Keep Your Joints Healthy With Ayurveda - Part Three
Posted Mar 25 2010 9:27am
Rheumatoid arthritis is an extremely painful and debilitating condition that in the U.S. affects over one milllion adults and 1 in every 250 children. Ayurveda classifies rheumatoid arthritis as Ama type of joint pain. I'm excited to discuss this last segment in the series because this Ama type can be so difficult to treat in conventional medicine. I'll also present the Kapha type of joint pain as we finish this series on keeping your joints healthy with Ayurveda.
People of Kapha (earth + water) constitution or imbalance tend to experience this type of joint pain where there is stiffness and dull achiness in the joints. There is likely to be swelling due to edema, or water retention. The affected area, or even the whole body, may feel heavy and cold. This type of pain is more pronounced in damp, cold weather as the attributes of Kapha are cold, dense, heavy, and slow.
A Kapha pacifying diet can be extremely effective for reducing water retention and pressure on the joints. A Kapha diet means eliminating most dairy products, certain oils, fried and frozen foods, sweets (honey is ok) and wheat. On a Kapha diet, the emphasis is on drying, warming, pungent and bitter foods such as barley, buckwheat, rye, most fruits and veggies (sorry, no avocado!) and legumes. You can view the entire food list by clicking on "Food Guidelines" here .
The best Ayurvedic herbal formula for Kapha type of joint pain is Punarnavadi Guggulu . This traditional herbal combination balances the water element and promotes healthy elimination of Kapha in the tissues. It is effective in reducing edema and targets the kidneys, heart, and joints.
Kapha type of joint pain can be greatly improved by massaging either Mahanarayan oil or Kapha massage oil into the affected areas. It's best to heat up the oil before using it so that it can also warm up the joint and penetrate fully. Mahanarayan oil is a great analgesic oil and eliminates stiffness, while the herbs specific to Kapha in the Kapha massage oil reduce excess water and promote circulation through mild sweating.
In Sanskrit, "ama" means "toxin". Ama is the subtle toxic residue that occurs from improper food, lifestyle or digestion. Ama can also occur in the presence of actual toxins such as chemicals, metals, and pollutants. Ama can even form due to unresolved and stressful emotions. Ama can move around in the body, and while it begins in the digestion process, it may lodge in a joint. When there is ama in a joint, there will be symptoms from the previous three categories because all three doshas are involved: inflammation, moving pain, redness and swelling. People who suffer from this type of joint pain will likely exhibit other signs of ama, such as a thick coating on their tongue, poor elimination and digestion, and low energy. Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as ama type of joint pain because it is the presence of ama in the joint that eventually causes structural deformity in the affected area.
1. To reduce ama in the body, the digestive tract needs to be cleansed. The most comprehensive way to do this is to undergo the traditional Ayurvedic purification process called Panchkarma . There are Ayurvedic facilities in the U.S. and in India that provide this treatment to thoroughly purify and rejuvenate the digestion and also the entire body. Secondly, a diet of drier, lighter, warming foods such as soups and steamed leafy greens help to kindle digestion so that old ama can begin to be burned off. Stimulating spices like ginger, black pepper and fenugreek also help to reduce ama. 2. The Ayurvedic herbal formula specific for ama in the joints is Simhanad Guggulu . This traditional herbal remedy contains castor oil and Triphala, two very powerful purgative cleansers that detox ama from the system. In conjunction with the nourishing herbs in the formula, Simhanad Guggulu cleanses ama from the GI tract and the joints and also soothes and strengthens the painful joints. Warning: This formula should NOT be used by pregnant women or anyone suffering from diarrhea because of its purgative action.3. Mahanarayan oil is again the best oil to use for ama type of joint pain. It is great to stop pain, stiffness and inflammation. It will bring significant symptomatic relief when used regularly.