Arthritis treatment in Ayurveda- Is it beneficial?
If you have been facing pain and inflammation or reduced range of motion in the joints, ankle, muscles, or fingers recently, it could be arthritis.
Arthritis begins with a pain that feels like the area is burning. While the initial phase is marked with dull pain, arthritis can cause immense pain later on, even when movement is very slight. Some of these are age-related, and some may be inherited from genes. Some of the common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Joint stiffness in the mornings
- Swelling of joints
- Numbness and tingling sensation
- Chronic fatigue
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis. While NSAIDs and physical therapy are part of the treatment mechanism, the role of alternative medicine like Ayurveda cannot be undermined.
Ayurveda and arthritis
Ayurveda is an ancient form of medicine and emphasizes the use of natural ingredients for treatment. This science of life believes that the five basic elements of nature manifest in the human body as three doshas, namely, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Arthritis treatment in ayurveda is gaining more attention across the globe. Ayurveda involves a holistic approach with natural herbs and dietary restrictions. Ayurveda, an age-old science, has been able to treat the causes that lead to joint pain. It is essential to follow the diet specified to get good results.
Many of these Ayurvedic medicines do not have any side effects, but, it is always important to consume them after consultation with an ayurvedic physician. He will be the right person to prescribe you medications based on your body condition.
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis helps to balance and stabilize the Vata component of the body.
Nourishment to joints is possible when no impurities reach the joints. This is possible with the help of Ayurveda. Many essential oils are also part of the treatment mechanism that helps to alleviate pain.
Foods to eat
Arthritis cannot be cured with only diet, but it can greatly help in reducing the triggers that cause pain and reduce inflammation. According to Ayurveda, certain types of foods can induce pain due to their inherent quality. Also, certain other foods are considered beneficial since they aid in recovery.
The following types of foods can be consumed to relieve the symptoms of arthritis pain:
- Omega-3, which has an anti-inflammatory property can be consumed to help in pain. As we know arthritis is the inflammation of joints, this superfood helps to lessen the inflammation and stiffness of the joints.
- Fibrous foods help in maintaining body weight. This way pressure on the joints is reduced. Also, fiber helps to eradicate the c reactive protein in the blood which is the cause of inflammation.
- Plant proteins are a rich source of antioxidants, which help to keep a check on inflammation of the joints.
- Vitamin D maintains the bone structure and checks bone degeneration. It is the backbone of calcium in the body. Maintaining bone density helps to avoid arthritis.
- Antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruit sources also help in pain management in arthritis. They also help in building a strong immune system. The deeper the color of the veggie, the more is the antioxidant content.
Below is the list of food items that can be included in your diet to manage pain:
- Walnuts, egg, flax seeds, chia seeds
- Oats, buckwheat, barley, jowar, bajra
- Ginger, guava, pineapple, bell pepper, cabbage, Brussel sprouts
- Rajma, chickpeas
- Turmeric, garlic
- Unpolished long grain rice, red rice
Foods to avoid
While we have seen a list of foods that can be taken, there are certain foods that you should stop consuming to help you control arthritis pain:
Processed foods are a big No. These foods produce glycosylated end products and are high in salt content, which triggers pain. Alcohol consumption increases the uric acid in the body which may be a reason for gout. Gluten-containing foods are best to be avoided as they increase inflammation.
Foods high in fat content are also to be avoided. Some examples are:
- High sugar-content foods
- Processed and canned food products
- Refined foods like pasta, burger, and pizza
- American cheese, mayonnaise
- Processed and red meat
Supplements and herbs
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis, recommends the use of certain herbs for the treatment of arthritis. These can be highly beneficial in controlling inflammation and reducing the triggers.
The suggestion of herbs for each type of arthritis is purely based on the person’s symptoms and body condition. The below-listed herbs can be commonly used by almost everyone who is suffering from pain related to arthritis.
Ajwain or carom seeds
Ajwain, due to the presence of anti-inflammatory properties, can help in reducing pain. This can be used either for external applications or can be consumed internally.
A paste of ajwain can be applied to the painful areas, to get relief. Soaking your aching joints in a tub filled with ajwain-soaked hot water can be of great help too. For internal consumption, you can have ajwain water every day.
It is believed that adding ajwain to food also helps in proper digestion. Proper digestion eliminates yet another reason for joint pain.
This is another ayurvedic herb that reduces swelling and pain in the joints. The leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant, all have medicinal properties. You can make a decoction out of the leaves, apply the paste of the leaves on aching joints, or apply Nirgundi oil on your joints.
This plant has a bitter taste and has high anti-convulsing and anti-oxidant properties.
Dashmool or Dashmula
‘Dash’ means ten and ‘mool’ means roots, which implies, this herbal supplement is made out of ten roots. Dashmula is very effective in treating vat rog in the body. It has anti-inflammatory properties that heal the pain. This is available in powder form, tablet, and also as oil.
Dashmula also has an analgesic and sedative property.
This omnipotent herb is found in every kitchen not without reason. Ginger is known for its wonderful antiseptic properties and arthritis treatment in ayurveda stresses its regular use.
It helps increase blood circulation and helps to fasten the healing process. Ginger can be boiled with water and drank like tea. Ginger paste can also be applied to painful joints.
The herb that keeps joints strong and relieves them from pain is shallaki. It improves mobility that was reduced due to arthritis. Shallaki is available in powder and oil form.
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis also mentions some lifestyle modifications. These help and complement the action of ayurvedic medicines.
- Watch your weight since obesity can be the best enemy for arthritis. If you are obese, the stress on your joints is more. When you visit a doctor, the first thing you may hear is about weight management.
- Avoid stress as this could be a trigger for inflammation. Try to include yoga and meditation in your routine to avoid stress. They help you calm your mind and keep you active too.
- Cut down on high-sugar, high-salt foods. A complete reduction in intake of fried, canned, and processed foods can help you see a great change.
- Restricted movement can also cause stiffness in the joints. Try to be more active and take up walking as a joyful activity. Don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle as it can reduce your movements further. Look for opportunities to move even during work.
- Reducing alcohol intake and cutting down on smoking can be beneficial to control the triggers.
A good night’s sleep is crucial for healthy living. This is not specific to arthritis, but the overall well-being of a person too. Sleep and arthritis pain are interrelated. Poor sleep may trigger pain and pain may impair sleep.
The quality of sleep is very important for managing arthritis. To improve your sleep, you could try the following.
- Have a soothing bath before bed and apply heat therapy for at least 15 minutes to the affected joints.
- Avoid hard mattresses as they can cause back pain and affect restful sleep.
- Talk to your physician to know if you have sleep apnea and try to get treated for the same.
- Eat at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime so that you allow enough time for digestion.
- Meditate and let your stress out before retiring to bed.
- Sleep hygiene that would include staying away from gadgets before bedtime, going to bed at the same time every day, and developing a nighttime routine can be of great help to assist in sound sleep.
Arthritis treatment in ayurveda also includes medicines that aid in calm sleep, if the pain is severe.
This is very important for people suffering from arthritis. Exercise helps to increase the strength of the joints and reduces pain. The more immobile you are, the more is the risk of inflammation.
Walking helps a lot with all age groups and is excellent for arthritis pain management as it improves blood circulation.
Yoga helps to destress and removes stiffness from the joints. This way, it can help in reducing pain.
Aqua aerobics can improve circulation and can strengthen the muscles.
Cycling and running are also beneficial for the joints. When you have proper guidance for stretching, strength training, etc. running will not be painful.
Remember to do exercises only under proper medical guidance, or else it can do more bad than good.
What not to do with arthritis?
Proper exercise, ayurvedic herb supplements, and dietary control can help a great deal with arthritis. There are certain things you should avoid if you are finding it difficult with aching joints.
- Avoid high impact and repetitive movements that may affect the joints like playing tennis, jumping, and high-impact aerobics.
- Avoid self-medication. If you think you are increasingly using pain relievers, you should visit your doctor at once.
- Try not to ignore the symptoms. If you are regularly facing pain in the joints and ignoring them, inflammation and swelling may increase from the inside. This will necessitate prolonged treatment.
- You shouldn’t be consuming high levels of alcohol if you are facing joint pain.
- Gluten, Advanced Glycation End products, high carbohydrate foods, and fatty foods are to be avoided if you are suffering from arthritis pain.
What does the research say about ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
A significant study by India’s premier medical institution, AIIMS, states that certain ayurvedic formulations are effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause irreversible joint damage.
This research was conducted on nearly 125 patients and it was found that the use of Ashwagandha and Sidh Makardhwaj, helped in alleviating pain and swelling of the joints.
The first-ever study of a traditional medical system was for Ayurvedic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, which was sponsored by WHO and was conducted in collaboration with the ICMR and the Ayurvedic trust, Coimbatore, TamilNadu.
The results of this study stated that classical ayurvedic treatment proved to be very effective even in patients with severe functional limitations. Many medically reviewed ayurvedic treatments have been around for a long time.
Degeneration of body tissues happens with age and so arthritis is very common in old people. But, these days due to lifestyle modifications, even young people are affected. Ayurveda lends a helping hand to such people. Many home remedies can help in this condition too.
Your physician will help chart out a treatment plan that is complementary to modern medicine. Make sure you follow all the dos and don'ts to have a good quality of life.
Try not to be anxious about your condition. Following a positive attitude along with the prescribed ayurvedic remedies can soon bring you out of pain.