Why are Essential Fatty Acids “Essential”?

Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of all the fats and oils. Those fatty acids that are required by the body for maintaining health and that which the body cannot produce are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). In short, EFA are the “good fats” which can be supplied only through the daily diet. EFAs are responsible for rebuilding and production of new cells. Prostaglandins-a hormone like substance that acts as chemical messenger and regulators for various body processes are produced when these essential fatty acids are utilised by the body.

The daily requirement of essential fatty acids is  about 10-20% of the total calorie intake. There are two families of EFA namely, Omega-3 and Omega-6. Out of these, Omega 3 helps to regulate the biological functions of human body like maintaining a healthy heart, good brain function and healthy cholesterol levels, reducing joint pain and stiffness and more. Omega 6 & 9 are also required by the body but their importance is not stressed upon because Omega 6 is plentily available in the daily diet which Omega 9 can be produced by the body in limited amounts.

Do you KNOW these Common Problems Caused by Omega 3 Deficiency?

Diseases and symptoms caused due to the deficiency of these essential fatty acids include acne, aging, aids, allergies, angina, arthritis, asthma, attention deficit disorder, breast cancer, crohn’s disease, dyslexia, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, immune deficiency, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and vision disorders etc.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. Immunity plays a major role in its manifestation. The joints are covered by a membrane known as synovium and its function is to protect lubrication for the movement of joints. The auto immune cells of the body which come to rest in the synovium, due to its extensive action, causes inflammation, resulting in a condition known as rheumatoid arthritis.

It generally affects multiple joints and is associated with morning stiffness. During the later stages of the disease, small lumps under the skin at the region of joints known as subcutaneous rheumatoid nodules are formed.

The Ayurvedic View

Due to the derailed digestive system, aama or toxins are produced in the body and when the vitiated vata dosha combines with this aama, there is more circulation of this aama in the body. Aama gets lodged in the weaker points of the body or joints, leading to pain and inflammation.

Reduced digestive fire, heavy oily diet and diet of opposite qualities result in the production of indigestion  and toxins. Due to the action of vayu (vata), toxins get circulated from the heart through the vessels to all over the body. It causes obstruction in the various systems of the body. This gives rise to symptoms like heaviness in heart and weakness. The entry of aama and vata into various joints causes immobility.

This disease originates in stomach, manifests in joints and spreads to sites of kapha dosha in the body.

The triggering factors for Aama vata are: incompatible food reduced digestive power, sedentary life style, doing exercise immediately after taking oily food.

Symptoms of aama vata include body ache, loss of taste, thirst, laziness, heaviness, fever, indigestion. In addition to these more symptoms include salivation, increased urinary output, loss of sleep etc. The affected joint is painful and inflamed. The pain is similar to that of scorpion bite. These symptoms shift from one joint to the other. The bigger joints of the body are affected such as ankle, knee, and hip, joints of neck, hands and feet. The symptoms vary according to predominance of dosha. Pitta is responsible for burning, redness, vata is responsible for pain, and kapha is responsible for stiffness, heaviness and itching.

Complications

They include giddiness, discomfort in the heart, constipation, flatulence, and deformity in the joints, fibrotic changes in the lungs and heart and inflammation of the kidneys.

Line of Management

Chronic conditions like RA can only be managed and not cured!

  • Ayurveda employs fasting, fomentation, use of pungent bitter herbs which increase the digestive power and digestion enhancement, laxatives, oleation and enema using medicated oils as a line of management.

  • Herbs used in the treatment are, rasna (Alpinia galanga), eranda (castor), sunthi (dry ginger) etc.

  • Castor oil is used as a natural laxative.

  • Rasnadi kashayam, Rasna saptakam kashyam, Yograj guggulu, Simhanada guggulu and Vaishvanara churna are some of the formulations which are highly beneficial in treating this condition.

  • Along with these, a  light liquid diet which is nutritious and rest is advised.

  • Curd, jaggery and milk should be avoided.

  • Suppression of natural urges is strongly advised against.

However, reducing the risks of nutritional deficiencies is the easiest and wisest way of preserving good health. Are you sure you get enough Omega EFA in your regular diet?

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