Rheumatoid Arthritis
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How Ayurveda may heal Rheumatoid Arthritis

Written by Dr. Gaurang Joshi - 30 years experienced Ayurvedic Doctor

Jan 31, 2019

Rheumatoid Arthritis in Ayurveda

 Amavata as Rheumatoid Arthritis is called in Ayurveda is common Autoimmune disease. Immunity becomes low due to Vata Pitta provocation.It is a condition of Vata vitiation in association with Ama i.e. metabolic toxins which are highly reactive in nature. This disease is chronic in nature and is very painful. It is the disease of “Madhyam Roga Marga’ which involves the joints, bones, cranial region, heart, bladder & marma areas (vital areas). Rasavaha Srotas is affected prominently and the stomach is the origin of the disease.



Eating without hunger, incompatible and heavy food consumption like meat, fried, baked and food substances with high calories

Excessive spicy & non vegetarian food like red meat

Low metabolic fire i.e agnimandya.Lifestyle related

Vigorous activity after meal

Excess physical activity & mental stress

Smoking & alcohol, waking late at night

Psychological related

Excessive anger, and workaholic


All the risk factors are related to food habits, digestion & Vata Vitiation; they affect the immune status of an individual. So modification in the diet pattern & lifestyle plays an important role in the management of Amavata.


Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ayurveda Approach

 Pathogenesis -Due to the etiological or risk factors the Ama is formed. This Ama gets circulated systemically through Rasa dhatu and gets localized at the sites of Kapha especially in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body produces antibodies that attack the synovial membrane and, in some cases, other body tissues. A genetic factor may be involved since the condition is common in some families.


Symptoms -They are common in the age group of 25 to 45 years. Arthritis starts from small joints of hands & feet, and then all other joints are affected. Bilateral symmetrical joint involvement is found. Morning stiffness is common. Ayurvedic classics have mentioned the following features-Severe joints pain like scorpion bite with edema.-The the swollen joint becomes tender and cannot tolerate even the touch of cloth. There is a heaviness in the joints, loss of enthusiasm and fever.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in Ayurveda


Fasting or dietary restrictions and modification are essential for the digestion and to reduce the Ama. In the acute phase anorexia and fever is present. In this phase hot water, wet ginger cooked in water(ginger tea) is useful to reduce the Ama.


Sudation therapy: Application of fomentation by various modes is very important to control the pain & to reduce the swelling.


Bitter and pungent foods- e.g. bitter gourd, Fenugreek seeds, Flaxseed, asafetida, Ajwan etc. are useful to control the Kapha associated conditions and are used to increase the rate of metabolism. These properties are also useful to control the Ama factor in the pathogenesis.


Virechana: Therapeutic purgation is recommended for the detoxification and for the excretion of metabolic toxic byproducts. Castor oil is the choice of the drug for Amavata.


Dry fomentation:  In the acute condition where Ama is predominant the dry fomentation is recommended. The Sand Pack, Heating pad, Hot Water Bag, Infra Red Lamp are the resources of this type of fomentation. Sometimes the medicinal plant leaves are used for this purpose.


Pancha Karma: Amavata is the disease where the procedures of Panchakarma have a very important role in the Management. In the acute phase of the disease, the oil with hot herbs which have the capacity to combat with Ama is recommended. Procedures like oil e. g. Vishagarbha oil & Sahachar oil. Once the acute phase of the disease is over then the muscles and other soft tissues like ligaments, bursa fortifying oils like Narayan, Mahanarayan, Balaashwagandhadi or Balaguduchyadi oil are used.


Nadi swedana (Tube fomentation) is preferred when the swedana is essential for the local joint. The cooker is used to make the steam which is then carried by the tube (generally a Kitchen gas tube is used).The leaves of Eranda, Nirgundi are used in the water to make the steam to reduce the pain and swelling of the joint. The Dashamool coarse powder is also used to reduce the Vata symptoms like pain & joint stiffness. Generalized steam box is also beneficial for reducing the heaviness of the body. It is generally followed after Abhyanga.


Abhyanga:  Sahacharadi oil or Bala Guduchyadi oil are generally used for this purpose in Amavata. Abhyanga improves the blood circulation,it removes the waste products from the body & it increases the lymphatic drainage. It also reduces the irritation of free nerve endings and other sensory receptors which are located in the skin, muscles & other allied structures. It is a very good procedure to bring strength in chronic diseases. Generally, Abhyanga is done for 45-50 minutes. The Abhyanga is followed by Swedana usually with Steam box. In hot climate countries like India 8- 10 minutes of steam is sufficient for most of the patients. Pitta dominant patients cannot tolerate even this amount of heat The patient is allowed to take rest for 10-15 minutes and thereafter only he should advise for the warm shower. While taking shower the soap is not recommended, instead of that apply Bengal gram coarse powder can be used to clean the body


Virechana: Medicated castor oil is recommended for this purpose. Generally, the Gandharva Hastyadi Castor Oil is given 3- teaspoon in the night with warm water to reduce the morning stiffness of Amavata.


Basti: The Basti (medicated enemata) is the gift for these patients and can be utilized to control the disease symptoms and its progression. Saindhavadi Oil, Hingu triguna oil, Sahacharadi oil are used for Anuvasan Basti routinely to control the joint pains & stiffness. The heaviness of the body and other obstructive symptoms are well controlled with the administration of Niruha Basti. Rasna mool, erandmool, dashamool (coarse powder), triphala, guduchi are utilized for the decoction enema. This is given along with honey, rock salt, oil in proper combination. The routine guidelines are followed for this combination and preparation. Generally, the dose of this varies individually from 600 ml to 900 ml.


Raktamokshan: The leeches are applied over the affected region or joint to relieve the pain and to reduce the swelling.


Lepa: The paste of ginger is applied to reduce the pain and swelling of the joint. All of the above mentioned Ayurveda Panchakarma Therapies should be done only under the observation of qualified Ayurveda Physician...be care full.


Ayurvedic Medicines for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rasayana Drugs: Ayurveda recommends the use of Rasayan drugs to improve resistance & immunity. These drugs are used to arrest & to reverse the pathological events. These are also useful to improve the nourishment of the affected tissue, organ or the system. Rasayana drugs are used to control the early aging and the degenerative processes.


Ayurvedic therapies and Treatment Benefits

Can prolong attacks

Reduce intensity

Can prevent complications

Helps to avoid steroids & chemical painkillers



Research in Ayurveda for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Quite a few success cases have been reported in India for use of different Ayurvedic therapies for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. In one of the studies, allopathic and Ayurvedic researchers collaborated and proved the efficacy of Ayurveda for treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.



Lifestyle Modifications and Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis


Regular Pranayama (Breathing exercises)

Regular walk

Regular Joint exercises

Chyavanaprasha, an ayurvedic tonic


Gentle, regular exercise may help keep your joints mobile and prevent muscle weakness. Physical therapy may be given to improve joint mobility and to help increase muscle strength. An intensely painful joint may be eased if your doctor injects it with a corticosteroid drug. If a joint is severely damaged, your doctor may suggest that you have surgery to replace the damaged joint with an artificial one. Shavasana – To reduce stress & improve immunity


Dietary Suggestions and Home Remedies

Improve digestion by light diet, warm soup, rice, moong, Vata tea or Ginger Tea ( 10 Gram Ginger Powder in 1 Liter of Water and boiled it till it remains 500 ml).

Go for regular bowel movements

Drink enough water, warm milk 1 cup with ghee 1 tsf at night or tab Triphala 2 tab at night. Local

Gentle application of Pinda Taila ( oil ) or Dashanga Lepa ( Paste) or Sandalwood paste depending on the type of symptoms.



 Rheumatoid Arthritis is Autoimmune Disease – so there is no specific treatment in modern medicine. They give only symptomatic treatments with pain killer tablets, called as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These tablets can cause gastritis & in long run Gastric Cancer & also sometimes liver damage or Renal Damage.





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