Ankylosing Spondylitisaccording to TCM

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that primarily affects the spine, leading to severe pain and stiffness in the back and hips. Over time, it can cause the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together, creating a rigid spine, sometimes referred to as "bamboo spine." This condition can also impact other joints and areas, including the shoulders, ribs, heels, and small joints of the hands and feet. Beyond joint symptoms, it can affect the eyes, heart, and lungs, contributing to a reduced quality of life.

How does TCM view Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Traditional Chinese Medicine perceives ankylosing spondylitis not merely as a disease but as a signal of disharmony within the body's vital energy, or Qi. In TCM, a 'pattern' is a constellation of symptoms indicating an imbalance. Identifying this pattern is essential—it guides the practitioner to tailor treatments that target the root cause rather than just alleviating symptoms. It's a personalized approach aiming to harmonize the body's energies and restore overall health.

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis According to TCM

TCM interprets ankylosing spondylitis through a lens of energetic imbalances, specifically patterns like Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp and Wind-Cold in the Lung. Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp is seen as a depletion of the warming and activating energy in the body, leading to an accumulation of cold and moisture that can manifest in the joints as pain and stiffness, mimicking the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.

Meanwhile, Wind-Cold in the Lung pattern reflects an external pathogenic invasion that impedes the flow of Qi, causing symptoms that may extend to the musculoskeletal system. Recognizing these patterns is critical as they inform a nuanced treatment plan aimed at restoring equilibrium and mitigating the specific types of disharmony causing the patient's symptoms.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Ankylosing Spondylitis

For a pattern of Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp, TCM might suggest warming and invigorating formulas like those containing Prepared aconite, which work to reignite the body's Yang energy and dispel the Cold-Dampness contributing to joint stiffness and pain.

When dealing with Wind-Cold in the Lung, a practitioner may turn to formulas that expel Wind and transform Cold, such as those containing Ephedra, which help in clearing the obstruction in the Lung channel, thereby improving Qi flow and reducing symptoms. The selection of a formula or herb is highly personalized, based on the precise nature of disharmony within the individual, and is integral to the holistic treatment approach of TCM.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address ankylosing spondylitis, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that warm and transform water and dampness
  • Formulas that clear wind-Cold

TCM Herbs for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address ankylosing spondylitis, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that warm the interior and/or expel cold
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior