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?).
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!