Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that is caused when the immune cells, or lymphocytes, promote inflammation of the joints. The exact triggers are unknown and are a subject of worldwide research. RA can lead to long-term joint damage resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
RA progresses in three stages. The first stage is the inflammation of the synovial lining causing pain, warmth, stiffness, swelling and redness. The second stage is the rapid division and growth of cells, which causes the synovium to thicken. In the third stage, the inflamed cells release enzymes that may erode bone and cartilage, often causing the joint to lose its shape and alignment, which elicits more pain and loss of movement. Sometimes rheumatoid arthritis lasts only one period of time and goes away; sometimes it goes in remission and then flares up again, or it may continue indefinitely.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls this condition Bi Zheng and typically divides it into four types: Wind-Cold Bi, Cold-Bi, Dampness-Bi and Heat-Bi. When you have a thorough examination and consultation with
a Tao of Wellness practitioner, including an assessment of the pulse and tongue, a diagnosis is made and your type of arthritis is determined. Specific acupuncture points and herbs are prescribed, and an appropriate diet is designed.
For Wind-Bi, adding green onions and ginger to your diet will help expel the Wind. For Cold-Bi, choose black pepper and dry ginger. Soy bean sprouts and pearl barley are beneficial for Dampness-Bi. Lastly, for Heat-Bi, it is advised that you consume mung bean sprouts and winter melon. Eat pearl barley, tofu, celery and Chinese yam to help alleviate swollen joints.