Are you feeling the changing weather in your joints? If so, you are not along. Arthritis is the current leading cause of disability in people above the age of 65. Recent studies have shown that arthritis is not an inevitable part of the aging process.
The two main types of arthritis
Like western science, Chinese medicine acknowledges two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 21 million Americans. A degenerative disease in which the soft cartilage of the joints is slowly degraded, the causes of OA may involve aging, wear and tear, genetic predisposition, obesity, metabolic and hormonal disorders, repetitive use injuries, and even gout. The onset of OA is gradual with symptoms usually appearing after the age of 50.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition resulting from immune system malfunction in which your own bodily defenses attack and erode the joints. It can affect young people leading to pain and disability. The causes of the immune reaction are unknown. However, clinical observations suggest that the most likely triggers are: pathogens, environmental toxins, and emotional stress (when coupled with genetic predispositions).
The Eastern model has an added advantage in treating arthritis: It breaks down the disease further, into four types based on traditional Chinese medical knowledge.
The four types of arthritis pain
Types of arthritis fall under four categories: cold, wind, damp, and heat. Natural dietary and natural relief for all four types of arthritis are readily available through dietary therapy.
Cold invading the joints
The cold type includes symptoms of a sharp, stabbing, fixed pain in the joint, which is exacerbated by cold and relieved by heat. Usually these individuals have a pale complexion.
Remedy: Eat warming foods such as green onions, garlic, peppers, mustard greens, ginger, black beans, sesame seeds, grapes, parsnip, spices such as turmeric, fennel, anise, and horseradish, organic chicken, and lamb. Rice wine can also be helpful, but avoid if you have high blood pressure.
Boil a 1/2 cup chopped parsnip, 3 grams of cinnamon, 1 gram of black pepper, and 3 grams of dried ginger in 2 cups of water. Drink this twice daily for one month.
Wind disturbing the joints
The wind type manifests as a pain that shifts locations, comes and goes suddenly, and sometimes causes dizziness—behaving much like the wind.
Remedy: Eat more scallions, grapes, mulberry, black beans, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. Avoid meats, shellfish, sugars, alcohol, smoking, and other stimulants.
Boil 1/4 cup of chopped scallions in 2 cups of water. Drink this tea three times daily. Chinese parsley tea is also beneficial for wind arthritis.
Dampness congealing in the joints
The damp type causes dull, deep, aching pain that lingers in the joints or extremities. It can include visible swelling and persistent stiffness.
Remedy: Cook 1/3 cup each of mung beans, pearl barley, and red beans in 4 cups of water and eat this dish daily for one month. Cornsilk tea is also beneficial for damp type arthritis.
Heat scorching the joints
The heat type is characterized by sudden, acute attacks that make the joints red, swollen, painful, and warm to the touch, with pain that is relieved by cold and aggravated by heat.
Remedy: Eat cooling foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, including dandelion greens, cabbage, and melons. Eat more mung beans, soybeans, and soybean sprouts.
Boil 1 cup each of dandelion and peppermint in 4 cups of water. Drink this three times a day. You can also apply crushed dandelion poultice to the affected joints, changing every two hours.
In general for all types of arthritis, avoid spicy food, alcohol, smoking, and warming foods such as green onions. Tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and potato may exacerbate the inflammation and should also be avoided as well.
For generally relieving the pain of arthritis, use herbs as a natural alternative to drugs:
Turmeric- the common spice found in curry, is also sold as a supplement for its anti-inflammatory properties, and research has shown its effectiveness for arthritis pain. A typical dosage is 400 mg three times a day.
Capsaicin cream- (derived from hot chili peppers) can be a good topical for relieving the pain and discomfort of arthritis.
Chinese herbal blend- Healthy Arthritis and Joint Formula is a blend of traditional herbs that promote healthy joint function and relieve the painful symptoms of arthritis. It is also helpful as a preventive formula for athletes. Go to www.taostar.com for more information or at the Wellness Store in Santa Monica.
Finally, one of the best preventive measures for degenerative joints is exercise!
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy without arthritis.
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, a Wellness Medicine group that won the “L.A.’s Best” Award. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]