Question

Traditional Medicine

Does Ayurveda help treat osteoarthritis (OA)?

A Answers (2)

  • AYogi Cameron Alborzian, Alternative/complementary Medicine, answered

    Ayurveda associates osteoarthritis with an imbalance of the Vata dosha, which is concerned with issues related to movement and elimination. The home of Vata energy rests in the large intestine, and when toxic matter builds up in the large intestine as a result of improper elimination, the body suffers from poor blood circulation and dryness. This Vata imbalance triggers a complementary reduction in the moist, supportive qualities of Kapha energy. The absence of this moisture leads to a decreased nourishment to the cartilage and dry, painful joints are the result.

    When treating osteoarthritis, it is the intention of an Ayurvedic healer to bring the excessive Vata energy back into balance. This is done by building the patient’s digestive strength and regulating his or her elimination cycle. Patients are taught to favor denser, moisturizing foods like lentils, cooked vegetables, and ghee to build up the strengthening properties of Kapha energy and to lubricate the joints. Other supplemental treatments include massage with mahanaraya oil and mild forms of exercise. Ayurvedic herbs used to treat osteoarthritis include triphala, trikatu, and guggul.

  • There is evidence from one well-designed study that an Ayurvedic formula containing roots of Withania somnifera, the stem of Boswellia serrata, rhizomes of Curcuma longa, and a zinc complex (Articulin-F®) may significantly improve symptoms of osteoarthritis. Another study suggests that taking guggul (Commiphora mukul) daily as a powder capsule supplement may reduce pain and improve functioning in patients with OA. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.

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