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Pain Management with Traditional Chinese Medicine

As we age aches and discomfort can soon become chronic pain, and finding relief can be a challenge. Traditional Chinese medicine approaches pain as an imbalance between qi (energy) and the blood. This is usually because of a qi or blood deficiency or stagnation. In addition, emotional state and stress levels can attribute to pain as the body and mind are interconnected in TCM. Common treatments of pain in TCM include a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas. 

Chronic pain can become exhausting as well as cause emotional symptoms such as frustration and depression. It can cause you from getting enough sleep, and irritability can soon set in as well. Even memory and clear thinking can also be affected by pain. 

Acupuncture, cupping, massage, relaxation techniques, dietary changes, and Chinese herbs can help you find relief from pain. Chinese herbs usually are made from the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of plants and come in many forms such as powder, tea, capsule, liquid extract, and granules. In traditional Chinese medicine, diet and nutrition is based on a balance of five tastes: spicy (warming), sour (cooling), bitter (cooling), sweet (strengthening), and salty (cooling). 

Corydalis is a Chinese herb often used to relieve pain including headaches, menstrual pain, and back pain. Dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) is the pain-relieving ingredient in corydalis and works by binding dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Corydalis has been used since ancient times and works by blocking pain signals in the brain. Studies have also shown that corydalis may help block inflammation and nerve pain as well. 

Other Chinese herbs or formulas used to alleviate pain include acanthopanax (used to strengthen tendons and inflammation), amber massage salve (used to invigorate blood and qi, as well as relieve pain), and chiang huo (used for traditional bi-syndrome, wind-damp, and alleviating pain).