Take a Deep Breath. Rheumatoid Arthritis does not need to cripple you.
This is my attempt to give you, a day-to-day guide to understanding and correcting your Rheumatoid Arthritis.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis ?
Diseases of the joints are better known as rheumatic diseases. Osteoarthritis, gout are common varieties of arthritis whereas Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune syndrome in which Arthritis is one of the common symptoms, encountered in clinical practice.
According to modern science the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown and not yet fully understood, although it is known that an abnormal response of the immune system is the main reason causing the inflammation of the joints.
Incidence of Rheumatoid
Rheumatoid Arthritis may be genetically inherited. It is also suggested that few environmental factors trigger the immune system in risky individuals.
Smoking, obesity and chemical exposures like pollution, insecticide, few cosmetics may increase the risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
Women are more susceptible for Rheumatoid Arthritis and it commonly begins between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
To understand the disease process in various types of arthritis, it is necessary to understand the basic make up of a joint. Diagram of a typical joint is shown below:
Fig: Anatomy of the joint
Joints possess a synovial membrane (it covers the joint from inside) and cartilage (see diagram) which covers the articulating surface of the bone and merges at its free edges with the internal synovial membrane lining of the joint cavity.
The joint cavity contains a small amount of synovial fluid. The cartilage derives nutrition from the synovial fluid like a sponge. Synovial fluid acts as a shock absorber as it avoids friction between bones. It is also responsible for the nutrition of the joint.
With passage of age the synovial fluid decreases and friction between the bones increases. There is stiffness and loss of function of the joint function. This is encountered in osteoarthritis. In addition, there is pain and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which rheumatoid factor is found to be positive. Gout is related to high levels of uric acid in the blood. Psoriasis, a skin disorder is also associated with arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis.
Pain, inflammation (swelling), fever, loss of function, and morning stiffness are cardinal features of arthritis. Based on the character of pain, involvement of the joint and laboratory tests, the final diagnosis is arrived at.
Some form of arthritis involves other organs like heart and muscles. It is common in rheumatic and rheumatoid arthritis respectively.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis, as per Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, Ama is defined as the toxins produced in the body due to imbalance in body metabolism. These toxins circulate in the whole body and gets accumulated in the weaker joint and triggers the immune system leading to joint inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis accounts for 15 per cent of the total rheumatic disorders. The incidence is more common in women. The disease is more prevalent in cold and damp conditions.
Causes … Further Explained.
(Read Carefully, as you need to treat the cause, to help the disease resolve on its own)
- Agnimandya – Low level of digestive fire due to unhealthy food habits – having very heavy food, left over stale food, junk, deep fried or frozen and processed food. Overeating or eating before previous meal is digested, eating food at irregular times, late night dinner, etc.
- Viruddha ahara (Incorrect Diet) – Consuming foods having opposite qualities at a time.
Example- Drinking ice cold water while having hot meals, eating fish along with milk, etc.
- Viruddha vihara (Improper lifestyle) – Doing activities which are opposite in nature.
Example – Taking cold shower immediately after exposure to hot sun, sitting in AC for prolonged hours.
- Avyayama (Lack of Exercise) – Sedentary lifestyle devoid of exercise.
- Ati Vyayama – Over physical exertion leading to joints degeneration
- Manasika Karanas – Mental stress or emotional disturbance
Signs : If you have 4 or more of these, then a case of Rheumatoid Arthritis is confirmed
- Morning Stiffness around joints for more than 1 hour.
- Swelling or Stiffness around three or more joints at the same time.
- Atleast one area, around the hand, wrist or finger is swollen
- Symmetric Arthritis – That is, same part affected by Arthritis on both sides of the body
- If Rheumatoid factor is found to be positive in 80 per cent of the patients.
- Erythrocytic sedimentation rate (ESR) is on the higher side in acute cases.
- Total leukocyte count (TLC) and differential leukocyte count (DLC) are also high.
- XRays of Hands and Wrists show Signs of Damage.
Allopathic Treatment & Side Effects
Typically, Painkillers and Cortico-steroids are used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Recently disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs have been used with positive results. All the three classes of drugs provide instant relief, however they have unpleasant side effects in the long term. Common side effects with cortico-steroids include cataract, diabetes, bone thinning and weight gain.
Can Ayurveda help in Rheumatoid Arthritis ?
Yes, The world is waking up to Ayurveda. Last decade has seen a lot of everyday advancements in this field. A lot of research is being carried upon in herbs like Turmeric, Guggulu, Ginger, and Ashwagandha. In 2015, India’s premier medical institute AIIMS, found certain Ayurvedic formulations effective in treating RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). The study was conducted on 125 RA patients. The doctors at AIIMS said that Ashwagandha, specifically, had anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and immuno-modulatory properties which could improve the symptoms in 3-4 weeks in RA patients.
5-step Ayurvedic Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treating Amavata according to Ayurveda
- Agni deepana and ama pachana – Correction of body metabolism by activating the digestive fire.
- Ama shodhana – Removal of ama.
- Pathya – Following dietetic regimens and lifestyle changes to prevent ama formation.
- Shamana chikitsa – Internal medications to reduce pain and joint inflammation.
- Rasayana – Medications to improve immunity and joint stability.
This 5-step Treatment can be carried out at a well-trusted, recognized Ayurvedic Centre. Write to us, for more details..
- To improve your digestive capacity you can take chitrakadi vati or agni tundi vati and include garlic, ginger, pepper, jeera, turmeric and asafoetida sufficiently in cooking.
- Drink hot or lukewarm water.
Shodhana Karma (Detoxification using Virechana and Vamana)
- Removal of toxins through virechana or by vamana followed by virechana depending on your dosha predominance and Basti.
Pathya (Correct Diet Guidelines)
- Avoid curds, paneer and cheese completely.
- Avoid refrigerated, stored and frozen foods.
- Eat freshly prepared light food and avoid reheating leftover food.
- Don’t drink cold beverages.
- Minimise the intake of fermented foods like idli, dosa.
- Avoid exposure to cold breeze.
- Take hot water shower to reduce pain and joint stiffness.
- Do regular exercise according to your body capacity.
- Overcome stress and emotional disturbance by meditation, pranayama and cultivating new hobbies.
- Avoid sleeping in afternoon.
- Reduce the intake of sprouted grams.
- Avoid tubers like potatoes, include snake gourd, ridge gourd, drumstick and other bitter and fibrous vegetables.
- Avoid constipating foods like sandwich, burger, pizza, etc.
Shamana chikitsa (Pacification Procedure using supplements, massage and steam)
- Kashayam – Guluchyadi kashayam, amruthotharam kashayam, balaguluchyadi kashayam, Rasnapanchakam kashayam, Rasnadi kashayam
- Tablets – Simhanada guggulu, Maha yogaraja guggulu, sadharana gulika, amavatari rasa, vyoshadi guggulu
- Churnas – Vaishvanara churna, panchakola churna, pathyadi churna
- Taila – Eranda taila (castor oil) used internally is very effective in amavata. You can drink 1-2 tsp of castor oil with a cup of hot water before going to bed. Beware of dosage according to your gut, as castor oil may cause drastic purgation. Oil massage is contraindicated in initial stages of amavata.
- Swedana (fomentation) – Hot fomentation with sand bag will reduce pain and stiffness in amavata.
Ayurveda Supplements for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Boswellia Serrata and Curcumin, found in Curegarden’s Joint Rescue with one capsule taken, twice daily with hot water is a well-researched combination for rheumatoid arthritis.
- In severe cases, one tablet of Brihatavatachintamani rasa, is given twice a day, for one week. The medicine should be used under expert supervision.
- Maharasnadi kwatha, six teaspoonfuls, with water should be consumed twice a day, for better effects.
- Trikatu powder is recommended for improving digestion. This drug is a boon for rheumatoid arthritis patients. One teaspoonful, with warm water not only corrects digestion but stimulates appetite also.
- Vishagarbha taila is used for local application twice a day.
- Hot fomentation following massage is helpful in reducing stiffness of the joints
Additional Reading : Ayurveda Clinical Studies
Ajmodadi churna: Present clinical trial was carried out on 20 patients by using castor oil, (dry fomentation and a polyherbal compound Ajmodadi churna. After three month of therapy quite improvement in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis was observed.
In a study involving 15 patients, Ajmodadi churna proved to be effective in lowering the titre of rheumatoid factor, C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sediment rate, anti-cyclic citrullinated phosphate antibody and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Alambushadi Ghan Vati: Statistically significant improvement was observed in clinical, functional and hematological parameters in group A (Alambushadi Ghan Vati Group) and no improvement was in these parameters in group B (Placebo group) after the course of treatment.
Godanti bhasma: Several papers regarding efficacy of Godanti bhasma in the management of Rheumatoid arthritis have been published
Maharasnadi Quatha: Twenty two patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis were given Vatari Guggulu and Maharasnadi Quatha internally for 3 to 6 weeks. The results were assessed in terms of clinical recovery and functional improvement. Relief from pain, oedema and fever was statistically significant (P<0.01) and fall in ESR levels was highly significant (P<0.001).
Babu G, Bhuyan GC, Prasad GP, Swamy GK. The clinical effect of Shunthi Guggulu and Godanti in the management of Amavata. J Res Ayur Siddh 2009; 30:39-50.
Kumar A, Kumar N. Effects of a herbo-mineral combination (sunthi guggulu godanti) in amavata (rheumatoid arthritis). J Res Ayur Siddh 2003; 24:14-30.
Mishra PK, Rai NP. Effect of Castor Oil along with Ajmodadi Churna & Ruksha Sweda in the Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis vis-a-vis Amavata. Int J Pharm Res Scholars 2014; 3: 566-72.
Mishra PK, Rai NP. Prognostic effect of Ajmodadi churna in the management of rheumatoid arthritis vis-a vis amavata. Univ J Pharm 2014; 3: 47-9.
Singh JP, Tiwari SK. Clinical evaluation of Alambushadi Ghan Vati in Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis). J Res Ayur Siddh 2010; 31:85-94.
Swamy GK, Bhattathiri PPN. Vatari Guggulu and Maharasnadi Quatha in the management of Amavata-A clinical study. J Res Ayur and Siddh 1998; 19:41-8.