Arthritis and Rheumatism

by Ed

Back to talking about the cold damp weather, many people find their aches and pains are worse in the Winter. One of the statements of fact in Chinese Medicine is, “When qi (energy) is flowing, there is no pain. Where there is pain, qi is not flowing.” Cold damp weather tends to make the qi sluggish. It also makes us sluggish, which makes the qi more sluggish. So one of the first steps when you have pain is to keep moving. It may be a good idea to consult with a qualified health professional, if you do not have an exercise program, before you start. Tai chi is one of the best forms of exercise, particularly for older people. It is gentle, yet powerful in its effects. Research has proven it to be an excellent way to prevent osteoporosis, and to slow its progress. From the Chinese point of view, not only does it relax the body and move all the joints, but the particular movements encourage the free flow of qi throughout the body.

Diet can also be helpful for arthritis and rheumatism. It’s best to eat warming foods rather than cooling foods. Ice cream should definitely be avoided. Dairy products aggravate damp conditions and ice cream is obviously cold. Other foods to be avoided include the nightshade family: tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. For many people they are not a big problem, so the best thing to do is to go off them entirely for about a month, then add them back in, one at a time, and notice if they aggravate your symptoms. Many people also find that sugar aggravates painful conditions. Lastly oily, fatty foods can aggravate damp related conditions. One exception being the omega 3 oils found in fish and flax seeds. Omega 3 oils actually have anti-inflammatory action. Taken in large quantities, ginger also can relieve pain. It can also thin the blood, though so consult your doctor if you are on blood thinners or have a blood disorder.

Have an active pain free Winter.


1 Michelle 11.22.09 at 6:16 am

Hi Ed,
I am forty two this year and have pain in my knees. They really hurt and it seems to worsen after I got my mentruation. Are they related?

I do get the pain at different times but more on rainy days.

2 Ed 11.25.09 at 3:53 pm

Hi Michelle,
From a Chinese Medicine point of view, they are related, but you’d have a hard time convincing a doctor of that, I think. I would recommend seeing a practitioner of Chinese herbology to deal with that.

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