One of the most common diseases of old age is Arthritis. There are two forms of this disease called Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis respectively, the most common form being Osteoarthritis. In this condition, the joints become inflamed, stiff and painful to the point that the patient finds it extremely difficult to do day to day activities like climbing stairs, running or even walking. According to the modern medicine system, since Arthritis is a joint degenerative disorder it cannot be cured permanently but can be managed with Allopathic medication but Ayurveda suggests that using natural Ayurvedic herbs, it can be completely cured. Other non-naturopathic solution sought after nowadays is the Surgical replacement of the joint itself.
Arthritis And Joint Pain Causes
Out of the two forms of arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis is considered a more dangerous and painful form. It involves minor and major joints of the body like hips, knees, small joints of feet and finger joints and also muscles, tendons and surrounding tissues. Osteoarthritis occurs due to the reduction of cartilage and loss of fluid around the weight-bearing joints of the knees and spine. This loss of lubricating fluid aka Synovial fluid creates friction in the joints causing pain as well as bone degeneration and erosion of opposite bones. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, happens due to inflammation of synovium or the lining of the joints. Rheumatism if not treated timely can cause severe deformity in the joints.
Ayurveda explains Rheumatoid arthritis with the concept of Ama. Ama is described as toxins produced from undigested food which get deposited in joints and other weak parts of the body causing inflammation and pain.
Ayurveda is well equipped with managing arthritis with the help of natural herbs and supplements. Here are the top 5 herbs for arthritis.
1. Parijat (Indian Night Jasmine)
Parijat also known as Harsingar is a plant with a beautiful white flower with an orange centre and a pleasant fragrance. This tree is considered a divine tree in India, with magical healing qualities and the flowers, are used in the worship of Lord Krishna. The leaves of Harsingar are an excellent remedy for arthritis. A decoction made from the leaves if consumed regularly for a few months reduces the inflammation and pain of joints. It is even considered that regular usage can give relief from even many years old arthritis of both kinds.
Method of Consumption
The best way to consume is to get fresh harbinger leaves.
- Take 7 to 8 fresh leaves of Harsingar. Wash and clean them.
- In a mortar, make a paste.
- In a steel pot, add 1 glass of normal water and mix in the paste.
- Heat this mixture on medium to low flame till the water remains half the quantity of the original mixture. Do not use aluminium pots, use only copper or steel pots.
- Let it cool down and then filter the contents.
- Drink this on empty stomach in the morning and evening. Afterwards, do not consume anything for 1 hour.
Doing this for 3 to 6 months reduces the inflammation and pain considerably.
Note: If you cannot find fresh leaves, there are some pharmacies selling dry leaves of Harsingar known as Parijat Kwath. You can replace the leaves and use the kwath by taking 1 tsp and soaking in normal water at night. Boil this water instead and follow the rest of the procedure.
2. Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia)
Giloy also known as Guduchi, is a herb used in many Ayurvedic compositions as it is extremely beneficial for major health issues like diabetes, arthritis, urinary tract disorders, liver and spleen disorders, respiratory problems, stress, low immunity, and bad vision. It is used in many compositions given for breaking chronic fevers especially Dengue fever as it is a febrifuge. It is also known as Amrita which stems from the Sanskrit word ‘Amrit’ meaning ‘the elixir of immortality’.
Giloy has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties and it works by removing excess vata from the body. It eliminates ama accumulations from the joints, cleans the blood, boosts circulation and relieves pain and swelling.
Method of Use:
This herb is available in all forms as in powder, juice and tablets for easy consumption but the best way to consume it for all type of health problems is to make a decoction of its fresh stem or dried powder and consume on an empty stomach.
Another effective way to consume it is to make a mixture of 1 tsp giloy powder, 1 tsp cow ghee and 1/4 tsp of dried ginger powder and consume after meals.
3. Punarnava (Boerhavia Diffusa)
Punarnava is a perennial creeper plant found all over the Indian subcontinent during the rainy season. The main use of this herb is done for liver and urinary disorders but is also beneficial for arthritis. It is anti-ageing, diuretic, anti-oxidative, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic. It relieves inflammation and pain around the joints and helps in the management of arthritis.
Method of Use:
Prepare a decoction of the root or root powder of punarnava and drink 10ml twice a day on empty stomach.
4. Nirgundi (Vitex Negundo)
Nirgundi is an Ayurvedic herb used mainly for pain management because of its extraordinary pain and inflammation reducing properties. It has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties. It suppresses and pacifies vata, kapha dosha and is also known to have Amavata pacifying property which is the main reason for arthritis. It is used in pains and inflammations of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, knees and shoulder pain, lower back pain related to a bulging disc and slip disc and all sort of back pains as well as sciatica pain. It is also useful in pain and inflammation occurred due to injuries.
Method of Use:
Nirgundi oil is a preparation which is commonly available which can be applied to the painful and swollen area. Another method of using this herb is to heat a leaf, press and tie over the affected area.
5. Malkagini (Celastrus Paniculatus Willd Pennel / Staff Tree)
Malkagini also known as Jyotishmati in Sanskrit, is a climbing shrub found in tropical and subtropical Himalayas. The seeds of malkagini are known to have medicinal properties and are especially beneficial for enhancing memory and brain power and is used as a nervine tonic. It is a neuroprotective herb meaning that it improves the memory, concentration, sharpness, learning ability and quick thinking of the brain. It also supports liver health and boosts immunity.
Malkagini is also commonly used for treating backache, osteoarthritis pain, muscle cramps, sciatica, gout, joint pain and paralysis because of its pain management capabilities.
Method of Use:
1 drop of Malkagini oil (extracted from the seeds) mixed with 1 drop of pure almond oil can be gently massaged on the affected area for pain relief. You can apply it without mixing the almond oil as well. Another method of using it is by ingesting this mixture with batasha on an empty stomach, followed by a cup of milk.