Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of the joints. General symptoms of arthritis include joint pain and stiffness. The onset of arthritis can be gradual or sudden, with other symptoms such as redness, warmth, swelling, and decreased range of motion of the affected joints. More common in adults over the age of 65, and in women than in men, arthritis also develops children, teens and younger adults.
Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, states the cause of arthritis to the gathering of Ama or poisons and aggravated Vata (dosha sort) matched with feeble Agni (stomach related fire). Since the fundamental dosha related with joint pain is Vata, most medications call for Vata-placating cures.
With over 100 types of Arthritis, the symptoms and treatment vary for each. The most common forms are Osteoarthritis (Sandhigat Vata) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (Ama Vat). Ayurveda focuses on the idea of balance in bodily systems, and treats each person uniquely, with many variables taken into account to create a tailored treatment.
In Ayurveda, osteoarthritis is considered a disease of malnutrition that tends to affect vulnerable joints. The cause of osteoarthritis is rooted in Agni, the ‘digestive fire’. When the process of digestion, or Agni, is affected, wastes or toxins known as Ama are produced instead of useful nutrients for the tissues. The accumulated toxins in the gut along with Vata (Air/Ether) collects in the colon.
Reasons for Vata irritation include: eating exorbitantly chilly, dry, rough, bitter or astringent substances, irregular and unbalanced lifestyle, stress and anxiety, absence of sleep, mentally or physically traumatic event, taking drugs, excessive movement and stimulation amongst others.
Vata, along with Ama (toxins), circulated from the gut into weak or vulnerable joints and settle in. The characteristics of Vata and Ama have a catabolic/drying impact that disintegrates the delicate tissues in the joints and bones. In the meantime, Ama can hinder the channels providing supplements to the joints causing further malnutrition. This results in inflammation, stiffness, swelling and pain in the joint.
In Ayurveda, rheumatoid arthritis is the result of toxic accumulation and immune malfunction. The high level of accumulated Ama, the excess heat (Pitta) and Vata moves into the channels of the body. This depletes the qualities of Ojas (the vital essence).The basis of autoimmune-disease, Ojas begins to function incorrectly and, along with Ama, causes the inflammatory responses, swelling and pain recognized 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.
Primary treatment should aim to digest Ama, reduce Vata and strengthen Agni. Along with a structured diet, home remedies can also be helpful in conditions where arthritis isn’t chronic or severe.
In osteoarthritis, using traditional herbal formulations reduces inflammation and swelling, calms the aggravated Vata and nourishes the tissues. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis emphasises on a longer-term program of Ama reduction, plus herbs that reduce inflammation and rejuvenate Ojas. Ayurvedic body therapies such as Pindaswed aid in the reduction of Ama, swelling, pain and inflammation.
One of the most essential treatment is Panchakarma in Ayurveda. Panchakarma or Five-Actions is a set of treatment methods used to clear toxic materials from human body to balance an individual’s body and mind. It removes Ama and imbalanced Doshas helps in healing, purifying and rejuvenating a person’s body and mind, thereby, promoting longevity of life. Panchakarma can prevent relapse as well as mitigate stress and slows down the ageing process.
However, the best cure is prevention. Ensuring strong Agni, balanced Doshas and lowered Ama, along with assistance of an Ayurveda practitioner to follow preventive healthcare, is sure to improve and enhance your living.