The ayurveda suggests that arthritis is caused primarily by an excess of ama and lack of agni. This can be caused by poor digestion and a weakened colon, resulting in the accumulation of undigested food and the buildup of waste matter. Poor digestion allows toxins to accumulate in the body, and problems with the colon allow the toxins to reach the joints.
So, the way to treat arthritis is to stimulate the digestive fire (agni) and to suppress the ama.
Ayurveda distinguishes three categories of arthritis, corresponding to vata, pitta, and kapha. To treat this condition properly, it is vital to carefully diagnose which type you have.
If arthritis is due to vata, your joints will crack and pop. They become dry and are not swollen as they may be if excess vata is not the cause.
The arthritis is characterized by inflammation. The joint becomes swollen and is painful even without movement. It often looks red and feels hot to the touch.
In kapha-type arthritis, the joint also becomes stiff and swollen, but it feels cold and clammy rather than hot. A little movement, rather than aggravating the pain, tends to relieve it.
Depending on a person's lifestyle, diet, and emotional pattern, either vata, pitta, or kapha goes out of balance. Then that particular dosha slows down agni (digestive fire), resulting in the toxic, sticky by-product of inadequate digestion known as ama.
Vata, the main active dosha, brings the ama into the colon, and from there it travels through the system and lodges in the bone tissue and in the joints, giving rise to the stiffness and pain characteristic of arthritis.
Ayurveda attempts to remove the ama from the joint and bring it back to the colon, and then to eliminate it. To do this, we need to keep the colon clean. It is best to determine the type of arthritis and manage it for the remedies recommended for the specific type. If you do not know whether the arthritis is vata, pitta, or kapha arthritis, take 1 teaspoon triphala at night with 1/2 to 1 cup warm water.
If you know positively which type it is, you can use the following (1/2 to 1 teaspoon with warm water):
Ayurveda recommends general techniques for increasing the intensity of the digestive fire (agni) in order to burn up the toxins that are harming the body.
Use of selected foods and herbs
Hot, spicy foods and herbs, including galangal and cayenne are frequently used.
A three- to five-day detoxification diet is often prescribed. Vegetables, juices, spices and herbs are taken during the fast, which lasts until the body shows signs that the digestive fire is burning strong. These signs include a return of the appetite, a feeling of lightness and a clear coating to the tongue.
Use of Enemas/ Cleaning Colon
Enemas and other means of cleaning the colon are often used to help detoxify the body.
Ruby, garnet or other "hot" gems set in gold are used for all three types of arthritis.
Use of herbal, medicinal or essential oils
Various oils may be applied to the skin in order to help the body clear toxins, relieve pain and restore mobility.
Mahanarayan oil improves flexibility, stiffness, muscle fatigue, and removes pain. It is mixed with sesame oil (1:1) and applied to the painful areas. This oil also breaks up blockages and begins to heal locally. After oil application, warm heat, yoga, bath, or mild exercise further improves this situation.
Narayan oil is good for muscle and joint pain, lower body circulation, and reversing imbalances caused by aging.
Avipattikar churna is good to ingest for rheumatism.
The patient may be asked to sit in a sauna, or may have steam applied directly to the afflicted areas.
Use of herbs, spices and bitters
A variety of herbs, spices and bitters are used in ayurveda. These are often applied externally or ingested. These are believed to cleanse the body and to relieve pain and stiffness. Mint, ephedra, golden seal, gentian, nirgundi, eucalyptus leaves, prasarini, quassia, coptis, scute, phellodendrom, aloe, guggul, du huo, ligusticum, Siberian ginseng, myrrh, and yucca are some of the herbs used.
In addition to the general treatment, Vata-type arthritis responds well to a three- to five-day detoxification diet and an anti- Vata diet. This diet includes warm, heavy and moist foods that give one strength.
Herbs, Essential Oils
Helpful yoga postures:
Pitta arthritis often has more pain and inflammation associated with it than other types.
In addition to the general treatment, Pitta-type arthritis responds well to a five- to seven-day detoxification diet and an anti-Pitta diet. Specific herbs for Pitta arthritis include guggul, sandalwood, aloe, saffron and chaparral. Apply ice packs on the inflammed part to quell the "fire."
The anti-Pitta diet consists of cool, slightly dry, and heavy foods.
Useful Ayurvedic Herbal Formulas
Helpful yoga postures:
Perform shitali pranayama, as follows:
Arthritis is classified as kapha when the joint is painful, swollen, stiff, and feels cold and clammy to the touch.
In addition to the general treatment, Kapha-type arthritis responds well to a one- to two-week detoxification diet. The anti-Kapha diet is light, dry and warm. Avoid cold, oily, and heavy foods.
Pure guggul is best for this condition.
Punarnava guggulu tablets (250 mg.). Take 1 tablet 3 times a day.
Apply a paste of vacha (calamus root) powder externally to the joint. To make the paste, add sufficient warm water to 1 teaspoon of powder to make a paste.
If the joint fills with fluid, make an paste of equal amounts of punarnava powder and ginger powder. Mix 1 teaspoon of each with enough warm water to form a paste, and apply on the joint.
Hot herbs are also helpful, such as cinnamon, dry ginger, turmeric, trikatu.
Musta and nirgundi relieve pain.
Helpful Yoga postures
See Also: Ayurvedic Remedies for osteoarthritis
Next Topic: Bach Flower Remedy
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