Rheumatism or rheumatic arthritis is one of the commonest complaints of old age. As the age advances, there is wear and tear in the joints of the body. This causes the rheumatic pains. Ayurveda calls this condition as Ama Vata. It considers rheumatism to be caused due to the build up of ama in the body, which is caused due to a low digestive fire.
This digestive fire, or agni, is controlled by the pitta dosha. It is believed that rheumatism begins due to vata dosha, establishes itself due to the pitta dosha and then spreads throughout the body due to kapha dosha. Hence, rheumatism is caused due to vitiation of all the three doshas in the body.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Rheumatism
1. Alfalfa (Medicago satina)
People with rheumatic problems are prescribed tea made from the alfalfa leaves. This tea can be safely taken even up to six times a day. It helps to dissolve the food residues left in the body.
2. Castor (Ricinus communis)
The roots and seeds of the castor are effective in reducing joint pains. They are effective both as an external application as well as an oral medicine. For external application, a decoction of its roots is prepared and applied to the rheumatic swelling with potash mixed in it. A poultice of its seeds can also be applied on the swellings with the same effect. For oral administration, a paste of the kernel of castor is boiled in milk and given to the patient.
3. Celery (Apium graveolens)
Celery has a high content of sodium and other alkaline metals; hence it helps in the revival of worn out joints. Salads with celery in them do provide benefits, but for better benefits, the fluid extracted from its seeds is more powerful.
4. Ephedra (Ephedra gerardiana)
Both an infusion of the ephedra or its powder is useful in rheumatism. The treatment should be continued up to a fortnight. Ephedra will help to cur e rheumatic pains that are just beginning; but in case of chronic pains, ephedra is not much useful.
5. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is a world-renowned remedy for rheumatic pains. Besides rheumatism, it can also be used as a good treatment for sciatica, lumbago and arthritis. The best part about garlic is that it can be taken raw or in the normal cuisine. Its excess does not have any side effects on the body.
6. Indian Aloe (Aloe barbadensis)
The Indian aloe is traditionally taken for the treatment of rheumatism. The pulp of one leaf of the aloe taken once a day is enough to bring about good results.
7. Indian Gooseberry (Emblica officinalis)
A daily consumption of the Indian gooseberry, or the amalaki, helps in speedy recovery from rheumatism. It is generally taken in powder form, in a dosage of one teaspoon mixed with two teaspoons of jaggery.
8. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
The rosemary herb is used in a slightly unconventional manner in the Ayurvedic treatment of rheumatism. The leaves and inflorescence of the rosemary have a strong odor like that of camphor. These parts of the plant are used to produce large amounts of perspiration in the regions where the rheumatic pain exists. These vapor baths are beneficial in reducing, and even eliminating, the pain.
9. Winter Cherry (Withania somniferum)
The winter cherry is none other than the famous ashwagandha. Among its myriad other uses, the ashwagandha is also useful in the treatment of rheumatism. Its roots are taken for this purpose.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Rheumatism
Since rheumatism is caused in a major way due to the buildup of ama in the body, it is necessary to remove this toxin first. Hence, fasting is necessary for a day or two. During this period of fasting, the patient is allowed to have only hot and clear vegetable soups with minimum spices. Warm water should be drunk several times a day as it helps to flush out the toxins.
During the treatment, all sour foods must be avoided. This includes curds and cheese. Fruits that are cold such as bananas and guavas must be strictly avoided.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatments for Rheumatism
Ayurvedic treatment of rheumatism begins with fasting to cleanse the body. Once this is done, castor oil application is done with garlic tea for internal administration. Herbs like guggulu, punarnava and garlic are commonly prescribed. Dashamoolarishta is also given.
(4) Home Remedies for Rheumatism
1. Mix some dry ginger, black pepper and rock salt in the juice of a fresh ginger stem. Make a powder of this. Take this in quantity of three grams with honey.
2. Massaging with the oil extracted from Bishop’s Weed seeds directly on the painful joints helps to relieve the pain. Another way to use Bishop’s Weed is to boil some seeds in water and allow the vapors to pass over the affected joints.
3. The juice of tomatoes is very effective in rheumatic pains that arise in the joints of the hands and legs. Tomatoes can be had either in the form of a juice or raw. About four to five tomatoes must be eaten in a day.
4. A paste of garlic should be made and applied directly on the affected parts. This will reduce the pain day by day till it completely disappears. A similar effect is found by the application of mustard seed paste.
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