I understood the severity of arthritis after seeing my mother suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The problem began five to six years ago - my mother could not stand or sit at one place for long hours as it caused swelling and pain in her legs; she had stiff joints especially in the morning; joint aches while working in the kitchen, performing daily chores; and she suffered from fatigue, loss of appetite and depression. My mother is not very old, which indicates that joint pain is not only for old people in their 60s or 70s - it happens even at younger ages!
The common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which ultimately affect multiple activities in one’s life, are:
- severe pain and swelling of joints
- reduced mobility
- joint destruction and deformity of joints if left untreated.
What could be the cause of rheumatoid arthritis?
Surprisingly, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unclear! Researchers say that rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s own immune cells start attacking the synovial membrane of the joints, causing inflammation. Eventually, this destroys the cartilage and bone within the joint, and the joint gradually loses its shape and alignment.
According to Ayurveda, excess Ama (toxins from indigestible food) and Vata (air constituent of the body) are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis. Improper digestion causes the deposition of Ama inside the body, which affects the entire body’s organs including bones and joints, whereas Vata aggravates the inflammation of joints.
What is the solution?
My mother was prescribed with painkillers, anti-inflammatory medicines, Calcium & Vitamin D supplements and anti-rheumatic medicines by her doctor. But the medicines were not very effective, especially when we witnessed the side effects!
Alternative approaches including herbal remedies, physical activity and a well-maintained diet have shown the beacon of hope for the treatment of arthritis. Many Ayurvedic herbs have been researched for the treatment of joint diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. Last year, India’s premiere medical institution, AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) started conducting clinical research and trials to create an effective formulation using natural remedies for the benefit of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Tips for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Here are 8 tips to protect your loved ones from rheumatoid arthritis through completely natural methods and lifestyle modifications:
- Reduce your salt intake - this will help reduce the inflammation in your joints.
- Ensure your diet is rich in fiber (fruits and veggies) and antioxidants. This will expel toxic material out of the body, thereby controlling inflammation.
- Include foods rich in calcium (such as low-fat milk and other dairy products, papaya, raisins) and magnesium (such as nuts especially walnuts, banana, cashews) in your diet to strengthen your bones. The recommended daily amount for calcium in adults is 1000 to 1500mg and for magnesium 300 to 500mg.
- Walk during the day to increase the blood circulation and mobility of joints. (Do not do too much physical activity, focus on light and low-impact exercises).
- Drink lukewarm water during the day and eat fresh and warm food. Avoid cold or stale food and beverages as they may increase pain, inflammation and stiffness of joints.
- Avoid food that is heavy and difficult to digest, deep-fried, junk foods and aerated drinks which otherwise can worsen the joint pain, stiffness and inflammation.
- Ayurvedic herbs like Guggul, Shallaki, Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, Giloy and Rock Salt are the natural ingredients effective in reducing pain and inflammation; strengthening bones and cartilages which support joints; reducing destruction of joints; and increasing mobility. Namyaa, a herbal formulation for joint problems prepared by Devang, contains 25 powerful natural ingredients for the benefit of people with joint diseases including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Light yogic exercise can increase the flexibility of joints and Pranayama or other breathing exercises can help expel the toxins out of the body. Meditation also helps to reduce stress experienced from arthritis.
All the above mentioned tips help to reduce inflammation and pain, minimize the stiffness of joints, increase flexibility of joints, and prevent further destruction of joints.
So, are you ready to protect your loved ones from rheumatoid arthritis?
I have advised my mother to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle along with herbal formulations, and she has been able to discontinue anti-arthritic medicines! A nutritive and anti-inflammatory diet plays an important role in providing relief to people with rheumatoid arthritis. Now, I can see the positive results:
- no achy and inflamed joints
- no inflammation in other parts of the body
- ease in walking and climbing stairs
- no fatigue and loss of appetite
- no liver problems as with the earlier medicines
- no depression and irritation which occurred earlier due to severe pains.
According to the International Journal of Rheumatology, July 2015, rheumatoid arthritis has a worldwide prevalence of 0.5-1% among adults. Increasing awareness of rheumatoid arthritis and the correct treatment approach can make our mothers and every other person free of arthritis!
Sweta Srivastava is Devang’s Health Care Research Expert. Sweta received her Graduate degree in Biological Science & Post-graduate degree in Environmental Science from the University of Allahabad. She has been studying, working and researching into the field of herbs and healthcare science for more than twelve years.
American College of Rheumatology. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Myoclinic.org. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/home/ovc-20197388
Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis diet. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/rheumatoid-arthritis-diet.php
Gajendra Kumar et al. Efficacy & safety evaluation of Ayurvedic treatment (Ashwagandha powder & Sidh Makardhwaj) in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a pilot prospective study. Indian J Med Res 141, January 2015, pp 100-106. http://icmr.nic.in/ijmr/2015/janaury/0112.pdf
Rohini Handa et al. Literature review of rheumatoid arthritis in India. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2016; 19: 440–45. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1756-185X.12621/full