Finding A Herbal Way To Deal With The Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can be considered in an active phase or remission phase and occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, with each person affected in their own way. Healthcare practitioners work to reduce the inflammation and slow the progression of joint damage.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Symptoms include swollen joints that are tender and warm and stiffness in the morning that continues in the afternoon. In addition, there are nodules are under skin of the arms and weight loss, fatigue and fever. The Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints causing a painful swelling that can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deforming. The attacks come and go, and it may be influenced by numerous factors such as infections, dietary components and stress. Having rheumatoid arthritis can lead to higher risks of osteoporosis, carpel tunnel syndrome, and serious heart problems, resulting from inflammation of the surrounding tissues and hardening of the arteries.
Limited Impact of Drug Use and Side Effects
Commonly used drugs, such as non-steroidal or anti-inflammatory medications and glucocorticoids have had limited impact or frequent side effects on patients. Women are up to three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men, and develop the disease at a younger age. Most people don’t develop symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis until they reach their 60s although it can begin to affect people between ages of 30 and 60.
Role of Chines Medicine
In Chinese Medicine, rheumatoid arthritis is mainly characterized as bi zheng, or impediment syndrome. There are many different kinds of bi zheng in Chinese medicine, all of which can be treated with a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine. Wind bi is usually characterized by pain that moves in different directions and can be traded with herbal formulas such as Fang Feng Tang (Saposhnikovia Decoction). Cold bi is usually accompanied by more severe pain and might be treated with modifications of Wu Tou Tang (Aconite Main Tuber Decoction).
Fang Feng Tang
Among those combinations is Fang Feng Tang (Soposhnikovia Decoction), which focuses on the moving elements of pain. The herb, which is slightly pungent and sweet with a pleasant fragrance, is often combined with other herbs such as Henthae and Folium Mori in use for rheumatoid arthritis. Fang-Feng Tang also is known for treatment of cold-related headaches, body aches, chills and tremors.
Wu-Tou decoction (WTD), also has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis for many years. WTD includes Aconiti Radix (Aconitum carmichaeli Debx.), Ephedrae Herba (Ephedra sinicaStapf), Astragali Radix (Astragalus membranaceus Bunge var. mongholicus (Bunge) P.K. Hsiao), Paeoniae Radix Alba (Paeonia lactiflora Pall.) and Glycyrrhizae Radix EtRhizoma (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.).
Radix Aconiti is considered a primary component of WTD for treating rheumatic arthritis. Studies have described various chemical compounds with WTD, such as
alkaloids of Radix Aconiti, total glycosides and polysaccharides of Raidix Paeoniae Alba, and polysaccharides of Radix Astragali, all of which have anti-inflammatory impacts.
Components of WTD
WTD mainly contains alkaloids, monoterpene glycosides, triterpene saponins, flavones and flavone glycosides. WTD has significant anti-inflammatory effects, decreasing the levels of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-17, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2).
Triptergium Wilfordii Hook F
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, medications, such as methotrexate (MTS) are used to treat the symptoms. MTS is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug that is most commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. A research study has shown that a Chinese herbal remedy, Triptergium Wilfordii Hook F (TWHF) is just as effective as ethotrexate in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
TwHF is an herbal remedy used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of swelling, inflammation and joint pain. The remedy comes from the extracts of the Triptergium wilfordii plant, also known as the “thunder god vine.”
Use of TWHF with caution.
But all parts of the plant are highly poisonous and should not be used internally. And there have been reports of serious side effects in use of Triptergium Wilfordii Hook, and people are urged caution in using it.
Guang, Z, Huanhuan S., et al. Exploring the potential therapeutic mechanism of Da-Fang-Feng-Tang for rheumatoid arthritis. Semantic Scholar. 2014.
Wang, LB, Ishiguro, N, Yamada E et al. The effect of da-fang-feng-tang on treatment of type II collagen-induced arthritis in DBA/1 mice. American Journal of Chinese Medicine.
Yanqiong, Z, Danhua, W, Shufang, T, et al. A Systems Biology-Based Investigation into the Pharmacological Mechanisms of Wu Tou Tang Acting on Rheumatoid Arthritis by Integrating Network Analysis. Institute of Chinese Materia Medica. Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. 2013.
Zhang, Y, Bai, M, Zhang Bo, et al. Uncovering pharmacological mechanisms of Wu-Tou decoction acting on rheumatoid arthritis through systems approaches: drug-target prediction, network analysis and experimental validation. Scientific Reports. 2015. 10.1038.
Guo, Q, Zheng, K, Fan, D, et al. Wu-Tou Decoction in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Integrating Network Pharmacology and In Vivo Pharmacological Evaluation. Frontiers in Pharmacology Research.
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