Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder that affects not only the joints, but other body structures too. It is chronic in nature. It damages skin, eyes, blood vessels, lungs & heart.

It is a common autoimmune disorder that is caused when the immune system of an individual attacks his own body. In osteoarthritis conditions, degenerative changes such as wear & tear of joints occur, but in Rheumatoid arthritis, there is marked inflammation of the lining of the joints which causes severe pain & swelling. In later stages, it can lead to bone deformity owing to bone erosion. In severe cases, physical disabilities may occur & affect other body tissues also.

Sex, age, family background & smoke are the major risk factors identified.

Symptoms

Hot, swollen & tenderness in the joints

Morning stiffness of the joints, stiffness after inactivity

Loss of hunger, fatigue, fever

In the beginning stage, it affects the smaller joints that connect the fingers & the hand, fingers & the joints that connect the feet & toe. Gradually when the disease attains severity it affects the wrists, ankle, shoulders, knee & elbow. Most often, the symptoms occur bilaterally in the joints.

Other areas like skin, heart, lungs, bone marrow, kidneys, salivary glands, nervous tissue are affected.

The signs & symptoms occur in varying intensities. In the long run, it can cause bodily deformities.

Ayurvedic view

Ama Vata is the term used to describe the RA complex. In Ama vata, there is Vata vitiation & there is ama formation & it is deposited in the macro as well as microchannels of the body. Several factors lead to the ama formation like stress, anxiety, climatic changes, dietary habit changes, etc. All these cause ama, combine with the vitiated Vata, then reaches the Kapha sites like the joints & gastric region. The accumulated toxin blocks all the body channels. When the ama localizes in the joints it is named Ama Vata. As the channels are blocked, nutrition is impaired, appetite is lowered & the body becomes very weak. The ama in the joints acts as a foreign body & causes autoimmune reactions causing inflammation of the joints.

Treatment

Ayurveda treatments follow a holistic approach. It is a conglomeration of adding proper diet, medicines, exercise & timely follow-ups.

The first line of treatment is to avoid the formation of Ama. This is done by kindling the digestive/metabolic fire. If ama is not formed there will be no inflammatory symptoms. Then by proper panchakarma therapies toxins can be removed easily.

Langhana-Light food is advised to remove the heaviness of the body.

Swedana– dry fomentation to reduce the pain. Usually, sand or herbal powders are used. The poultice is also recommended

Deepana-The digestive fire is stimulated using pungent & bitter herbs like shunti, pippali & shunti.

Virechana– the purgation therapy expels toxins from the body. Eranda taila is used.

Snehapana, internal oleation therapy using the drugs rasna, nirgudundi is very effective. Castor oil is also very much recommended.

Vasti or enema therapy like vaitharana vasti, yapana vasti & kshara vasti is highly recommended.

After the purificatory therapies, the ama is removed, the digestive fire is slowly stimulated, now shamana therapies can be followed.

Rasna saptaka kashayam, panchakola choornam, vaishwanara choornam, yogaraja guggulu, simhanadaguggulu are very effective in Amavata. Garlic as well as castor oil are very powerful remedies in amavata treatment.

Unlike other medical systems, Ayurveda provides a promising cure in the treatment of joint ailments. This has been greatly validated by various research studies.

Do s & Don’ts

  • Use warm water to drink & bath
  • Avoid overexposure to extreme coldness
  • Avoid all types of heavy foods like pulses, dried foods, artificial drinks
  • Early to bed & early to wake
  • Avoid constipating foods, foods that are lower in water content.
  • Follow clean bowel habits.