Melbourne's acupuncture and herbs experts

Internal & External Factors With Rheumatoid Arthritis and Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, rheumatoid arthritis can be classified as part of Bi syndrome (painful obstruction). Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by combination of both internal and external factors.

1. External Factors

Wind, cold, damp and heat are considered external pathogenic factors that can invade the body especially when the Vital Qi is insufficient. These factors can obstruct the proper flow of Qi and blood causing inflammation and swelling throughout the body. For example, exposure to cold winds, excessive drinking, or immersing the affected joints in cold water will clause severe aggravation to arthritic joints.

2. Internal Factors

Early stage

Rheumatoid arthritis initially involves pain, inflammation and swelling in the skin and flesh of the small joints of the four limbs. There may also be stiffness in the joint which gradually develops into damage to the bones. This is frequently due to a weakness of the Spleen and Stomach.

Middle and later Stage

If the initial symptoms are not treated properly that allows the disease to progress from the Spleen and Stomach to the Liver and Kidney. This makes the disease more difficult to treat.

Integration of Chinese and Western Medicine

Western medicine manages rheumatoid arthritis with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) eg aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac or meloxicam. If NSAIDs are unable to control the disease, prednisolone and immuno-suppressants such as methotrexate are used to suppress inflammation.

Three months of Chinese medicine and acupuncture treatments can reduce both pain and the side effects of western drugs. This may result in lower dosages of western drugs, and can increase the probability of remission.

When treating Rheumatoid arthritis with Chinese medicine we don’t just consider the inflammation but we look at the whole person and the collection of symptoms they’re experiencing on a day to day basis and the various environmental factors at play. Our end goal is not just to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but to give that individual a better quality of life across the board.

For an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist, there are many Chinese herbs and acupuncture techniques which can bring down the swelling and inflammation of the joints swiftly. However, the main aim of Chinese medicine is to bring the patient to a better state of health generally, so that their body can better combat inflammatory factors and we can ultimately slow down the progression of the disease.

Recent Research of Chinese Herbal Remedies

Recent research compared the use of chinese herbs with a pharmaceutical drug known as methotrexate, a common drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis

According to BMJ- British Medical Journal, combining the Chinese herbal remedy with methotrexate was more effective than treating with methotrexate alone.


The earlier people see us the better… our end goal is not just to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but to give that individual a better quality of life across the board.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of Chinese medicine and acupuncture in treating allergy & autoimmune conditions, call us on 1300 432 639.

Written by

Dr Scott Ling
Dr. Scott Ling is the Chief Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist and the founder of Sustain Health. He holds a PHD Doctorate Degree in Chinese medicine from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. Dr Ling’s extensive qualifications also include a Master of Reproductive Medicine (western medicine). Due to his unique medical background, Dr Ling’s approach stresses on the integration of Chinese and Western medicine to ensure patients get the greatest benefits from the best of both medical systems.

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