Successful Long Term Treatment of HIV/AIDS with Only Chinese Herbal Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and a host of other techniques. The majority of TCM has numerous studies and thousands of years of clinical information showing positive effects on immunity and inflammation among many other issues. HIV/AIDS is by any standard an extremely complicated condition and proper treatment is absolutely critical. This is in part for the longevity and wellness of the patient but to also reduce the spread of the virus.

What is presented within this article is a series of case studies of poor Chinese villagers with HIV who chose to participate in a TCM only treatment study. By all accounts modern western therapy for much of the world is either difficult to access and/or afford or the side effects are unmanageable with their level of available care making any or complete use of western drugs unfeasible. While the results presented by these practitioners are clinically interesting, much more research would have to be done to understand more defined and reliable Chinese herbal medicine approaches.

TCM has long been used to limit or balance the side effects of many strong western medications and there has always been a place for the combination of the two approaches (at least from the Chinese Medicine side of that equation). Within the world of HIV/AIDS care TCM has played an important role as well around the world. In the US one of the first TCM related public health services for HIV+ patients was the AIDS Care Project in Boston. The AIDS care project (1989-2014) provided biweekly acupuncture treatments along with herbal medicine care by donation via government public health funding. The work of that project is still carried on in satellite clinics and via individual acupuncturists. There are a number of others projects around the country that follow this model as well as projects such as the global acupuncture project who provides training and treatment to communities at need around the world.

While much TCM related research and effective clinical work has been done to alleviate side effects of both AIDS and western medications, not as much has been done to show treatment without western medications. A team of researchers from the Institute of Biomedicine at Jinan University in Guangzhou China and the Public Health Preparedness for Infectious Disease Program at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio set out to explore the TCM only/TCM primarily approach.

Publishing in the AIDS research and human retroviruses journal the researchers explored case studies of 9 rural Chinese patients with AIDS. The patients ranging in age from 51 to 67 were from an “AIDS village” in Anhui Province and had contracted HIV around 1994 through the donation of plasma. While there were over 40 patients in the village at the time, only 9 were confident enough in TCM to participate in the study. The patients were treated either with TCM alone for a 9 year span or TCM alone for a 5 year span followed by occasional antiretroviral therapy. The TCM treatment included a formula comprised of 13 herbs including Ren Shen (ginseng) and Huang Qi (astragalus), both of which have effects on digestion/immunity/weakness of the body and Huang Qin (skullcap), which clears heat in the digestive tract and elsewhere.

As a clinical sidenote herbal therapy would ideally be tailored to each individual. While there a host of tonifying herbs that are critical to provide aid to the bodies immune system, treatment would be balanced with others that clear heat, aid digestion, aid the liver, harmonize the digestive tract, and/or clear pathogenic influences.

The researchers found that in 2016 eight of the nine followed patients had undetectable viral loads and the ninth had a very low viral load and they were all in good health overall. Through various diagnostic mechanisms the researchers were able to confirm that these 9 patients were not anomalies such as “long-term non-progressors” or “viremic controllers” – that is they were not by all clinical accounts from the group of people that seem to be HIV+ but display little or none of the clinical symptoms (by some accounts this is between 1% and 5% of all HIV+ patients).

According to the researchers these case studies show that TCM has the potential to “become a functional cure for HIV/AIDS”.

Being far more cost effective than western medications and very likely far less damaging over the long-term, more research towards the TCM only approach is warranted.

Study Finds Xiao Chai Hu Tang Offers An Anti-Depressant Effect

Xiao Chai Hu Tang is one of the most important formulas within the extensive offerings of Chinese herbal medicine.  As with many Chinese herbal medicine formulas it offers benefit for a broad range of issues when it is properly used according to the correct underlying diagnosis (see “how to choose an herbal formula” for more on this).  In the case of xiao chai hu tang this range of symptoms falls under what we term shao yang disorders; a term indicating conditions that are affecting the body both externally and internally at the same time.  A common example would be someone who had a flu that cleared perhaps weeks or months ago but they have never felt quite right since that time and still get strange vacillations in temperature and symptoms.  The formula, however, goes much broader than that.

Bupleurum

Technically the formula falls into the harmonize category of Chinese herbal medicine which are essentially balancing formulas.  Without getting into too much detail, basically formulas for colds such as yin qiao use heat clearing and outward moving herbs which taken over long periods or with underlying deficiencies can be too weakening over time potentially creating internal issues, then formulas that too strongly strengthen the internal deficiencies can drive external conditions deeper making them harder to resolve.  Xiao Chai Hu Tang is important because it will both help resolve internal issues as well as push out external pathogens without causing problems to either.

In clinical practice Xiao Chai Hu Tang ends up being used for a range of mild conditions such as colds, flus and allergies, through more moderate conditions such as PMS, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrosis, gastritis and then on to serious conditions such as liver cancer, cirrhosis, pancreatitis and much more.

In the study I’m discussing today we are solely focused on the anti-depressant effects of Xiao Chai Hu Tang.  Researchers from Shenyang Pharmaceutical University in Shenyang China recently used a rat model to more deeply understand the biochemical interactions of Xiao Chai Hu Tang and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.  The HPA axis in the most basic terms possible is the interaction between stress related hormones such as cortisol and the chemical changes in the brain that are involved in a variety of mood disorders.  For a lengthy discussion on this phenomena and it’s role in major depressive disorders, see “The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis in Major Depressive Disorder: A Brief Primer for Primary Care Physicians“.

Xiao chai hu tang has been used clinically for depression for generations and there is a general consensus that when properly used it is helpful.  It is the “why” and to look specifically at how this formula might modify the HPA axis that is the question these researchers are looking at.

Using a chronic corticosterone induced mouse model (mimicking anxiety and depression in humans) they used a variety of measures including behavioral testing and changes in body weight along with more HPA specific tests such as the dexamethasone suppression test (these HPA tests are described in detail within “Endocrine Testing Protocols: Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis“).

The treatment was administered for 30 days and they found that Xiao Chai Hu Tang could “remarkably alleviate chronic corticosterone induced anxiety and depression like behaviors”  in part by “promoting hippocampal neurogensis and remodeling the integrity of the negative feedback loop on the HPA axis”.  Further they found a number of active constituents which may offer further avenues for research.

While the science may be detailed, suffice it to say that this formula fits within the harmonize category for more reasons than that category is traditionally used to indicate.  Our current medical understandings of depression show that there is a deep interplay between the role of our digestion, our elimination and our stress hormones.  Using a formula such as xiao chai hu tang to broadly influence the metabolic and hormonal factors in our mood makes more and more sense the more we understand of these relationships.

Chinese Herb Da Ji – Thistle – Found To Have Strong Beneficial Effects in Type I Diabetes

Chinese herbal medicine is a complicated system with generations upon generations of thought, research and clinical use behind it.  For the most part Chinese herbal medicine is prescribed in formulas that are comprised of individual herbs.  These formulas, which are often hundreds if not thousands of years old, can often be personalized to your needs by adding individual ingredients.  Traditionally most formulas were given as teas comprised of the raw herbs, but for convenience and distribution benefits they are often used in pill or granule (ground/powdered) forms.

Chinese herbal formulas are primarily chosen based on your personal diagnosis in Chinese Medicine terms – not by your western symptoms/conditions.  For more on this, please read (“Treating The Cause And Not The Symptoms” and “How To Choose An Herbal Formula“).

There are a number of individual herbs that can, and often are, used entirely alone and Da Ji (Cirsium, Japanese Thistle) is one of these.  The herb is primarily used for cooling the blood, stopping bleeding, dispersing blood stasis and reducing swelling in Chinese Medicine terms.  Having potential usefulness with such conditions as heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine bleeding, hematuria, upper GI bleeding, among others.

This particular herb, however, has some other indications that go beyond what the properties may indicate.  One of these is hypertension, particularly of the type from liver fire or related patterns in Chinese Medicine terms.

The function that I am going to discuss today, however, has potential implications for diabetes, pancreatic cancer and other pancreatic issues.  Recently researchers from a variety of Korean institutions including Sungkyunkwan University’s School of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University’s Plant Science Department and the College of Korean Medicine at Gachon University conducted a study looking at the effects of Da Ji (Cirsium) on pancreatic beta cells.

They began the research in their own words because “despite the various health benefits of Korean thistle their effects on pancreatic β-cell apoptosis in type 1 diabetes mellitus and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear”.  In other words, we know much about the beneficial functions of da ji but not enough about the mechanisms with particular relation to the pancreas.

Using a streptozotocin induced diabetic rat model and utilizing the Chinese herb the researchers found the following:

  • Pancreatic Beta cells (the cells that produce, store and release insulin) were improved to near normal levels.  Apoptosis (cell death) was effectively suppressed by decreasing the activation of caspase-8 and caspase-3.
  • INS-1 cells (rat insulin cell line commonly used in research) were protected against streptozotocin damage.
  • Intracellular oxidative stress was reduced.
  • Anti-apoptopic BCL-2 protein expression was increased.

The researchers concluded that:

“This study demonstrates the therapeutic potential and action mechanism of cirsimaritin for the prevention and treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus.”

It is always interesting to break down the functions of each individual herb within Chinese Herbal Medicine.  One could spend a lifetime (in fact many) doing so.  Thankfully for us as practitioners, many already have.  Da Ji obviously is worthy of more exploration, particularly as conditions such as diabetes (both type I and type II) have such great costs to each individual and our medical systems.  To that end, other studies utilizing cirsium have shown similar outcomes.

TCM Formula Gan Mai Da Zao Wan Found Effective for “Several” Mental Health Issues

People very often seek out Chinese Medicine, both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, for a wide range of mental health issues.  Some seek it out because other western options have not worked well for them or lead to too many undesirable side effects.  Others are seeking it out to try to work more naturally with their body and work on the causal relationships to their issues.  Regardless, many patients do quite well with whatever range of issues they seek Chinese Medicine treatment for.  This is particularly so if they are engaged in the process, can make relevant dietary and lifestyle changes, and, when appropriate, obtain some counseling and/or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Within Chinese herbal medicine there are any number of herbal formulas that might be used with people having mental health issues.  While the discussion of what the person is experiencing is of utmost importance, in many ways the western diagnoses for mental health issues are not very useful within the context of Chinese Medicine.  There are no hard and fast rules in Chinese Medicine – rather, properly applied, Chinese Medicine is tailored to you as an individual (the basics of this is discussed in “Guidelines for Choosing an Herbal Formula” and “Treating the Cause and not the Symptoms“).

That caveat out of the way, the study I’m discussing today is about a widely used Chinese Herbal Formula called Gan Mai Da Zao Wan or the “licorice, wheat and jujube decoction”.  The formula is an extremely simple formula ingredients wise, comprising of exactly what the name implies – licorice root (gan cao), wheat grain (xiao mai), and Chinese red dates/Jujube (da zao).

In Chinese Medicine terms the formula itself is technically for what we call zang zao – “restless organ” disorder.  This is a name for a combination of what arises from the underlying diagnoses of liver qi stagnation and heart blood deficiency.

In laymen’s terms liver qi stagnation is a common outcome of poor dietary habits, self management of stress with food, alcohol and/or caffeine, and poorly balanced emotional states.  It’s essentially some of the mangling of what stress does to our metabolic systems so the body cannot get and use the energy it needs and it gets used to relying on adrenal hormones instead which creates a vicious cycle.  Heart blood deficiency is a little more complicated, but in general the “heart” is really closer to the “mind” in western terms – heart blood deficiency essentially being a poorly nourished mind.  For more on those see (“My Liver is What?” and “My Heart is What?“).

With the right underlying diagnosis in Chinese Medicine terms, Gan Mai Da Zao Wan could be used for conditions such as post-partum depression, anxiety, crying fits, general depression, manic depression, PTSD, and many others.

In this meta-analysis, researchers from the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon Korea, sifted through hundreds of published clinical studies on animals that utilized gan mai da zao wan.  They ended up with 6 randomized and controlled studies that met their strict criteria.  Within those six studies which included PTSD, prenatal depression, stress induced depression and acute psychological stress they concluded that:

Regardless of the dose and concentration used, GMDZ decoction significantly improved neuropsychiatric disease-related outcomes in animal models.

Now from a clinical perspective it is critical to point out that, while this may make it look like it is, Gan Mai Da Zao Wan is not a cure-all for psychiatric conditions.  From a Chinese Medicine diagnostic perspective there are any number of people with differing underlying factors where this formula would at best do next to nothing and at worse make their symptoms increase.  Proper diagnosis and according formula selection is key.  This is, however, a very interesting study and one that illustrates that sometimes less is really more.  Such a simple formula and such a strong outcome.

Basic Guidelines For Choosing An Appropriate Herbal Formula

One of the most common questions we get is what Chinese herbal formula is used to treat “insert any condition/symptom/western diagnosis”.  There is a common assumption that herbal formulas are chosen and then used in the same way Western pharmaceuticals are.  That is largely misleading.  Herbal formulas are chosen based on what the underlying pattern or patterns are, not based on a specific symptom or a specific western medicine diagnosis (for a discussion of tcm patterns see “Treating the Cause and Not the Symptoms“).  So in effect, the answer to what formula treats condition “x” is that there is no single formula that would universally apply.  The selection of herbal formulas is necessarily customized to each individual based on their overall health.  Incidentally this same principle applies to how we select acupuncture points.

So for example take a specific condition like insomnia.  We have over a dozen formulas listed on our store site that are used to treat insomnia.  The reason we have so many is that insomnia can be caused by a somewhat broad variety of underlying patterns.  In one case the insomnia could be due to what in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is a diagnosis of heart yin deficiency.  Usually in that case other symptoms might include palpitations, anxiety, restlessness, and vivid dreaming.  A formula like Tian Wan Bu Xin Dan would be appropriate for insomnia in that case.  Insomnia could also be the result of liver fire.  In that case other symptoms could include frequent outbursts of anger, bloodshot eyes or other manifestations of red coloring in the face, extreme irritability, dizziness, and constipation.  You would need to use a very different formula than Tian Wa Bu Xin Dan for someone with insomnia in this case (for example something like Long Dan Xie Gan Wan).

In Western medicine insomnia can be diagnosed as a stand alone disorder.  In TCM insomnia is never considered a stand alone disorder but rather as a symptom that is being manifest by an underlying disorder in the working of the body.  And according to the principles and theories of TCM there are several possible patterns that could present with insomnia as one of the symptoms.  So in the context of TCM, we are not treating the symptom of insomnia, we are looking to treat what underlying patterns are causing it.  This is why there is no one specific formula you can universally use for insomnia (or any other condition or western diagnosis).

To further complicate the selection of the appropriate formula, most people present with more than one underlying condition.  It takes a deep understanding of the principles and theories of Chinese and Oriental medicine to establish a proper diagnosis.  Once a diagnosis is established, appropriate herbal formula choices can be made from there.  And a diagnosis within the framework of oriental medicine does not (for the most part) have a corresponding diagnosis in the context of Western medicine.  For this reason we do not recommend that people take TCM formulas on their own based on information available online.  You will get better and safer results by consulting with a local acupuncturist or herbalist.

Types of Formula

It is common practice that the last character of each formula reflects the form it comes in.  Some herbal companies do not follow this which can be somewhat confusing.  But if the last part of a formula is slightly different or even missing it is very likely the same formula.  For example Bi Yan Wan is the same formula as Bi Yan Tang/Pian or even just Bi Yan.  

Tang is usually used to refer to the preparation of raw herbs and is also commonly used for capsules containing powder.  Pian are compressed herbal tablets without any coating.  Wan are small, usually black, balls of compressed herbs with a coating.  The wan form are also known as tea pills.  There are also some companies that offer herbal formulas in liquid drop form (usually alcohol based).  As far as I know there isn’t a separate name or designation for this.

I have a personal preference for formula in powdered or capsule format that I can make a tea from.  However from a clinical perspective there is very little, if any, clinical difference between the different formats.  My herbal teachers in school did say that the raw herb decoctions had a slightly faster absorption rate, but in most cases that doesn’t translate into a noticeable clinical effect.  Due to the smell, taste, and preparation time required the raw herbs are not commonly used.  Some of the capsules (tang) are larger and for some people may be more difficult to swallow than wan, which are usually smaller.  Other than simple practical considerations (like young children being unable to swallow large pills) the form the formula comes in doesn’t, except in rare cases, have any significant impact on the clinical effectiveness.

Dosage

Unlike Western pharmaceuticals the dosage of TCM herbal formulas is not as strict.  For example if you have the wan version of a formula taking 4 instead of 3 will not likely have any noticeable effect.  Young children usually require lower dosages.  Larger or heavy set people usually require a slightly larger dose.  In our clinical practice we tend to prescribe dosages that are less than what are printed on the bottle.  The different types of formula will also dictate dosage.  For example you’ll generally take more pills in wan form versus capsule form for the same formula.  Your local practitioner will be the best source for the proper dosage of any herbal formula for you to take. 

Contraindications

If you develop acute cold or flu there are some formulas you should stop taking.  If you have liver or kidney disease you should only take herbal formula with the guidance of a licensed/trained practitioner.  There are also some formulas that should not be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding. There are also a very few formulas that cannot be taken with certain Western pharmaceuticals.  Your practitioner should be able to provide you with any possible contraindications.  

Side Effects

If you’re taking herbal formulas with the guidance of a licensed practitioner there are extremely low risks of any negative side effects.  This doesn’t mean that herbal formulas are 100% safe for everyone.  It is possible that taking a formula that does not match the pattern(s) you are presenting could make some of your symptoms worse.  This is yet another reason why you should not take herbal formulas without the guidance of a licensed/trained practitioner.

Chinese Medicine and Weight Loss

Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, herbal, and food therapy, can help with several aspects that are important to successful weight loss.  Acupuncture will not melt off fat and in many cases will have little to no effect if other factors, particularly stress and diet, are not also addressed.  Any acupuncturist, or really anyone else for that matter, that tells you can eat your fast food and lose weight is terribly misinformed.  

There are, at least in my own personal experience and clinical way of thinking, four broad types of weight loss patients.  The first type are stress eaters- who eat reasonable well but then splurge too often in response to stress.  The second group are those who eat poorly.  The third are the type of people with either neurological or hormonal disorders that make it difficult, if not impossible to lose weight even if the diet is spot on perfect.  I also consider people with weak stomach and/or spleen function (in the context of TCM) part of this group.  And the fourth type is some combination of the first three.

For stress eaters acupuncture can help reduce stress and to specifically reduce the cravings to eat when stressed.  The focus of treatment is explicitly not on weight loss but rather on helping the brain and the body chemistry to change so that the automatic response to stress is not to crave food.  In my clinical experience cravings can be reduced pretty quickly and ultimately eliminated all together for most people.  It is important to recognize that the patient plays a role as well.  The more strict they are with themselves initially the quicker the behavioral changes will become easier to implement and the quicker the cravings will become less frequent and/or intense.

For patients who simply eat poorly, acupuncture alone is pretty much useless for helping with weight loss.  Without making sometimes significant dietary changes, [natural] weight loss is pretty much going to be impossible.  Acupuncture can’t superboost your metabolism or drastically improve your body’s ability to burn through fats or carbs or sugars.  Or somehow convince your body that donut you just ate was actually just a funny looking vegetable.  Most of the time people in this group have some various other digestive issues, whether it is bloating, cramping, constipation, excess gas, reflux etc.  And most of the time these symptoms are directly caused by the foods they eat.  Acupuncture can help improve digestive functioning, improve the bowels, and help with pretty much any other digestive related symptoms.  This helps to prime the body to be able to lose weight in the first place but again is not by itself a strong enough result that the diet can be ignored.  So in my own practice my focus is on explaining appropriate dietary choices and using acupuncture to help alleviate what are mostly side effects of nutritionally poor food choices.   

For people with disorders such as PCOS or hypothyroidism, weight loss can be significantly harder, if not almost impossible, to achieve by dietary changes alone.  For these types of patients weight loss itself is really not the focus.  The focus is using acupuncture to help balance and restore the hormones and biochemistry of the body.  This in turn helps the body to be able to lose weight again.  Diet is still important, but until the body is rebalanced a good diet in these cases is mostly a non factor because even if they are eating as good as the possibly can the weight won’t come off.  Diet is important however to prevent more weight gain in the first place of course.

Most people end up in the fourth category – a combination of poor diet and weakness or inability of the body to lose weight effectively.  Each treatment is customized to each patient each time they are seen.  Even many of the dietary recommendations I make are customized and specific for each patient.  There really is no cookie cutter approach to weight loss (or any other condition for that matter).  

There are no magic Chinese herbs or formulas that burn off fat.  Chinese herbal therapy can be helpful for treating the various underlying causes of weight gain but do not specifically create weight loss by themselves.  Some formulas help strengthen the function of the spleen/stomach with the intent to help minimize the amount of damp that is generated.  Some formulas might help the liver to more effectively metabolize fats.  Some can help if water retention is part of the weight they might focus on aspects of the kidney system.  Some formulas can help reduce stress and anxiety which in turn helps reduce stress eating.  But no formula by itself will actually force the body to lose weight by burning off fat.

While exercise has basically no role in weight loss (according to multiple studies and my own personal and clinical experience) I still recommend people engage in regular activity as it does help to improve mental and emotional health as well as improving other aspects such as blood pressure, heart rate, sugar levels, etc.  If patients ask me what kind of exercise they should be doing I always recommend either yoga or tai chi as they both offer health benefits above and beyond what you can achieve from going to a gym.  

In summary, Chinese medicine can be a very powerful tool in helping people to achieve weight loss.  Most people will need to be willing to make some dietary changes as well.  

Analysis of TCM Herbal Formula Xian Fang Huo Ming Yin for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbal Formulas have tremendous value for any number of conditions when properly applied. Clinically many of the functions of these formulas are well understood within their own domain. But scientific biochemical and functional analysis is often very useful to illuminate more the “how they work” as the “that it works” is already agreed upon.

The formula I’m writing about today is Xian Fang Huo Ming Yin Wan or the “sublime decoction to sustain life”. This is a commonly used formula for a range of hot and/or painful skin lesions – boils, acne, etc. But there are potential uses for many other conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of these conditions in patients with appropriate underlying factors. And it is the biochemical reactions of this formula related to rheumatoid arthritis contained in the study that I’m citing.

Using a rheumatoid induced rat model, researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and other Beijing area universities conducted a study analyzing the affects of Xian Fang Huo Ming Yin Wan. They found over 20 different chemical constituents in the formula itself. To isolate the affects they looked only at the metatarsophalangeal joint. When applied to the rat model the formula slowed the pathological/arthritic changes in the joint. They also found it down regulated the following autoimmune/inflammatory markers which are a part of the destructive messaging in RA.

  • CD3+ T Cells – these immune marker cells are most often found in large numbers in patients with RA and other chronic inflammatory diseases ( 1 ).
  • CD3-CD19+ B cells – most often found elevated in any number of autoimmune conditions, down regulation of these markers effectively shuts off the inflammatory/attack feedback loop. This is a sought after target for potential immunotherapy treatments ( 2 ).
  • Also suppressed NF-κB and JAK/STAT signaling – proteins that regulate genetic messaging for inflammation and other biological functions ( 3 ).

The researchers concluded that the herbal formula can “regulate and maintain the immunologic balance of lymphocytic immunity and inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus suppressing the pathological changes of RA.” Another related study came to a similar conclusion; xian fang huo ming yin can “restore the balance of T lymphocytes and reestablish the immunological tolerance to inhibit auto inflammatory disorder of RA… taken together, XFHM can be used as a complementary or alternative traditional medicine to treat RA.”

Now in clinical reality, this formula is very likely not appropriate for many patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Reasoning for this is due to the underlying Chinese Medicine diagnostic framework which in general makes the western medical diagnosis somewhat meaningless. In short, there are many potential contributing factors for the development of RA and Chinese Medicine looks at those in very minute ways (for general info on this, read “What Does Acupuncture Treat?” which is applicable to herbs as well). Diagnosis and treatment from a fully trained Chinese Medicine practitioner is always best with complex conditions for this reason.

There are host of other formulas that could potentially be useful with rheumatoid arthritis, some of these and possibly underlying TCM diagnoses are found on our rheumatoid arthritis treatment options page.

Ideally a patient with RA will consult with a licensed Chinese Medicine practitioner and obtain acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion, medical massage and/or other techniques as appropriate for their diagnosis, constitution and symptoms. Generally speaking the full gamut of Chinese Medicine, not just herbal medicines, is shown to down regulate inflammation and autoimmune manifestations which are at the heart of this range of conditions. For example, this study found that moxibustion suppressed many of the same inflammatory communication pathways discussed above in another RA induced rat model. A more technical electroacupuncture study that I had written about previously found that high intensity electroacupuncture also modulated many of those same signaling pathways.

All things considered these studies indicate that Chinese Medicine offers strong potential for aid with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune/inflammatory based conditions.