Most of us have experienced some form of joint pain in our lives. There may be temporary discomfort from an acute sprain / strain type of injury or chronic issues that are a daily problem. While getting some symptomatic relief is desirable, addressing the underlying cause will be necessary to avoid or diminish future recurrences.
1. Through an Ayurvedic perspective, Arthritis, or irritation of a joint, usually begins from a combination of aggravating factors. Osteoarthritis is a wide spread problem that affects a high percentage of older adults through wear and tear of the tissue. However, the fundamental factors began decades earlier. As we age, many of our tissues become weak, dry, and have an abundance of "cold" energy or Vata. Putting attention on warm, moist food will assist our bodies to counterbalance this harmful influence. Ways to accomplish this would be having a warm, moist, cooked cereal for breakfast, avoiding raw vegetables and decreasing dry foods such as chips, crackers, or popcorn. Reducing these types of dry foods at any age improves our ability to maintain strong, healthy joints.
2. Inflamed painful joints may be a mixture of this cold Vata energy along with excess heat or Pitta energy. This union of opposites within a joint complicates the condition and may be quite frustrating to find relief. Following the above dietary advice will be helpful, but also being careful not to increase the heat in the body by food or drink. Avoid hot, spicy foods such as chilies or garlic along with decreasing alcohol. The hot component of alcohol is very high and will increase the heat within our bodies. Cooking with fresh ginger is a tasty way to have a hot, spicy flavor without overly irritating the fire within us.
3. Eliminating Night Shades aids in the healing of joints and in preventing future joint problems. This includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers (bell, chili), eggplant, and tobacco. There are actually many more on this list but they are considered inedible due to their toxicity. The affects are very insidious and many may not be aware of any harm upon consumption. On the other hand, a high percentage of people will feel an increase in their joint pain or stiffness the next day. The problem appears to be from the glycoalkaloids and the body's response. Ayurveda espouses that Night Shades will increase ama or toxins in the body which will have a damaging effect on joints.
4. Adding Turmeric to your diet is an easy, delicious way to decrease inflammation. Since ancient times, Indian and Asian cuisine have included this powerhouse of a spice in their recipes. Recent research has shown the effectiveness of using on a daily basis. The active ingredient, curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are healing to the joints as well as other bodily tissues. The benefits also include lowering cholesterol, anti-tumor influence, balancing blood sugar, and anti-viral properties. Sipping a yummy cup of tea made from fresh ginger and fresh turmeric is helpful for reducing inflammation and improving digestion. Taking turmeric capsules with meals is an easy way to get your daily dose if you aren't having a regular curry dish.
5. Even though taking NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is a convenient way to ease the symptoms of pain and inflammation, there may be serious side effects from long term usage. Boswellia is a safe and highly effective choice to use in place of the popular over the counter medications. This natural anti-inflammatory is used both orally and topically. Also known as Frankincense, this resin has been used for thousands of years for its healing abilities. The dosage depends on the strength of your herbal preparation. Herbal formulas that contain both Boswellia and Turmeric will give the best results. The effects of these herbs will not be as instantaneous as the NSAIDS. A progressive result will be experienced by using them on a daily basis over several weeks or months. If you are diligent, the reward would be better mobility, less pain, and the reduction or avoidance of the potentially damaging effects of long term NSAIDS use.
Dr. MaryJo Cravatta, of Grass Valley is a Chiropractor and Founder/President of Shaktiveda. She began her study of Ayurveda in 1979 and is a renowned master of Pulse Diagnosis or Nadi Vigyan – knowledge of the subtle energies. For more information or to contact Dr. Cravatta, visit www.shaktiveda.com.