पथ्ये सति गदार्तस्य भेषजग्रहणेन किम|
पथ्येऽसति गदार्तस्य भेषजग्रहणेन किम||

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct,medicine is of no need.
About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease mainly affecting joints of body.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, affecting mainly joints having a covering, called Synovial Joints. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include inflammation in the joints, excess synovial fluid, and the development of a flap in the synovium. It often leads to the destruction of cartilage (cushioning) between the joints.Rheumatoid Arthritis can also manifest in other parts of the body such as lungs, covering sheet of the heart, covering sheet of lungs, etc.In some cases, it also leads to nodule development underneath the skin.
The main Ayurveda understanding of arthritis is that it is a condition created by the buildup of toxins and impurities (called "AMA" in Ayurveda) in the joints which cause aggravation, swelling and often initiates an auto immune response.

Factors responsible to Rheumatoid Arthritis

1. Poor Digestion and Eating habits
Before ama accumulates in the joints it has to be created somewhere else. The start of arthritis is actually in the stomach. Most toxins and impurities that lead to the arthritis condition come from poor digestion. When we eat improper foods, or our digestion is weak, the result is the incomplete digestion of our food. Food is not broken down into small molecules, rather it is incompletely processed, leaving much larger molecules than normal (AMA) which now get absorbed into the bloodstream.
These biochemical impurities circulate and eventually get localized in a tissue or block circulation somewhere in the body. When a tissues circulation becomes blocked then the tissue cannot be cleansed properly. This results in buildup of ama that eventually initiates an aggravation, swelling and auto immune response. When the tissue is the joints the result is arthritis.
2. Accumulation of Free Radicals
It is most patients experience that eating acidic, sour and exceptionally hot, spicy food can seriously aggravate arthritis. This brings up the two sides of ama. The first type of ama is impurities that clog the body but are not exceptionally aggravating. However, certain sour, acidic and highly pungent foods can create the second type of ama-chemicals that are free radicals which are highly reactive and damaging to tissues. This reactive ama also is created from the clogging ama when it is allowed to stay in the body a long time. For this reason avoiding certain foods and doing natural cleansing regimens are important components of Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis.
3. Stress
Most arthritis sufferers also report flare-ups from excessive stress. Ayurveda also describes how it is important in arthritis to maintain balance and stability in the mind and nervous system.

Rheumatoid symptoms according to Ayurveda:

  • Body ache, lethargy, heaviness.
  • Stiffness in knees, back, finger and toe joints. Joints make crackling sounds, joint pain with swelling.
  • The pain in the joints is similar to sting bite by scorpion!!
  • Constipation, indigestion, fullness of abdomen.
  • Lack of sleep, altered sleep patterns, etc.
  • Apart from these symptoms, there will be specific symptoms relating to the dominance of Dosha.
  • Based on disease manifestation in heart and other organs,specific symptoms like stiffness in heart etc are mentioned.

Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis:

In rheumatoid arthritis Ayurvedic treatment, diet plays an important role in improving the joint health and to keep control on swelling and pain. Since Ayurveda believes that the root cause of rheumatoid arthritis lies in impaired digestion and metabolism.
  • Garlic-Micro nutrients of garlic helps in preventing arthritis changes of bones.
  • Buttermilk- Curds is a food item to avoid, but buttermilk is good for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Two garlic pearls with 2 ounces of buttermilk is an excellent daily drink and home remedy for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Ginger, long pepper and pepper-These three help to correct digestion and metabolism, hence recommended for daily usage in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • Barley, horse gram-Both these are very easy to adopt in diet.
  • Drum stick tree- Fruit and leaves, being in rich in calcium & vitamin C, is highly recommended in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Bitter gourd (Bitter melon)- It improves digestion, very low in calorie and good source of Vitamin B1, 2 & 3. It is a good detoxifying herb and is traditionally indicated in diet for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Hot water: Hot water drinking is beneficial to improve digestion. Regular drinking of hot water helps to bring lightness to the joints and improves flexibility in Rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis food to avoid:

Anything that is heavy to digest, that takes long time to digest, is to be avoided.
Ayurveda enlists the following food to avoid in Rheumatoid arthritis-
  • Curds: Curds does not affect stomach health as such. But in rheumatoid arthritis, curd is best avoided.
  • Fishes, egg , red meat ,chicken, bakery food such as bread, pastry, cake, pizza, cheese etc are to be avoided.
  • Contaminated water, cold water, frozen food stuff - increase in pain and stiffness.
  • Taking contrast foods such as – taking milk with fish, etc.
  • Black gram
  • Avoiding natural urges– Causes increase in Vata. Click on the phrase to understand this concept. It causes increase in vata, which is not good in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Skipping night sleep– It causes utter Vata imbalance, which is highly unrecommended in RA.
  • Food that are heavy to digest, deep-fried stuff, junk foods, aerated drinks are a strict no.
  • Oil massage!!–Ayurveda is not all about pouring oils and rubbing on body. In Rheumatoid arthritis, oil massage is not advised, generally.
  • Sleep in afternoon should be avoid.
  • Potato.

Recommended Diet and Eating Habits to Reduce Ama and Inflammation

1. Eat the largest meal of the day at lunch, between 12:30 and 1:30, when the digestion is strongest. The sun, the heat element in nature, enlivens Agni, the fire of digestion and metabolism. At the height of the day our digestion is strongest and Ayurveda simply recommends eat the largest meal when you are most capable of digesting it.

2. Avoid eating heavy meals in the evening. The single biggest contribution to toxins and clogging in the body comes from heavy evening meals. Digestion power is much weaker in the evening and it is vitally important to eat lighter meals. Also after dinner there is often only 2-3 hours before we lie to sleep and further slow, circulation and digestion.

3. Eat warm food. Heated food is much easier to digest than cold food. Ayurveda recommends we eat fresh food freshly prepared.

4. Avoid leftovers. Once food has been heated and then gets put back in the refrigerator it becomes hard to digest and very clogging in nature.

Ayurvedic treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis includes

  • Correction of digestion and metabolism,
  • Immuno-modulation
  • Treatment for joints with Panchakarma Therapy (IF NEED) and
  • Ayurvedic medicines.


This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat disease.
Please consult your physician regarding any symptoms you have or before you make changes in lifestyle and diet.