Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks









Herbal Anti-Inflammatories for Plantar Fascitis
By Brian Benjamin Carter, MSci, LAc

Brian is the founder of the Pulse of Oriental Medicine, medical professor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and author of Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure.

Dear Mr. Carter:

I have plantar fascitis which I understand is inflammation of the plantar fascia. I took ibuprofen, but I had a bad gastrointestinal reactions. Do you know of any herbal anti-inflammatory?



It's not surprising that you had a bad GI reaction to the ibuprofen. All such NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) are hard on the stomach, and, in fact, can lead to life-threatening stomach bleeds. These are dangerous because you can lose a lot of blood before you know there's a problem, and may pass out before you can call 911. So it's probably better that you reacted to it now. You can go the herbal route and avoid that risk entirely.

Chinese Medicine Concepts of Disease

Chinese medicine (CM) has its own system of diagnosis and treatment. The concept of inflammation is a western medical one, and drugs which are anti-inflammatory are western solutions to the western diagnosis.CM speaks in different terms... for example, any pain is stagnation, but must be differentiated between qi or xue (blood) stagnation. Qi stagnation is dull, while xue stagnation is sharp and stabbing.The CM concept of heat is similar to inflammation. Anything inflamed is considered 'hot,' but so are other things like hotflashes, reddish faces, cheeks, or noses, etc. Pain and other problems can also be 'cold.' For example, knee pain where the knee actually feels cold to the touch, and is worse with cold, is clearly cold in nature. Hot and cold pain require herbs and other treatments of opposite natures- the treatment must fit the condition.

Also, there may be an external cause (injury, bad shoes, walking incorrectly), or an internal cause (weakness in the systems that produce and maintain bones, and/or tendons), or both internal and external. If there is an internal contribution to the problem, that must be addressed as well for full recovery and to prevent the problem from returning.

Choosing the Right Herbs

We choose herbs not only for the symptoms they may treat, but also the location of the symptom, and the nature of the problem (Qi or xue? Hot or cold? Internal or external?).

Plantar Fascitis

With the constant irritation of plantar fascitis, there is guaranteed to be qi stagnation and heat, but there may be other conditions and contributors to the problem. And, the pain of plantar fascitis comes from the inflammation of the tendinous attachment. So, you are on the right track when you ask about herbal anti-inflammatories- they should be part of your solution. Also, acupuncture is a great help in plantar fascitis. It can uncongest the qi of the area, and reduce the inflammation.

Advantages of Herbal Formulas over Single Herbs

But Chinese herbal medicine uses formulas rather than single herbs. This reduces side effects, covers more bases, changes illness faster, and also is less likely to interact with drugs. Most importantly, we can personalize a formula to address your symptom, your constitution, contributing factors, and to balance all the herbs so they don't cause too many (or any) side effects.

Some herbs might be included in your formula for heel spurs if you have grown any already.

You may be advised to take an internal formula, AND an external one to rub on the area directly.

Personalized Treatment is Best

The best and safest bet for you is to see an acupuncturist one on one. Chinese medicine is not a one-cure for one-symptom deal. We tailor our acupuncture and herbal treatments to your specific situation. If we didn't, you might get side effects or not get well. So, to take all those individual factors into account, you have to see a practitioner. You can find one at http://pulsemed.org/findacupuncturist.htm.

Please Don't Ask Me For Specific Herbs

The reason I don't mention any specific herbs or formulas is that taking the wrong one could make you worse, and taking the right one will require the help of a trained, educated, experienced, licensed Chinese medical practitioner, also known as an acupuncturist. Go here to find one.

All the best!

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About The PULSE
All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.

Copyright 1999-2074, Pulse Media International, Brian Carter, MSci, LAc, Editor