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Arthritis and Ayurveda
Posted: 2011-01-26 11:00:00Ayurveda suggests that arthritis primarily occurs due to either degeneration or due to inflammation even though there are hundreds of varying forms of arthritis. In degenerative type, the Vata dosha which is the life force expressed through the qualities of movement, lightness, roughness and coldness is aggravated. The most common cause of this type of arthritis is over activity of the joints causing the wear and tear of cartilages, an example being osteo arthritis. In the second variety, arthritis occurs due to the accumulation of ama which is the toxic metabolic by-product of improper digestion. The accumulation of ama or the toxins first manifest as stiffness and later on develop swelling, pain, and even deformity of the joint in longer period of time. The commonest example of this type of arthritis is Rheumatoid arthritis. Improper eating habits, improper combination of food, sedentary life style, stress, etc exacerbate the condition.
The best way to tackle Vata related arthritis is to follow a healthy life style with an intension to pacify Vata dosha. Nourishing sweet fruits and cooked vegetables are unavoidable. A daily massage with Vata pacifying oil, like sesame oil, helps to reduce the pain and increase lubrication and range of movement. Even though this type of arthritis can occur due to over activity or degeneration mild exercise is necessary to prevent further aggravation.
Avoiding the root causes which lead to formation of ama is one of the major strategies in prevention and management of second type of arthritis. Only eat when you have proper hunger and avoid over eating, which can cause improper digestion. Eating hot and spicy food, ice cold food, deep fried foods etc should be avoided as well as eating between meals. Sleeping in the day time and staying up at night increases ama in the body. Work or family related stress, anxiety, fear and grief directly increases the inflammation and should be controlled.
Pdikizhi is a treatment in Ayurveda helpful in combating inflammation in joints. In this treatment the powder of different herbs selected to the condition is wrapped in a cotton cloth and warmed and used to massage the whole body giving more importance to the affected joints. This treatment helps the body's attempt to digest the toxins in the joints and thereby reduce the inflammation. It also lubricates the joints and reduces the pain and increases range of movement.