Ayurvedic herbal remedies for joint pain – treatment for hip pain and injury

What are some herbal remedies for joint pain – addressing hip pain or pathology?

Ayurveda looks at the problem much more holistically, taking into account the whole physiology, psychology and physical presentation of the person and the problem.   The goal of the treatment is to restore homeostasis and to bring the person back to their natural psycho-physiological baseline or constitution.

Treatment is based on bringing the disturbed Dosha (Energetic principles that govern all biological processes in the body – Vata, Pitta and Kapha respectively) back into a balanced state.  This is achieved by diet, lifestyle, Marma (Ayurvedic Acupressure) massage with herbal oils, use of herbal poultices, Nadi Svedan (herbal steam treatments), herbal oil dhara (oil dripping) treatment on the affected body parts, herbal formulations and Panchakarma (detoxification and rejuvenation therapies).

The focus is on opening up blockages in micro-channels of the injured tissues, to remove toxins or metabolic waste products from these tissues, to improve metabolic capacity of the injured tissue for proper uptake and assimilation of nutrients and to improve macro and micro digestion of the whole system.  Opening up of channels facilitates flow of Prana or Qi or energy.   Prana is the cellular intelligence that controls proper movement and functioning of the whole system.   Removal of blockages also allows for proper circulation at the micro-cellular level providing nutrition and removal of metabolic waste products.    With right movement of Prana and circulation the tissue is given an optimal environment for recovery.

Assessment focuses on the affected Dhatu or tissue, the state of the Dosha, the type of pain, state of Agni (digestive fire or digestive/metabolic capacity of the system), presence of Ama (toxins) and functioning of the excretory systems.  This detailed examination of the person allows an Ayurvedic practitioner to accurately determine the disturbance in the system and choose the appropriate therapies to treat the whole system.

In addition to looking at the location of pain, the cause of injury and the structures involved – joint, muscle, ligaments, tendons, etc, Ayurveda pays close attention to the type of pain one is suffering from.  It classifies pain according to the Doshas and presence of Ama.

Types/nature of pain:

Vata type of pain is radiating, shooting, shifting, cutting, pulsating, moving, fluctuating, vague/confusing, comes and goes, worst at dawn or dusk, shivering, body can feel cold, person feels restless or anxious, creates insomnia, emotionally person might have fear or anxiety, standing creates pain, worst during Autumn season, worst with movement, feels better with heat, moisture and firm pressure.

Pitta pain is burning, pulling, sharp, inflammatory, fever, might have complaints of nausea and vomiting, irritability and anger, penetrating, worst at mid day and mid night, increased perspiration, body feels hot and with redness, flushed face, insomnia, perforation, diarrhea and vomiting, worst during summer season, aggravated by firm pressure or deep massage, feels better with cold.

Kapha pain is heavy, dull, deep, mild, aching, long standing, pain with stooping or bending over, chronic, worst early AM and PM, congestion in lungs, swelling, heaviness, able to sleep in pain, emotionally can feel depressed or lousy, generalized pain throughout the body, pain worst in spring season, lingering, worst in cold or damp weather, feels better with dry heat, deep massage and deep pressure relieves symptoms.

Ama or toxin related pain is heavy, dull, mild, aching, even the hair hurts, debilitating, generalized pain all over the body, pain varies according to Ama level, heavy coating on tongue, bad breath, deep pain, sluggish or sleepy, mental confusion, pain anytime and can be all the time, feeling drowsy and lousy.  Feel better with ginger tea and fasting.

For example, a Vata problem would present as a complaint of cracking, popping in the hip joint, feeling of instability or giving out, possibly muscle atrophy or wasting might be present, moving or shifting pain, pain is aggravated by movement and increased activity level, dry, cold or windy weather would aggravate these symptoms.  Symptoms are relieved by heat, massage with warm Mahanarayan oil or Sesame oil, rest, staying warm and avoiding movement and excessive activity.  Nadi Svedan (herbal steam therapy) or warm herbal poultices can also be applied to the joint to relieve pain, improve circulation/lymphatic flow and facilitate healing.  Use of herbal formulas like Yograj Guggulu and herbs like Ashwagandha, Tagar, Jatamamsi, Musta, Bala, etc. can be very beneficial for reducing pain and inflammation while strengthening the hip joint and local muscles.

Pitta related hip pain would be treated with a Pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle.  Emphasis of treatment is on cool, soft, dry therapies reducing excess heat, sharp and penetrating qualities of Pitta.  Herbal formulations like Kaishore Guggulu, Gulwel Satva or herbs like Turmeric, Musta are good anti-inflammatories and pain relievers.   Cold pack, Castor oil or Mahanarayan oil massage is recommended to relieve Pitta type of pain in the joint.

Kapha related hip pain would be treated with a Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle.  Emphasis of treatment is on warm, light, dry and mobile therapies to reduce the slow, congestive, cool and sluggish nature of Kapha.  Herbal remedies for joint pain like Guggulu, herbs like Punarnava, Musta, Ashwagandha, Shilajeet, etc. would be used to control swelling, heaviness or dull ache.    Massage with Mahanarayan oil, application of dry heat and movement of the joint is recommended to relieve Kapha type of pain in the hip.

Ayurvedic treatments can be very effective in removing the specific cause of the problem and achieving lasting relief.  This ancient medical system can help the body heal from within while bringing the person back to their natural state of wellbeing.

Research

1.  Duwiejua M, Zeitlin IJ, Waterman PG, Chapman J, Mhango GJ, Provan GJ. Anti-inflammatory activity of resins from some species of the plant family Burseraceae. Planta Med . 1993;59:12-16.

2. Sharma JN. Comparison of the anti-inflammatory activity of Commiphora mukul (an indigenous drug) with those of phenylbutazone and ibuprofen in experimental arthritis induced by mycobacterial adjuvant. Arzneimittelforschung . 1977;27:1455-1457.

3. Singh BB, Mishra LC, Vinjamury SP, Aquilina N, Singh VJ, Shepard N. The effectiveness of Commiphora mukul for osteoarthritis of the knee: an outcomes study. Altern Ther Health Med . 2003;9:74-79.


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