Gout in TCM was written about nearly 2000 years ago, so those ancient Chinese had problems just like us!
We now know it is a form of arthritis, caused by excess uric acid which gets deposited in the joints, often starting with that of the big toe.
This page – gout in tcm – explains how it occurs from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine: TCM Theory.
Research into gout in TCM? Lots! Click here.
In reading this page, be aware that various syndromes and ‘organs’ or ‘zang-fu organs’ are mentioned. Click the links to see what is meant.
The most common form of gout, at the big toe joint (or more accurately, at the first metatarsal-phalangeal joint) occurs with these symptoms:
(Why Secondary? Because the following syndromes occur as a result of primary actions or factors, explained further down.)
The nature of the above symptoms, and where they occur, leads to the following diagnosis:
The fact that there is so much heat in the symptoms, that the condition occurs suddenly, often without warning, and often at night, makes it a Yang excess condition.
That may explain, in terms of TCM, why it affects men in the ratio of 20:1 to women, and why it affects women more after their menopause, when the feminine or yin-like hormone oestrogen is no longer available to ward it off.
It also explains where to look for ways to improve it.
Actions or factors that increase propensity to damp-heat are to blame. Gout sufferers and researchers have noticed:
Too much sugar and lack of exercise also lead to Obesity and Diabetes but I don’t think they are the primary causes of gout. They are often parallel or ‘co’-consequences of poor diet and lifestyle habits.
You almost certainly need to change what you eat and, between attacks of gout, take more exercise – the kind that gets you out of breath, breathing deeply.
Gout in TCM is more often treated with herbs but acupuncture is very effective between flare-ups as it can directly clear damp-heat and tonify your Spleen energy.
What does this treatment aim to do?
Acupuncture points used would not necessarily be anywhere near the painful gouty joints. So when treating gout in TCM your acupuncturist would not be sticking needles into your red-hot toe!
In fact, inserting a needle into an inflamed joint would be considered very bad practice by most classically-trained or ‘traditional’ acupuncturists. We get good results using theories developed over thousands of years by very astute practitioners. Acupuncturists untrained in classical theory don’t know what they are missing.
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