Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA and Chinese Medicine

Those who suffer with RA often experience changing symptoms that occur during flare ups with indications of pain and inflammation of the joints followed by bouts of pain with Cold and stiff joints. RA can only develop when multiple energetic organ systems fail wot work optimally according to Chinese medicine making this a complicated autoimmune condition to treat. Because these organ-level root causes of imbalance do not develop overnight, this is considered a chronic condition even if you were just recently diagnosed with RA. To obtain results using natural therapies, multiple therapies must be used daily for an extended period of time. All energetic organ imbalances present should be addressed simultaneously. These self care modalities include acupressure, topical remedies with therapeutic essential oils, and herbal supplements.

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Acupressure Points for RAessential oils for acupressure

Learn How to Effectively Use Acupressure Linked Here!

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Causes of RA in Chinese Medicine and Common Patterns of Imbalance 

Spleen-Kidney Qi Deficiency and RArestore-the-middle-way-organic herbal spleen tonic

Dampness in Chinese medicine is often the result of Spleen Qi insufficiency. In this pattern, joints would be swollen, but would not feel hot and the areas affected would not look red. Damp-Cold patterns are most often seen during the initial onset of RA with symptoms of a feeling heaviness, restricted movement, and numbness. These symptoms would be relieved with the application of heat and are most prominent in the morning hours. Alternating fever and chills are often experienced during this stage. Consider our Topical Kidney Yang plaster along with our organic Restore the Middle Way formula!

Liver Qi Stagnation and Rheumatoid Arthritis

In Chinese medical theory, the Wood Element governs over the joints, and the Liver is part of the Wood Element. Additionally, as the Qi energy of the Liver stagnates the Liver begins to heat up and contributes to inflammation. This is a very common underlying imbalance with RA. Consider our organic Free and Easy Wanderer formula!

Yin Deficiency and Rheumatoid Arthritis

If left untreated or mismanaged, chronic pathogenic Heat from RA will begin to consume Yin fluids. Low grade chronic fever, night sweatsinsomnia, thirst, and other indications of Yin Deficiency are common with this pattern of imbalance. Consider our organic Yin Valley formula!

Damp-Heat and Rheumatoid Arthritisdamp-bi pain remedy foot soak with essential oils

As RA progresses and becomes chronic in nature, flare ups tend to manifest with swelling that is hot to the touch. During these episodes it is possible to experience fever and sweating. With this pattern, pain relief would be found with application of cold compresses to the joints; and while thirst may exist, there is not a great desire to drink fluids. This is often due to Liver Qi Stagnation resulting in Heat that combines with Damp Phlegm resulting from Spleen Qi Deficiency. 

Qi and Blood Stasis and Rheumatoid Arthritispain remedy with essential oils

Late stages of RA present with joint deformation and stiffness. Pro-actively moving Blood and Qi using daily acupressure, herbs, and exercise can prevent full deformity. It is unlikely that RA can be reversed with natural therapy once joints become deformed, but further worsening of the condition can be avoided and joint pain can be addressed using these therapies.

Wei Qi Insufficiency and Rheumatoid Arthritis

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Wei Qi is something akin to the immune system and circulates at the surface of the body and protects the body from external pathogens, such as Wind-Damp, in gaining access to internal levels of the body. If the Wei Qi is strong, the body’s defenses will prevent the original assault setting up an environment where RA is able to manifest. While Wind and Damp can also manifest internally, RA with a sudden onset suggests the influence of external Wind factors and Wei Qi insufficiencies. Consider our organic Enlightened Emperor formula!

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Western Medicine View of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is chronic autoimmune disease that mainly attacks the joints and affiliated soft tissue and causes inflammation. The American Rheumatic Association (ARA) defines RA as including at least 1 hour of morning stiffness that continues for at least 6 weeks; 3 or more joints swelling for at least 6 weeks consistently; Swollen joints of wrist and fingers for over 6 weeks; instances of joints swelling bilaterally; subcutaneous nodules 6; and/or X-ray change in finger joints. There are also lab tests that can give a more definitive diagnosis with RF (+), (60-80%), RANA antibody (+).

While there could be genetic predisposition, Western medicine has yet to come up with a definitive cause for RA, and the treatment protocols available are limited and have poor results generally; with possible adverse side-effects when immunosuppressant medications are applied. It is categorized as a disease of the connective tissue affecting the collagen, or desmosis caused by abnormal immunoregulation and immunoreaction. Common early-stage symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite, low grade fever, numbness and tingling and stabbing pain in the hands and feet during the early stages of the disease. Later, those suffering with RA begin experiencing cyclical pain and inflammation small joints such as hands, feet, knees, elbows, and wrists. Finally, the formation of granuloma and fibrosis can result in deformation in the joints.

RA vs. Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has many differences from osteoarthritis; for starters, it is often found in younger people than osteoarthritis, and symptoms of RA can manifest quickly. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), disease patterns that move quickly are typically due to the invasion of ‘Wind’ combined with other pathogenic influences; most commonly in the case of RA, Wind combines with Dampness causing stagnation and pain.

RA vs. Gout

Gout is another type of arthritis causing joint pain and is sometimes confused with RA. While gout is the result of the buildup of uric acid in the joints, RA is a result of a malfunction of the immune system. It is differentiated from RA as gout is more common in men, and RA is more common in women. Additionally, gout rarely affects the hands, whereas RA is often seen with inflammation in the joints of the hand.

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References

Xing Q, Fu L, Yu Z, Zhou X. Efficacy and Safety of Integrated Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine on the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020;2020:4348709. Published 2020 Apr 2. doi:10.1155/2020/4348709

Wang A. Y. Clinical study on treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine. China Foreign Medical Treatment2016;9(3):175–176.

Chen X. Z. Clinical retrospective analysis of 80 cases of rheumatoid arthritis treated with integrated Chinese and western medicine. Chinese Journal of Communication2016;32(5):108–109. 

Du S. G., Guo Z. H., Kong Q. Q., et al. Effect of sanbitang recipe in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with kidney empty and cold-dampness symptomZhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi2017;42(14):2802–2807. doi: 10.19540/j.cnki.cjcmm.20170523.004.

Liu J., Liu R. L. The potential role of Chinese medicine in ameliorating extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine2011;17(10):735–737. doi: 10.1007/s11655-011-0872-2.

Luo J., Song W. J., Xu Y., Chen G. Y., Hu Q., Tao Q. W. Benefits and safety of tripterygium glycosides and total glucosides of paeony for rheumatoid arthritis: an overview of systematic reviews. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine2019;25(9):696–703. doi: 10.1007/s11655-019-3221-5.