Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease of unknown cause affecting millions of people in India. An inflammatory disease of the synovium, it results in pain, stiffness, swelling, deformity and, eventually, loss of function in the joints. Because there is currently no known cure or means of preventing RA, the American College of Rheumatology recommends the earliest possible diagnosis and treatment with disease‐modifying anti‐rheumatic agents to limit the degree of irreversible joint damage. Despite early detection, current treatment medications are limited in their efficacy and are frequently toxic.
Many patients look for Ayurveda and other complementary and alternative medicine options in coping with this debilitating disease. Research has indicated that people suffering from chronic pain, as in Rheumatoid Arthritis, and those dissatisfied with current modern treatment are very likely to seek alternative treatments like Ayurveda and herbal cure. This growing interest in alternative and Ayurvedic medical practices clearly indicates need for research and development of new natural supplements and ayurvedic medicines for management of Rheumatoid Arthritis. There is growing body of current clinical evidence for the use of herbal medicines and Ayurveda for Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment.
Herbal Supplements for treatment of Arthritis
γ‐Linolenic acid (GLA): There is definite support for γ‐linolenic acid (GLA), which is found in some herbal medicines, for reducing pain, tender joint count and stiffness. In general, herbal preparations were relatively safe to use. The positive results from clinical studies provide significant support for GLA as having a medium to strong effect in reducing pain, tender joint count and reducing stiffness in RA for those with active disease. GLA produces anti‐inflammatory hormone‐like substances, including prostaglandin E1, that in turn help to reduce clinical symptoms. It is found in
Blackcurrant oil (6% GLA),
Borage seed oil (9% GLA)
Evening primrose oil (2% GLA).
Borage seed oil, Borago officinalis: Studies have proved the efficacy of borage seed oil for Rheumatoid arthritis. Patients treated with borage seed oil had significant improvement, compared with those in the placebo group, in joint tenderness counts and scores, joint swelling scores, physician global assessment, and pain.
Blackcurrant seed oil, Ribes nigrum: Studies show significant improvement in joint tenderness count and tenderness compared with the placebo group.
Capsaicin: Patients with moderate to very severe knee pain experienced a significant difference in the reduction in patient pain scores between treatment and control groups.
Curcumin (diferuloyl methane): Curcumin is a constituent of the rhizome of turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.) with anti‐inflammatory activity and patients showed significant improvement from baseline in morning stiffness, walking time and joint swelling.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium): At larger doses or over a longer period of time, feverfew does have definite benefit for Rheumatoid arthritis.
Boswellia serrata, olibanum: Resinous extracts of Boswellia serrata are a traditional Ayurvedic medicine for treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It also contains terpene, arabinose, galactose, sylose, β‐sistoterine and phlobaphene.
Other Ayurvedic formulations for Rheumatoid Arthriris: Purified plant extracts of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha), Boswellia serrata (gugulla), Zingiber officinale (adrak or ginger) and Circuma longa (haldi or circumin).
Tripterygium wilfodii Hook F: Tripterygium wilfodii Hook F (TWH), a herbal plant growing mainly in South China, was described in ancient Chinese medical texts and has been used widely in China for treatment of joint pain. Patients receiving TWH showed significant improvement in all parameters: tenderness score, swelling count, morning stiffness and grip strength.
Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis:
Ayurveda is a traditional Indian practice involving a natural, holistic approach to treating medical conditions. Some Ayurvedic practitioners use Ayurveda to treat rheumatoid arthritis, which they call “amavata.” Ayurvedic treatment for Arthritis includes Ayurvedic Herbs, Natural supplements, dietary changes, and exercise.
General Ayurvedic principles for treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis: The term “Ayurveda” is a combination of two Sanskrit terms “ayu” (life) and “veda” (knowledge). Practitioners work to balance the three energy forces, or “doshas,” of life: “vata,” “pitta,” and “kapha.”
Ayurvedic treatments for RA depend on which diagnostic guidelines the practitioner uses:
Those who practice from the guidelines “Madhava Nidana” believe that imbalances in the gut and inflammatory compounds cause RA.
On the other hand, practitioners from the “Ashtanga Hridaya” school of thought believe that RA is the result of poor dietary and lifestyle habits that cause inflammation in the body.
Both Ayurveda approaches use natural herbs, supplements, dietary changes, and exercise to help relieve RA symptoms.
Ayurvedic Herbs and supplements:
Ayurvedic practice often involves the use of herbs and supplements as treatment. Some of the herbs that Ayurvedic practitioners often use to treat RA include:
Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense)
Ricinus communis (castor oil)
An Ayurvedic practitioner may also prepare special oils that contain herbs. People can massage these oils into areas where they experience symptoms.
Role of Diet in Rheumatoid Arthritis:
According to Ayurveda, certain foods may worsen Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Ayurvedic practitioners believe the following dietary habits may cause or worsen the symptoms of RA:
eating spicy foods
taking in excess salt
consuming too many sour, sweet, or sugary foods
eating uncooked foods
eating foods that cause acid reflux
As a result, an Ayurvedic practitioner will recommend avoiding these foods.
Ayurvedic practitioners also recommends: Soups that contain barley and rice, as these are thought to add a sense of lightness to the body.
Castor oil fast: This is when a person consumes castor oil, a natural laxative, to encourage intestinal purification.
Role of Exercise and lifestyle in Rheumatoid arthritis: Ayurvedic practitioners believe that positive lifestyle habits can support RA treatment. They believe that a sedentary lifestyle leads to the formation of “ama,” which causes inflammation and disease.
Role of Yoga intreating Rheumatoid Arthritis: Practicing yoga, an essential part of Ayurvedic medicine, can help a person with RA to be more active and also reduce stiffness and pain. Many Ayurvedic practitioners recommend yoga to help relieve RA symptoms. Studies found that yoga improved fitness, flexibility, mood, and overall health-related quality of life in patients of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Ayurvedic practitioners may recommend the following tips for people with RA:
using hot water, not cold, to bathe in and drink,
avoiding exposure to cold breezes,
avoiding late-night or late-afternoon naps,
practicing yoga to relieve mental stress,
using massage therapy with herbal oils to reduce pain and stiffness.
Joint Blend is best herbal remedy for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
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