What I made today – a custom formula for arthritis

Today I did a refill of a custom formula for a beautiful yellow lab named Mali who I have been working with for almost five years now. Mali had both ankle surgery and a fracture of her front leg when she was younger and has some arthritis issues secondary to that. She is now 10 years old and slowing down a little. In addition, like most labs she is prone to inflammation both in her skin and joints. About a year ago her people switched her to raw food and that has really helped with the inflammation.

Arthritis in Chinese medicine is considered a combination of damp, wind and usually cold that has gotten in the joints. Do you notice that people and animals with joint issues are often times worse when it rains or in the cold of winter?

In addition there can be a blockage of blood flow to the joints which increases pain and leads to further degeneration because there is not enough blood flow to repair damage. With herbs we attempt to address all this, decrease pain and promote healing. Most of my dogs with arthritis are also on an acupuncture protocol. The herbs support this and make it so my acupuncture treatments hold longer.

Mali’s formula contains:
Bai Shao
Dang Gui
Yi Yi Ren
Yan Hu Suo
Du Huo
Gui Zhi
Chuan Xiong
Hong Hua
Du Zhong
Cang Zhu
Huai Niu Xi

Bai Shao, peony root and Dang Gui, angelica root, are a great combo for any animal with arthritis. They both work with blood to increase blood flow into the joints, and have a secondary ability to help with pain. In this case I also add in Chuan Xiong to help with increased blood production and flow. Many animals I will also add Rehmannia or Shou Di Huang. In Mali’s case because she is prone to inflammation I leave it out.

Yan Hu Suo or corydalis is a wonderful blood mover which helps with pain.

Yi Yi Ren (job’s tears), Cang Zhu (Atractylodes), and Huai Niu Xi(Achyranthes Root) all help with inflammation and dampness both directly and in the case of Cang Zhu by also helping digestion. They help to pull inflammation out of the joints.

Gui Zhi(cinnamon twig) and Du Huo (a different angelica root) help to release wind from the joints. These two also help with joint issues and pain. Du Huo helps support tendons and has a very strong smell that some people do not like.

Hong Hua, safflower flowers, I add in to invigorate the blood, to help with her vitality and make sure the blood flows smoothly in her body.

My final ingredient is Du Zhong, eucommia bark, which is a yang tonic but also helps support tendons to keep them elastic and flexible. If you look at the bark it is held together by what looks like stretchy elastic. I love when function can be seen in an herb.

This is one of two formulas Mali is on, the other being a qi tonic which helps prevent stagnation in her middle. The pair of the two work well together because qi moves blood. If you are using a blood tonic and feel like it is not working as well as you would like often times pairing with a qi tonic or moving the middle with something that works with triple burner obstruction will make a large difference. In Mali’s case we are using a modification of Xiao Chai Hu Tang as her second formula.

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