Arthritis
341 Case Studies
44 Member Stories
49 Research

What is Arthritis?

Is long term Arthritic condition hindering your daily activities? Are you tired of using conventional medicine with not much benefit? Then you must consider alternative medicine like Ayurveda.

Arthritis is a long term condition that causes debilitating, life-changing pain which can affect many aspects of a person's life. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that progresses at an older age and causes a slow breakdown of the bones and cartilage within a joint. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases and the most common type includes rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and gout. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation in one or more of the joints, pain, stiffness that worsens with age, redness in the area, and decreased motion. Arthritis is found to affect more women compared to men, it has been found through various researches that approximately 50-54 million people are affected with arthritis, and in the next two decades the number is going to reach around 75 million. The most prevalent type of arthritis affecting the people around the world is found to be osteoarthritis. The major risk factors for developing arthritis include family history, aging, obesity, and individuals' sex.

See: 70 year old with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Painful Knees finds relief with Natural Ayurvedic Treatments

How does Ayurveda view Arthritis?

Ayurvedic view for treating arthritis:

According to Ayurveda, arthritis is described as a condition of Amavata, that has been mentioned as a dreadful, swollen, painful, polyarticular affection similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Ayurveda is based upon a unique combination of three principles called Doshas viz. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. People who don’t have their equilibrium in any of the Doshas are more likely to develop diseases like Amavata. Vata dosha is known to play a major role in Arthritis. Ayurveda views Arthritis as an imbalance between the Vata and Kapha dosha that lead to a decrease in digestive metabolism. It causes impaired digestion and decreased absorption of food leading to the formation of toxic substances like Aama. Aama accumulates in the joints causing inflammation, pain, redness, and many other obstructive processes.

Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis focuses on the etiological factors and follows a defense strategy to correct the disease at appropriate stages.

In Ayurveda, “arthritis is linked to the gut”: Ayurvedic formulations invariably target joints, gut, and immune systems. 

All three doshas occur in bringing about the smooth and smooth moves in the joints. This healthy state occurs when the doshas are balanced and not vitiated.

Kapha: The Kapha dosha helps in the lubrication of the joints and maintains the joints' integrity and stability. Kapha is essentially nutritive (by nature) into the joints. When Kapha morbidity occurs in the kind of its reduction, the joints' stability and integrity are dropped, and the joints' immunity will also decrease.

If the joint lubrication gets decreased, the joints will become dry. Vata and Pitta will get out of balance in this environment; mainly, Vata will increase from the prevailing dry atmosphere. Hyper-functioning of Vata in the joints will result in structural damage, degeneration, and pathological fractures, free broken bodies, crepitus (sounds from the joints), and swelling. If the Pitta dosha gets involved in the pathological process, joints' inflammation will only worsen the problem. When Kapha morbidity is heightened in the joints, fluids can accumulate within the joint spaces resulting in swelling. Excess fluids exert constant pressure on the cartilage and the joints. The excessive dampness also sets a breeding ground for infections to occur.

- Vata:  Vata helps in free moves, keeps up the joint's flexibility, and allows free movements to happen inside the joints. Vata conducts this function on the background of suitable lubrication, integrity, and strength offered to the joint by Kapha. Kapha and Vata are antagonistic when out of balance. Too much Kapha action in the joints will decrease Vata's responses because of the non-availability of free space due to the accumulation of fluids. On the contrary, if Vata increases a pathological increase, it will dry off the fluidity of Kapha, cause excessive dryness, and put in the degeneration process. The joints quickly get deteriorate. 

- Pitta: Pitta helps in the metabolism happening in the joints. It keeps up the joint's heat, keeps infections at bay, destroys pathogens, enhances and balances blood circulation (and nutrition) to the joints (being found as an active element within the bloodstream ). Pitta also provides lubrication to the joint combined with Kapha. Pitta accounts and buffers between Vata and Kapha. Owing to its hot land, it balances the double cold elements i.e., Vata and Kapha, in the joints.

The participation of Doshas from the joint pathology, particularly arthritis, and musculoskeletal disorders, can be understood by the symptoms and signs. By taking a look at the symptoms and signs in arthritis, an ayurvedic practitioner could infer in order to that dosha (dosha's) morbidity is included in the causation or aggravation of the illness.

Other factors leading to arthritis manifestation and aggravation:

- Ama: Improperly processed digestive juices in circulation that will be neither used by the cells as nourishment nor metabolized by the cells are called ama. This ama is formed in the gut level as a result of weak digestion. When ama isn't processed by the cells, the ama blocks the channels of circulation and nutrition. Ama accumulates in the cells and also disturb tissue metabolism and formation. Ama is gradually accumulated in the body in the kind of ama-visha or endo-toxins. Ama and ama-visha will cause several systemic psychosomatic ailments as well as auto-immune ailments like Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis).

Association of the ama with morbid doshas will add fuel to the flame. These doshas are now known as sama doshas (doshas linked with ama). Sama Vata, Sama Pitta, and Sama Kapha also will create painful syndromes and various types of arthritis.

- Weak dhatus -- Weak cells provide the right atmosphere for its morbid doshas to invade and cause arthritis, particularly bone, fat, and muscle cells are vulnerable to be attacked by vitiated doshas to cause arthritis. Weak dhatus may be congenital or acquired. Weak tissue metabolism (dhatwagni mandhya) and ama accumulation in dhatus (sama dhatus) additionally beneficial for arthritis.

Formation and collection of ama, their association with morbid doshas, and the manifestation of several joint associated ailments like arthritis describes the auto-immune procedure.


See: Kapha Dosha Balancing

Scientific studies in Ayurveda for Arthritis

Science and research studies conducted to showcase the efficacy of Ayurveda treatment for arthritis:

1. In a case study entitled The efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis: Cross-sectional experiential profile of a longitudinal study.[1] A total of 290 patients suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis were included in the study. The patients were treated with internal ayurvedic formulations that included kashayams, arishtams, gulikas, lehyam, and choornam, specialized ayurvedic oil and medicated oil for knee pain that included sneha-sweda and oushadha siddha taila, purificatory therapies (panchakarma chikitsa), medicated enema like vasti, or basti, therapeutic purgation (virechana), and external application of ayurvedic herbal pastes for arthritis that can help relieve pain. In addition to the medications, the patients were also advised to accommodate dietary changes and lifestyle modification. Ayurvedic physicians were assigned for individualized treatment to the patients for 1 to 6 months.

Clinical assessment was carried out once every 6 weeks that included walking time, grip strength, number of swollen and painful joints, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and rheumatoid factor.   Effective results were observed in the patients who completed rheumatoid arthritis treatment in Ayurveda. Even the patients who were suffering from severe functional limitations showed significant improvement.


2. In another multicenter a prospective, a clinical study titled Clinical evaluation of Vatari Guggulu, Maharasnadi kwatha, and Narayan taila in the management of osteoarthritis knee was undertaken. A total of 142 patients suffering from Osteoarthritis were included. The patients were administered with Vatari Guggulu 500 mg thrice a day along with Maharasnadi kwatha 20 ml twice daily with an equal amount of water and Narayan taila 20 ml for external application with a gentle massage twice a day for 15 min. Treatment continued for up to 12 weeks. Clinical assessment was carried out on parameters based on pain scores, stiffness, physical motion, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate; renal function tests (RFT), complete blood count, hemoglobin, and X-ray of the affected joint.

The study concluded that the patients benefited from the treatment and also determined Vatari Guggulu along with Maharasnadi kwatha and Narayan taila are safe and effective in the management of Osteoarthritis knee.

See: Guggul health benefits & side effects

Success Stories for Ayurveda healing Arthritis

Success story from Ayurvedic treatment for Arthritis

1. In a case study published in Ayurvedic management of rheumatoid arthritis: A case study [3]. A 32-year-old graduate, complaining about multiple joint pains associated with Angamarda (body-ache), Aruchi (anorexia), Thrishna (thirst), Alasya (tiredness), and Gaurava (heaviness in the body) with chronicity of 1 year and episodic attacks of fever in the past 6 months. She has treated with Amavatari rasa at a dose of 250 mg thrice a day with Anupana (adjuvant) along with lukewarm water for 8 weeks.

After 8 weeks of treatment, she found significant relief from all the symptoms and her complaints. The rheumatoid arthritis factor was found to be decreased from 24 to 15 and C - reactive protein from 5.80 to 3.0. This indicates a reduction in swelling, reduced pain, and inflammation. ESR decreased as well from 52 to 40 with 35% overall improvement from therapy.

2. Psoriatic Arthritis: A case study. [4]. A 50-year-old man, who was suffering from psoriasis from the past 10 years started to develop psoriatic arthritis recently. He visited Ayurveda clinic with complaint about knee pain, shoulder, stiffness in the joints from the past 6 months. He was advised to stop all current medications and treatments. He was prescribed Ayurvedic treatment with the administration of Abyantar snehapan along with Mahatikta Ghrita for 7 days after which on 8th and the 9th day he was given Sarwanga Abhyanga with Dashmool taila and Sarwanga Swedana plus Dashmool Kwatha. On the tenth day, he was advised not to take anything orally. Virechna was carried out with kwatha, Triphala churna, and danti churna. The patient had pravara Shuddhi with 22 vegas and samsarjana karma was advised for the next seven days.

After this, the patient reported 45%relief in the symptoms. The treatment was further continued with Aryogyavardhini Vati, kaishor guggula 250 mg thrice a day after meals along with water, Mahamanjishtadi kwatha 20 ml twice a day, pottali Sweda along with shashtika shali and aragawadha patra for local application. Within 2 weeks of treatment, his symptoms relieved up to 75% with a gradual decrease in pain and stiffness. He was asked to continue the treatment for a further 3 months and was happy to find all his symptoms related to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis fade away.

See: Ashwagandha benefits for anxiety

Ayurvedic herbs for arthritis remedies

Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments For Arthritis

Ayurveda offers many herbal remedies for treating arthritis. These herbs have recorded anti-inflammatory properties with no side effects of commonly prescribed drugs. The herbs ashwagandha, ginger, Triphala, Boswellia, turmeric, Guggulu, and Shatavari are shown to reduce inflammation. This occurs by interfering with the production of inflammatory compounds in the body.

Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has proven anti-inflammatory consequences. In a research study published in 2007, the infusion of the herb was found to curb the creation of pro-inflammatory molecules (TNF-alpha and two interleukin subtypes. In one research study, the ashwagandha anti-inflammatory effect was like taking the steroid hydrocortisone.

Ginger: The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger have also been recorded. Some data shows that ginger has a moderate beneficial impact on arthritis of the knee. Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by interfering with an enzyme (cyclooxygenase) that creates inflammatory compounds. 

Turmeric: Turmeric spice is widely used in South Asian cooking.  It is also used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat many ailments, many of which are linked to inflammation. The active turmeric component is called curcumin and has been demonstrated to inhibit crucial inflammation-producing enzymes, interrupting the inflammatory cascade at three distinct stages. Interestingly, some data indicate that it might protect the stomach against non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Although current studies for its use in treating osteoarthritis are few, curcumin/turmeric is a promising alternative in treating arthritis.

Triphala: The Ayurvedic herb Triphala has been used for centuries in India for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Triphala is a formulary made up of three herbs (Amalaki, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki). Studies show that the three herbs in Triphala have anti-inflammatory consequences.

- Boswellia: There's research that the Ayurvedic herb Boswellia serrata alleviates inflammation and joint pain. Boswellia blocks an enzyme that plays a significant role in creating chemicals called leukotrienes, which soothes and soothes inflammation. Researchers have discovered that people with arthritis who took Boswellia together with turmeric, ashwagandha, and zinc reported less joint pain but improved mobility and strength.

- Guggulu: The Ayurvedic herb Guggulu (Commiphora guggul) was proven to be a potent inhibitor of this enzyme NFKB, regulating the body's inflammatory reaction. Many studies show decreased inflammation and joint swelling following the administration of extracts of Guggulu resin.

- Shatavari: Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that's deemed to have a soothing, cooling, and lubricating influence on the body. Studies have found that it has an inhibitory effect on compounds that create inflammation in the body, such as TNF-alpha, and IL-1B.

Home Remedies:

Various symptoms of Arthritis and its disease progression can be controlled by following some most effective home remedies listed below:

a. Including Omega-3 fatty acids into the diet that can help reduce inflammation by regulating the immune system. People can take omega-3 supplements or foods like fish, nuts, flax seeds to control arthritis.

b. Taking Vitamin D can help maintain the strength of the bones and one can receive it from sun exposure and certain foods.

c. Massaging the muscles and joints regularly can help soothe pain resulting from arthritis.

d. Practicing yoga and meditation are also known to reduce pain, early morning stiffness, and reducing the number of tender and swollen joints.

The Benefits of Meditation

An important thing in Ayurveda is acknowledging the importance of the psychological and spiritual aspects of healing. Good health is realized by balancing the body, mind, and soul. Meditation provides a method to achieve this equilibrium. Meditation also generates a reduction of inflammation within the body.

See: Ayurvedic Massage

Summary

Ayurvedic treatments and formulations have demonstrated its potential in alleviating not only the pain caused due to arthritis but may heal and protect the cartilage. Ayurveda treatment helps improve quality of life, by focusing on the central issue and providing long-term clinical benefits.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for detoxification

References

1. Kumar.P.R.Krishna. The efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis: Cross-sectional experiential profile of a longitudinal study.1 Int J Ayurveda Res. 2011 Jan-Mar; 2(1): 8–13.

2. Mangal A1, Shubhasree MN2, Devi P3, Jadhav AD4, Prasad SA2, Kumar K3, Otta S5, Dhiman KS5. Clinical evaluation of Vatari Guggulu, Maharasnadi kwatha and Narayan taila in the management of osteoarthritis knee 2.J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2017 Jul - Sep;8(3):200-204. 

3. Sonam S Bhinde1, Sagar M Bhinde2, R Galib3, Pradeep K Prajapati. Ayurvedic management of rheumatoid arthritis: A case study 3. Medical journal of D.Y.Patil. 2018. (2) 186-190

4. Snehal Dilip Yadav., Jai KiranKini.(2016). Psoriatic Arthritis: A case study. 4. International Journal of Innovative Research in Medical Science. (1), 24-26.

See: Turmeric Curcumin Health Benefits & Side Effects

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