Osteoarthritis & TCM

Osteoarthritis & TCM

Osteoarthritis and Chinese Medicine: An Overview of Theories and Evidence

by Bin Hua and Kylie O’Brien
Published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, October 2010, No. 94


Osteoarthritis (OA) has been treated with Chinese medicine (CM) for hundreds of years, albeit under the auspices of other clinical descriptors understood within the field of CM. This paper provides an overview of how OA is typically understood and treated within CM. OA has typically fallen under the clinical descriptor of ‘bi syndrome’ (painful obstruction syndrome). As theory continues to develop, however, new ideas are emerging regarding its pathogenesis that have consequences for treatment – that OA should be considered as a combination of ‘wei syndrome’ and bi syndrome.

The therapeutic thrust of herbal medicine and acupuncture thus shifts from a focus on the Kidney zang (organ) to the Liver zang (organ), and consequently different kinds of herbs are chosen within medicinal formulas. The majority of clinical studies into the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of knee OA have methodological shortcomings, although there is some evidence that acupuncture may be useful in alleviating pain and improving joint function. More studies that are scientifically rigorous are required in this field.

The full article can be found at: B. Hua & K. O’Brien (2010). Osteoarthritis and Chinese Medicine: An Overview of Theories and Evidence.

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For more information on osteoarthritis, see also how turmeric curcumin can benefit those with this condition.

Dr. Mee Lain Ling