In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the efficacy of holistic traditional medical systems like Ayurveda in the treatment of chronic inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Ayurvedic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis uses a combination of dietary changes, herbal medications, supplements, and exercise. Studies sponsored by the World Health Organization involving a collaboration of allopathic and Ayurvedic physicians have found Ayurveda to be so effective that they recommend further research and the use of Ayurvedic approaches as a complementary therapy that can support ongoing allopathic treatments. Here’s how you can use some Ayurvedic principles in your everyday life to better manage and reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Because of its wide use in Indian cuisine, we often overlook therapeutic benefits of turmeric or haldi, regarding it more as a culinary ingredient. However, the herb is highly valued in Ayurveda for its anit-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help in the management of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. These benefits are linked to bioactive compounds in the herb called curcuminoids, the main one being curcumin. Some studies suggest that curcumin from turmeric can be just as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritic pain relief.
Although turmeric can be added directly to your diet, curcumin absorption is poor, but this can be remedied by consuming it with black pepper. Research shows that piperine in black pepper enhances absorption by as much as 2,000%! Alternatively, you could use supplements to ensure you get a dosage of 1,000 mg of curcumin daily.
Ashwagandha is regarded as a rasayana or rejuvenating herb in Ayurveda and may play an important role in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Based on research, the herb is classified as an adaptogen, which means that it can better manage physiological responses to stress, lower cortisol levels, and other inflammatory triggers. The herb can help relive rheumatoid arthritis pain through both its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, with a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research pointing to its efficacy.
Researchers observed improvements in rheumatoid arthritis with a daily supplementation of 5g of ashwagandha powder twice a day. You can consume the herb as a supplement or in powder form along with warm water or milk. There is inadequate research on the safety of higher doses, so check with your physician before increasing intake of ashwagandha.
Some patients may also find benefits from eliminating or restricting the intake of nightshade foods such as eggplants, potatoes, bell peppers, and tomatoes, among others. Although generally regarded as healthy and nutritionally rich, these foods can exacerbate inflammatory immune responses in some individuals. This may be linked to the presence of alkaloids like glycoalkaloid solanine, which can have a pro-inflammatory effect in some patients.
Yoga & Meditation
The idea of taking up yoga or any exercise may be daunting when you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, but staying inactive can severely exacerbate the symptoms. With its gentle movements and easy adaptability, yoga is perhaps the best form of exercise for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Just make sure to learn and practice poses in sequences that are shown to help with the condition. Yoga is not just recommended in Ayurveda, but is now often included as an adjunct treatment in conventional medicine. Research shows that arthritic patients can benefit from yoga, with improved mobility and fitness, as well as reduced stress levels.
For more comprehensive Ayurvedic treatment options, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner and consider undergoing panchakarma, which help to detoxify the body. You can also get more precise information on dosage requirements and safety of various Ayurvedic supplements and medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis.