Arthritis manifests in many different ways as an inflammatory disease or disorder, generally affecting the musculoskeletal system, specifically connective tissue and joints. There are about a hundred different forms of arthritis, but some of the more common types include Rheumatoid arthritis, Gouty arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and Juvenile arthritis.
Arthritis may not be life threatening, but it can be debilitating and severely affects the quality of life. Pain and stiffness are the main symptoms, resulting from inflammation or damage to the joint as a result of the disorder. The pain can be excruciating, reducing mobility in the affected joint and also causing deformities.
Causes Of Arthritis
According to Ayurveda, toxins, known as ama, can accumulate in the channels of the body due to poor diet and improper digestion. This can lead to the accumulation and circulation of impurities or toxins in the joints, inhibiting joint function, mobility, and comfort. Arthritis can be caused due to vata, pitta or kapha dosha imbalances within the body. Vata arthritis feels painful, causing the joints to become stiff and dry. Pitta arthritis manifests as heat, swelling, and a burning sensation in the joints. Kapha arthritis presents with fluid buildup, cold and congestion in the joints.
To treat arthritis, we must first understand why the problem occurs so that it can be effectively relieved. What are the reasons for ama accumulating? To get to the root of this you need to examine the digestive process. Is the digestive fire burning too quickly or slowly, causing pain or heat; is there bloating; how regular is elimination and what are its properties? Finding the answers to these questions first, can help an Ayurvedic practitioner and the patient understand how food is (or isn’t) moving through the system and, accordingly, a plan can be formulated to restore optimal digestion.
The Law of Opposites is also very important when treating diseases in Ayurveda. With this simple foundational rule we can manage the symptoms effectively. If pain manifests as hot, we treat it with cold; if dry we administer lubricating oils; if heavy or congested, we treat it with light.
To better manage your arthritis, here are some helpful tips:
Keep the system well flushed by drinking warm water with lemon regularly, especially first thing in the morning.
Circulation is very important to reduce the buildup of toxins, so make it a point to stay active within your threshold of pain. You can try light activities like gentle walking and yoga.
Perform daily self-massages and frequently by a qualified practitioner. Using warm oil encourages movement of the lymph, and brings blood to the joints, aiding the removal of wastes and minimizing toxic buildup.
Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory and blood cleansing spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, chili, black pepper and garlic. Avoid chili if you suffer from the type of arthritis that causes heat.
Avoid ama-causing food and drinks such as coffee, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed or fried foods. These can be heating, dry and sticky for the body, causing more ama to enter the already overloaded system.
Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, while keeping meat intake to a minimum if not avoidable altogether.
Foods high in calcium can prevent bone loss, so include ingredients like sesame seeds, almonds, sprouts, and yogurt in your meals.
Food high in omega 3s, such as walnuts, oily fish, and flaxseed can help reduce the dryness and stiffness in the joints.
Ingesting aloe vera can reduce burning in the joints and relieve pain, especially when consumed on an empty stomach.
Meditate daily. Calming the mind can allow the body to focus on its natural processes. As you meditate, the body releases antioxidants and these free radicals play an important role in scavenging the toxins in your system for removal. The meditative practices and breathing techniques of yoga help to improve pulmonary function, while also reducing stress. It also trains your body and mind to consciously relax, thereby helping you cope better with the painful symptoms.
In addition to making the necessary dietary changes it will also help to seek advice from a qualified Ayurvedic doctor. An Ayurvedic specialist will be able to recommend specific herbal medications and other lifestyle changes that are meant specifically for you.
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