Arthritis Management through Ayurveda

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Are you suffering from arthritis? It is a good idea to understand some of the grave issues that surround the common disease. Read on to find the Ayurvedic explanation of this problem and how the use of herbs forms the mainstay of its therapy.

What might appear, as a bit of surprise to you is that two of the ancient treatise on the science of life i.e., Charaka samhita and Madhav nidana, include arthritis in many of the nervous system disorders. Ayurveda terms arthritis as amavata.

Ama is the undigested byproduct of the impaired digestion (for which modern chemistry has no correlate) and vata is one of three doshas or body humors. The other two body humors are pitta and kapha.

Ayurveda attributes cause of any disease to an imbalance in one or all of these, and hence every disease has a supporting theory by the name of tridosha.

Charaka samhita mentions: “if the level of vata increases in the body, there is quivering and breaking pain in the limbs and joints, as if crackling.” But, “if it is localized ina particular joint, it produces swelling that feels like an air-filled bladder and produces pain on movement; this description is suggestive of arthritis.”

Generally in case of arthritis, vata doesn’t increase at random in every joint throughout the body. It affects one part – mainly a joint – and gradually spreads to other joints. This is very typical of arthritis. It starts with a joint, say an elbow joint, and then manifests in another elbow joint and progresses in the sequence of other joints. Keeping this thing in mind, no persistent joint pain – more pronounced particularly on movement – should be taken lightly.

With reference to joints, vata, pitta, and kapha relate to the process of motion, metabolic and secretory functions (in this case synovial fluid embedded between joint spaces), an dlubrication and preservation (like that of structure and homoestasis), respectively. The vata dosha, which has hot, airy, and mobile attributes, plays a critical role in causing arthritis.

Since vata has high degree of mobility, its vitiated form spreads fast to other joints and triggers off a spate of imbalances in the rest of the body humors. Kapha, responsible for lubrication, suffers the most. Joints, minus their lubricating fluids, means more friction and subsequent pain on movement. Higher the imbalance, higher is the pain.

Chronic arthritis patients experience it on knee and elbow joints even when a puff of a breeze touches them. Such people are normally vata-types by prakruti or constitution. Since we all have a different physiological and physiological constitution, each one of us requires specific treatment for a problem – including arthritis -- which might have similar symptoms.

Use of herbs forms the mainstay of arthritis cure through Ayurveda, besides dietary and lifestyle modifications. In the hierarchical manner of cosmic evolution, herbs consist of the same basic matter called panchamahabootas i.e., earth, water, air, fire, and ether as that of human beings, and derive attributes that subsequently dictate their medicinal and healing properties.

In case of arthritis, herbs (single or in combination) that have anti-vata properties are used to bring down the level of vata in the body. There are a number of over-the-counter Ayurvedic medicines being used in the US and elsewhere for the treatment of arthritis. The indiscriminate use of these medicines through third-person recommendations or self-prescription may not always be the right thing to do. Your prakruti may not fit into the prescription your neighbor has got for arthritis. Ayurvedic therapy and herbal combinations have to be personalized for each person to provide an arthritis patient what he or she is always looking for – a pain-free life full of mobility.

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