Posted On July 29, 2022,
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are different diagnoses—one is wear and tear on the joints; the other is an autoimmune dysfunction—but Ayurveda takes the same general approach to both: dietary modifications, herbal remedies, detoxification, and lifestyle counseling with meditation and therapeutic yoga. Treatment specifics are based on the individual’s body constitution, or dosha, says Dr. Somesh N Kaushik, Ayurvedic and naturopathic physician.
Doshas are unique combinations of elements found in nature: pitta (fire/water); vata (air/space); and kapha (earth/water). When these elements are out of balance, illness results, Kaushik says. Ayurveda identifies arthritis as imbalance in the vata dosha, which controls movement—circulation, blood flow, breathing, elimination of wastes—and pain sensitivity.
Imbalance results in stagnation and a buildup of toxins, which leads to inflammation, pain and discomfort,” Kaushik says.
Ayurveda’s aim is to discover the root cause of an issue, beginning with diet and digestion. If diet is poor or digestion weak, toxins build up in the joints and tissues, inhibiting function and mobility, Kaushik says. If the body can’t eliminate toxins, they cause a never-ending cycle of inflammation and pain.
Panchakarma, Ayurveda’s signature detox program, removes embedded toxins while improving circulation and relaxing the nervous system, Kausha says. It’s complemented by anti-inflammatory foods that aid digestion and are easily assimilated. In general, choose cooked vegetables, whole grains and fruits over heavy, oily, rich, fatty or raw foods; plant- or nut-based drinks or yogurt over dairy products; and warm or room-temperature water over cold, which restricts circulation. The preferred herbal supplements—including cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric—are warming but not spicy, as hot spices aggravate inflammation.
Because a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to arthritis, Kaushik recommends gentle exercise like yoga, tai chi, swimming or walking. To keep the mind and body in balance, he suggests establishing a routine for eating, sleeping and working, as well as regular meditation to reduce stress and pain.
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