Do Ayurvedic Treatments Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that affects the joints. Side effects are common from the medications for RA, so many people are interested in alternative treatments such as Ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient medical system from India that focuses on a holistic approach to health.

Ayurvedic remedies are not a replacement for medical interventions, but they may help to improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when used correctly.

This article will explain more about how to use Ayurvedic treatment to help ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  

Natural remedies

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How Do Ayurvedic Remedies Work?

Ayurveda began in ancient India more than 3,000 years ago. At the heart of this medical system is the belief that disease is caused by an imbalance in a person’s environment, spirit, body, and mind. Lifestyle changes and natural remedies help restore this balance.

Based on Ayurveda beliefs, every person has five elements (water, air, fire, space, and earth) in them. The elements create three doshas, or life forces, called pitta, vata, and kapha, which affect the chances of a person becoming sick.

In Ayurveda, RA is referred to as amavata, a joint disease created by an imbalance of vata.

Ayurvedic remedies work to restore the balance among body, spirit, and mind. There are different types of remedies and lifestyle changes that you can make. However, most combine:

  • Diet 
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Herbal medicine 

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

You may need to consult with an Ayurvedic specialist to determine the best home remedies and lifestyle changes for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are no official certification or licensing programs in the United States for Ayurveda.

You should also talk to your primary care physician or other members of your medical team to make sure any new remedies do not conflict with your prescribed treatment plan for RA.

Diet 

Diet changes work to balance your life forces and rid the body of disease. According to Ayurveda, too much vata causes rheumatoid arthritis, so it's recommended that you follow the guidelines for eating when the body composition is vata.

For patients with RA, diet changes may include:

  • Eating cooked grains such as rice, wheat, and ragi (finger millet)
  • Eating moderate amounts of cooked pulses, such as mung beans (dal), lentils, peas, and soybeans 
  • Eating cooked vegetables such as carrots and beetroots 
  • Eating dairy, nuts, and oils in moderation 
  • Using spices in moderation 
  • Avoiding corn, white bread, and raw pulses
  • Avoiding uncooked vegetables, dry fruit, salads, and fibrous fruits 

Movement 

Movement is an important part of Ayurveda, but you should consult your doctor before trying a new exercise routine. You may want to consider low-impact exercises that are gentle on the joints, such as: 

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Swimming 

Other Complementary Therapies

Ayurvedic treatments can vary. A few lifestyle changes that have been shown to help with joint pain include:

  • Massage: Aromatherapy massage (massage with essential oils) is a traditional Ayurvedic practice. One small study found that once-a-week massage around the knees was effective at reducing pain and fatigue in RA patients.
  • Meditation: This practice is thought to increase mindfulness and can help reduce stress. In one study, RA patients who received yoga and meditation training twice weekly over eight weeks showed a significant drop in inflammatory markers, reduction in severity of RA symptoms, and improvements in their mental health, compared with a control group who didn't meditate.
  • Sauna visits: Heat can help reduce joint stiffness and ease inflammation, which may have benefits for RA patients.
  • Acupuncture: Some research suggests that this ancient practice can help reduce inflammation and regulate the autoimmune response, which may help reduce RA pain.
  • Aromatherapy: Essential oils can be used to reduce stress. Some practitioners also use them as massage oil for specific benefits, such as reducing inflammation and pain.

Herbal Remedies 

There are many herbal remedies that may help RA. Before taking any vitamins, minerals, or herbal products, talk to your healthcare provider. Some products can interact with medications and can have side effects. 

Herbal remedies that may help RA include: 

Summary 

Ayurveda is an ancient medical system from India that focuses on balancing a person’s body, mind, spirit, and environment. There are many remedies and lifestyle changes that may help someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Before trying a new treatment, consult with your healthcare provider and make sure it does not interact with a prescribed plan.  

A Word From Verywell

As you evaluate all your treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, you may want to consider Ayurvedic treatment. Certain therapies have been shown to be complementary to prescribed medications, physical therapy, and other treatments.

It is important to talk to your healthcare provider and make sure any herbs or activities fit within or aid their prescribed treatment plan. Many RA patients find that a combination of traditional medicine and Ayurvedic treatments helps with their disease management and improves their overall quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does Ayurvedic medicine do for arthritis symptoms?

    According to studies, Ayurvedic treatments may help reduce some arthritis symptoms. They may improve:

     

    • Movement
    • Grip strength
    • Joint pain and swelling
    • Walking time
  • How do you use ashwagandha for rheumatoid arthritis?

    Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that can be turned into a powder or other herbal preparation. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory and hormonal balancing properties. Some people take it as a capsule once a day to help their RA.

  • What are the best Ayurvedic oils and herbs for RA?

    You may need to consult a specialist to determine the best Ayurvedic oils and herbs for you. Also, talk to your doctor before taking any natural remedies because they may interact with other medications.

     

    Some Ayurvedic oils and herbs that may help RA include:

     

    • Ashwagandha 
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Eucalyptus oil
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9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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