Ayurvedic Arthritis Treatments - Ayurveda | Everyday Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Arthritis Treatments

By on May 12, 2016
Ayurvedic Arthritis

Ayurvedic Arthritis Treatments

The most common complaint when it comes to arthritis is pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. This can be the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ankles, knees, wrists, shoulders, hips, spine… anywhere. And it doesn’t have to be ‘full blown’ arthritis before we start to experience this sort of discomfort.

Often pain or stiffness can be mild to begin with and most of us tend to overlook it, push it to the back of our minds, or put it down to over exercising, age or normal wear and tear.

Unfortunately, this means that we often don’t get around to doing anything about it until later, when the symptoms are generally worse and the underlying problem is harder to treat.

Arthritis is a word taken from Greek, and literally means ‘Joint-Inflammation’. This inflammation can affect one or more joints, depending on the type of arthritis and the chronic nature or severity of the condition.

There are many types of arthritis, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Gout
  • Psoriatic arthritis

It can also be a symptom that is secondary to another disease such as:

  • SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Ross River Virus or Barmah Forest Virus
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Familial Mediterranean Fever
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Sarcoidosis

In this article I’ve chosen to look at osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as these are generally the most common. Things could get very geeky and boring if we start considering the rest as well. Lets start by looking at the main differences between them from a western point of view.

The Western Viewpoint

The Disease Process

Osteoarthritis develops as a result of stress and resultant wear and tear on a particular joint- this can be due to injury or infection, excess weight, congenital reasons or other neuro/muscular dysfunction.

First the cartilage degenerates, which then means bone surfaces are less protected and can become damaged. This is very painful and can be accompanied by stiffness and even locking of the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is a systemic inflammatory disorder that as well as affecting the joints, can also affect other tissues and organs. It involves an inflammation and swelling of the capsule around the joints, excess synovial fluid and the development of fibrous tissue in the joint capsule. Long-term this can lead to the destruction of cartilage and even fusion of the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also produce inflammation in the lungs, the membranes of the lung (pleura), the membrane around the heart (pericardium), and whites of the eyes (sclera). Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, it is considered to be a systemic Autoimmune Disease.

Western Treatment

According to conventional medicine, there is no known cure for any form of arthritis, and treatment is aimed at minimizing symptoms or modifying the disease process. This is usually done using pain killers and NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), cortisone (steroids) orally or as injections and in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, DMARDS (Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs).

DMARDS are drugs that are used alone, or in combination, to try and prevent degenerative tissue changes; they include Methotrexate, Sulphasalazine and Hydroxychloroquine. Apart from pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, weight control and exercise may be recommended depending on the type of arthritis.

The Ayurvedic Arthritis Viewpoint

The Disease Process

The ancient Ayurvedic texts describe two basic types of arthritis that correspond with osteoarthritis (Sandhigat Vata) and rheumatoid arthritis (Ama Vat). It is important to remember when considering any disease from an Ayurvedic perspective, that it is not just the disease that is treated, it is the person. Every person is treated as a unique case, and many variables are taken into account to ensure that a treatment program is specifically tailored for them as an individual.

Having said that, lets take a look at the disease states of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis from an Ayurvedic perspective.

In Ayurveda, osteoarthritis is considered a disease of malnutrition that tends to affect vulnerable joints (due to previous injury or infection, congenital reasons, etc). However, as with all disease, to find the root cause of osteoarthritis, we first must look at the processes of digestion, or Agni. When Agni (the ‘digestive fire’ ) is not working properly, wastes or toxins known as Ama are produced instead of useful nutrients for the tissues. These toxins accumulate in the gut and at the same time, Vata (Air/Ether) accumulates in the colon.

Causes of Vata aggravation include:

  • Eating excessively cold, dry, rough, bitter, astringent or pungent foods (including an excess of raw foods)
  • Irregular schedules or meal times
  • Excessive traveling
  • Constant multitasking and rushing around
  • High stress or high anxiety jobs or situations
  • Lack of sound sleep
  • Excessively cold or dry environments
  • A physically or mentally traumatic event
  • Extreme grief, change or shock
  • Taking drugs
  • Excessive stimulation and movement

Aggravated Vata, along with Ama (toxins), move from the gut into the channels of circulation, find places in the body that are weak or vulnerable (in this case the joints) and settle in.

The qualities of Vata, and this particular type of Ama, have a catabolic/drying effect that causes deterioration of the soft tissues in the joints and eventually the bones. At the same time, Ama can block the channels, supplying nutrients to the joints causing further malnutrition. The deterioration and subsequent irritation in the joint causes inflammation, stiffness, swelling and pain.

In Ayurveda, rheumatoid arthritis is seen as a disease of toxic accumulation and immune malfunction. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, there is a very high level of accumulated Ama (hence the name), and in many cases, a considerable amount of excess heat (or Pitta). This Ama, combined with aggravated Vata and Pitta moves into the channels of the body and begins to affect Ojas (the vital essence of the tissues and the body-mind’s strength and immunity). This causes Ojas to become depleted and its qualities are changed. At the same time Ama blocks the channels and prevents the production of Ojas, depleting it further.

This is the basis of autoimmune-disease. Ojas begins to function incorrectly and, along with Ama, causes the inflammatory responses, swelling and pain that we recognize as rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes of Pitta aggravation include:

  • Eating excessively heating, fried, stimulating, pungent, sour or salty foods and drinks (including red meat, fermented foods, alcohol, coffee, chilli, acidic foods)
  • Exposure to excessively hot or humid environments
  • Not eating when hungry
  • Living with highly irritating situations
  • Excessively heating exercise
  • Excessively hot showers
  • Excessive exposure to anger
  • Violence, conflict and highly competitive situations

Things that deplete Ojas:

  • Excessive sexual activity
  • Overwork
  • Stress
  • Physical trauma (such as a severe car accident)
  • Psychological trauma (such as excessive stress or intense grief)
  • Vigorous exercise beyond your capacity

Ayurvedic Arthritis Treatment

This is where Ayurvedic arthritis treatment and Western Medicine protocol differ dramatically. If the condition is particularly chronic or severe, Ayurvedic arthritis treatments can greatly reduce its debilitating effects or help prevent it from getting any worse.

If it’s nature is medium-level chronic, Ayurveda can help to reverse the disease process, leading to a state of remission. In many cases, Ayurveda can actually offer a cure. Because the disease process is very well understood, Ayurvedic arthritis treatments can be applied that effect change at the root cause of the disease.

In both cases of arthritis, strengthening Agni and removing Ama is the immediate concern. Without this, any other treatment will be of little effect. This is achieved by following a special diet that allows the Agni to become stronger and the body to begin eliminating excess toxins. In fact, vast improvements can be made in terms of inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness just by diligently following the correct diet.

Home Remedies-

Along with a well structured approach to diet, Ayurvedic arthritis home remedies can also be very helpful, especially if the condition is not chronic or severe.

Castor oil (1 tsp taken before bed with ginger tea), fenugreek (½ tsp of powder in warm water before breakfast) and turmeric (1 tsp twice daily) are common household items and can be very effective when taken consistently and in the correct way.

In osteoarthritis the next step after diet and home remedies is to provide support using traditional herbal formulations. These will work more deeply to reduce inflammation and swelling, calm the aggravated Vata and begin nourishing the tissues that have become malnourished or depleted.

In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the emphasis should remain on a longer-term program of Ama reduction, plus herbs that reduce inflammation and nourish Ojas in order to correct the inappropriate immune response.

Ayurvedic arthritis body therapies, such as Pindaswed, also help enormously with the reduction of Ama, swelling, pain and inflammation.

But for the best possible results, Ayurveda’s unique deep cleansing and rejuvenation process known as Panchakarma is essential. Panchakarma (which means Five-Actions) will remove Ama and imbalanced Doshas from deep in the tissues enabling progress to be made in a much shorter period of time and enormously reducing the likelihood of any relapse.

From an Ayurvedic point of view, these forms of arthritis build in the body for a long time before they become fully noticeable as ‘Arthritis’. They are therefore considered chronic diseases and are usually well established in the body by the time any treatment for them is sought.

As with any chronic disease, two of the most important medicines are patience and persistence. Sticking with a line of treatment over a prolonged period of time (sometimes up to 2 years) is necessary but the results are well worth it.

But the best medicine for all of us is that of prevention – following a way of life that supports strong Agni, reduced Ama and balanced Doshas…and seeking help from an Ayurvedic Practitioner when joint pain is still in its earliest stages.

About Kester Marshall

Kester is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Naturopath, Herbalist and Zen Monk teaching and practicing in New South Wales, Australia. He has run a successful family health clinic for over a decade and, with his wife Nadia, he is the managing director and principal teacher of the Mudita Institute in Byron Bay.

7 Comments

  1. Kimbop85@hotmail.com'

    Kim

    May 14, 2016 at 3:44 am

    Wonderful article thank you. Can you please explain what the special diet should be that allows the Agni to become stronger and the body to begin eliminating excess toxins? Thank you

    • Kester

      May 16, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Kim,

      When we look at what is appropriate diet-wise from an Ayurvedic point of view, there are many variables to take into account – unfortunately its not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation. The best option therefore is to see a local Ayurvedic Dr or practitioner who can give you advice that is specifically tailored. There are however a few pointers that can help get you started…

      Avoid all processed or refined foods, wheat, yeast, cheese, red meat, deep fried foods and acidic/sour foods such as tomato, vinegars, sour fruits and fermented foods.

      Eat your main meal in the middle of the day and only a light meal in the evening, perhaps a soup. Include more warm cooked vegetables, cooked whole grains (a variety of) and pulses such as whole or split mung dahl as soups.

      Sipping ginger tea or hot water before breakfast and through the day can also help.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  2. kelisfoster1@gmail.com'

    gibs

    July 18, 2017 at 1:38 am

    (Herbal Cure For Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA))
    I first lost my ability to stand up from a sitting position due to total body weakness. The physician I saw that same week ran a blood test and told me it appeared to be rheumatoid arthritis (RA) few weeks later i came across a testimony of one lady on the internet testifying about a herbal medicine home called perfecthealthherbalmedicinehome,run by dr sithuu, on how they cured her of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

  3. kelisfoster1@gmail.com'

    gibs

    July 18, 2017 at 1:38 am

    And she also gave the email address of the herbal home and advised everybody to contact for help for any kind of diseases , so I emailed them,they replied and told me not to worry and they promised to cure me totally. Well i never believed it,,but i was so desperate,so i purchased the herbal medicine, well after used as prescribed, few weeks later i started experiencing changes,after 3 weeks usage i went to my doctor to confirmed if am finally cured of rheumatoid arthritis (RA),behold it was TRUE,i was totally cured , So friends my advise is if you have such disease or any other at all you can contact them via email: perfecthealthherbalmedicine gmail’com or website www’perfecthealthherbal weebly’com
    and I have two friends who have been cured by perfect health recently. they are very dedicated and knowledgeable. Thank you perfect health herbal medicine home …

  4. mechtsc@gmail.com'

    tarun

    November 8, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Dear Sir,

    I have paid fees for consultation from Dr. Prashant B.K.

    Transaction Ref No IGACILNNT3 for Rs.350.0 on 08-Nov-17 19:11.

    my query:-

    i meet a accident at 5:00 p.m on 14/08/2017 my right hand index,ring& middle finger got crush which cause extensor tendon break down and bone come out. i got surgery on 15/08/2017…after 24 days k wire was removed from both finger (middle & ring finger) where as lost half of my index finger. on diagnosis of x ray 16/09/2017 fracture found pending for healing ..mean while i started bending my both finger with other hand forcelly at pip ,on 05/10/2017 again gone for 2nd surgery at max hospital ,delhi in which ring finger fracture was fixed with plate and ring finger with 2 k wire (fracture site b/w – pip and mcp in both finger)…on 03/11/2017 x ray showed bone just start to heal and will take time and doctor started my physio now..Sir, my active motion in both finger is very less and pip joint is stiff on bending from other hand they can bend.

    sir please suggest medicine to strengthen my both fingers tendon and free movement at pip.

    age- 26
    height- 5’5
    weight- 63
    any disease- no
    addiction – no
    b.p – normal

    please respond earliest and suggest what ever is beneficial

    Regards,
    Tarun singh chauhan
    8800440469,7503392605
    h.no. 168,dhaka village, kingsway camp
    delhi – 110009,india

  5. loganca234@gmail.com'

    mason

    December 4, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Mason Noah
    I was diagnosed with RA at age 50. Now I’m 55 and I was in pain constantly, not to mention the intense fatigue. I was on Remicade, Arava, folic acid, and Percocet. It started in my neck and spread to both hips, hands, feet, back and just in the last two months, to my knees. I purchased RA herbal remedies online from a great herbal home called GOOD HEALTH HERBS HOME

  6. loganca234@gmail.com'

    mason

    December 4, 2017 at 11:33 am

    ,I only used the herbal remedy for 5 weeks, my RA disappeared.pleases anyone out there going through RA pain don’t hesitate to purchased RA herbal remedy from GOOD HEALTH HERBS HOME

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