Joint Action

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

Rheumatoid arthritis [RA] is a common inflammatory [also, auto-immune] disorder. It primarily affects the joints and presents with symptoms of swelling, redness, and pain. It progresses to affecting the surrounding soft tissues, while leading to deformities of the joints and limiting movement. It can, in the course of time, affect one’s quality of life severely.

Statistics suggests that about 1.3 crore Indians may have rheumatoid arthritis. The disease requires active treatment and maintenance therapy throughout life.

Some of the commonly used herbs in the treatment of RA, in Ayurveda, are guduchi, turmeric, ginger, rasna, sallaki, nirgundi, dashamula, etc., aside from various panchakarma therapies, viz., basti and virechana. The choice of medicine and therapies involved in the treatment of RA, in Ayurveda, vary, as they are subject to its presentation in patients with RA, as also the stage of the disorder.

Apart from medications and therapies, RA patients must follow a disciplined routine for the maintenance of their health. They are in précis —

  • Everyday exposure to mild, soft sunlight for 20-30 minutes at multiple intervals for natural vitamin D supplementation and for the heating effect
  • A warm to hot water bath twice, or thrice, a day, application of medicated poultices over the affected joints and drinking warm water. They improve circulation and help reduce the stiffness around the joints for better movement.

Ginger comes to the rescue in acute, or chronic exacerbation of RA. It can be used as a warm water infusion, or decoction, or additional flavour in food, or direct chewing of small pieces, along with a pinch of salt. Ginger is a naturally available potent anti-inflammatory herb.

It is best to make your kitchen your own treatment haven.

Use natural foods that are good for bone health — viz., barley, jawar, bajra, ragi, red rice, kodo millet, horse gram, green gram, moth bean, drumstick and leaves, onion, different varieties of gourds, mustard, flax and sesame seeds. There are other anti-inflammatory herbs that are just as useful, viz., garlic, cumin, cinnamon, asafoetida, carom seeds etc.

It is advisable for the RA patient to avoid the usage of curd [yogurt] and instead use curd mixed with water and properly churned into buttermilk, as a beverage. This may also be ‘enhanced’ with vatakapha reducing spices, like mustard, sesame, cumin, and fenugreek seeds, as also peppercorns.

One must also avoid using in excess, or frequently, certain food items, viz., black gram, green peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, fish, jaggery, Malabar spinach, potato, sweet potatoes, different tubers, beaten rice, refined flour, and jackfruit.

Avoid direct exposure to cold weather/cold winds, prolonged exposure, or use of air-conditioner [AC], getting wet in rains, as also cloudy environment. One should also avoid using refrigerated products directly, when cold.

Exercise regularly for all the joints in the body to avoid stiff joints and also improve circulation.

Maintain good gut health by drinking sufficient water and eating healthy, fibre-rich food for regular and clear bowel movements with no build-up of intestinal gases, or acid reflux. Recent studies suggest a connection vis-à-vis RA to a species of ‘bad’ bacteria found in the gut.

Regular detoxification is also recommended.

It is imperative that one seeks the guidance and treatment of a professional Ayurveda physician at the clinic for the best results. Self-treatment is a big ‘no.’ It should be strictly avoided.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic in Bengaluru. Her passion for the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living, just as much as her axiom, Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ — the age-old, fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Dr Nayak, who has presented papers and participated in national and international symposia, is also a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease. She is also Assistant Editor [Ayurveda] @ ThinkWellness360.com

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