Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints.
Starting from the small joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet, it spreads to the larger joints; elbows, shoulders, fingers, legs, wrists, knees, ankles as the disease progresses.
Ayurveda has studied the different forms of arthritis and has found ways to treat it naturally in most of its forms. Having a detailed study of different forms of arthritis, Ayurveda has derived a clear explanation of the cause of Arthritis. Hence Ayurveda has found methods for treating the disease successfully in its most of the forms. Ayurvedic treatments are applied to reverse the root cause of the disease.
In a study on the efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis conducted at the Ayurvedic Trust, Coimbatore, India, the results indicated that classical Ayurvedic treatment was effective for the patients who completed treatment. Even patients with severe functional limitations showed significant improvement.
The symptoms of the disease are swelling in the joints, redness, tenderness, and stiffness, which are generally strongly felt in the early hours in the morning while rising. This stiffness and soreness may partially or completely immobilize the limbs. The pain is elevated by agents like cold water, windy and rainy weather. The development of the disease leads to severe deformities, like visible curvature of the fingers, contraction of the elbows, making the hands unable to stretch. In some cases, this condition can damage the body systems including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
- Sex. Women are more likely to be affected than men.
- Age. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins in middle age before 55.
- Food. Increased intake of indigestible, heavy and incompatible (To the body constitution) foods.
- Obesity. Especially those who are obese appear to be at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
- Family history.
Ayurvedic view of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The group of arthritic diseases is called the Amavas in Sanskrit. The term Ama denotes the toxins formed in the body like a sludge, which accumulates in the body when foods are not completely digested and fail to get cleansed by the body. This Ama is a poison to the whole body system.
The occurrence and development of rheumatoid arthritis can be contributed to abnormalities in any of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta or Kapha. Accurate recognition of the imbalanced doshas is important because it provides the answer to the question of how Ayurveda treats rheumatoid arthritis.
Vata dosha, which causes all kinds of movements in the body, transmits the Ama throughout the body which is accumulated on the tissues as a sticky layer, including on the joints. Ama can block the channels supplying nutrients to the joints causing further malnutrition.
Ama, along with a considerable amount of excess heat formed by the aggravation of Pitta dosha, moves into the channels of the body and begins to affect the Ojas (the vital essence of the tissues and the mind’s strength and immunity) as well. This causes the Ojas to become depleted and its qualities are changed. At the same time, Ama blocks the channels and prevents the production of the Ojas, depleting it further. This is the basis of autoimmune-disease.
Symptoms Rheumatoid Arthritis according to Ayurveda
Vata type of arthritis
In a Vata type of arthritis, strong deformations are formed. The joints get creaky and when touched are cold and dry. The pain occurs mostly when moving. Joint problems are usually accompanied by other painful symptoms– anxiety that leads to fear, insomnia and nervousness, gas, constipation, bloating and sometimes even back pain.
Pitta type of arthritis
Pitta type of arthritis pain is acute and the burning is more severe than in the other types. Inflammation of the joints causes redness of the skin and chills in the body. The pain increases with warmth and subsides with cold. The joints are swollen, painful even at rest and when touched are warm. Sweating of the body, diarrhea, and irritability can also be seen.
Kapha type of arthritis
In Kapha-type of arthritis, there is swelling in the joints and in the area around them, as they become tight, cold, damp and itchy. The pain is severe and dull. The heat relieves it, and the cold intensifies it. In this type of arthritis, the pain is at its peak in the morning and gradually decreases by the movement. There may be respiratory problems, increased secretion of mucus and the skin can get oily than the normal.
General ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
The treatment is applied according to the condition of the body, the intensity of the disease, age, few other factors related to the patient and the type of arthritis.
Ayurveda cures rheumatoid arthritis by clearing toxins from the body and restoring the doshas to their balance. Purification of the body is achieved using combined procedures of Panchakarma, diet changes, medicines, and lifestyle changes. Colon cleansing is particularly important.
In Vata-type arthritis, Vata in excess is soothed by diet changes – by consuming easily digestible foods. Cold producing foods like cold drinks, salads, dried grains of corn and barley, potatoes, tomatoes are to be avoided. Traditionally, the extract of the Guggulu plant is used as medicine. Guggulu has a multidimensional effect such as anti-inflammatory, expeller of gases, laxative and detoxifying. Mahanarayan oil is also used to correct the imbalance in Vata. The use of Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) is also useful to reverse the Vata imbalance.
In Pitta type of Arthritis, Pitta is in excess is soothed by diet changes. Spicy foods, yogurt, spinach, tomatoes, etc. are to be avoided. The use of Kayshore Guggul and Amla (Indian gooseberry) is useful. Applying cold coconut or castor oil on affected joints recommended.
In Kapha type of Arthritis, Kapha in excess is soothed by diet changes –such as avoiding dairy products, cold drinks, etc. Punarnava Guggul and Bibitaki are useful to cure this type of arthritis.
Along with a well-structured approach to diet, home remedies can also be very helpful to cure Arthritis, especially if the condition is not chronic or severe. Castor oil (1 tsp with ginger tea before bed), fenugreek (½ tsp of powder in warm water before breakfast) and turmeric (1 tsp twice daily in warm water) are common household items and can be very effective when taken regularly. Trifala is an effective treatment for all types of arthritis.