Arthritis is not only common among seniors, but it also affects young adults. Joint pain and stiffness are common complaints for many. While there are over 100 kinds of arthritis, the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can be very worrisome, and can make a person unable to fully perform his daily activities. In severe cases, it also disrupts sleep to a certain extent.
Doctors prescribe various kinds of treatments as simple as resting the joint and alternating between applying ice and heat, reducing weight and exercises to using pain medication. Painkillers can help with pain management, but cannot cure arthritis. Modern medical science does not yet have a complete cure for this condition. When pain increases, patients are given steroid-based medicines that have side effects. Strong pain medications like Methotrexate are also given to cancer patients. In extreme cases, joint replacement is also done.
This article will focus on the holistic treatment philosophy and techniques in Yoga and ayurveda.
Becoming Spiritual through Yoga
Spirituality comes from the Latin word, “spiritus”, which means breath. In the past, breath used to be associated with God. It was thought that when breath enters us, we are alive. When it completely leaves us, we are dead. It was called the spirit in all living beings. In yoga, this breath is called “prana”, or our life force.Pranayama, the breath exercises in yoga, are a combination of two words which mean the movement of prana. Harnessing the power of breath through pranayama helps cure problems in the body and mind.
Pranayama Breathing Exercises
For joint pains and arthritis, it is advised to do kapalbhatiand anulom vilombreathing exercises. They can be done for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening for those suffering from severe arthritis. For those that are generally healthy, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening will be sufficient.
It’s all in the Mind
The creation of the body started with a single cell, called zygote. That cell got further divided—but not completely—and kept on dividing in a process called syncytium. It was still attached to the other cells. A human being is a colony of about 120 trillion human cells. They can be seen using a biophoton camera. In a healthy body, these cells can be seen in harmony and “liking” each other. They influence each other. There is also love for cells in other bodies. Consider each cell like a single human being with intelligence; they are all together living in harmony inside a human body.
When we hate someone, our stressed cells become confused because it is against their basic nature. We start suffering from an autoimmune disease when their harmony is disturbed. It is a disease where our body cells kill our own body cells. It is an idiopathic and regressive disease. This is why happiness is important for our mental and physical well-being. Happiness and peace can be found from within via meditation. Happiness also comes from making others happy. When we see someone else happy, we automatically become happy. Hatred only hurts your own self. Universal compassion creates good health. Thus giving happiness and compassion leads to a healthier mind and body.
To illustrate this concept, let’s look at the story of Norman Cousins, a famous journalist. Cousins did research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the key to human beings’ success in fighting illness. In 1979, he wrote a book, Anatomyof an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing. In 1964, he had a crippling connective tissue disease, called ankylosing spondylitis with near-paralysis of the legs, neck and back. When told that he had one chance in 500 of recovery, Cousins developed his own recovery program that included self-induced bouts of laughter while watching comedy films.
“I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect, and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. He was cured and lived 26 more years than what the doctors had predicted. “It is quite possible that this treatment—like everything else I did—was a demonstration of the placebo effect,” Cousins wrote. But, if so, the placebo of the doctor who resides within was a powerful one.
Laughing and staying happy is the key to staying healthy. Try some laughter yoga sessions to see how it can alter a state of mind. Yoga is living in a mind away from negativity and hostility. Diseases can be cured by our own minds. There is a doctor inside us all, called the immune system, that keeps us alive and cures us.
Many decades ago, it was observed that people in mental asylum were comparatively healthy when compared to people outside the asylum. This interesting research found that when we have schizophrenia, we forget thinking about our body. When we do not have body consciousness, we are healthy. In our everyday life, we constantly worry about our body and stress over it, and we then finally get sick. Meditation helps keeping mind away from the body consciousness.
It is said that it is not what you eat that kills you, but rather what eats you that kills. Our negative thoughts can slowly kill with their poison. The master in the whole game of life is the human mind. It is now known that our whole body is mind or the consciousness. In quantum physics, there is no matter. There is only energy. We are all part of this universal energy, otherwise called universal consciousness. This is why yoga has always said we are all closely related and interconnected. By being aware of this concept, we will live in harmony with ourselves and with the world around us.
Regular practice of meditation helps us keep our mind healthy. There are several kinds of meditations. However, a meditation where we focus on each breath is helpful in quickly finding harmony.
The backside of the hand has channels that run below each finger until the wrist. You can press them to get relief from arthritis pain. The top of the ring finger is also another masterpoint for pain and stress relief. This can be repeated in the feet. There are other small pressure points in the side of the palm and below the index finger.
You can try any of the options below that you can find easily. Before starting any treatment, try to avoid sour and oily foods. It is advised to always consult an ayurveda practitioner before taking herbal or ayurveda medicines. It is also important to consider your other ailments before taking these medicines. Each person is different so a one-size does not fit all.
- ¼ tsp ginger powder quarter teaspoon
- ½ tsp Methi powder (fenugreek)
- ½ tsp Ajwain (Ajowan caraway, Bishop’s weed or carom seeds)
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cow’s ghee
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
Mix all the ingredients and take the pill in the morning.
- 1 tsp edible castor oil,
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 small piece of a strand of saffron
Mix the ingredients and take at night before sleep. If you suffer from acidity or piles, reduce the quantity or do not take this combination.
Parijat/Harsingar/Night Jasmine is a small tree or a shrub growing up to 33-feet tall with a grey flaky bark. The leaves of Harsingar contain benzoic acid, fructose, glucose, carotene, amorphous resin, ascorbic acid, methyl salicylate, tannic acid, oleanolic acid and flavanol glycosides. The night jasmine is a very strong anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory, as well as a powerful analgesic.
Parijat Essential oil
Many Ayurveda medications use the parijat essential oil to help with pain, irritation and swelling associated with health conditions like arthritis, stress, muscle tension, rheumatism, sore muscles, menstrual pains, headaches, sciatica and joint aches.
Mix together 2 ml of coconut oil and 4-5 drops of parijat essential oil. Warm the mixture. You can then gently massage the warm oil on the swelling, followed by holding a hot compress over it.
Boiled Leaves of Parijat
This is a remedy only when arthritis is extreme and no other medication helps.For rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, take 5-6 leaves. crush them, put them in a glass of water, and boil until it is half. Cool it to room temperature. Drink in morning as first thing along with eating the boiled leaves. In a week, you will see improvement.
Harsingar Leaf Powder
It is recommended to boil the powder extracted from harsingar in a cup of water and consume it immediately for instant relief. People who consume it regularly usually experience relief only after a regular daily usage of this herb. It will fully benefit within 1-3 months. Even bedridden patients who cannot move will find it as an extraordinary cure.
Take 1 tsp of methi daana, or fenugreek seeds, and soak in water overnight. In the morning, drink water and eat methi daana.
Make a power at home of methi, Haldi (turmeric) and dried ginger powder ‘sonth’ in equal parts. Take one teaspoon a day in the night with warm water before you sleep. Note that if you suffer from acidity or piles, reduce the quantity or do not take this combination.
Eating one small piece of garlic everyday on an empty stomach is also helpful in arthritis.
Cyperus rotundus (coco-grass, Java grass), or Motha grass as they say in Hindi, is also helpful. Take a teaspoon full of its power and eat with warm water everyday
Aloe Vera juice
Aloe vera juice is also helpful. Drinking about 4 teaspoons of juice a day is a good healthy habit.
There are other Ayurveda medicines that can be taken as pills. They are namely Yograj Guggul, Chandraprabha Vati andShilajeetRasayan. Take 1 pill each a day. But you must take directions from a Ayurveda doctor before taking any medicine.