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What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic state of the joints where the cartilage cushioning at the ends of the bones loses its elasticity slowly and wears away. With no protective cartilage, the bones begin to rub against one another, causing swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion. Osteoarthritis treatment therapies with current traditional medicine typically focus on pain reduction and control of inflammation. Nonetheless, these approaches don't have any impact on the natural course of this disease.

The joints affected are typically the knees, hips, spine, and hands. OA is the primary reason for disability in older persons and affects approximately 14-20 percent of all adults aged ≥25 years. The incidence rate of OA is 38 percent in people over 45 years old and 70 percent in people over 65 years old consequently, its prevalence and health impact increase with age. Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis type globally, with symptoms ranging from minor discomfort to debilitation.

See: 73 Year Old Female Avoided Surgery for Osteoarthritis with Ayurveda Therapy

What causes osteoarthritis?

Science does not have any clear understanding of what causes OA at present. Researchers point to several possible factors involved in the development and course of OA. Some of the determinants include inflammation, biomechanical imbalances that place stress on the joints, and mobile disorders that result in the abnormal breakdown of cartilage. It's essential that the healing strategy in treating OA addresses as many of these variables as possible.

See: Acupuncture helps 70 year old female relieve pain for Osteoarthritis

How does Ayurvedic view osteoarthritis?

Ayurvedic approaches to healing osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is called Sandhivata in Ayurveda. It's a joint disorder due to the erosion/ splitting of cartilage, which cushions bones and causing pain, stiffness, and swelling as bones rub together. As conventional therapy only results in moderate effectiveness and possible side effects, people are looking for alternative remedies, such as Ayurveda.  The primary modalities Ayurveda uses to treat osteoarthritis and other ailments are outlined below: Panchakarma, herbal remedies, yoga, and meditation.

Ayurveda views osteoarthritis as a clinical condition that requires replenishment of lubrication around the affected joints, achievable through the process of bṛṁhaṇa (satiation). Ayurvedic osteoarthritis treatment emanating from natural remedies for Arthritis involves internal drugs and topical therapies, which can be patient-specific and directed by the disease phase. The person's reaction to therapy depends on the duration, level of the manifested disease, age, and the root cause. As an example, osteoarthritis of a degenerative trigger and recent-onset could be reversed through natural treatment for osteoarthritis using certain medications and exercises. At the same time, cases with later-stage chronic symptoms will, at a minimum, see considerably reduced pain and an increased range of motion. At all stages, the development of this corrosion can be slowed down using Ayurvedic treatment for osteoarthritis.

While treating osteoarthritis with Ayurveda, the joints will be the seats (home) of the fatty lubricating substance shleshaka Kapha (a subtype of Kapha, or śleṣaka Kapha), which eases the effective and appropriate mobility of those joints. Because of the aging process and other degenerative causes, the vāta (among the three humors responsible for all types of motions ) generally increases, and in such websites. This increased Vata in due course of time desiccates the lubricating material. This process results in a condition known as sandhigata vāta (osteoarthritis). This condition limits the joints' selection of action, causing pain and stiffness, reflected in conditions like Knee Osteoarthritis.

As a disorder of innovative nature, often requiring routine follow-ups, Ayurveda typically recommends a treatment plan, according to Panchakarma principles, for maximum success. However, the remedy for osteoarthritis doesn't necessarily require extensive therapies or medications. Oftentimes, a couple of vital internal medicines, along with some localized treatments, will suffice to ease the disease.

Early diagnosis and the right treatment is essential in controlling Sandhivata-osteoarthritis. Panchakarma procedures require around three or four weeks, depending on the joint involved, and the person may expect a considerable benefit in this period. The aim of handling Sandhivata-osteoarthritis involves controlling/relieving pain, improving and maintaining range of motion and stability of affected joints, and restricting functional impairment.

See: Ginger Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts

Ayurvedic herbal remedies for osteoarthritis

Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments For Osteoarthritis

Ayurveda offers many herbal remedies for treating OA. Although numerous modern treatments for a variety of types of OA have been identified, they suffer from several drawbacks, such as lack of efficiency, excessive side effects, and higher prices. Typically, the treatment of OA requires treatment of the individual for their whole lifetime; therefore, it ought to be robust, friendly, secure, and inexpensive. The Ayurveda based bioactive compounds such as Curcumin (from turmeric), resveratrol (red grapes, cranberries, and peanuts), quercetin (onions), silymarin (artichoke), tea polyphenols, genistein (soy), guggulsterone (guggul), boswellic acid (salai guggul) and withanolides (ashwagandha) govern the pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-1b)and pro-inflammatory enzymes which mediate the production of prostaglandins (e.g., cyclooxygenase-2) and leukotrienes (e.g., lipooxygenase).

These plants have recorded anti-inflammatory properties with no side effects of commonly prescribed drugs. For instance, in a recent meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, a study was presented that demonstrated an herbal Ayurvedic treatment to be as effective in treating knee osteoarthritis as a commonly prescribed drug (Celebrex) and glucosamine -- and with fewer side effects. The ACR said that Ayurveda provides "safe and effective treatment options" for OA.

The herbs  Triphala, Guggulu, Boswellia, Ashwagandha, Ginger,  Turmeric, and Shatavari have been shown to reduce inflammation by interfering with the production of inflammatory compounds in the body.

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

- Guggulu: Additionally, the 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.

- Boswellia: There's evidence that the Ayurvedic herb Boswellia serrata, also known as Indian frankincense, alleviates joint pain and inflammation. Boswellia blocks an enzyme (5-lipoxygenase), which plays a significant role in the creation of chemicals called leukotrienes, which soothes and soothes inflammation. Researchers have discovered that people with osteoarthritis who took Boswellia together with ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc reported less joint pain and improved mobility and strength.

- Turmeric: Turmeric is a spice widely used in South and East Asian cooking. Additionally, it is used both orally and topically in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a vast array of ailments, many of which are linked to inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been demonstrated to inhibit crucial inflammation-producing enzymes (cyclo-oxygenase, lipo-oxygenase, and phospholipase A2), interrupting the inflammatory cascade at three distinct stages. Current studies for curcumin/turmeric as an alternative in treating OA are few.

- Ashwagandha: Another Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), has proven anti-inflammatory consequences. In a 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. The anti-inflammatory effect of ashwagandha, according to a study, was like taking the steroid hydrocortisone.

- Ginger: The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) have also been recorded. Ginger functions as an anti-inflammatory by interfering with an enzyme (cyclo-oxygenase) that creates inflammatory compounds. Some data shows that ginger has a moderate beneficial impact on OA of the knee. Further research is needed to evaluate ginger's effectiveness in treating OA.

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

See: Resveratrol in Grapes- a promising therapy for Chronic Kidney Disease

Yoga for osteoarthritis

From a physical standpoint, the practice of yoga increases flexibility, strength, and balance. These properties are vital for those dealing with osteoarthritis (OA). By incorporating body, mind, and soul with yoga practice, we experience physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. Additionally, by bringing our attention to the present moment, we boost our body awareness, not just while practicing yoga, but also in our daily moves.

When practiced regularly, gentle yoga moves not only to strengthen the muscles that support the joints but also to enhance the muscles' flexibility. The combination of strength and flexibility can be more potent than merely strengthening alone. Several studies have proven the advantage of extending and increasing flexibility for individuals with OA in the knees.

Though some exercise programs focus solely on strengthening the quadriceps muscle (an essential part of most approaches to knee OA), such as yoga stretches, it builds strength and increases flexibility. One study that focused solely on quadriceps strengthening revealed that patients lost flexibility when they just concentrated on strength training. This loss of strength did not happen in programs that included extending.

Yoga's concentrate on balance and alignment helps improve biomechanical imbalances that create stress on the joints. As researchers have discovered, the damage to cartilage frequently occurs due to the unbalanced positions the body is set in while walking, moving, and even sitting. Misalignments of bones, lack of body awareness, dysfunctional movement patterns, and poor posture can add to wear and tear of the cartilage. Yoga can help to retrain the body to move in ways that reduce stress on our joints.

If you plan to use yoga as a therapeutic tool for OA and other conditions, it is crucial to work with a certified yoga teacher or therapist to develop a particular program that's suitable for your unique needs.

See: Ayurvedic Diet, Therapy and Yoga helps a 52 year old male with Osteoarthritis

Meditation for osteoarthritis

Meditation benefits in healing pain

Mind-body practices like meditation have value as part of a treatment regimen for chronic pain brought on by several conditions.  Many studies have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation may be helpful in the treatment of pain syndromes. An important thing in Ayurveda is the importance of the psychological and spiritual aspects of health and healing. Health is achieved by balancing not just the body, but mind and soul also. Meditation provides a means to achieve this equilibrium. The practice of meditation also generates many physiological changes, including reduction of inflammation within the body. 

See: Yoga & meditation for natural stress relief


Ayurvedic treatments, herbal remedies, yoga, meditation, and many other Ayurveda remedies can help to heal osteoarthritis. These modalities offer their advantages without the critical risks associated with traditional medical treatments. By treating the imbalances and by integrating body, mind, and soul, we can create a much better link to self and a better feeling of health and happiness.

See: Osteoarthritis Pain Relief with Ayurvedic Panchakarma Therapy


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See: Ayurvedic Massage

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