Name: Prannoy Chakravarty
City/Country: Kolkotta, India
Arthritis has made life difficult for me for the past several years. My joints were getting stiff and swollen, and I had great difficulty in moving around- especially in the mornings.The pain was really bad, and I was depending more and more on painkillers. Finally, I decided to try Ayurveda. I had read quite a bit about this centuries old system of holistic medicine, and decided to go to Kerala for treatment, for Kerala is reputed to be the land that has nurtured research in this ancient science by sages who were eminent scholars too. I knew that according to Ayurveda the body has three vital energies or life forces that are called vata, pitta and kapha, which are balanced in a unique proportion in every individual. Illness is believed to be caused by an imbalance of one of these vital energies. The physician I consulted in Kerala explained that most pains are caused by an imbalance of the vata dosha. This imbalance is triggered when ‘ama’, a toxin produced by a poor digestive system, accumulates within your body. The ama then circulates in the body and most often gets deposited in the joint areas. The deposited ama causes arthritis in the affected joints. Hence digestion has to be stimulated and ama has to be suppressed in order to treat arthritis.
Right Eating Habits
Ayurveda’s first line of treatment is to avoid formation of ‘ama’ and expel the toxins already present by eating foods that are easily digestible. Vegetable juices and soups are extremely beneficial and green salads with a dressing of a little lemon juice and salt is recommended too. Oranges, grapes and papayas should be a part of one’s regular diet, as well as cooked vegetables like squash and pumpkin. Cooking with spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, asafetida, garlic, fennel and turmeric also stimulates digestion.
I now completely avoid eating hot, spicy and fried foods as well as foods like cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, okra and potatoes. I avoid taking too many sweets and consumption of tea, coffee, alcohol, yoghurt, chocolates and cocoa is kept to the minimum. On the advice of my physician, I drink water that has been kept overnight in a copper pot. A teaspoon of sesame seeds soaked overnight in a quarter cup of water overnight, and consumed the next morning is also part of my routine now. For the pain, Indian Frankinesense and Commiphoae Mukul or guggula in the form of capsules have been prescribed. These herbs decrease inflammation, strengthen the bones and improve flexibility.
Panchakarma and Lifestyle Changes
While I was in Kerala, I also underwent a course of Panchakarma treatment. The regimen included steam baths known as svedana, a rich oil massage or pizhichil, abhyanga or full body massage , poultice massage with medicated herbal juices, and a medicated enema to remove excess body waste and toxins from the colon. When the course of treatment was over, I found myself totally relaxed and feeling really good, physically, mentally and spiritually. I have made lifestyle changes too, to get the full benefits of my treatment. I have given up smoking completely and avoid late nights and sleeping during the day time. I have an oil massage regularly at least twice a week, with almond or sesame seed oil. Hot baths help too. My physician had told me that bathing in sea water regularly is good for arthritis, because the natural iodine in sea water relieves joint pains. Since that is not always possible, I soak in a tub of warm water to which sea salt has been added for thirty minutes every night. I exercise regularly- just enough to prevent my joints getting stiff- and do yoga too. All this has really helped me cope with my arthritis, and if you are suffering as I once did, I suggest you try Ayurveda too.