Understanding Inflammation from the Ayurvedic Perspective
Today, we know that inflammation is the root of many chronic health conditions ranging from heart disease and diabetes to depression, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Researchers have long known heart disease and inflammation were intrinsically tied. Tumors grow larger as the inflammatory process takes hold and cancers are perpetuated by chronic inflammation. Additionally, it is a key factor to skin aging. The Ayurvedic approach focuses on reducing inflammation (due to excess Pitta) before addressing the pain with analgesic herbs and external [oil] treatments while balancing the respective dosha.
Reducing inflammation will help with:
- Asthma & allergies
- Tissue inflammation (Fibromyalgia)
- Cardiovascular health
- Inflammatory skin conditions
- Join and muscular pain
- Gout and arthritic conditions
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions
Types of Arthritis according to Ayurveda
The Ayurvedic texts describe two basic types of arthritis that correspond with osteoarthritis (Sandhigat Vata) and rheumatoid arthritis (Ama Vat). From an Ayurvedic perspective it is not just the disease that is treated, it is the person. Every person is treated as a unique case and many variables are taken into account to ensure that a treatment program is specifically tailored for each individual.
- Vata type arthritis has severe pain that changes, migrates and throbs. The joints become stiff and crack and movement is difficult. There may also be constipation, gas, abdominal distention, lower back pain. nervousness, anxiety, fear and insomnia. Pain improves with warm oil and warm baths, thus heat. The condition is aggravated by movement and exercise.
- Pitta type arthritis involves more heat and inflammation, with swelling, fever or burning sensations. Pain is resolved by cold and aggravated by heat. Symptoms often include sweating, loose bowel movements and irritability.
- Kapha type arthritis involves swelling and edema around the joints. Pain is usually localized, dull, heavy and aching. There will also be congestion in the chest and mucus. The condition improves with activity and exercise.
In osteoarthritis (Sandhigat Vata) the next step after diet is to provide support using Ayurvedic herbal formulations. These will work more deeply to reduce inflammation and swelling, calm the aggravated Vata and begin nourishing the tissues that have become malnourished or depleted. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the emphasis should remain on a longer-term program of toxin (Ama) reduction, plus herbs that reduce inflammation and nourish the immune system (Ojas) in order to correct the inappropriate immune response