Ayurvedic Treatment for Arthritis: Does It Work?

Arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the tissues in one or more joints in the body get inflamed and swell up.  In Ayurveda, Arthritis is known as Amavata [3]. The swelling of these joints causes pain and stiffness and reduces a person’s ability to move freely. If left untreated, Arthritis can cause a permanent deformity in the joints.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis may be hard to detect at first as it could manifest as an insignificant stiffness in the morning which gradually worsens with time. Here are the symptoms of Arthritis:

  • Pain in the joints, neck, back, ankles, hands and fingers, and wrists
  • Stiff, tender, or swollen joints
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Reduced range of motion and inability to perform daily activities
  • Aching muscles and problems walking
  • Bumps on the fingers and toes
  • Skin discolouration in the form of redness

Yoga for Relief

In order to treat Arthritis, Ayurveda recommends light or moderate exercise. Care should be taken not to exert the body too much as this can worsen the condition. A few minutes of yoga per day with simple Asanas is recommended. [1] Below are some of the Asanas that can be practised:

  • Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
  • Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
  • Naukasana (Boat Pose)
  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  • Adho Mukho Svasana (Downward Dog Pose)
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  • Sukhasna (Cross-legged Pose)
  • Balasana (Child Pose)
  • Kursiasana (Chair Pose)

Massage Therapy

Abhyanga or oil massage can be helpful in combating the symptoms of Arthritis. Self-massage using sesame oil in the colder months or winters can be effective in warming the Vata Dosha from the body. In the summers, coconut oil may be used. [2]

Steam Therapy

Swedana or steam therapy is recommended to help ease the tension in the joints and muscles. This can be done by visiting a sauna. If you do not have access to a sauna, you can try a simple home remedy using hot water and a towel. To do this, take a fresh clean towel and dip it in a bucket of hot water. Wring out the excess hot water from the towel and then wrap the towel on the affected joints. Repeat till the water in the bucket turns warm. [1]

Concoctions or Ayurvedic Kadha

A range of ayurvedic herbs has proven to be beneficial to combat the symptoms of Arthritis. [5] Some of these are:

Ginger: Ginger may be consumed in the form of ginger tea or ginger paste.

Ashwagandha: A mixture of ashwagandha powder and milk or water may be consumed once a day.

Ajwain: Ajwain seeds can be soaked in a glass of warm water for 20 minutes and consumed once a day.

What Ayurveda Has to Say

Ayurveda believes that Arthritis is caused by an imbalance of the Vata Dosha or the air element. Dosha refers to a belief in Ayurveda wherein three energies of elements exist in the body. These three elements are:

  • Vata (air)
  • Pitta (fire)
  • Kapha (water)

It is believed in Ayurveda that these energies can be balanced out by the food that we eat. In order to treat Arthritis or Amavata, Ayurveda recommends Vata dosha balancing foods.

Foods that Balance the Vata Dosha

Below is a list of foods which are believed to balance out the Vata Dosha:

Fruits: All kinds of fruits are recommended. Sweet and sour foods. 

Legumes: Beans, daal, and lentils.

Vegetables: Tomatoes, onions, potatoes, green leafy vegetables.

Grains: Rice, oats, and wheat.

Spices: Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger.

Dairy: Curd, yogurt, ghee, and buttermilk.

Oils: Oily foods and butter are recommended.

Honey: Honey is recommended for its anti-inflammatory properties.

To balance out the air characteristics of Vata, hot, soft, oily, and warm foods that are easy to digest are recommended. 

Conclusion

Arthritis is a chronic condition with several debilitating symptoms. Ayurveda’s treatment methods involve effective and side-effect free techniques that can help you relieve arthritis pain. These therapies not only focus on alleviating the pain, but help cure your disease from its roots. 

These ayurvedic practices mentioned above may help in relieving the pain in tender and swollen joints. In addition to this following a healthy lifestyle with proper sleep and a healthy diet is paramount. [4]

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