Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term, progressive, and disabling autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation, swelling, and pain in and around the joints and other body organs. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) usually affects the finger joints of hands and feet first, but it can occur in any joint. It usually involves the same joints on both sides of the body. Clinical course is usually life long, with intermittent exacerbations and remissions and highly variable severity.
RA is more common in women than men. In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. In men, it often occurs later in life. It can't cured completely but we can manage the disease.
In Ayurveda RA is considered as Amavata or Vatarakta. Amavata is a disease in which vitiation of Vata Dosha(vital air) and accumulation of Ama (toxins) take place in joint(s), and it simulates rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Stiffness in the morning which lasts more than 1 hr. During this time, one might feel difficulty in waking up from the bed and also feel difficulty in involving in day to day activities
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in more than one joint
- Symmetrical joint involvement
- Joint deformity
- Unsteadiness when walking
- General feeling of being unwell
- Loss of function and mobility
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
According to modern science the exact cause of RA is unknown. But in Ayurveda, causative factors include:
- Impaired vata (vital air) - due to improper digestion, impaired liver functioning and intestinal absorption
- Irregular diet habits, sleep disturbances, stress
- Sedentary lifestyle - leading to low metabolism and weakened digestive system
All the above factors causes build up of AMA (toxins) which spreads throughout the body. Those spreading in the joints, muscles and cartilage causes swelling and pain in the area of joints of hands, feet, ankles and elbows, lower back, knee, and hip.
Treatment involves three things
- Removal of ama (toxins) by giving medicine for igniting the digestive fire or by fasting.
- Next step is medicine for reducing the symptoms or reducing the inflammation.
- Last step is improve immunity, disease management and prevention.
For the above treatments, many approaches are involved
- Panchakarma - virechana (cleaning digestive tract and purifies blood), Vasti (enema)
- Blood letting or raktamokshana therapy
- Rasayana therapy - oral medicines using appropriate herbs help to rejuvenate your body.
- External application of medicines - using oil/powders etc
Foods to avoid
- Urad dal
Foods to have
- Rakta Shali (a red variety of rice)
Lifestyle changes according to ayurveda
Sitting up at night, suppression of natural urges, and exposure to eastern winds are harmful for the patient of Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Take warm fresh food
- Avoid incompatible, heavy, and oily foods
- Avoid bath in cold water.
- Take sun bath. It will help to remove toxins (ama) from body easily.
- Apply moist heat on the affected joints.