Ayurvedic Treatment for Arthritis

remedies for joint painArthritis is a well-known disorder in the science of Ayurveda and is generally termed  as Sandhi Vata.  By this title alone we can see that Vata is typically the main dosha involved in arthritic conditions; however, Ama (toxins) and Agni (digestive fire) also plain a strong role.  In general, an Ayurvedic treatment protocol with typically involve detoxifying the system, increasing the digestive fire, reducing inflammation and pacifying any imbalanced dosha that is related to the arthritis.  

General Pathology of Arthritis

A very general pathology of arthritis may look something like this:  Vata becomes aggravated due to improper diet and lifestyle habits.  This leads to improper digestion or a low digestive fire (Agni).  The poor digestion then leads to the build-up of toxins in the colon.  The deranged Vata along with the toxins begin to accumulate in the colon and eventually absorb into the circulation where they flow freely through the system.  From the blood stream, they then find their way into the joint cavities, accumulating further here.  This toxic accumulation eventually leads to pain, stiffness, stagnation, inflammation, swelling and degeneration of the tissue.

Common Causes of Arthritis       

  • Poor dietary habits
  • Improper food combinations
  • Taking in iced beverages and cold food
  • Over-activity (i.e. excessive exercising, jogging, jumping…)
  • Excessive weight bearing (obesity, overweight)
  • “Kavaigunya” or weakened space in the joints; due to genetics, past injury or trauma, improper ergonomics , long-term jobs that have put stress on the joints, etc
  • Repressed emotions
  • Chronic Vata derangement in the colon
  • Chronic toxins in the colon

Types of Arthritis

Although the ancient Ayurvedic texts do mention a few different classifications for Arthritis, mainly Sandhi Vata (general arthritis), Ama Vata (rheumatoid arthritis) and Vata Rakta (gout); the best way to really classify this disorder is to break it down to the qualities of Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha in order to establish a proper treatment protocol.

**NOTE:  Vata will always be involved to some extent, but after chronic derangement, other doshas come into play and manifest as various symptoms (see below).

Vata-Type Arthritis:  Vata, being of air and space, will show signs of degeneration of the joints (osteoarthritis).  There tends to be stiff, dry joints that crack and pop often.  Causative factors may include chronic constipation and gas, excessive activity, weak bone tissue, malabsorption of nutrients and chronic anxiety, fear and worry.

Pitta-Type Arthritis:  Pitta, being hot and fiery by nature, will show signs of inflammation and redness at the site of the effected joint.  The area may be hot to touch with tenderness upon palpation.  The pain will be sharp, intense and may attribute a burning sensation.  Causative factors may include intake of heating substances (i.e. spicy foods, nightshades, alcohol, nicotine…), stress, over-working, hyper-metabolism, hyperacidity and chronic anger, criticism and judgement.

Kapha-Type Arthritis:  Kapha, being Earth and Water by nature, will show signs of stiffness, swelling and edema (fluid retention) at the site of the effected joint.  This area will be cold and clammy to the touch and the pain is typically dull.  Common causative factors include excessive weight or obesity, inactivity throughout the life, slow metabolism, slow digestion and chronic feelings of heaviness, lethargy, depression, lack of motivation and sadness.

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Ayurvedic Remedies for Arthritis

No matter which category of Arthritis you may fall into, there are a few common lines of action to begin treatment: to cleanse the colon, burn the toxins and increase (or balance) the digestion.  Here are a couple Ayurvedic remedies that everyone can begin with:

  • Triphala Churna: Take 1/2 tsp of this powdered formula each night before bed. Mix it in warm water, steep for 5 minutes and drink the mixture.  Purchase Triphala here.
  • Kitchari Cleanse: Performing a mono-diet, Kitchari cleanse is a good way to start for all body types.  This can be done in 3, 5 or 7 days depending on the individual.  This is a great way to rid the body of toxins, decrease inflammation and enhance the digestive fire (Agni).  It is vital however, to keep with a healthy diet post-cleanse to see lasting results.  Click here to find out How to Perform a Kitchari Cleanse.

Vata-Type Arthritis Treatment

Diet:
Lifestyle:
  • Begin the day with 16oz of warm lemon water
  • Visit a steam room at least 1-2 times each week
  • Take a ginger/baking soda bath 2-3 times each week
  • Perform a “self-oil massage” (Abhyanga) at least one time each week using Vata Massage Oil
  • Massage the effected joint area for 5 minutes each night using Vata Massage Oil or Mahanarayana oil; apply heat after for best results
  • Reduce stress and worry through meditation, breathing exercises or other healthy outlets
  • Only perform low-impact exercise such as gentle yoga or swimming; avoid jumping and jogging
  • Get plenty of sleep each night
Herbal Remedies:
  • Yogaraj Guggulu: Take 1/2 tsp, 3 times daily in warm water.
  • Shilajit: Take 1/2 tsp, 3 times daily in warm water.
  • Triphala Churna: See above.
  • Castor oil: Take 1 tsp of organic castor oil in a cup of warm ginger tea (click here for tea recipe) before bed each night. Take this for 10 consecutive days.
  • Arjuna: Take 1 tsp of Arjuna powder, mixed in 1/2 cup of warm organic milk. Take before bed each night.   Cow or goat milk are the most effective milk options; however, almond or hemp milk can be substituted if there is lactose intolerance.
  • Dashamul Tea Basti

NOTE:  These herbal recommendations are not intended to be taken all at once.  Only 1-3 options should be applied at a time.

Pitta-Type Arthritis Treatment

Diet:
Lifestyle:
  • Begin the day with 16oz of warm lime water
  • Take a warm (not hot!) ginger/baking soda bath 2-3 times each week
  • Perform a “self-oil massage” (Abhyanga) at least one time each week using Pitta Massage Oil
  • Gently massage the effected joint area for 5 minutes each night using Pitta Massage Oil or coconut oil
  • Avoid over-working and stressful situations
  • Reduce stress and anger through meditation, breathing exercises or other healthy outlets
  • Get plenty of sleep each night
Herbal Remedies:
  • Kaishore Guggulu: Take 1/2 tsp, 3 times daily in warm water.
  • Tikta Ghrita: Take 1/2 tsp, 3 times daily. Follow with warm water.  Purchase Tikta Ghrita here.
  • Triphala Churna: See above.
  • Mahasudarshana Churna: Take 1/2 tsp of this powdered formula in aloe vera juice, 3 times daily.  Take for 14-30 days.  Purchase Mahasudarshana Churna here.
  • Castor oil: Take 1 tsp of organic castor oil in a cup of warm ginger tea (click here for tea recipe) before bed each night. Take this for 10 consecutive days.
  • Dashamul and Guduchi Tea Basti  

NOTE:  These herbal recommendations are not intended to be taken altogether.  Only 1-3 options should be applied at a time.

Kapha-Type Arthritis Treatment:

Diet:
Lifestyle:
  • Begin the day with 8 ounces of warm lemon water
  • Visit a dry sauna at least 1-2 times each week
  • Take a ginger/baking soda bath 2-3 times each week
  • Perform a “self-oil massage” (Abhyanga) at least one time each week with Kapha Massage Oil
  • Massage the effected joint area for 5 minutes each night using Kapha Massage Oil or Mustard oil; apply heat after for best results
  • Soak the affected joint in mustard seed tea. Steep 2 Tbsps of mustard seeds in a gallon of warm water.  Soak the effected joint for 10-15 minutes.  Perform the nights that you do not do the bath or sauna treatment.
  • Reduce stress through meditation, breathing exercises or other healthy outlets
  • Perform low-impact exercise such as gentle yoga, walking or swimming; avoid jumping and jogging
  • Avoid day sleeping
Herbal Remedies:
  • Punarnava Guggulu: Take 1/2 tsp, 3 times daily in warm water.
  • Shilajit: Take 1/2 tsp, 3 times daily in warm water.
  • Triphala Churna: See above.
  • Trikatu Churna: Take ½ tsp, before meals, 3 times daily. Mix in honey or warm water.
  • Mahasudarshana Churna: Take 1 tsp of this powdered formula in honey each morning on an empty stomach.  Follow with warm water.  Take for 14-30 days.  Purchase Mahasudarshana Churna here.
  • Castor oil: Take 1 tsp of organic castor oil in a cup of warm ginger tea (click here for tea recipe) before bed each night. Take this for 10 consecutive days.

NOTE:  These herbal recommendations are not intended to be taken altogether.  Only 1-3 options should be applied at a time.

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2 Comments

  1. Shenika Keis December 22, 2015 at 4:41 am #

    Thanks for sharing these excellent Ayurveda tips by which we can easily solve problem like Arthritis. After reading your post I am getting that Ayurveda is very important in our day to day life. I would like to read same kind of post so please keep sharing.

    • Danielle December 22, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      Hi Shenika! Thank you so much for the kind words. I am so glad that you have found this article to be helpful. Ayurveda is so important to incorporate on a daily basis, whether you are treating a disorder, preventing disease, or just wishing to obtain the best YOU, you can be. I love Ayurveda and promise to keep sharing the knowledge that I have been so blessed to learn! Namaste, Danielle

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