Arthritis In Ayurveda
Ayurveda has been gaining huge popularity of late in diagnosing arthritis. Arthritis is described as a medical condition wherein the patient suffers from joint pain, caused mostly due to damage to the joints. This condition is now increasingly common among youngsters too, as is the case with the elderly.

Arthritis has so many variants, the most common among these being osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease). Ayurveda offers several alternatives for arthritis treatment. Several studies lately in the United States, India and other places have confirmed Ayurvedic treatment as the means to natural arthritic pain relief.

According to Ayurveda, Arthritis can be caused by aggravation of vata (air) dosha, and due to excessive collection of ama (toxic substance due to improper digestion) in the body. When ama begins to increase in quantity, it begins to get accumulated in the weaker areas of the body, and an aggravation of vata happens, therefore, resulting in arthritis.

Ayurvedic experts believe that every individual is unique, and therefore, the path to their healing differs although the outer symptoms may be similar. This implies that the remedy for arthritis pain and suffering is different for each individual.

Ayurveda terms arthritis as something which is caused due to an excess accumulation of vata, pitta or kapha in the body. Therefore, determining the exact type of arthritis with the help of a physician, and taking specific treatment will offer effective relief.

Vata-type Arthritis If your arthritis is caused due to vata, your joints could crack and pop and become dry, but may not appear swollen. Apart from general treatment, vata-type arthritis responds well to three-to-five-day detoxification diet and an anti-vata diet.

General recommendations for this type of arthritis are:

  • Yogaraj guggulu tablet could be taken thrice a day, as it cleanses bone tissue, improves bone strength and flexibility.
  • Half or one teaspoons of Haritaki with warm water is recommended.
  • You could also apply mahanaran oil on affected joint, following it up with local moist heat application. Else, after massaging with the oil, you could soak your foot in hot water. Even triphala or castor oil can help in colon cleansing.
  • Practising certain yoga postures, including forward bend, Maha Mudra, chest-knee pose and half-bridge pose may be helpful.

Pitta-type Arthritis

Characterized by inflammation, this type of arthritis is followed by swelling of joints and pain while not even moving. It may also appear red in colour and may be hot to touch. Experts opine that this type responds well to a one-week detoxification diet and anti-Pitta diet.

Some specific herbs recommended for pitta-type arthritis are guggul, aloe, sandalwood, chaparral and saffron.

  • Ayurveda suggests taking 1 tablet (350mg) of kaishore guggulu thrice a day, massaging with Brahmi and sandalwood oils, and herbs such as nirgundi and musta for pain relief. External application of cool castor oil or coconut oil to the painful area is recommended, applying sandalwood powder paste on affected area by mixing one teaspoon of sandalwood powder and adding sufficient water to make a paste and rubbing it onto the joint.
  • Applying ice-pack on the inflamed part is also recommended.
  • Further yoga postures such as bow pose, boat pose, locust pose, cow pose, camel pose and moon salutation is recommended.
Kapha-type Arthritis
The joint gets stiff and swollen in this type of arthritis, but it makes feel cold and clammy rather than hot. A little movement may tend to relieve the pain in this case. This type of pain responds to a one or two week detoxification diet (light, dry and warm food).

  • Pure guggul (Punarnava guggulu tablets 250mg one tab thrice a day), application of a paste of vacha (calamus root) powder to the joint, make a paste of punarnava powder and ginger powder (mix 1 teaspoon each with warm water to make a paste) and apply on the joint), hot herbs including dry ginger, cinnamon, trikatu and turmeric is recommended. Even Musta and nirgundi can help relieve pain.
  • Specific yoga postures include triangle pose, forward bend, spinal twist, and tree pose.

Ayurveda attempts to remove ama from the joint and bring it back to the colon, and eliminate it. In case, you are not aware about the kind of arthritis (vata, pitta or kapha), take a teaspoon of triphala added to 1/2 or one cup of warm water.

Haritaki is used for vata-type arthritis, amalaki is used for pitta-type arthritis, and bibbitaki is used for kapha-type arthritis.

Diet: Three to five-day detoxification diet is recommended with vegetables, juices, spices and herbs taken on an empty stomach. Enemas and colon cleansing are also done to detoxify the body.

Oil: Several essential oils are applied externally to help the body get rid of toxins, while also relieving pain and improving mobility. Mahanarayan oil, when mixed with sesame oil (1:1) helps improve flexibility, muscle fatigue and stiffness and helps relieve pain. The oil breaks blockages and begins to heal locally. After application of oil, warm heat, yoga, bath or mild exercise improves the condition.
Heat Therapy: The patient may be required to sit in a sauna, or should have steam applied directly on the affected area.

Cold Therapy: It involves using cold packs, soaking in cold water, ice massage, or over-the-counter sprays and heating salve that can cool the joints and skin.

Herbs and Spices: Ayurveda also uses several herbs and spices externally and internally when treating arthritis. It is supposed to cleanse the body and relive pain and stiffness. Golden seal, mint, ephedra, nirgundi, gentian, eucalyptus leaves, quassia, scute, coptis, phellodendrom, aloe, Siberian gingseng, guggul, du huo, myrhh, lugusticum and yucca are few such herbs used for treatment.

On similar lines, Chamomila (useful when patient gets restless), turmeric (excellent anti-inflammatory properties and mild painkiller and strengthens connective tissues between joints), Ginger (anti-inflammatory agent), nettle (helps in elimination of waste from kidneys), boswellia (used as natural anti-inflammatory), and devil's claw (good anti-inflammatory herb for joint and muscular problems) are few other good herbs recommended for arthritis.