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Osteoarthritis and its Ayurvedic cure
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition of the joints in which the cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones gradually loses its elasticity and wears away. Without the protective cartilage, the bones begin to rub against each other, causing stiffness, inflammation, and loss of movement.
Osteoarthritis treatment therapies with current conventional medicine typically focuses on pain reduction and control of inflammation; however, these approaches have no effect on the natural course of the disease.
Mind-body practices such as meditation have value as part of a treatment regimen for chronic pain caused by a variety of conditions.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis worldwide, with symptoms ranging from minor discomfort to debilitation. It can occur in any of the body’s joints but most often develops in the hands and weight-bearing joints, including the knees, hips, and spine (usually in the neck or lower back).
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
While science has no definite answers about what causes OA, researchers have identified several factors involved in the development and course of OA. Some of these factors include inflammation, biomechanical imbalances that put stress on the joints, and cellular disorders that lead to the abnormal breakdown of cartilage. It is important that the approach we use in treating OA address as many of these factors as possible.
Ayurvedic Approaches to Osteoarthritis
Given the only moderate effectiveness and potential side effects of conventional treatment, both patients and health care professionals are seeking out alternative therapies, including those offered by the ancient healing system known as Ayurveda. In this article we’ll look at the three main modalities Ayurveda uses to treat osteoarthritis and other disorders: herbal treatments, meditation, and yoga.
Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments
The herbs boswellia, turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, triphala, guggulu, and shatavari have all been shown to decrease inflammation by interfering with the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.
1. Boswelia ( Shalaki )
Boswellia serrata, also called Indian frankincense, alleviates joint pain and inflammation. Boswellia blocks an enzyme (5-lipoxygenase) that plays a major role in the formation of chemicals called leukotrienes, which stimulate and perpetuate inflammation. Researchers have found that people with osteoarthritis who took boswellia along with ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc reported less joint pain and increased mobility and strength.
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in South and East Asian cooking. It is also used both orally and topically in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments, many of which are related to inflammation.
it protect the stomach against non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Although current studies for its use in treating osteoarthritis are few, curcumin/turmeric is a promising option in the treatment of OA.
Another Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), has known anti-inflammatory effects. the anti-inflammatory effect of ashwagandha was comparable to taking the steroid hydrocortisone.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger (Zinziber officinale) have also been documented. Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory by interfering with an enzyme (cyclooxygenase) that produces inflammatory chemicals in the body. There is some data showing that ginger has a moderate beneficial effect on OA of the knee.
The Ayurvedic herb triphala has been used in India for thousands of years for treatment of osteoarthritis. Triphala is a formulary that consists of three herbs (amalaki, haritaki, and bibhitaki).
In addition, the herb guggulu (Commiphora guggul) has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of the enzyme NFKB, which regulates the body’s inflammatory response
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is an Ayurvedic herb that is considered to have a soothing, cooling, and lubricating influence on the body.
The Benefits of Meditation
An important principle in Ayurveda is acknowledgment of the importance of the emotional and spiritual aspects of health and healing.Health is achieved by balancing not only the body, but mind and spirit as well. Meditation provides a way to achieve this balance. The practice of meditation also creates many physiological changes, including reduction of inflammation in the body.
during meditation, our body enters a state of restful awareness. When we have a regular meditation practice, the physical and emotional healing benefits include:
Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
Slower heart rate
Lower cholesterol levels
Reduced production of “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline
More efficient oxygen use by the body
Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
Improved immune function and more restful sleep
Yoga for Osteoarthritis
Yoga is a time-honored science for balanced living and self-realization. By integrating body, mind, and spirit with the practice of yoga, we experience physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. In addition, by bringing our attention to the present moment, we increase our body awareness, not only while practicing yoga, but also in our everyday movements.