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Treating arthritis with alternative medicine

Published:Wednesday | March 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Arthritis is an inflammation of one or more joints in the body. It is characterised by joint pain and stiffness. These symptoms usually worsen with age as the condition progresses. The most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is often called wear-and-tear arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones, which serve to cushion the ends of the bones, wears down over time.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of joints,

causing pain and stiffness. This abnormal immune response causes inflammation which can damage joints and organs, such as the heart. While the condition has no cure, treatment can slow its progression, relieve pain and improve joint function.


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n Arthritis signs and symptoms include joint:

n Pain

n Stiffness

n Swelling

n Redness

n Decreased range of motion


Acupuncture treatments can be administered to reduce pain, tenderness and stiffness in the affected joint and improve range of motion and joint strength. Typically, acupuncture points are selected which circle the affected joint, along with other acupuncture points on the arms or legs that assist in relief of joint-specific symptoms.

Once the very thin acupuncture needles have been inserted in the selected points, a mild electrical charge is usually applied to the needles to enhance the stimulation at the acupuncture point and the effectiveness of the treatment.

PRIMARY ACUPUNCTURE POINTS ON THE HANDS: BAXIE Points - Located at the junction of the finger digits. These points are used in the treatment of conditions related to the hands and wrists.

PRIMARY ACUPUNCTURE POINTS ON THE BACK: BACK BLADDER points - located 1.5" lateral to the lower border of the spinous process of each vertebrae of the spine. These points are used for pain along any area of the spine.

PRIMARY ACUPUNCTURE POINTS ON THE KNEE: XIYAN and ST.35 - These two points are located at the lower inner and outer border of the patella of the knee.


Herbal formulas are used to slow the progression of the condition by strengthening the joint in addition to relieving pain.

Herbs noted for their strong analgesic effect include:

n Ji Xue Teng (Millettia Root and Vine)

n Niu Xi (Achyranthes Root)

n Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis Rhizome)

n Mo Yao (Myrrh)

n Jiang Huang (Turmeric Rhizome): especially useful for joint pain in the neck, arms and hands

With chronic conditions, herbs are added to assist in strengthening the joint such as:

n Xu Duan (Japanese Teasel Root)

n He Shou Wu (Fleeceflower Root)

n Sang Ji Sheng (Loranthus/Mulberry Mistletoe Stems)

n Shu Di Huang (Chinese foxglove root)



Key recommendations include:

n Foods high in omega-3 oils: flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna (fresh), Brussel sprouts, spinach, parsley.

n Chlorophyll-rich foods, with the exception of foods high in oxalic acid.

n Avoid foods high in oxalic acid: cranberry, spinach, callaloo.

n Avoid nightshade family vegetables especially: tomato, eggplant, bell peppers and

potato often cause problems.

n Moderate and regular


n Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an Oriental medicine practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine, and adjunct lecturer at the University of

Technology in Oriental/ Chinese Medicine. Email:;