold arthritis symptoms include sharp stabbing pain in fixed locations and coldness in the joints. The pain is relieved by heat. Usually these individuals have pale complexion.
Wind arthritis symptoms manifest with pain that shifts locations, comes and goes suddenly and sometimes causes dizziness (behaving much like the wind)
Damp arthritis symptoms include dull deep aching pain that lingers, sluggishness, heavy sensations in the extremities, swelling and obesity.
Heat arthritis symptoms are characterized by red swollen painful joints with feeling of heat and warmth to the touch, general disability and often occur suddenly.
Helpful Diet Advice
Cold arthritis diet should include warming dispersing foods such as green onions, garlic, peppers, mustard greens, ginger, black beans, sesame seeds, grapes, grape vines, parsnip, various spices, organic chicken and lamb. Rice wine can also be helpful (avoid if you have high blood pressure).
AVOID: cold foods, raw fruits and vegetables, and exposure to cold environments.
Wind arthritis diet should incorporate more scallions, grapes, grape vines, mulberry, mulberry vine tea, black beans, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables. Non-poisonous snake meat is a great food remedy for wind arthritis.
AVOID: meats, shellfish, sugars alcohol, smoking and other stimulants.
Damp arthritis sufferers should consumer more barley, mung beans, mustard greens, red beans, millet, brown and sweet rice, cornsilk tea, bland and diuretic foods.
AVOID: cold foods, raw fruits and vegetables, dairy products and exposure to damp environments.
Heat arthritis requires cooling and reducing foods such as fresh frits and vegetables, dandelion greens, cabbage, mung beans, winter melon, soybeans and soybean sprouts.
AVOID: spicy foods, alcohol and smoking, stress and warming foods such as green onions. Tomatoes and eggplants may irritate the inflammation and should be avoided as well.
• For cold arthritis, boil 12 grams of grape vines and 2 slices of ginger. Drink tea three times. Also for cold arthritis, boil ¼ cup chopped parsnip, 3 grams of cinnamon, 1 gram of black pepper, and 3 grams of dried ginger in 2 cups of water. Drink twice daily for one month.
• For wind arthritis, boil ½ cup of chopped scallions in 2 cups of water, drink tea three times daily. Chinese parsley tea is also beneficial for wind arthritis
• For damp arthritis cook ½ cup each of mung beans, pearl barley and red beans in 4 cups of water, eat daily for one month. Cornsilk tea is also beneficial for damp type arthritis
• For heat arthritis, boil dandelions and rink the tea. You may also apply crushed dandelion poultice to the affected joints, changing every two hours.
• Glucosamine sulfate (1000 mg daily), Chondroitin sulfate (400 mg daily) taken together have shown in trials to reduce symptoms of OA, and even help regenerate the joint.
• S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) (1200 mg daily) is a better choice than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and pain medications with far less side effects.
• Vitamin D can prevent breakdown of cartilage and Vitmains A, E and C are good source of antioxidants to prevent further damage to the joint tissues.
• Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) (250-500mg daily) can increase range of motion and also reduce need for pain medications.
• Omega 3 fatty acids can help with joint stiffness. And Manganese, bromalin and boron provide some benefit.
• A good combination for OA is willow bark, black cohosh, sarsaparilla, guaiacum resin, and aspen bark is a effective pain remedy. An Ayurvedic herbal remedy mixes extracts of ashwagandha, boswellia, and turmeric. 250 mg of ginger twice daily can help with OA pain. Horsetail, Devil’s claw and stinging nettle are also used in treatment of OA.
• Capsaicin cream (derived from hot chili peppers) can be a good topical for relieving pain and discomfort of arthritis.
• A good topical homeopathic gel contains comfrey, poison ivy, and marsh-tea. Calcarea carbonica, Bryonia, Graphites and Guaiacum are used individually and combined.
• Chinese herbal pharmacopoeia includes morinda root, aconite, bupleurum, eucommia, cinnamon twigs, gentiana, mulberry twigs, dried ginger, siler root, as some of the herbs in treating arthritis and other joint problems.
• Chinese herbal formulas for arthritis (Angelica Pubescens and sangjisheng decoction) may include herbs such as pubescent angelica root, asarum, siler, gentiana, mulberry mistletoe, eucomia, achyrantes, cinnamon, cnidium, rehmannia, peoniy, ginseng, poria and licorice.
As I already mentioned, one of the best preventive measures for degenerative joint and bone disorders is exercise. Physical exercise can help strengthen the joints and bones and stimulate the body’s regeneration mechanisms. In cases, where it may be difficult to engage in strenuous exercise due to pain soreness and inflexibility, I recommend Tai Chi or Qi Gong exercises. In my clinic I teach a form known as the “Eight Treasures Qi Gong” which is a 30-minute daily practice that has been clinically shown to help strengthen bones and joints and prevent arthritis. The entire form can be learned quickly and is far less stressful and strenuous, with much greater benefit, as it emphasizes stretching and strengthening of joints tendons and muscles. Most licensed practitioners of Chinese medicine are also able to teach these exercises and can help you learn and practice Qi Gong or Tai Chi.
In addition to Qi Gong, I often recommend an innovative physical treatment using far infrared saunas. The far infrared spectrum of light is often called the “golden light of life” as it mimics energetic properties healthy frequencies in cells. When the infrared light (not to be confused with ultraviolet UV light) penetrates deep into the body they stimulate the cells into dumping the toxic waste products into the blood stream to be eliminated through sweat. The deep heating also stimulates the cells regenerative mechanisms and warms the tissues. It is much safer and gentler than steam or dry saunas, especially for individuals who have high blood pressure or are otherwise unable to endure them.
• During Acute asthma attack avoid excessive physical activity, get plenty of rest.
• Alcohol, smoking and caffeine are stimulants and can worsen the condition.
• Exposure to cold weather can trigger an asthma attach, bundle up and stay worm
• Stress, anxiety and emotional upsets are often known to trigger asthma, especially in children.
• Drug allergies can cause asthma, Aspirin is one such drug especially to those with allergies to it.