By Bansi Gir Gau Veda
Ayurveda takes a holistic view of Arthritis - triggers include vitiation of one or more dosha’s, aam (toxins), accidents or mental factors. We discuss lifestyle changes and supplements which can provide relief…
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is one of the most common and rapidly spreading disorders in modern society. The word is derived from the Greek word Arthro- meaning “joint” and -itis meaning “inflammation”. It involves pain and inflammation of the joints, bones or muscles among other symptoms. There are over 100 types of Arthritis with some of the most common being Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Gout, etc. Modern medicine offers us very limited understanding of the causal factors of this major cause of disability. Arthritis is also described as an ‘auto-immune disorder’ where a person’s immune system inexplicably malfunctions and attacks the body’s own healthy tissues. Allopathic lines of treatment often include the use of non-steroidal or steroidal pain relieving or anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy or surgery.
How does Ayurveda look at disease?
Ayurveda offers a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the causes of disease, including this painful condition. Ayurveda believes that every individual is a microcosm of the Cosmos, and made up of the same panchmahabhoot (5 primal elements) – Agni (Fire), Prithvi (Earth), Akaash (Space), Vayu (Air) and Jal (Water) that make up the Universe. When the individual is in harmony, these 5 elements are in balance, and the individual feels peace, energy and happiness. But when one or more of these 5 elements are disturbed, the individual experiences disease. The disease may take the form of 3 primary dosha’s (defects) – Vata (which corresponds to Air and Space), Pitta (corresponds to Fire and Air) and Kapha (corresponds to Water and Earth).
So what does Ayurveda say about Arthritis?
When it comes to Arthritis, causal factors according to Ayurveda can be simply classified along 4 main categories –
1) Vitiation of vata, pitta or kapha – A combination of one or more dosha’s can be created in the body due to improper diet, lifestyle, poor digestion, specific prakriti or other general weaknesses. This can lodge itself in the joints of the body and damage the tissues. When Vata is dominant, a patient may experience higher pain. When Pitta is dominant, a patient may experience higher burning and inflammation. Similarly when kapha is dominant, patient may experience higher stiffness and fluid retention. A Vaidya would need to evaluate every patient’s symptoms and naadi, and determine the combination of dosha’s which are causing the painful condition. External factors can also create tridoshic imbalances in the body. For example, accidental injury or trauma can disturb the body’s natural equilibrium and create vata, pitta or kapha imbalance which would need to be treated to relieve the patient’s suffering.
2) Aam (toxins) – Often, it is not just the three dosha’s but a build-up of toxins in the body which can create arthritis like symptoms. Toxins can be created due to: a) Improper lifestyle, b) Poor digestion as a result of which ‘ahar rasa’ is not formed well and the first tissue or rasa dhatu gets contaminated. Aam can stick to the cells, get accumulated in various parts of the body, obstruct normal bodily transportation systems and create arthritis like symptoms.
3) Mental factors – ‘Manas’ (Mind) and ‘Shareer’ (body) are two sides of the same coin with one affecting the other. Often pain does not have musculo-skeletal origins. The concept of ‘psychosomatic disease’ has been recognized by Ayurveda since thousands of years. For example, a patient suffering from depression may also experience bodily pain which is a symptom of the problem at the level of ‘Manas’, and hence it may be futile to treat the ‘Shareer’.
What can you deal with this condition more effectively?
An Ayurvedic Vaidya evaluates a patient along the principal causal factors and prescribes specific herbs to target the doshas, accumulation of toxins or ‘manasic’ factors. Ayurveda has powerful herbs to help improve digestion, address specific dosha’s or purify the blood or the body’s channels. As a patient, you may find it valuable to keep in mind the following tips as you deal with any lifestyle disease like arthritis –
1) Being Conscious of your Self and your Body – It is important to have good food, sleep and exercise habits in order to avoid or minimize the impact of chronic and painful diseases like arthritis. Simply being more aware of what is affecting your body can go a long way towards ensuring good health. Our physical being has its own way to communicating with us, and often gives us smaller signals before the onset of significant diseases. Minor digestive issues, aches or discomforts may be your body’s way of telling you that you need to take corrective actions. Meditation, yoga, walking, gentle exercises or Zen mindfulness practices can help you attain higher degree of awareness towards your mind as well as body. Daily Ayurvedic practice of ‘Nasya’ can be helpful to reduce mental stress and bring elements of ‘Sat’ (Truth) and ‘Chit’ (conscious awareness) into your daily life. Nasya calms the mind and clears respiratory pathways making it possible to become more aware of changes in your body, its prana or life energies.
2) Eliminating junk food – Ironically we live in an era where heavily promoted processed foods has become a part of people’s daily diet. Junk foods and beverages contribute to a build-up of toxins in the body, which later manifests as chronic diseases like Arthritis. It has been said that, “What needs to be advertized is likely not needed by your body in the first place!”. Over 90% of items at your local kirana store or organic foods shop need no advertisement. Simple foods prepared using such ingredients, such as dal-roti-subji-chawal or traditional Bharatiya snack items are often best to maintain a healthy body.
3) Ayurvedic Chikitsa – In the era of modern medicine it is customary for each family to have a ‘family doctor’, an allopathic practitioner whom the family goes to whenever anybody is ill. While we do not object to this modern custom, we believe that in an age where our food chain and healthcare systems are already heavily contaminated with synthetic substances, it may also be important for families to seek out a good herbalist or Ayurvedic physician. As we saw in case of arthritis above, Ayurveda takes a more holistic view of one’s health, and works to strengthen the entire physical system rather than merely treat symptoms locally. Each Ayurvedic herb benefits the body in multiple ways. As an example, Asthi Shrunkhala is a very effective herb used to treat arthritis, but it has wide ranging positive effects on the body. It reduces Ama (toxins), balances vata & kapha, strengthens bones and improves digestion. At SOSE, we firmly believe that Ayurveda was one of the secrets of physical strength, intellectual vigour and longevity of our ancient forefathers in Bharat.
What kind of supplements can help?
We have seen excellent results with Arthritis patients who were put on some of the following supplements / ‘aushadhi’ at our Gau Adharit Chikitsa Clinic at Bansi Gir Gaushala –
1) Asthigir Ghrit – a powerful combination of Asthi Shrunkhala and Gau Ghee of a very special breed of Gir Gaumata, which is extremely effective in joint pains and all sorts of Vata related disorders.
2) Asthi Churna – This powder is extremely effective in treating Vata related disorders and removing toxins. Incidentally, it is also helpful to treat fevers, cold and cough.
3) Sunthamrut capsules – combination of Ginger and Gau Ghee, which calms the digestive system, promotes apetite and healthy digestion. It also removes ama (accumulated toxins) and cholesterol.
4) Phalamrut capsules / Hadamrut capsules / Kabjamrut churna – One of these can also be prescribed to a patient depending upon each individual ‘prakriti’ and the need to detoxify the body and improve digestion.
5) Nasya (nasal drops) – contains Gau Ghee of a special breed of Gaumata. It calms the brain, clears nasal passages and is extremely effective to heal sleeplessness and depression. This can help with some of the Manasik or psychosomatic factors of lifestyle diseases.
So dear readers, if at all you get hit by a chronic disease like arthritis, do not panic. Understand your body, enjoy wholesome food & rest and if needed seek out a good Ayurvedic physician!
We also welcome you to our Gaushala clinic where we offer Gau Adharit Ayurvedic Chikitsa which has achieved very encouraging results with patients suffering from joint pains and arthritis.