Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, especially among older people. It is a joint disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage – the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones at joints. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another and absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down and wears away. As a result, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis may also limit the range of motion in affected joints. Symptoms tend to appear when individuals are in their 50s and 60s.
Ayurveda suggests that primarily an excess of ama (toxic waste) and lack of Agni (digestive fire power) causes osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is associated with wear and tear. Poor digestion and a weakened colon, resulting in accumulation of undigested food and the build-up of waste matter, can cause this. Poor digestion allows toxins to accumulate in the body and problems with the colon allow the toxins to reach the joints. One way, therefore, to treat arthritis is to stimulate the digestive fire (Agni) and suppress the ama.
Depending on a person's lifestyle, diet and emotional constitution, vata, pitta or kapha goes out of balance. Then that particular dosha slows down Agni resulting in the toxic, sticky by-product of inadequate digestion known as ama. Arthritis differs in people depending on their body types.
Ayurvedic treatment for osteoarthritis
- Guggul: This helps bone strengthening. Guggul lessens the inflammation and soothes kapha dosha.
- Trikatu: This enhances the balance of pitta dosha and also enhances digestive fire.
- Boswellia: Phellodendron bark or Boswellia gum and scute root mixed together and used in combination with fang feng root, myrrh gum and jiao root.
Ayurvedic home remedies for osteoarthritis
- Warm mustard oil or sesame oil mixed with powdered dried ginger massaged into the joints.
- Groundnuts cause a decrease in the vata dosha. Hence, a local massage with groundnut oil is recommended.
- Warm some sesame oil or mustard oil and mix the powders of turmeric, garlic and camphor into it. This is effective massage oil for joint pains.
- Seeds and leaves of papaya will decrease pain and swelling. In case of joint pains, warm the leaves and apply as a hot fomentation onto the affected joints or the seeds can be crushed and mixed into mustard oil for local massage.
- Massaging with oils such as sesame oil helps. Mixing in 20% Mahanarayan oil fortifies the massaging oil. Vata arthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is seen when there is an excess of vata, usually from the colon. This settles in the joints accompanied by ama or toxins. The auto-immune system is triggered off and this attacks the joint surfaces. This results in pain, dryness and stiffness.
- Hot fomentation by infrared lamp or heated sandbag should be given immediately after massaging the affected joint with any oil.
How to manage osteoarthritis
- Eating lot of vegetables, freshly cooked foods, hot soups of lentils, pulse, moderate quantity of ghee and oils to lubricate the dried joints. By avoiding oily and deep fried foods.
- Doing a regular mild exercise programme to enable the joint to move and prevent further damages also by not indulging in any hard job which may damage the joints.
- Daily massaging with the mahanaraya oil or specific oils prescribed by an ayurvedic doctor is used to calm down the vata dosha.
aim to reduce the vitiated vata and also improve the kapha and pita functions. The main drug that is recommended to treat this degenerative disease is Karaskara. Sahachara, bala, devdar, shallaki etc are also used. Main preparations used are qwath, arishta, choorna, tablets and ghrit.