Health & Fitness

Arthritis Pain Relief: The Ayurvedic Way

An ayurvedic diet and lifestyle practice which includes taking herbs and supplements and practicing yoga, may be beneficial for joint pain relief or arthritis pain relief. 

Following ayurvedic practices could be helpful in reducing inflammation, easing arthritis symptoms, and limiting flare-ups. But results may vary greatly from person to person, so you can confirm with your doctor to determine if ayurvedic medicine is safe for your health.

Herbs for Arthritis Pain Relief

Even if there isn’t a permanent cure for Arthritis, several  health experts suggest tweaking their diet in a bid to better manage the condition.

According to one such Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Dhanvantri Tyagi “Hot water fermentation is the best therapy for Arthritis pain relief. It soothes your joints and help them function better. It is only recommended when the case is not severe.” 

Dr. Tyagi also shared that some herbs can help relieve joint pain, especially during the winter months. “while it totally depends on person to person and severity that the herbs are suggested, these herbs that can be used by everybody.”

There are some herbs suggested by Dr. Tyagi to try using at home for arthritis pain relief: 

Dashmool

Dashmool literally translates to ‘ten roots’; out of which five roots are of trees and five are of shrubs used as medicinal herbs to cure a variety of ailments . These include patala, gambhari, brihati, shalparni and more. Dashmula is effective in inflammatory conditions as it is has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, analgesic and sedative properties which help with joint pain relief. It can be procured in the form of oil and powder.

Carom Seeds

Carom Seeds acts as a natural aid to arthritis pain due to the presence of anti-inflammatory components. Ajwain or carom seeds contains anesthetic properties that further help in relieving excessive pain during winter. All you need to do is to add a spoonful of carom seeds or ajwain in a tub of hot water and soak your aching joints in the water and soak for 5-10 minutes which will ease swelling and pain. Also try to crush these seeds and make a paste and apply it on the affected areas in order to alleviate the pain. Also, you can drink ajwain water every day if you boil water with these seeds.

Nirgundi

This is the most common herbs used to bring joint pain relief. The plant is easily available and is known to reduce swelling as well as excessive pain. Its potent anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsing and antioxidant properties help the joints in many ways. 

The leaves of the plant Nirgundi are believed to have the most medicinal properties when compared to its stem and the seeds. The plant is bitter in taste and has hot potency, making it useful for arthritis pain relief. Use Nirgundi oil by applying it on joints or make a paste of the leaves and apply it.  You can also make a leaf decoction.

Shallaki 

Shallaki herb not only reduces the pain, but also helps in diminishing the swelling and further increases mobility. Shallaki is also sometimes used by experts as a substitute or natural alternative to modern pain killers. It is available in the form of essential oil. 

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus oil is a very common herbal treatment for arthritis. These eucalyptus plant leaves contain something called tannins which may be helpful in reducing swelling and the pain arthritis causes. The aroma of eucalyptus oil is said to have calmative effects on the brain, and eucalyptus oil relieves you from swelling in the joints and joint pain relief. 

Yoga Exercise

The best ayurvedic exercises usually include gentle movements like yoga, tai chi, swimming, and walking. Deep breathing and daily meditation are also recommended. However, yoga may be especially beneficial for arthritis pain relief. 

If you live with joint pain, it’s important to discuss with your doctor whether it’s safe to exercise before starting a new routine. They can determine how often you should exercise based on your symptoms and talk with you about modifying exercises, such as yoga poses.

Studies on the relationship between Yoga and Arthritis Pain Relief: 

Subhadra Evans, PhD, a researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center conducted a small study of the effects of six weeks of Iyengar yoga on a group of women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Evans was impressed by yoga’s immediate, positive impact on people with a serious chronic disease. “I was surprised by how strong those results were,” she says.

Participants filled out questionnaires to measure pain, disability, mood, function and other symptoms, and also sat down for personal interviews with the researchers to gauge their feelings about the yoga program and its effects on their RA.

“They all said that day-to-day levels of pain hadn’t changed and their relationship to the pain changed and were able to get through daily activities much more effectively with more energy,” Evans says. “I think if we had had them do yoga longer, we may have seen more significant changes in pain and other symptoms.”

Still, Dr. Kolasinki warns: “You need to be taught by an instructor who understands your limitations.” Postures should be modified to suit your needs, and props should be used to help you balance during poses. As it allows the use of aids, Iyengar yoga, is often recommended for people with arthritis.  

Can Yoga Fight Inflammation?

Many forms of arthritis, especially autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, involve inflammation, a process that causes joint swelling, redness, and pain and eventually destroys the joint components. 

A 2010 study led by researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, at Ohio State University in Columbus, measured key blood markers for inflammation in a study of 50 healthy women practicing basic Hatha yoga postures and found promising results.

Separated between yoga experts and beginners and the more experienced yoga practitioners showed lower levels of inflammation-causing proteins like interleukin-6 in their blood. Catheters were also inserted into each woman’s arm to measure various substances during the yoga sessions, Kiecolt-Glaser said.. These included C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis alpha and interleukin-6, all proteins that may play a role in inflammation in many forms of arthritis, including RA. Those women who were new to yoga saw higher amounts of these markers in their blood than those who practiced yoga on a regular basis. 

“We didn’t see an actual difference during the yoga session. But we found that the experienced yoga practitioners had less reaction to stressors, perhaps less physiological reactions to stressors,” says Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology who wanted to explore the benefits of exercise on people with various medical conditions. “We chose yoga to study because it’s low impact. It’s a whole lot easier to start yoga than to start jogging. Yoga has a lot of potential benefits.”

An Indian study looked at a week-long, intensive yoga program’s effects on people with RA. Sixty-four men and women with the disease were given tests for hand grip strength, rheumatoid factor (a blood marker often associated with inflammation) and C-reactive protein. All participants showed reduced disability scores on the standardized Health Assessment Questionnaire measuring function, and reduced rheumatoid factor levels. And, participants showed improved hand grip strength following a week of yoga.

An older study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 also showed that yoga could provide relief for people with hand osteoarthritis, a common condition that can impair daily activities like dressing, driving a car or cooking. An eight-week yoga regimen improved hand pain and finger range of motion in the participants. 

Just be careful not to overdo it, and be mindful if you experience any pain or discomfort. “Don’t overtax a joint that’s flaring,” she says. Most Americans do not get enough physical activity, a factor that contributes to higher rates of obesity and health problems like arthritis. “Getting people moving is key,” Dr. Kolasinksi says.

Sleep

The ayurvedic lifestyle may help with sleep if symptoms like pain and stiffness keep you awake at night. Recommended changes to improve sleep include:

  • going to bed early and rising early
  • avoiding naps during the day, if possible
  • taking a warm shower or bath before bed
  • trying ashwagandha or warm milk before bed
  • practicing nighttime yoga and meditation
  • massaging the soles of the feet with warm sesame oil and wiping it off after 15 minutes or putting on socks before getting into bed

General Trivia: 

Which Ayurvedic medicine is best for arthritis?

Dashmula is effective in inflammatory conditions as it has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, analgesic and sedative properties which help with joint pain relief. It can be procured in the form of oil and powder.

Shallaki herb not only reduces the pain, but also helps in diminishing the swelling and further increases mobility. Shallaki is also sometimes used by experts as a substitute or natural alternative to modern pain killers. It is available in the form of essential oil. 

Is Ayurvedic medicine effective for arthritis?

An ayurvedic diet and lifestyle practice which includes taking herbs and supplements and practicing yoga, may be beneficial for joint pain relief or arthritis pain relief. 

Following ayurvedic practices could be helpful in reducing inflammation, easing arthritis symptoms, and limiting flare-ups. 

Can arthritis be cured by yoga?

YES. As a matter of fact, yoga is proven to help people with arthritis improve many physical and psychological symptoms. “Yoga is definitely one option for people with arthritis. Not only for the exercise benefits, but it’s also beneficial in the mind/body area, promoting relaxation and stress reduction,” says Dr. Kolasinksi.

Can Ayurveda cure knee pain?

There is evidence that the Ayurvedic herb Boswellia serrata, often called Indian frankincense helps to alleviate joint pain and inflammation.  Studies have found that people with osteoarthritis who took boswellia serrata, consumed with ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc reported less joint pain and increased mobility and strength.

Can arthritis be cured permanently?

Generally, rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured as the disease gradually becomes less aggressive. And, the symptoms may even improve. However, any damage to joints and ligaments or any deformities that have occurred will be permanent. Rheumatoid arthritis can even affect parts of the body other than the joints.

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