Are you stiff in the morning? Do your knees hurt when you stand up? Or are you finding it difficult to pick up or hold things like a coffee cup?
It could be that you are suffering Arthritis. This is a general term can refer to a wide variety of conditions such as Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Gout, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Fibromyalgia all of which cause pain in the joints.
In Chinese medicine, each client is different and viewed as a whole (holistically) including diet, lifestyle choices and genetics.
This means the same disease is treated differently depending on the person presenting.
However we can treat different diseases with the same protocol. In general painful, swollen joints would be treated by addressing the Liver.
Each of organs in Chinese Medicine is related to a season, flavour, time of day, a body part, an emotion and even a symbolic animal.
The liver (yin) with it’s partner the gallbladder (yang) is connected to the tiger. It is related to the spring and governs the tendons and ligaments, which give the body the ability to be flexible and agile.
TCM says that strength comes from the tendons, not muscles.
If you think of a big cat, it is strong, agile, and flexible. Compare this to a cow, which has huge muscles but little real strength.
The liver, governing the sinews and tendons, has the ability to release strength and power.
Part of its function in western medicine is the regulation of metabolism and the release of energy stored in the body.
Ensuring the health of this organ will mean good blood flow to all the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints plus an increase in energy levels which can be affected by arthritic conditions.
Joint pain during menopause can also be reduced by treating the liver with food, acupressure and Qi Gong exercise to reduce the painful swelling symptoms. For food and acupressure solutions see my next blog – Ouch, Gout !
For the month of September we will be focusing on the Qi Gong moves of the Tiger to activate the liver, increase energy, improve flexibility and reduce pain.
Studies show people with gout who maintain a regular routine of low to moderate intensity exercise routine have a better prognosis than those who are sedentary OR those who exercise at high intensities”
It is true that whilst you are in the middle of a flare and your joints are red and inflamed, exercise is difficult. Pain decreases your activity level, and when the body is not moving much, your joints can stiffen and become less flexible. But a recent clinical review showed exercise modalities such as Qi Gong can be beneficial for restoring your flexibility after the immobility of a gout flare up.
Try this Tiger Move from the 5 Animals practice. For the month of September we will be using acupressure, diet and Qi Gong to improve all aspects of flexibility and mobility – they will cover a range of ability including some seated movements so that everyone can get mobile.
If you would like to try gentle, effective movement in your own home but as part of an line group that meets every weekday morning, join us for a free class
One of the most common question I am asked is “What is good for Gout”? so as a follow on from my previous blog, where I shared how common arthritic diseases that impair movement, such as lupus and Fibromyalgia, can be treated with exercises that focus on the Liver system in Chinese Medicine, I thought I would focus on foods and acupressure that bring relief to the painful arthritic condition of Gout.
In Chinese medicine, the same disease can be treated differently depending on the genetics, lifestyle choices and even emotions of the person presenting.
However we can also treat different diseases with the same protocol and this applies to all arthritic conditions. So even though this blog will cover the solutions for gout, these can applied to all conditions that affect mobility and cause pain in the body. “Improving flexibility and Reducing pain” for every body will be our focus for September in Chi Flow with Jo.
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by excessive levels of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is a normally occurring substance in the body that is excreted by the kidneys in urine. But if there is too much of it, uric acid crystals can collect in the joints, causing intense pain, redness, and swelling in the joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.
If untreated, gout can cause irreversible joint damage, chronic pain issues, as well as joint deformity. Unfortunately, people are less inclined to move when in pain, and this leads to increased issues with lack of mobility, muscles weakness, and stiffness of the joints – so begins a never ending cycle.
Liver weakness often caused by alcohol reduces the metabolism of uric acid and can make problems with gout more significant. The overindulgence of foods like red meat, fried food and shellfish, gave it the nickname “the disease of kings”. The Liver can become weakened with too much rich food and alcohol, impairing blood flow, creating stiffness and pain.
The goal in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to bring the body back to balance and harmony by strengthening not only the Kidneys but also the Liver, to clear heat, internal dampness and improve blood circulation.
We can do this by avoiding foods that weaken the liver such as excessive fats, red meat and alcohol. Instead use foods that enhance liver function. By following the 5 element chart you can see that these are green in colour and sour in flavour: For example, spinach, kale, broccoli, avocado lemons, limes and grapefruit.
Avoid foods that weaken the kidney such as refined sugar, fructose or high fructose corn syrup found in fizzy drinks. Instead drink more water to help the elimination of Uric acid. Add a squirt of lemon and this will help the liver too.
As I mentioned in my last blog, exercising more and working on healthy diet will help reduce uric acid levels, reduce inflammation, maintain weight and mobility, improve insulin resistance, and even extend lifespan.
Combine this with self-shiatsu acupressure and you have a well balance treatment protocol.
Studies show “that acupuncture is better in improving clinical effective rate, decreasing uric acid, and VAS score compared with western medicine. The overall incidence of adverse events in acupuncture group was lower than that in western medicine group.”
Spleen 6 is a fantastic acupressure point for moving blood and reducing pain around the body. It is so powerful it is contraindicated in pregnancy.
This acu-point is also know as Three Yin Crossing because this is where the three Yin meridians of the Spleen, Kidney and Liver intersect. It is especially good for moving Qi/Chi/Energy and blood. It also helps clear damp and benefit Kidney energy.
Find by measuring four fingers up from the ankle bone on the midline of the inner leg.
Press, massage and hold on both legs for anywhere between 30seconds and 3 minutes
However one point alone does not create a long term treatment plan. If you suffer from painful joints and would like to increase your flexibility, mobility, energy levels and joy of life, join us in Chi Flow with Jo. There’s even a free class to try before you buy.