In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is one syndrome called the Bi-syndrome. “Bi” literally means obstruction, stiffness, numbness. The main symptoms of Bi-syndrome are pain, soreness, stiffness and numbness of the tendons, muscles and joints. Sometimes there can be redness, swelling, or a burning sensation or pain in the joints, limited motion, or paralysis of the limbs.
From the above symptoms description many kinds of arthritis can fit into the Bi-syndrome category: rheumatic arthritis, hypertrophic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and rheumatic fever .
Traditional Chinese Medicine describes the cause of Bi-syndrome in this way: “Bi-syndrome is produced by weak resistance and deficiencies of the nutrient and defensive Qi, complicated by the invasion of pathogenic win, cold and dampness.”
Prolonged residence in damp and/or cold environments, wading through water, abnormal weather conditions, and other factors can result in an invasion of the muscles, joints and meridians by wind, cold and dampness.
As a common disease, Bi-syndrome may occur in people of either sex and at any age and is more common in damp and cold geographic environments. But today, people change residences so frequently and so dramatically (for example: I’m here in Minnesota .) as to weaken the significance of geographic factor on the etiology of many diseases. But, for each individual, the geographic factor is still important.
Mild cases of Bi-syndrome may only show soreness and pain in a certain part of the body or in certain joints, which become aggravated when the weather changes. In severe cases, marked pain, soreness and swelling are recurring. This may lead to deformities of the joints, effecting
the flexibility of limbs .
The treatment for Bi-syndrome was developed two thousand years ago. The principles of treatment are: To disperse cold, relieve pain, eliminate wind, and remove dampness. Acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal medicine formulas are the main methods. Since arthritis is so common, China has performed a great deal of arthritis research. Those herbs which have the function of dispersing cold and dampness, which have the function to eliminate wind and relieve pain, have been tested again and again. Which ingredients are the functional ingredients? How do they affect the body’s immune system? How do they affect the rheumatic factor? Which are the powerful herbs? There are some of the subjects that have been researched in the last few decades.
There is ongoing clinical research on arthritis and acupuncture treatment, combined acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment, Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment combined with Western Medicine treatment. I cannot begin to list all of the achievements of research, but I can give a general impression. Introducing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine into arthritis treatment will increase the clinical results and eliminate the using of drugs and their side effects. For many cases, only using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can control the symptoms and achieve the clinical cure for some arthritis.
In China, in terms of public knowledge about arthritis treatment, I’d say at least 85% of the arthritis patients know or have been informed about the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. When I worked in the Acupuncture Department at Xiyuan Hospital, among my daily patients, there were about 10%, or more, who suffered from some kind of arthritis or Bi-syndrome.
Diet and the amount of exercise are also important matters. But again, each individual has a different condition. Each can be treated differently.
Andrea, female, aged 31. one summer, Andrea came to the China Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine to seek a treatment that is grug free. She was suffering from severe joins pain, mainly in her fingers, shoulders, and knees. She was currently on prednisone and accetominaphin. She had a two month old baby and she was breast feeding. The pain was limiting Andrea from holding her baby, walking up stairs, and the pain waking her up at night. she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis ten years ago. Her rheumatologist suggested that she should be on stronger drugs but the drug could affect her milk. She wanted to continue breast feeding and, therefore, was looking for a alternative to drugs.
I prescribed a Chinese herbal formula and did acupuncture for her twice a week. After two treatments, the pain was relieved by 60%. Three weeks (six treatments) later, she could walk up and down stairs without pain. Two and half months later, the joint pain, redness and swelling were all gone. After discussion with her rheumatologist, Andrea stopped taking prednisone and accetominaphin.
In December, She had a blood test. The result came back normal. She continued acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment with me for about a year and during and after treatment her condition was under control. In other words, there are no significant symptoms recurring.