by Amit Gumman
The freedom to move is something we often take for granted, but for some, to bend and stretch without pain is a luxury. Our quality of life depends on mobility, and maintaining healthy joints, tendons and muscles should be high on our self-maintenance list. The strength and flexibility of our joints and muscles also influence our sense of inner freedom. When muscles, joints or ligaments become restricted, we can feel stuck or challenged emotionally. Our goal, therefore, is to maintain a healthy balance between strength and flexibility in our joints and muscles.
Ayurveda, the science of life, is an ancient art of healing that deals with disorders of the connective tissues, joints and bones. There are three types of arthritis commonly addressed by ayurvedic practitioners:
Rheumatoid arthritis—amavata in ayurveda—is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. It can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as in other organs in the body. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body’s tissues are mistakenly attacked by their own immune system.
Ayurvedic rheumatoid arthritis treatment:
Improper food habits and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to impairment of digestive fire, formation of ama (toxins), and vitiation of vata (air). When a person indulges in a vata-aggravating diet and lifestyle, then this aggravated vata circulates ama in the channels of the body and deposits it in the joints.
Ayurvedic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis starts with pacification of vata and elimination of toxins from the body. Herbal medicines are administered to improve the digestive fire and prevent further formation of ama. Herbs that are useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis are boswellia and simhanad guggulu.
Diet and lifestyle:
The two-fold approach is first to clear up any accumulated ama with a short cleanse while eating well to keep the digestive fire burning brightly. Consuming plenty of leafy greens and adding spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, to cooking can be a great help, as they digest ama, are alkalizing and also anti-inflammatory. This approach can help to reduce inflammation and support healthy circulation and tissues. Colonics can be helpful in removing toxins from the body.
According to ayurveda, sandhivata, or osteoarthritis, is caused when the activities of vata increase inside the joints. Because vata is dry in nature, it absorbs the fluidity from any part of the body. It is also destructive, which is why it causes deterioration of the cartilages and reduction in the synovial fluid inside the joint capsule.
Vata is the governing factor in the maintenance of equilibrium in the universe as well as in the body. As age advances, the influence of vata progresses, resulting in the process of gradual degeneration of the body. Osteoarthritis is one of the consequences of this process, which is common in elderly people. Herbs that are useful for osteoarthritis include yogaraj guggulu and boswellia.
Diet and lifestyle:
Avoid carbonated drinks, preserved and packaged foods, and dry or cold food items.
Choose foods that are easy to digest and warming. Try exercises that are easy on the joints, such as walking, swimming, yoga and tai chi. Keep weight at an optimum level.
Massage stiff and painful joints with warm sesame oil every morning. Massage improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation and stiffness.
Gout is a painful metabolic disease resulting in inflammation and the deposition of uric acid in the cartilages of the joints. Gout first affects the big toe, causing it to swell and become very painful. In the next stages, it spreads to the ankles, knees and joints in the hands and feet, as well as to the wrists and elbows.
Ayurvedic gout treatment:
In ayurveda, gout is known as vatarakta and is caused by increased intake of spicy, sour, salty, high-alkaline and rich foods. Herbal support to ease gout includes kaishore guggulu.
Diet and lifestyle:
Consider an anti-inflammatory diet; avoid high-protein foods and excessive salt.
Increase the use of turmeric, garlic, ginger, cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom and cinnamon.
Acupuncture offers a multi-dimensional approach to helping improve joint health. It helps with pain relief and production of stem cells to decrease inflammation, helps halt the progression of the arthritic damage, helps repair joint cartilage, and helps to delay or avoid knee-replacement surgery.
Optimal joint health is an important life invigorator, which requires a multi-faceted approach. To detoxify and nurture the joints is to keep them well maintained and fully mobile. With a wise approach to diet, lifestyle and exercise, they should last well into the senior years.
Amit Gumman is a naturopathic doctor and president of Harmony Healing Center Inc., located at 3701 NW 62nd St., in Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-947-4325 or visit HarmonyVeda.com. See ad on page XX.