A Non-Invasive Ancient Remedy for Joint Pain

A Non-Invasive Ancient Remedy for Joint Pain - Dr. Tse See-li, a registered traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in Hong Kong, uses Chinese medicinal herbs to alleviate joint pain.

A Non-Invasive Ancient Remedy for Joint Pain

A Non-Invasive Ancient Remedy for Joint Pain

Health Viewpoints

A veteran traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner uses secret traditional techniques to easily solve joint pain problems that may have been troubling people for years—without the use of acupuncture, Chinese medicine, or the Western approach involving injections, medications, or surgery. Pain is relieved after only a few sessions for mild cases and up to 10 sessions for more severe ones.

Joint pain is a common ailment, and studies have shown that about a quarter of adults experience frequent knee pain, impacting their mobility with increasing prevalence. It is also worth noting that for many patients who develop symptoms of arthritis, X-rays show no detection of it.
Dr. Tse See-li, a registered TCM practitioner in Hong Kong, recounted the case of a patient who had endured years of joint pain. The patient tried various TCM and Western medicine treatments including bone setting and acupuncture, among others without relief. Eventually, the pain had become so debilitating that the patient could no longer work. He finally came to Dr. Tse, and after five treatments to remove blood stasis, he was able to walk again—pain-free.

Blood Stasis Is One of the Culprits of Joint Pain

Dr. Tse explained that a large part of the cause of joint pain is blood stasis in the joints. If it happens to reside in the moving parts of the joint, even if it is as small as a grain of rice, once your movement reaches that particular point, you will feel the persistent pain.

Blood stasis in the ligaments or joints blocks the microcirculation in the area, preventing fresh blood from nourishing the ligaments. As a result, they gradually harden and age prematurely. The elasticity of ligaments is crucial to joint health as all joint movements depend on the expansion and contraction of these ligaments. Healthy ligaments are akin to new rubber bands, fully elastic, enabling the joints to move freely. However, as ligaments age, their elasticity diminishes. For example, when you extend your calf muscle to perform a kick, the ligaments are subjected to greater strain, often resulting in pain.

Why haven't other doctors discovered the problem of blood stasis? Western medicine diagnoses diseases mostly by examining the X-rays. However, X-rays are limited to visualizing the bones and cannot screen all the ligaments—such as the cruciate ligaments—or tendons attached to the bones.

When a ligament ages, it will appear white when viewed on an X-ray image. Depending on where this whitish projection falls on the femur or patella, there will be different interpretations. If it is on the inside, Western medicine will usually diagnose it as wear and tear—if it is on the outside, it will be diagnosed as a bone spur. Therefore, it is always diagnosed as either the bone being worn or bone spurs causing the pain. However, this may not be the case—blood stasis could be the root cause.

Arthritis caused by prolonged strain is related to blood stasis. Dr. Tse said that he once treated a retired table tennis player who had severe knee joint pain from too much pressure on his feet during practice for an extended period which led to joint pain as he aged. Dr. Tse used the method of "bruise extraction" by applying hot medicinal material to warm the knee joint, which causes bruises to surface.

How to Cure Joint Pain With ‘Bruise Extraction’

“Bruise extraction” involves using Chinese herbal medicinal packages, boiling them in hot wine, and then applying them while still warm around the joint. The heat helps the medicinal herbs penetrate deep into the muscle layers, where any congested parts will be loosened before the next step of treatment.

The duration for applying a medicinal pack around the joint depends on the estimated depth of congestion. The deeper it is, the longer the application should last—usually, half an hour to an hour is sufficient. And the earlier the treatment, the better—as soon as pain is felt—in which case just two or three such treatments should be able to cure it.

Dr. Tse said that patients with joint pain generally do not need to take medication because most of the congestion is in the limbs and trunk. However, if the congestion goes deep inside the body and involves some internal organs, it is necessary to take medicine internally for better results.

A comprehensive study found that soaking the affected areas of patients suffering from knee arthritis with Chinese herbal solutions (herbal bath therapy) can reduce pain. The resulting clinical efficacy is 21 percent higher than that of conventional treatments.

Varying Effects of Chinese and Western Medicine

Dr. Tse believes that TCM focuses more on regulating the human body as a whole to improve health holistically. He gave examples to explain the difference between Chinese and Western medicine. Chinese medicinal herbs are inherently biological products, comprising cells and capable of functioning in ways similar to other parts of the human body such as breathing. Western medicine, on the other hand, is chemically synthesized, which differs from the composition of the human body.

For example, when treating colds, TCM has the patient take Guizhi (Cinnamomi ramulus) Decoction. Guizhi Decoction itself will not kill bacteria, but it stimulates the body's immunity and helps the body overcome the cold naturally. On the other hand, Western medicine can often disrupt the body's biological balance and metabolism.

Similarly, some Western medicine physicians inject hyaluronic acid to lubricate the joints to ease pain, but this may have the opposite effect. Dr. Tse emphasized that the body is very intelligent. When joint fluid is insufficient and pain is present, the brain will issue instructions to secrete more fluid to lubricate the joints. But when you inject hyaluronic acid, the brain will stop secreting the joint fluid. As a result, when the hyaluronic acid evaporates after some time, the brain will no longer send instructions to secrete joint fluid, which will worsen joint pain in the long run.

Exercise Plus Chinese Medicine Enhance Joint Health

Since the human body is so intelligent, can we prevent joint blood stasis by simply engaging in regular exercises or consuming medicinal meals? Dr. Tse’s answer is “Yes.” He explained that life is nothing more than qi and blood. If both qi and blood remain abundant, vitality will be strong, and premature aging can be avoided.

TCM believes that qi, blood, essence, and body fluid are essential substances for all physiological activities. They originate from the internal organs and flow continuously around the body. Among them, qi is the energy that constitutes human life. Qi circulates continuously to promote and regulate human metabolism, while blood is mainly responsible for nourishing and keeping the body hydrated.

Dr. Tse emphasizes the importance of regular exercise in promoting smooth blood circulation. Additionally, he recommended drinking specific medicinal teas for health care purposes.

This recipe uses a large amount of astragalus, which is known for its ability to replenish qi and blood. When combined with other medicinal herbs it can promote blood circulation and alleviate blood stasis. Modern pharmacological research has also found that astragalus extract can inhibit joint inflammation and reduce pain.
However, it should be noted that TCM categorizes people's constitutions into distinct types. Different constitutions require different medicinal materials. Dr. Tse emphasizes that people who often experience the feeling of heat and dryness during cold weather have a constitution of "yin deficiency and internal heat" and should avoid excessive consumption of this tea.

Recipe for Medicinal Tea

  • 75 g (3.5 ounce) Astragalus membranaceus
  • 7.5 g (0.35 ounce) Angelica sinensis
  • 7.5 g (0.35 ounce) Paeoniae radix rubra
  • 3.75 g (0.17 ounce) Chuanxiong rhizome
  • 3.75 g (0.17 ounce) Persicae semen
  • 3.75 g (0.17 ounce) Crocus sativus L.

Thoroughly wash all the ingredients and boil in 1 to 2 liters of water for half an hour. Divide the resulting mixture into several portions to be consumed at intervals throughout the day.


Women should avoid taking during pregnancy and menstruation. People with yin deficiency and internal heat constitution should also pay attention to the recommended intake amount.

Note: Some of the herbs mentioned above may be unfamiliar, but many can be found in health food stores and Asian groceries. In addition, it’s important to note that herbal tea is intended for daily health care purposes only. Please consult a professional doctor for specific treatment plans based on the individual's physique and symptoms.