Joint disorders affect millions of people. 80% of individuals over 50 years of age reportedly have joint concerns of one type or another. Reasons range from obesity to heredity. Improper use of the joints, overexertion, stress, diet and lifestyle contribute to the problem.
Ayurveda identifies two major types of joint problems.
The first type is a Vata imbalance, associated with poorly nourished joints or low bone density and overall weakness in the joints. This kind of problem starts with some discomfort, a cracking sound, and if not taken care of, results in eventual immobilization of the joints. Because the bone is not getting the nourishment it needs, it starts to degenerate. The person's circulation, metabolism, and ability to absorb food are weakened; as a result, the bone tissue does not receive enough nourishment and eventually starts to degenerate.
To help prevent this, follow a Vata routine. Include all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent) in your diet. Favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes, as these help pacify Vata dosha, and eat less of the bitter, astringent and pungent foods. Other healthy foods to include in the Vata pacifying diet are grains such as quinoa, rye and amaranth, cooked in water to which a little ghee (clarified butter) has been added; freshly cooked organic vegetables; split mung dhal soup; and sweet, organic, juicy fruits. It's important to eat a diet rich in calcium, including high-quality organic milk and vegetables such as spinach, kale, asparagus, and root vegetables cooked with Vata Churna, a spice blend. In addition, Osteo Relief and Osteo Sooth Herbal Massage Oil will help tremendously. Calcium Support will help your body absorb calcium from your diet and from your calcium supplements.
The second kind of joint problem is associated with a toxic overload in the joints, and is the result of too many toxins in the body. As ama (the sticky, toxic waste-product of incomplete digestion) accumulates in the joint, it first creates stiffness and heaviness. If it stays there for a long time, the joint can become swollen and painful. Damp, cold weather can aggravate this type of joint problem.
If nothing is done to dissolve the ama and it sits in the joints for a long time, eventually the ama converts to amavisha, an even more toxic form of ama that is more irritating and reactive in nature. Amavisha causes the joint to become inflamed, swollen, and painful. In this kind of environment, ama also mixes with the natural lubricating fluids in the joint governed by Shleshaka Kapha, forming an extremely sticky, toxic substance known as Shleshma. Shleshma restricts mobility and disturbs circulation in the joint. If the ama, amavisha and Shleshma stay in the joints unattended to for a long time, eventually the structure of the joints and the bone itself becomes damaged. Once these morphological changes happen to the joint and bone, it becomes extremely difficult to correct.
An ama -reducing diet is made up of warm, light, dryer foods that are easy to digest. Nourishing soups and warm, freshly cooked grains and vegetables prepared with Kapha Churna and spices to stimulate digestion are the mainstays of the ama -reducing diet. To keep your digestion working properly, avoid day sleep, and go to bed early so you can rise before 6:00 a.m. Exercise for half an hour every day, and choose a type of exercise that you enjoy. A brisk walk is ideal for most people, along with yoga poses, although if you have more Kapha dosha you may need more vigorous exercise to stay in balance. You'll feel lighter and more energetic just by making these simple changes in your routine.
With joint care, prevention is key. It takes a great amount of effort to get rid of ama that has circulated throughout the body and settled in the joints. So once you start taking care of your joint problem by reducing ama, you should be very careful not to accumulate ama in future. Examine your tongue in the morning-it should not be coated. If you are eating right, you should not carry any post-lunch fatigue. If you feel even a little stiffness or heaviness in your joints, you should start following all of these recommendations immediately to prevent ama from accumulating. This is truly a case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.