Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes pain, swelling, and reduced motion in your joints. It can occur in any joint, but usually it affects your hands, knees, hips or spine. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in your joints.
Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage absorbs the shock of movement. When you lose cartilage, your bones rub together. Over time, this rubbing can permanently damage the joint.
Osteoarthritis which is known as sandhigatavata in Ayurvedic medicine may also occur due to some particular foods, poor blood circulation, dryness, over exertion or a low nutrient supply to the joint.
It is an important vata disease described in ayurvedic classicals like Charak samhita and Ashtanga hridaya. It is caused by the inflammation and loss of cartilage and affects the joints of knees, hips, lower spine, fingers and toes.
Vayana vata dosha, one of the five types of vata dosha (dosha of air and empty space) governs the entire body and mind movements, like blood flow, heart pulsation, breathing and the thoughts in mind. The vitation of this type of vata causes rheumatism. Osteo arthritis is essentially a vata disorder, with the involvment of pitha and kapha doshas.
Vata has a dry and light qualities and its vitiation leads to imbalance of kapha dosha, depleting the syniovial fluid that provides cushion and lubrication to the joints. This depletion leads to osteoarthritis in which the cartilage in the joints wears away causing friction, pain and limited joint mobility and affects the large weight-bearing joints, like the hips and knees, also hands,feet, and spine.
Osteoarthritis ayurveda treatment
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
Symptoms of this disease are edema, pain, tenderness, stiffness, pain on work etc. It also starts with aging and the following factors contribute to the vitiation of vata dosha:
- Consuming dry, cold or stale food, irregular sleeping habits, suppressing natural urges.
- Getting exposed to a severe cold and dry weather.
- Excessive travel, leading a vata aggravating life style and undergoing mental trauma.
- Exerting oneself excessively on the joints or any accident which occurs in the joints.
When food taken is not digested properly it causes ama (toxins) which weakens the colon and it circulates through whole body and gets accumulated in the bones and joints. The toxins will block the body channels and inturn vitates vata dosha.
Ayurvedic cure of osteoarthritis
Ayurveda treats Sandhigata vata by modifying the diet, lifestyle, recommends light exercise, and advises one to undergo Panchkarma and Purvakarma detoxification techniques. It also uses appropriate non toxic ayurvedic herbs which help in lubricating the cartilages within the joints thereby strengthening it.
It can be managed by:
- Eating lot of vegetables, freshly cooked foods, fruit juices, hot soups of lentils, pulse, moderate quantity of ghee and oils to lubircate the dried joints.
- By avoiding oily and deep fried foods.
- Doing a regular mild exercise programme to enable the joint to move and prevent further damages also by noti ndulging in any hard job which may damage the joints.
- Daily massaging with the mahanaraya oil or specific oils prescribed by an ayurvedic doctor is used to calm down the vata dosha.
Ayurvedic drugs aim to reduce the vitiated vata and also to improve the kapha and pitha functions. The main drug that is recommended to treat this degenerative disease is Karaskara. Sahachara, bala, devdar, shallaki etc are also used. Main preparations used are qwath, arishta , choorna, tablets and ghrit.
In order to cleanse the toxins from the colon Triphala, which is a mild laxative is given. Triphala has specific action to pacify vitated vata.
Trikatu is given to enhance the digestive fire and will enhance the equilibrium of pitha dosha.
Guggul helps to strengthen the bone tissue. It reduces the inflammation and edema, pacify kapha dosha.
In a treatment to control inflammation of the joints, Ayurveda suggests Boswellia gum or phellodendron bark and scute root and it is used in combination with myrrh gum, fang feng root, qin and jiao root.
Commonly used medicines are Sahacharadi qwath, Guggul thikta qwath, Maharasnadi qwath, Rasnerandadi qwath, Balarishta, Dhanwantharishta, Karasakar ghrit, Guggul thiktaka ghrit, Shadpala ghrit. Ashwagandha, Bala, Shallaki, Guggul and Rasna are used in pure herbs form.