Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body recognizes the body's own system as foreign and produces an inflammatory reaction. The synovium which is the space between the bones and the joints and contains a lubricating fluid which allows easy movement of the joints.
Inflammation of this space leads to painful, swollen joints that can also turn red and become stiff over a period of time. The joint surfaces can gradually progresses to produce deformities (the swan-neck deformity of the hand for instance) and disability.
Because it is an autoimmune disorder, the exact etiology is not known but lifestyle, stress, cold weather are supposedly predisposing factors. That being the case, it is not surprising that Ayurveda has a variety of options, both in terms of do's and don't's to manage rheumatoid arthritis - both the severity of symptoms and further progression of the disease.
Do's: A well-planned diet will help by supporting optimal functioning of the immune system and nourish the affected joints.
- People diagnosed with RA should follow a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Drumsticks, bitter gourd, carrot, papaya, green leafy vegetables, cabbage, etc., reduce inflammation and hyperactivity of the immune system. The antioxidant properties in these neutralize the free radicals circulating in the body (responsible for increasing inflammation). This helps control the longstanding inflammation of the joints.
- It is also advisable to eat them as whole fruits and not as juices. The fiber in the whole fruits helps digestion.
- Sprinkle pepper powder over cooling food items like cucumber and radish.
- Include garlic which is an excellent remedy for RA, can be mixed with buttermilk.
- Whole grains such as wheat, brown rice, millet, barley are beneficial for RA, their high fiber content helps in proper digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.
- Honey mixed with water.
- Drink boiled milk to which dry ginger powder is added; this can replace tea and coffee.
- Milk mixed with turmeric powder is also helpful in controlling inflammation.
- Work at reducing weight.
Don'ts: In addition to adding the above to your diet, there are some things to avoid, which can worsen symptoms of inflammation.
- Avoid overall unhealthy and irregular diet habits which affects the immune system and aggravates symptoms
- Avoid sleeping during daytime and staying awake at nights
- Avoid deep fried foods and fermented food items
- Given its autoimmune nature, it is better to avoid regular allergy-inducing foods like dairy products, soy, peanuts, processed foods, artificial additives, etc. These could trigger an enhanced allergic reaction.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco
- Avoid tea and coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- With simple daily food habit and lifestyle changes, the severity of RA can be managed effectively.
Even though some of the ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis are mentioned here, it is better to take proper advice from your ayurveda practitioner, as the dosage and frequency must be decided by your doctor only based on the symptoms and your medical history.