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With age we often experience gradual wear and tear of our body parts, which leads to slow down of body functions. Wear and tear of bones and joints often make movement difficult in various parts, such as hands, hips, legs, knees, ankles, etc. Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are a two serious and common conditions where wear and tear of the bone is significant. The pain and stiffness in the affected joints vary, but for most people, restricted movement is the main issue. The relieving news is that there are effective, natural methods in Ayurveda which are tested over centuries and used even to date.
These methods aim at improving stiffness, pain control, controlling progression of inflammation, reversal of damage (if not severe), improving range of motion, improving strength and improving overall energy levels.
Ayurveda believes that body’s health is managed with the balance between three vital elements that is vata, pitta, and kapha. Arthritis (both osteo and rheumatoid variety) is believed to be related to vata and arthritis is also known as sandhivata (sandhi meaning joint).
Treatment includes overall body treatment and focused treatment of the affected joint. Oral medicines, oils and external applicants, detoxification and rejuvenation through panchakarma, diet changes, healthy lifestyle are all part of the treatment regimen. Oil and external application on the overall body and affected joints will help lubricate the joints and will allow easy movement. This will help reduce stiffness and improve range of motion.
Dietary changes: Reduce fats, sugar, salt and alcohol. Include a lot more of fish, soy, olive oil, low-fat dairy products, broccoli, green tea, citrus fruits, whole grains, beans, garlic and nuts and seeds. In addition to protein, these have various ingredients, which are useful for bone health and act as anti-inflammatory agents.
Some common panchakarma treatments include:
- Choorna Kizhi, where the person is made to assume different positions and mixtures of various herbs are applied to make the person sweat profusely.
- Abhyangam is a special oil massage lasting 45 minutes that the patient undergoes for 14 days. In addition to arthritis, it also helps control body ache, fight obesity, revitalises the whole system, induces sleep, and helps fight stress.
- Njavarakizhi is similar to the earlier Choorna Kizhi, various oils are used to massage the whole body while the patient is made to sit in different positions. There is also a Njavara rice that is cooked in milk to make a porridge and fed to the patient. This again is continued for 14 days.
The key to managing this condition is to seek help in as early stages of the disease as possible. When there are risk factors that put you at risk, reach out to seek medical help as soon as you realise onset of symptoms.