Being an athlete my whole life I’ve certainly clocked up the miles in my bones and joints. As a cross-country runner during my high-school years I suffered badly from stress fractures that only resolved later in my life when my diet changed dramatically. Today I can honestly say that my bones and joints are in better shape than when I was a teenager. So like all active people I’m always interested in speeding up the healing process when it comes to injuries and thought I’d discuss and share this interesting article on TCM herbs.
It is important to understand that traditional chinese medicine looks at the whole body, energy (chi) flow through the meridians, and excess or deficiency signs, so where the patient may only see a broken bone, the practitioner will see it as part of multi-system dysfunction.
Also known as gusuibu for its ability to mend broken bones, this root according to Ou Ming is used to:
“Tonify the liver and kidney, activate blood circulation and expel wind-dampness. For deficiency of liver and kidney or sluggishness of blood circulation manifested as rheumatism and weakness of the back and knees, and kidney deficiency syndrome manifested as toothache, dizziness, tinnitus, or chronic diarrhea. Restores bones and tendons: for fracture and trauma.”
It seems to have a marked effect on the kidneys with indications that it could protect against some side-effects of antibiotics and drug-induced renal failure. And because the brain is part of the kidney essence it is also showing promise with Alzheimer’s patients.
Clinical studies in China shows it aids the healing of badly damaged or worn cartilage, sprains, contusions (bruises), stress fractures which makes it the herbal glucosamine. There were even reports that some with very bad hip-arthritis were able to delay surgery using 30 – 45g of Drynaria. Doses this high will have to be under the supervision of a trained TCM practitioner. Schisandra combines well to strengthen kidneys and bones.
Also known as xuduan (to reconnect that which has been severed), this root has implications for anything that is broken such as broken bones, ruptured tendons, torn ligaments, deep skin cuts, etc. It has anti-inflammatory actions with research backing it up in the use of osteoarthritis and fracture healing. Some speculation about its use in Lyme disease. Morinda and Loranthus combines well to warm the yang, benefit the kidney, and strengthen bones and tendons.
This herb is mentioned not because of its direct effect on injuries but because if its importance in the kidney meridian. The kidney meridian can get very depleted in athletes who overtrain with symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, soreness, poor recovery, etc. If this continues injury will eventually set in due to weakened bones and connective tissue. So adding this herb as an upstream regulator for those who are kidney deficient can go a long way in preventing injuries due to lack of strength.
How the Kidneys connect with Bones and Brain
This quote in Plain Questions (Nan Jing) pretty much sums it up:
“The essence of life is stored in the kidney, the essence generates the marrow which nourishes the bone; and the bone generates the marrow congregation of which forms the brain.”
Saponins found in Dipsacus are being researched for its protective effect on neurons by reducing neuronal death caused by amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, so I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in future.
If you need guidance in the treatment of this or any other condition, please make an appointment with one of our practitioners.
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