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ARTHRITIS in Traditional Chinese Medicine
From The Desk of: Dr. Sandra Testaguzza  -  Part 1

ARTHRITIS: Applying Eastern energetic to our understanding of Western diseases can open up new avenues of prevention and treatment. Asian herbal treatments avoid weakening side effects because the body accepts herbs like food, so that dietary wastes that aggravate pain can be eliminated.

DEFINITION: Asian doctors describe the origin of arthritis in terms of toxins, including infection as well as dietary wastes and poor circulation. It is called “painful obstruction” referring to stagnation of energy mainly in liver, gall bladder & spleen meridians due to internal and external factors in relation to internal organs and inclement weather factors. What differentiates arthritic pain from other pain? Arthritic pain is aggravated by cold weather and humidity as well as ice-cold and warm weather as well as phlegm-producing foods.

ARTHRITIS ORGAN RELATION IN CHINESE MEDICINE The spleen is responsible for enzyme production and stabilizing humidity in the body. The liver is responsible for bile secretion,necessary for the digestion of foods and responsible for stagnation of toxins. The liver rules the tendons and the muscles. Anger and emotional frustration are related to it. The gall bladder sends the bile downward where it pours into the intestines and aids the digestive process. The Triple Warmer involves all circulation of liquids. The kidneys are the foundation and storage of the body’s energy. The Yin kidney produces the fluids (all liquids); the Yang kidney has the stamina to circulate the liquids and both kidneys maintain proper balance of heat and cold symptoms in the body.

Rheumatic arthritis (internal cold & dampness) Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic) Inflammatory joint pain (internal heat) Osteoporosis (related to age & menopause)
Rheumatic arthritis: It is an allergic reaction passed through the blood to the joints after a streptococcal infection, called numbness disease in Chinese Medicine. It affects the large joints at the knees, ankles, elbows, and waist. Aggravated by cold weather. Application of heat feels better. Tongue: thin white oily coating.
Rheumatoid arthritis: "Rheumatism in joints” chronic affecting small joints; fingers, wrists, elbows or knees. Aggravated by cold weather and dampness. Application of heat feels better. Tongue: pale; white coating. Related to poor digestion.
Inflammatory arthritis: Red, hot swollen joints extremely sensitive to touch. Related to nervous, hot-tempered patients often suffering from insomnia. Pain is more severe at night. Aggravated by heat and movement Application of cold (ice) feels better. Tongue: red, yellow coating. Associated to spicy foods, chronic fever, thirst & skin rash. 

Wind: causes nerve pain, soreness numbness, and pain that moves. Hot: inflammatory pain, burning, itching, cramps, worse at night. Cold: fixed & stabbing pain, stiffness, worse in cold weather.
Dampness: dull pain, heavy ache, stiffness, immobility, malformed joints.


Accumulation of dietary toxins, emotional habits. Poor digestion, poor elimination of toxins due to weak digestive system. Poor circulation. Eating wrong kinds of food. (Differentiate between warming and cooling herbs and food.)

Emotional Stress: Anger, Depression, Worry.


Proper breathing exercises targeted to promote energy to circulate; Yoga, Martial Arts, Tai Chi, Qi Qong.


You will treat arthritic pain caused by “cold and dampness” or “wind” differently from arthritic pain caused by “internal heat”. WHAT CAN ACUPUNCTURE DO FOR YOU? JOINT PAIN IS RELATED TO DIGESTION.
Help detoxify your toxins by strengthening the digestive system.
Strengthen liver and gall bladder function to rid dietary wastes daily.
Eliminate dampness and cold by activating heat through circulation
Eliminate pain caused by heat bringing circulation through joints.
It is important to understand that acupuncture and release of endorphins is scientifically proven to eliminate pain.
Alfalfa contains minerals essential to stabilize spleen deficiency responsible for humidity-related problems. 
Consume foods containing the amino acid histidine, including rice, wheat and rye. Histidine is good for removing metals from the body. Eat some form of fiber, such as ground flaxseeds, oat bran, or rice bran, daily for better elimination. Remove the amount of fat in your diet. Do not consume diary products, red meat nor pastries. Also avoid caffeine, citrus fruits, tobacco. If you are to use salt, use sea salt (very little). Avoid vegetables such as peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and white potatoes. These foods contain solanine which interferes with enzymes in the muscles, and may cause pain. Consume iron in foods such as blackstrap molasses, broccoli, fish, lima beans, and peas. If you are overweight, try to lose the excess pounds. Asian doctors explain arthritis by high acidic content. If the blood is too acidic, this may cause the cartilage in the joints to dissolve.

continue next page, part 2...

Dr. Testaguzza is the new Women's Health Consultant Wellness Coordinator at York University's Wellness Center working in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Levy Ph.D. Sandra is dedicated to teaching health and wellness in a multi-faceted way integrating both the conventional and traditional fields.

Sandra is a practitioner of Chinese Medicine for 17 years, a published writer, teacher, herbalist and researcher and above all a "fully licensed" acupuncturist who obtained her private practice license from the Quebec Medical Association. (Government recognition from L'Ordre Professionel des Acupuncteurs). She is known for her hospital work in the area of childbirth by acupuncture.

In Ontario, Sandra is a member of The Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute. Featured in 1999 Edition of Chatelaine Who's Who Publication, Sandra was recently honored & awarded recognition for her notable work. Her articles have been published in - Etobicoke Living Magazine - The Toronto Star - Women's News Magazine - Confident - The Villager - and Medical Journals.
For more information: (416) 236-3488, Etobicoke, Ontario e-mail:

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