Rheumatological disorders described in Ayurvedic texts, as ‘Ama-vata’, is a popular Ayurvedic term for any inflammatory disorder that causes pain and stiffness, in joints, muscles and connective tissues, including minor aches and twinges as well as disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis etc.. In many texts, ‘Ama-vata’ has been referred as an “auto-immune disorder” and “exogenous non-compatibility” & “endogenous intoxication” as its main aetiological factors.
Due to complete abstinence from food, indigestion, over eating, irregular dietary habits, indulgence in incompatible articles of food, excessive consumption of cold substances, ill-effects of ‘Virechana’(purgation), ‘Vamana’ (disgorgation), ‘Snehan’ (oleation), the wasting of tissues, states induced by faults or changes in place, climate & season, suppression of natural urges, impaired ‘Pachak-pitta’ (digestive heat), excessive use of dehydrated, over-hydrated or ‘Guru-Madhur-Amal’ (heavy, sweet & alkaline) food; physical stresses like excessive exercises, over indulgence in sexual pleasures, swimming etc.; mental stresses like rage, grief & hunger; and due to accumulation of ‘Mala’ (body’s waste products), ‘Ama’(unassimilated or undigested food juice) is produced & collected in the gastrointestinal tract. A part of it may be absorbed in the system causing systemic manifestations of certain ‘Ama’ related diseases.
The already vitiated ‘Vata’ transports this ‘Ama’ to all parts of the body and carries it to the sites of‘Shleshak-kapha’ which has a common resemblance with ‘Ama’. With the effect of place, climate & season, the ‘Ama’ is motivated by vitiated ‘Vata’ and established at the already vitiated site of ‘Shleshak-kapha’. This ‘Ama’ associated with vitiated ‘doshas’, gets localised in a particular ‘Dhatu’ (tissue) to produce several types of endogenous diseases like ‘Ama-vata’. In this disease, ‘Ama’ observed from the gastrointestinal tract reaches to ‘Kapha-sthana’ (site of ‘Kapha’) through the respective channels and gets modified and recirculated in the system causing capillaritis and synovitis. Probably some immunological mechanisms are also involved in this process.
General langour or debility of the body, disgust for food, thirst, lethargy, heaviness of the limbs, fever, indigestion and swellings are the common symptoms of ‘Ama-vata’ or rheumatism. The acute phase of‘Ama-vata’ is generally very painful with appearance of swellings in the hands, feet, head, ankles, waist, knees, thighs, and generally , in all the joints. These places, in which the vitiated ‘Ama’ accumulates, become subject to piercing pains. Loss of appetite, watery secretions from the mouth & nose, loss of energy, loss of taste in the mouth, burning of the skin, copious or scanty urine, deep-seated pain and hardness of the abdomen, sleep at day-time but want of it at night, thirst, vomiting, vertigo, swoons, pain in the chest, constipation, dullness of the body, rumbling noise in the stomach, obstruction of the intestines or a sluggish condition of bowels; are the associated symptoms.
The excited ‘doshas’ according to their characteristics cause particular symptoms like excited ‘Vata’ causes excessive pains; excited ‘Pitta’ causes burning of the skin and redness of the complexion; excited ‘Kapha’causes wet sensation, heaviness of the limbs and continuous itching manifestations; besides the other symptoms. If the disease be due to the vitiation of two of the ‘doshas’, or all the three of them, the specific symptoms of each of the ‘dosha’ appear collectively.
There are many remedies prescribed in Ayurveda, some of which are:
1. Yograj Guggulu: ‘Guggulu’ processed with 27 extremely useful herbs, it nourishes the ‘Dhatus’, corrects vitiated ‘Vata’, destroys ‘Ama’, enkindles the ‘Agni’ (Ayur.Sars. pp-521-22); cures acute rheumatism, pain in the bones & joints, paraplegia, acts as a tonic and enhances strength & vigour (Sen Gupta N.N.,1984); is well tolerated and shows marked improvement in cases of morning stiffness, hotness, feverishness & tenderness of joints (Antarkar D.S., 1993).
2. Trayodashang Guggulu: ‘Guggulu’ processed with 12 extremely useful herbs, it is esteemed in all kinds of ‘Vata-vyadhi’ (neurological disorders) by correcting the vitiated ‘Vata’ and used in colic-neuritis, gouty arthritis, paraplegia, hemiplagia, sciatica & other neuralgias (Ayur.Sars., p-516); cures the pains in the arms, back, knees, calves, waist, bones & the bone-joints and also relieves dislocation of the cheek bone and other ailments caused by the vitiated ‘Vata’ (Sen Gupta N.N. 1984).
3. Vyosadi Guggulu: ‘Guggulu’ processed with 9 extremely useful herbs, it corrects the vitiated ‘Kapha & Vata’ and destroys ‘Ama’; regarded to cure ‘Medoroga’ (Obesity), & ‘Ama-vata’ (Rheumatological disorders) (A.F.I., 5:9, p-59).
4. Haritkyadi Guggulu: ‘Guggulu’ processed with 3 extremely useful herbs, it nourishes the ‘Dhatus’, corrects vitiated ‘Vata’, stimulates ‘Pachak-pitta’, destroys ‘Ama’, enkindles the ‘Agni’, to relieve from ‘Vata-vyadhi’, low back pain, lumbago, constipation, & ‘Ama-vata’ (Ayur. Sars. p-524).
5. Lakshadi Guggulu: ‘Guggulu’ processed with 5 extremely useful herbs & minerals, it nourishes the‘Asthis’ (bones) & dhatus’ and is useful in osteoarthritis, lumbago and rheumatism. It also enhances healing of fractured bones and decreases inflammation from the fractured part. (Ayur. Sars. p-523; Bhar.Ay.Yog Sang. Part-I, 1984).
6. Maharasnadi Kwath: Maharasnadi Kwath is a decoction (obtained from of 50 parts of Vanda roxburghii, and one part each of Ricinus communis, Adhatoda vasica, Pinus deodara, Curcuma zerumbet, Hedysarum alhagi, Cyperus rotundus, Zingiber officinalis, Sida cordifolia, Aconitum heterophyllum, Terminalia chebula, Tribulus lanuginosus, Cassia fistula, Foeniculum vulgare, Coriandrum sativum, Boerhaavia diffusa, Physalis flexuosa, Tinospora cordifolia, Piper longum, Lettsomia nervosa, Asparagus racemosus, Acorus calamus, Barleria cristata, Piper chaba, Solanum indicum and Solanum xanthocarpum). To make its Kwath (decoction):
- all these herbs are crushed & added to water taken 8 times w/v,
- boiled to evaporate to obtain 1/8 decoction v/v under controlled heat at optimum temperatures;
- strained & mixed with finely pulverised dried extract of Sonth (Zingiber officinalis).
Maharasnadi Kwath is esteemed in all kinds of ‘Vata-vyadhi’ by correcting the vitiated ‘Vata’ and destroying ‘Ama’. It is useful in generalised pains, hemiplagia, lumbago, sciatica, elephantiasis (A.F.I. 4:28, p-51); highly esteemed to alleviate all symptoms and problems associated with rheumatism, lock-jaw, paralysis, facial paralysis and the diseases produced by vitiated wind (Sen Gupta N.N. 1984).
In Ayurveda this plant is used to cure inflammations, rheumatic pains (Dr.Kaushik,P., 1983),and in Greek system of medicines this orchid plant is given to lessen inflammation & heal fractures (Kirtikar & Basu 1975).
Maharasnadi kwath a good long term Ayurvedic agent helping the patients to manage their chronic illness in osteoarthritis (Dr Pai Dhungat, M.D., 1993). This kwatha is fairly effective in the treatment of ‘Ama-vata’ (Kishore & Basu 1988).