Can ‘Chi’ Ease Arthritis Pain?

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During her third year of medical school, Liza was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She entered her family practice residency in a wheelchair.

“I was taking 13 different drugs, which gave me high blood pressure,” she recalls. “I experienced severe pain every day, and I thought I’d have to give up being a doctor.”

Instead she began actively searching for alternative treatments and tried aspirin or ibuprofen, Peterson says, but may have a longer effect. “Patients often start out with a course of 4-10 treatments, and usually experience benefit after the first several treatments,” she says.

“There is a cumulative effect, depending on the degree of dysfunction,” agrees Cyrus. “In my experience, diet is also very important. People with acute arthritis should avoid highly acidic foods and the nightshade family of plants, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers.”

Many states license acupuncturists, usually after they pass a national certification exam. To find an acupuncturist with broad training in oriental medicine, consult the American Association of Oriental Medicine in Catasauqua, Penn. To find a physician who is trained in acupuncture, consult the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture in Los Angeles.