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Are your joints feeling sore and achy?

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Chronic, painful joint conditions are known as Bi syndromes in Chinese Medicine. Bi, translates as a block or obstruction, meaning the joint is not able to get the nourishment it needs. There are four typical patterns of Bi Syndromes and they have qualities that reflect different elements of nature.

See below to learn what type of joint pain you have according to Chinese Medicine and a few ideas that may give you relief.



COLD bi symptoms: Fixed, sharp pain and stiffness in the joints, worse with cold weather, better with heat, usually affects the lower body.

Try adding warming foods & spices to your diet such as black pepper, cayenne, garlic, ginger, rosemary, sweet potato, mustard greens, cherries, onion. Or enjoy a recipe like curry pumpkin soup.



HOT bi symptoms: Red, hot, swollen joints, tender to touch, pain is worse at night.

Eat cooling foods like asparagus, celery, cucumber, eggplant, grapefruit, kale, lemon, potatoes, & watermelon.

Interested in any herbal formula?

One example of a classic formula is Xuan Bi Tong, Disband Painful Obstruction, for painful and inflamed joints.


What does Chinese Medicine think about icing for chronic pain?

The obvious, ice is cold. Cold causes contracting of muscles and congealing of blood, preventing the area from being nourished and waste products from being removed. Instead of ice try an herbal liniment with oils from peppermint, wintergreen, or eucalyptus.


DAMP bi symptoms: Fixed pain of the joint with heaviness, dull aching, & numbness of the limbs, worse with rainy or cloudy weather, edema may be present.

It is especially important to avoid sugar, dairy, alcohol, & smoking.


WIND bi symptoms: Like wind, the pain may appear and disappear suddenly, moves around in the body, especially seen in the knees, ankles, elbows, & wrists. Can include feelings of aches, soreness, and numbness.


Often there are combinations of the different patterns. For example, if you wake with cold, stiff, and heavy joints there is wind, cold & damp. If this occurs, especially in the neck and shoulders the formula Juan Bi Tong, Remove Painful Obstruction, is useful. 



How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain and improve joint function through increasing the release of endorphins and natural opioids, reducing inflammation, and increasing micro-circulation.

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