Ayurvedic Resort Goa

Efficacy of Basti in the Healing of Arthritis and Psoriasis

In the right understanding of the word, Basti means ‘to stay’. Basti is also regarded as the urinary bladder. In earlier times, the bladder of goat was used to give enemas, thus its name. Today plastic enemas and syringes are used to push medicated decoctions viz. medicated oil enemas and cleansing enemas into the intestines of the patient.

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If you are familiar with Ayurveda you may have heard of the term Basti. Basti’s literal translation is “bladder”, however, the Basti therapy referred to in Ayurveda is often talking about the application of the herbal enema. As a direct pathway into the colon, the Ayurvedic enema is very powerful for treating a number of issues and ailments, as well as cleansing toxins (ama) from the intestines. Since the colon is the home of Vata dosha, more often than not, Basti is used to treat Vata disorders including constipation, dryness, depletion, insomnia, nervous system disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis, and the like. Although it is considered the main treatment for Vata, different herbs and substances can be utilized to target other doshas and imbalances as well.

Out of the five essential therapies which form the prime actions of the Panchakarmas or the techniques of thorough detoxification and overhauling the body, Basti Karma or the Enema therapy is regarded as the most important in Ayurveda healing. This is because this specific therapy aids greatly in balancing and combating the vitiated Vata dosha or the Air body humor, which alone is responsible for 80 types of diseases and disorders.


What is a Basti?

In the right understanding of the word, Basti means ‘to stay’. Basti is also regarded as the urinary bladder. In earlier times, the bladder of goat was used to give enemas, thus its name. Today plastic enemas and syringes are used to push medicated decoctions viz. medicated oil enemas and cleansing enemas into the intestines of the patient.

Basti Karma – Enema Therapy

Considered as the mother of all treatments, Basti cleanses the accumulated toxins from all the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, especially the Vata toxins, through the colon. The importance of Basti Karma is that other than providing thorough detox, this procedure effectively balances the Vata dosha. This is much needed because not only does the Vata dosha cause majority of diseases in the human body, yet due to its mobile and erratic nature, the Vata dosha moves the other two doshas viz. Kapha and Pitta from one part of the body to another and thus aids in their disturbance and implementing symptoms in the form of an ailment. It is for this reason that Vata dosha has to be balanced so as to cure the disease as well as stay clear of the same. Basti Panchakarma therapy mainly aids to eradicate the disturbed or aggravated Vata dosha and thus finds its importance.

Efficacy of Basti Karma

Basti Karma has been the prime part and parcel of Ayurveda treatment ofPanchakarma since ages. It is believed that if properly performed, alone Basti karmas can be rendering to the human body, would be nothing short of a miracle.

  • Basti karma has the reputation to be half of the entire treatments that can be available to provide substantial cure and relief.

  • Ayurveda justifies the efficacy of Basti karma with its possible outcome to balance all the three doshas viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. This is because whereas Basti balances Vata dosha, also when the vata dosha is balanced, the other two doshas i.e. Pitta and kapha would be balanced spontaneously. This is the best part of this particular Panchakarma therapy.

  • It also nourishes and feeds the colonic flora.

  • Basti also enhances the immune system of the individual by cleansing and nourishing the colon.

  • Basti puts the body into a state of total balance by nourishing the base prana of the body which is formed in the colon.

Procedure of Basti Karma:

Medicated oil or ghee and herbal decoction is given as enema to clean the colon and increase the muscle tone. This procedure is usually recommended for 8 to 30 days, based on the medical condition of a person.

While performing the Basti Karma, the client who is taking the Ayurvedic Panchakarma therapy of Basti karma is advised to first lie on his left lateral position. The right knee is folded touching the abdomen. After this, the previously lubricated nozzle is pushed into the rectum for about 4 to 6 inches so as to make the oil or decoction enter and move through the colon. It is taken care that no air is infused and also that the liquid that is being inserted is at room temperature. The client is advised to inhale deeply while taking the Basti. After the procedure, the client is advised to hold the Basti for as much time it is possible for him and the soles of his feet are massaged.

Benefits of Basti Karma

Being the most effective therapy and technique to allay the aggravated Vata dosha, Basti karma provides much relief and cure in a wide variety of diseases. At Indus Valley Ayurvedic centre, we have successfully treated patients suffering from Vata type diseases and disorders like hemiplegia, Paraplegia, Colitis, Convalescence, Cervical Spondylosis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Constipation, Digestive disorders, Backache & Sciatica, Hepatomegaly & Splenomegaly, Obesity Piles, Sexual Debility & Infertility.

What herbs and substances are best used for Basti?

The traditional Ayurvedic enema often utilizes an herbal decoction of Dashamul tea. This is a “10 root” formula that is a powerful pacifier for Vata dosha and all its related disorders. Although this tends to be the most commonly used formula, many herbs can be used, depending on the issues and imbalances at hand. In fact, the Dashamul can even be mixed with other herbs to form a more appropriate formula. For instance, if one is experiencing a Pitta imbalance, often the Dashamul tea can be blended with Guduchi, one of the main herbs for combating Pitta. Alternatively, one can mix Punarnava with the Dashamul during a Kapha imbalance. In general, most herbs can be administered through Basti, depending on the needs of the individual, their Prakruti (constitution) and their Vikruti (current imbalance).

The Ayurvedic enema is very a effective way of administering the herbs due to the direct absorption that takes place into the colon. At times however, other substances can be used as well. Other common medical substances include ghee, medicated ghee, or sesame oil. Using an oil base for the enema is called Anuvasan Basti, meaning with oil. Alternatively, the herbal decoction version is called Niruha Basti, meaning without oil. The oil method is most useful in disturbances that do not involve toxins (ama). If toxins are present, it is crucial to avoid the use of oil or ghee, as these substances can drive the toxins deeper into the tissues. If there are no signs of toxins, using oils or ghee can be a very powerful way to reduce Vata, anxiety, dryness, constipation and general depletion of the tissues. At times, these methods may be alternated in order to receive the benefits of both therapies.

Besides the herbal decoction or the oil enema, a few other medicinal substances that are used with the various Basti therapies include milk, medicated milk, bone broth, meat broth, herbal juices, honey (blended in the oil), egg whites, salt water, and even cow’s urine. Each substance possesses specific health benefits and therefore, depending on the individual’s needs, you can choose the medicine that would be most needed at any given time. In general, the traditional Dashamul Basti can be used for a wide range of body types and issues, making this a preferred “go-to” option by many.

When should one use the Basti?

Basti can be used to treat just about any Vata disorder. In fact, it is just about the most powerful and effective way to treat Vata due to the direct application into the colon (aka the “home” of Vata). Common Vata disorders include anxiety, fear, restless mind, sleep disorders, nervous system disorders (i.e. Parkinson’s), hypersensitivity, constipation, chronic gas and bloating, debility, depletion, emaciation, sciatica, gout, arthritis, osteoporosis, and dryness, to name a few. Further, since Vata is typically involved in other doshic imbalances as the primary movement force, the Basti can be used to indirectly alleviate both Pitta and Kapha, treating a wide variety of disorders and imbalances.

Another main indication to utilize the Basti therapy would be during times of cleansing. In fact, it is one of the main cleansing therapies of the traditional Pancha Karma ( lit. the five cleansing actions) therapy. It is often used in many home cleanses such as the kitchari cleanse or a modified home “PK” (pancha karma) as well. Due to the direct application into the colon, the enema is quite effective in flushing out toxins from the intestines, making it a useful therapy for detoxification. When using the Basti for cleansing, one can use the traditional Dashamul decoction, or a blend of Dashamul with a cleansing herb such as Guduchi, Musta or Kutki. If there are thought to be parasites, it is highly recommended to use an anti-parasitical herb such as Vidanga for beneficial results.

General Indications for Basti:

  • constipation

  • low back ache

  • Inflammatory disorders like Gout, rheumatism

  • Neurological disorders like sciatica

  • Nervous disorders like vata headache

  • Obesity

  • Emaciation

  • sexual weakness, infertility

  • Muscular atrophy

**Please note that when performing Basti during a cleanse, it is necessary to have gone through the typical “pre-cleanse” practices such as sweating (svedana) and oiliation (snehana).

Are there any contraindications with Basti?

Since the Basti is a relatively “invasive” therapy, one should use knowledge, awareness and precaution before performing. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some common contraindications for Basti:

Do NOT use Basti during:

  • Pregnancy

  • Menstruation

  • Acute diarrhea

  • Hemorrhoids or rectal polyps

  • Within 2-3 hours after food intake

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rectal or vaginal prolapse

  • Ascites

  • Only a nutritive Basti should be done with severe debility or emaciation (i.e. bone marrow broth)

How often should one perform the Basti?

How often one should perform the Basti will depend on a case by case basis. If you are treating a severe or chronic disorder, it is likely you will need to perform this multiple times over a prolonged period in order to receive the results you are needing. This can mean performing multiple days in a row consistently, or several days a week for a specific amount of weeks. It is important to avoid overdoing it with the Basti, as one can become habituated to the cleansing effect, weakening the colon overtime. Therefore it is usually best to give breaks in between, even with severe disorders.

During an Ayurvedic cleanse the Basti is typically performed 2-3 days consistently, and then once a week for about 4 weeks during the “post-cleanse” phase. After the cleanse, the Anuvasana (Oil) Basti can be used (if appropriate), as long as the toxins have been cleared out thoroughly.

If you are treating an acute or less severe disorder, one can perform the Basti 2-3 days consistently. If the imbalance still remains, wait 5-7 days and repeat until the disorder is removed.

Important note: If there are many questions or concerns around this, it is highly recommended to see a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance.

How do you apply the Basti?

The first step in applying Basti is knowing the substance to use (i.e. Dashamula tea) and the length of time it will be performed. You will want to make sure you have all of the materials needed and the time to relax after the treatment.

Materials Needed for Basti:

  • Enema Bag

  • Herbal medicine of choice (lukewarm)

  • Old blanket, towel and/or pillow

  • A jar or container to catch the initial liquid from the tube

Important notes before administering the Basti therapy:

  • The best times for application are either first thing in the morning or later in the evening

  • Avoid any exerting activity after the application of the Basti

  • Avoid food 2-3 hours (or more) before and after performing Basti, herbal teas and warm water can be taken as needed

  • Food should be light on the days of application, this means to avoid heavy food (i.e. meat) and favor easy to digest meals such as kitchari, porridges or soup

  • Choose a comfortable and warm space to perform this procedure, feel free to place an old sheet or blanket on the floor to lie on during application

Basti Instructions:

  • Place the medicine of choice into the enema bag.

  • Hang the bag using a hanger or similar gadget up at a high elevation, ideally at least 6-9 feet up.

  • Lay a towel or an old sheet on the floor and have a pillow and blanket nearby to keep comfortable after the application.

  • Have an empty container or jar at hand. Open the tube over the empty jar, letting the tea move down it, filling the entire tube completely before the insertion. This is a really quick open and close, so be prepared to close quickly to avoid wasting too much liquid. ***This step is important to let out any air in the tube, avoiding air coming into the colon!

  • Place a small amount of oil or ghee on the end of the tube to allow easy insertion.

  • Lay on your left side and insert the end of the enema tube into the rectum about 2 inches, keeping the tube closed.

  • Open the tube and allow the liquid to flow into the colon.

  • Once the bag is completely empty, close the tube, remove it from the rectum and place it in a safe place.

  • Lay on your left side for 5-10 minutes.

  • Switch to the right side for 5-10 minutes.

  • Place the pillow behind you and lay in a supported supine position. Stay here for as long as you feel comfortable.

  • The herbal enema may be retained indefinitely if the colon is really dry; this is totally fine. Otherwise, try to retain it for a minimum of 30 minutes or longer if possible. If there is too much pressure before then, just retain as long as possible to allow the absorption of the medicine into the colon.

  • To clean the bag, rinse out immediately after use with hot water in the tub. Once all of the sediment is removed, get out as much water as possible and then hang to dry.

  • Important note: If there are many questions or concerns around this, it is highly recommended to see a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance.

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Basti: The Primary Treatment for Vata

As nature transitions seasons and exhibits change, Ayurveda recommends cleansing and rejuvenation to help the body adapt. Of particular focus at this time of the year is balancing vata. As discussed in the last newsletter, there is no system in the body that is not touched by vata, and according to Ayurvedic tradition, vata alone is responsible for more that 55% of the diseases encountered by humans.

Panchakarma is recommended at the change of seasons to help balance the shifts in doshas that can accumulate with the change in environment. The primary treatment in panchakarma that is geared towards vata is basti (Ayurvedic enema). Basti is so highly revered in the panchakarma process that it is said that the benefit received from basti is equal to the cumulative benefit of the other four processes in panchakarma. And that only makes sense, given the prevalence that vitiated vata plays in the disease process.

Basti works in the region of the colon, but its impact is so far reaching and deep that simply calling this process an enema does not do it justice. Recall that as the major seat of vata in the GI tract, the colon is critical in keeping vata balanced in the entire body. In the stages of samprapti (Ayurvedic pathogenesis), vata first accumulates in the colon, and then as it begins to “overflow”, it will spread and create imbalanced vata in other susceptible parts of the body. This systemic imbalanced vata can affect almost any system in the body, as vata is a necessary presence throughout the body; it is likely to affect the systems which have some weakness (a khavaigunya). Basti provides herbal cleansing and nourishment directly into the intestines and colon, without having to be digested by the stomach and upper GI tract, as would be the case with anything taken by mouth.

Traditional Ayurvedic teaching reminds us that basti can be used for a variety of reasons, including bowel regularity, joint support, excess vata in digestion causing occasional gas, nervous system support, and healthy sleep patterns. Clearing vata from the system also helps create energy and vitality as well as clarity in the mind.6 Basti promotes overall well-being, a graceful aging process, luster and a healthy glow. Multiple international studies have been done regarding the benefits of basti, and they also show benefits to joint, back, and bone health.

Basti does have some general situations in which it is contraindicated, including pregnancy, menstruation, diarrhea, inflammation of the anal region or rectal bleeding, and extreme weakness or debility. Generally, basti is well tolerated in appropriate candidates, and a proper basti should result in 1-2 bowel movements with cleansing of the fecal matter as well as a feeling of lightness and a promotion of appetite and agni. If the basti was insufficient, one may be left with pain, incomplete fecal clearing, and/or swelling.

Prior to doing basti, one can prepare by applying warm oil (such as sesame) to the abdomen and lower back in a clockwise direction following the flow of the intestines. If one is so inclined, one can even do a full body massage with warm oil to help with oleation and loosening of toxins. After massage with warm oil, one can place a warm pack, such as a hot water bottle) to the abdomen for a few minutes, allowing the intestines to be primed for the application of basti.

Basti can be classified in a variety of ways. While there are a number of treatments that can be referred to with the term basti, here we are speaking only of rectal basti, as this is the primary treatment for our dosha of choice, vata. Rectal basti is usually one of two major types: niruha basti, which is done with herbal decoctions and is purifying and cleansing in nature; and anuvasana basti, usually done with oil, which is nourishing, strengthening, and oleating in nature.

1.  Niruha Basti

Niruha basti, which is best done in the morning on an empty stomach, can use an endless variety of hebal decoctions. Often dashamula is used as one of the ingredients, as it is a primary herbal remedy to dispel excess vata. Classical formulas add triphala, rock salt and honey to the dashamula. Modern variations will choose any number of cleansing or rasayana herbs depending on the desired outcome. Guduchi has a cooling, calming effect and can help balance pitta. Punarnava helps balance excess water in the system and can also balance kapha. Other nourishing rejuvenatives can include ashwagandha or shatavari. To help irritation in the system, licorice can provide a soothing nature. And for a cleansing effect, triphala is a solid choice. Niruha basti can be held for 15-20 minutes, or longer if comfortable, up to 48 minutes. Following the administration of niruha basti, one can have a light meal of easily digestible food.

2.  Anuvasana Basti

Anuvasana basti is primarily oil based and is meant to be building and nourishing. Locally, providing oleation for any dryness caused by vata can support a healthy, supple colon. More broadly, the oil helps to ground vata and promotes energy and vitality. Anuvasana basti is usually based in sesame oil, which may be plain or herbalized with supportive Ayurvedic herbs. Anuvasana basti can be held for longer periods of time, even up to a full day, as long as it is comfortable for the client, as it continues to provide a supportive effect.

There are a variety of traditional schedules which can use a combination of alternating niruha and anuvasana basti in order to achieve optimal effect. The usual protocol starts with an anuvasana basti to prime the colon, then alternates niruha and anuvasana basti to cleanse and nourish (so the colon does not become overly depleted), and ends with a number of anuvasana bastis in order to replenish and rejuvenate the colon and balance, ground, and nourish vata after the cleansing process. Caraka recommends schedules of yoga basti (8 bastis), kala basti (16 bastis), and karma basti (30 bastis), used based on the degree of vata vitiation. Another alternative can also be to mix the herbal decoction and oil together, blend to make a solution, and administer the basti.

After doing basti, one should take care to follow vata balancing recommendations. Eat light, grounding, warm, oleative food. Rest and avoid vata provoking activity, including excessive talking, extremely windy or cold weather, travel, and busy activity. In this way, basti can be used to keep vata balanced on a routine basis, cleanse vata during seasonal transitions, and manage more extreme vata imbalances that are causing issues in the deeper tissues.

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Basti for the Treatment of Psoriasis/Planter xerosis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease characterized by patches of abnormal skin. These skin patches are typically red, itchy, and scaly. They range from small and localized to complete body coverage and also vary in severity. Skin Injury can be a trigger to psoriatic skin changes, this is known as Koebner phenomenon.

Causes of Psoriasis according to Ayurveda:

According to Ayurveda the main cause of the disease is improper food habits, excessive intake of bakery products, excessive ingestion of yoghurt, sea food, salty or sour foods, exposure to very hot or very cold climate, heavy meals, persistent meals (having meals before the previous meal is digested), lack of exercise, day sleep, stopping natural urges, etc. These above causes result in accumulation of toxins in blood which then circulates in the body. The sedimentation of toxins takes place in the layers of skin causing itching, redness etc. called by modern medicine as Psoriasis.

Signs and symptoms of Psoriasis:

Symptoms may vary according to the skin condition. It may be distributed over different areas of body. Grossly it may include folds of arm, wrist, neck, shoulder, upper or lower back, back of knee, etc. The common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Red, raised, inflamed patches of skin

  • Lesions

  • Scaly skin or plaques on the Psoriatic patches

  • Dryness of skin, may or may not be crack and bleed

  • Soreness of patches or around the skin

  • Itching and burning sensations around the patches and lesions

  • Thick, pitted, raised or infection at nails

  • Pain and swelling of joints

Ayurvedic concept of Psoriasis:

Psoriasis is often correlated to a disease named kustha in Ayurveda. All the types according to modern medicine such as plantar, erithrodermic, inverse, guttate, pustular, etc. are covered under the topic of Kustha and its types along with subtypes. Ayurveda suggests a long term treatment as the roots of the pathology are deeply seated in such kind of disease. Although a newly developed patch small in size can be cured easily in its early stage, but the treatment should not be left until the pathology is completely discarded or as per the advice of expert Ayurvedic physician.

Ayurvedic Treatment For Psoriasis

Nidana parivarjana: avoiding factors that cause psoriasis

Panchakarma chikitsa: purifying treatments that purge toxins

Shamana: treatments to pacify vitiated doshas

To treat psoriasis, ayurveda uses a holistic treatment plan that involves nidana parivarjana (avoidance of factors that cause psoriasis), panchakarma (purifying treatments), and shamana (suppression of vitiated doshas). Therapies such as vamana (therapeutic vomiting) and the ingestin and topicall application of herbal remedies are vital to treatment. Has an overactive immune system made sore or itchy patches of skin a constant reality for you? The reddish skin and silvery scales typical of psoriasis, a chronic skin disorder, is usually treated with corticosteroids and salicylic acid-based ointments in mainstream medicine. If you are more keen on a less invasive and holistic treatment route, ayurveda may have some answers.

According to ayurveda, kushta roga (skin disorders) that correlates to psoriasis is triggered by imbalances in kapha (the bodily humor associated with the elements of earth and water) and vata (the bodily humor associated with the elements of air and ether) doshas. These vitiated doshas are thought to have a negative impact on your blood tissues (rakta dhatu) and skin (tvak), as well as the watery components (jala mahabhautic) of the skin. Vitiated kapha causes your skin to become coppery or whitish in color while vitiated vata causes it to become scaly and dry. A disturbance in vata can also lead to abnormally quick proliferation of cells in the skin while vitiated kapha can lead to itching. Additionally, the build-up of ama or metabolic waste, genetic factors, environmental stressors, and unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits contribute to psoriasis. Ayurveda tailors treatment to individual cases but the main principles of therapy include:

1.  Nidana Parivarjana: Avoiding Factors That Cause Psoriasis

Unhealthy habits, both diet and lifestyle based, act as triggers for psoriasis and tackling these is an important part of ayurvedic treatment. Here are some broad steps that will be put in place:

Improper dietary habits are considered to be a significant cause of psoriasis in ayurveda. Having excessive amounts of certain foods such as citrus fruits, curd, fish, horse gram, sweets, sesame oil, black gram, rice flour, milk, and jaggery should be avoided. In general, excessively salty, spicy, or sour foods, carb-heavy, refined, or sugar-laden foods, as well as foods that are heavy and difficult to digest, are discouraged.

Ayurveda also cautions against having foods that are incompatible with each other (virrudha ahara) at the same time as this may have a toxic effect. An example of incompatible foods would be fish and milk.

Sleeping during the day, suppressing the natural urges of your body, and excessive exposure to the sun or heat are also to be avoided.

Ayurveda also recommends controlling emotions such as excessive anger, worry, or grief which can all act as triggers. This can be done through mindful meditation and practice of yoga.

2.  Panchakarma Chikitsa: Purifying Treatments That Purge Toxins

Cleansing and purifying treatments such as vamana (therapeutically induced vomiting), virechana (therapeutic purgation using herbs), basti (therapeutic enema) are considered to be vital in the treatment of psoriasis. Based on your individual constitution, your ayurvedic doctor will decide which procedure or combination of procedures will work best for you. Before carrying out a panchakarma treatment, preparatory procedures known as purvakarma are carried out to make the treatment effective. A typical treatment might involve:

Snehana and svedana: Before panchakarma therapy, preparatory procedures like snehana and svedana are carried out so that toxins located in different parts of the body may be brought into the alimentary canal, from where they can be removed through panchakarma. Snehana or oleation involves lubricating the body externally or internally so that toxins are softened and channeled into the alimentary canal. Ghee or other oils may be administered internally in increasing doses over a few days for this. A body massage with an appropriate herbal oil such as bala oil, bakuchi oil, dashmoola oil etc. can also form part of snehana.

Meanwhile, during svedana or sudation, heat is applied to the body for channeling toxins into the alimentary canal. Also known as sweating therapy, svedana may involve practices such as fomentation using steam (sarvanga bashpa sveda) or a hot bath with medicinal herbal decoctions (avaghaha sweda).

Vamana: Although other panchakarma treatments might also be used for dealing with psoriasis, vamana is usually an invariable part of treatment and typically done before other treatments like virechana and basti. Scientific research also confirms the effectiveness of this therapy. One study found that when vamana therapy was administered to patients, it effectively reduced symptoms of psoriasis such as scaling, erythema, burning sensation, itching, and dryness of skin in subjects. Madanaphala (Randia dumetorum), yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and vacha (Acorus calamus) were used to induce vomiting. Preparatory swedana and snehana were done for 9 days before the procedure.

Once vamana is completed, virechana or basti may be taken up on a case to case basis.

3. Shamana: Treatments To Pacify Vitiated Doshas

Shamana therapies are meant to pacify and recalibrate vitiated doshas. They may be administered independently or after panchakarma therapies and can involve taking herbs, nourishing foods, and unctuous substances. External treatments may involve applying herbal pastes, massages with oil, and bathing in medicinal liquids. Some examples include:

Herbal formulations, to be taken with ghee or honey, may include trikatu, triphala, dashamoola, raktapachakvati, gandhak rasayan, suvarna makshik bhasm, swayambhu guggulu, rasamanikya, and mahatiktak ghruta. The exact prescriptions and dosages will be decided depending on how you've responded to treatment so far.

Nourishing remedies such as:

Buttermilk to helps correct imbalances in vata and kapha. It can be taken orally as well as used locally to treat psoriasis. Interestingly, buttermilk is rich in lactic acid which has been found to moisten skin and reduce psoriatic scales on topical application.

A sandalwood decoction, made by brewing a teaspoon of sandalwood in three cups of water until it reduces to a cup. This is then to be taken thrice a day with a few drops of rose water and some sugar to sweeten.

Cabbage juice, half a cup of which is to be had every day. This helps with healing and recovery.

Topical remedies include diluted lime juice, aloe gel, or a paste of powdered and boiled almonds. Covering the affected area with a fresh banana leaf is thought to help fight the inflammation. A paste of shikakai (soap pod) can also be applied topically to soothe and heal the skin. Other herbal remedies like musta (Cyperus rotundus) and manjistha (Rubia cordifolia) may also be prescribed for topical application.

Shirodhara, a practice where beneficial liquids are poured on your forehead in a gentle stream, is used to alleviate stress and mental disturbances. Stress often aggravates or even triggers psoriasis. This therapeutic practice can stimulate vital areas on your body known as marmas, helping improve your circulation and the functioning of the autonomic nervous system which was disturbed due to stress. Takradhara using buttermilk is especially considered beneficial.

Brief, but regular exposure to sunlight (atapa seva) is thought to help clear psoriasis. But this is carefully regulated so the skin is never overexposed to the sun. Sunburns, like other injuries to the skin, can trigger psoriasis.

While these provide a broad outline of the kind of remedial treatments used to control and counter psoriasis, an ayurvedic practitioner will always customize the therapy to suit your individual case. Self-medicating with herbal remedies is not advisable if you have psoriasis, especially if you are on allopathic medicines as well. Always seek out an experienced ayurvedic doctor and keep them posted about any other medications you are on.

Ayurvedic treatment for psoriasis is essentially a sustained, holistic regimen that you need to undertake at a steady pace. It may stretch between 3-6 months, with regular follow-ups after that to avoid flare-ups and relapses. But as many case studies have shown, these therapeutic interventions and lifestyle changes can help you tackle psoriasis head on and make a huge difference to your quality of life.

Ayurveda Body Cure’s treatment plan for Psoriasis:

After a detailed consultation by our specialist Ayurvedic Consultant, treatment plan is prepared according to the severity of Psoriasis and considering all other symptoms related to disease. The plan will include herbal medication, herbal massage based therapies, detoxification/Panchakarma, dietary and lifestyle changes, Yoga and exercise, etc.

Herbal Massage based therapies:

These therapies may include body massage (Abhyanga), neck and shoulder massage (Shirodhara),etc. which mainly de-stress the body and mind helping to cure Psoriasis.

Local applications such as herbal masks (Lepa), herbal face washes (if facial area is involved) are also suggested to apply on the affected area.

Diet and lifestyle recommendations:

Sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food intake habits lead to the aggravation of disease. Healthy cooking habits and dietary changes are suggested accordingly to improve your health as well as skin.

Yoga / Exercise and Yogic Breathing techniques:

Yoga and exercise are very essential part of the treatment plan. It improves blood circulation of body which gradually increases the quality of health and skin.

Yoga postures like Sukhasana (Cross Legged Pose), Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), etc and breathing techniques like Kapalbhati, Anulom-Vilom and Brahmri will help in relieving mental stress.

Psoriasis may be an acute or chronic skin condition which may relapse over a period of time. Thus healthy lifestyle and good cooking habits along with the above treatment plan will help in curing the disease permanently.

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Efficacy of Basti (enema) in the management of Arthritis

Our body is a machine, joined with various types of joints, like hinge joints at elbows and knees, ball and socket joint at shoulders and hip joint,etc. These joint are classified differently on the basis of its structure, function and anatomy. Irrespective of all these details, we know that any machine needs maintenance, to keep it working. so does our body; but do we really take care of this God gifted machine? or just toil it as per our convenience. Here, in this article we’ll take a brief insight of Joint disorders and how to keep them in best of their health. For a joint to be strong, it is not only the joint which needs to be taken care of, but also the bones involved in the joint, the surrounding muscles, cartilages, and the lubricant (synovial fluid) which facilitates the movement of the joint.

Ayurveda explains that any joint disorder or pain in joints is the result of aggravated vata dosha. Joint disorder involving inflammation of one or more joints together is termed as Arthritis or Sandhigat vata. Ayurveda grossly classifies Arthritis into two categories, based on type of its etiology – i) Dhatukshayjanya Sandhigat vata (degenerative type) i.e. Osteoarthritis and ii) Margavrodhjanya (due to accumulation of Saam dosha) or Aamvata i.e. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Both these types present with different symptoms and so does the treatment differ.

Amavata (Rheumatoid Arthritis) has been a challenging problem to the medical field. Various treatment protocols are applied in this disease with partial success. In present clinical study, 12 patients of clinically proven Amavata (Rheumatoid Arthritis) were treated with Panchamuladi Kaala Basti to evaluate its efficacy. All clinical Ayurvediya nidanadi parameters and American Rheumatism Association guidelines for Rheumatoid Arthritis were followed. Before treatment and after treatment, analysis was done and results were calculated statistically using paired ‘t’ test. Results obtained are encouraging and indicate the efficacy of Panchamuladi Kaala Basti over Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis), exploring many aspects of this clinical entity.

In Ayurveda, it is explained that Samprapti (pathogenesis) of almost all the diseases begins with the Agnimandya which leads to formation of Ama. This Ama is the utmost important causative factor for various diseases. On other hand, Vata Dosha is most powerful among three Doshas and it controls the other two Doshas as well as it is very difficult for treatment. Therefore, when these two factors (Ama and Vata) simulteniously take part in the Samprapti (pathogenesis), then the resultant disease becomes very difficult to treat.

Amavata is one of the most challenging diseases caused by Ama combining with vitiated Vata Dosha. The disease Amavata belongs to Abhyantara as well as Madhyama roga marga. The Samprapti (pathogenesis) starts in the Annavaha Srotasa and then extends through Madhyama roga marga with special inclination for Kapha Sthanas especially Sandhis (joints). In such a condition, patient weeps in agony of pain and reduced functional capacity with severe stiffness and cripling deformity of joints, which make them bed ridden.

Having several features similar to Rheumatoid arthritis, Amavata is generally compared with this disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune polyarthritis of unknown etiology with symmetrical joint involvement and effects many other systems too. There is no definite cure for the disease.

In Ayurveda, many approaches are in practice to treat Amavata but still remain a challenging problem. Many research works have been done on this disease, but still there is a need of an effective, safe, and less-complicated treatment. In present study, Basti Chikitsa was selected for clinical trials as Basti is the major treatment in Ayurveda which directly acts over the Vata Dosha and many a times is called as Ardha Chikitsa or Sarva Chikitsa.[4] Also, Basti, especially Kshara Basti, is main treatment for Amavata.

Ayurveda Recommends These Treatment Methods For Arthritis

Ayurvedic treatments involve diet, herbal remedies and procedures. There are a number of Ayurvedic treatments that can curtail ama and alleviate the pain. So, here are some of the ayurvedic treatment methods for arthritis.

Vasthi (Basti)

Vasthi is the word used for medicated enema. And in ayurveda, vasthi is a method that involves the introduction of herbal and medicinal concoctions in a liquid medium that is administered into and onto the body. The medicinal vasthi has the power to remove wastes and toxins from the body (internal and external). It tries to balance the functions of the doshas and helps to improve the body's immunity. Sexual disorders, peptic ulcer, arthritis, gout and muscle spasms can be treated with this method. This kind of an ayurvedic treatment is used for eliminating as well as in nourishing as a two pronged method. Enema therapy is used in cleansing and purifying the colon and nourishing the body. Enema therapy refers to bladder of animal. Traditionally, the enema bag is made from the bladder of a certain animal.


The first line of treatment is fasting on warm water, which can be 1 to 2 quarts per day. This method of treatment can help arthritic pain that is caused by the deplorable circulation in the joints due to the Vayu. Fasting is considered to be essential to boost the digestion of Ama.

Deep Cleansing

Poor eating habits, along with indigestion, would make the impurities to accumulate, which eventually would get stored up in the joints. And this can later restrain joint function as well as mobility. Deep cleansing of the joints and tissues can relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Preventing the build-up of impurities will create a healthier metabolic system. There is the possibility of joints and bones being healthy through the nutrient plasma. Plasma (Rasa) will move about throughout the body, delivering nutrients to the cells as well as helping to build up the tissues.


Vata (waste gases) absorbed in the colon moves to the bones and then causes arthritis. When you can take treatment for arthritis, also remember that you are treating the colon too. If you have recurrent problems like constipation or malabsorption in the colon, then try to take 2-5 grams of triphala regularly. Make sure to take it before hitting the bed.


Herbs are used for the ayurvedic method of treatment for arthritis. Herbs that are pungent and bitter tasting help stimulate the digestion by releasing the bile from gall bladder into the intestine.


Panchakarma begins with a home-cleansing programme that is a preparation to remove the impurities. Ama is taken as clogs or the channels of the body that restricts vata's motion. Doing this treatment can reduce the loss of mobility in the joints, especially pain and swelling. Panchakarma can cleanse toxins from shrotas (channels). It would allow the vata to carry prana and nutrition to asthi dhatu (bones). The common panchakarma procedures are mostly whole body massage with medicinal oils (abhyanga) with rivulets of medicinal oils being poured on the forehead (shirdona), herbalized stream treatment called svedana, nasal adminstration (nasya), emesis (vamana), purgation (virechana) and enemas (basti). The duration of the panchakarma therapy depends upon the individual and the extent of the dosha imbalance.


The second level of treatment for arthritis is the purification-Pizzichilli treatment. This involves two technicians massaging and bathing the patient in warm sesame oil for two hours. The oil will soak through the skin and penetrate deeper into the person's body tissues. This Ayurvedic treatment can balance the Vata dosha and help manage to ease the stiff joints.

Vamana (Vomiting)

It is a most dangerous therapy; and without a proper guidance, one shouldn't practice this method of treatment. One can only learn the method after consulting a quality panchakarma specialist. It is done to cleanse the stomach and to eliminate the ama (toxins) and mucus from the nadis (channels) as well as the chest. This method of treatment is useful for nausea, sinus diseases, chronic cold, rheumatic, parasites, herpes zoster and arthritis.

Virechana (Purgation)

Virechana is a medicated purgation therapy. The therapy is meant for expelling out the vitiated dosha and mala (toxins) through the anal passage. The purgation treatment is of two types, which include Snigdha (oily) and Rooksha (dry). For rheumatoid arthritis, castor oil is preferred for purgation. Firstly, the patient is prescribed spices for three days to improve his/her digestion. Then, the patient would be asked to take medicated ghee orally for a span of 3 to 7 days. After the 7 days, he would be put up for massage and sweating treatment for about 2 to 3 days. Later, the patient would be given high dose of castor oil to induce loose stools. This treatment is done to push out the imbalanced Pitta (governs the important digestive agnis or fires of the body) dosha out of the body. Viechana can cure Kapha pitta dominant disorders such as gastrointestinal disorders, paralysis, rheumatoid arthritis, worm infestations and oedema. It even cures chronic skin diseases.


Sirovirechana Karma, or Nasya, is the last step in the pradhana karma of the panchakarma therapy. Nasya is a medicated oil that is administered through the nasal passage. The medications and methods that are introduced through the nose get spread throughout the head and its constituent parts. It manages to influence all the doshas and diseases situated in these important parts. There are different types of Nasya therapy that you could take according to the need of the situation, which include cleansing, nutritive or tranquilizer types. In Ayurveda, medicated oil or ghee drops or certain herbal juice are used for this therapy. Sometimes, herbal powders are even administered into the nasal cavity. Nasya is about the elimination of toxins from the nose.

Patra Pinda Sweda

This is also an effective therapy for severe back pain. Patra means medicinal plants, while Pinda and Sweda mean bolus and fomentation. The method of administration for this therapy is using leaves of the medicinal plants to relieve pain, inflammation and stiffness. It rejuvenates and strengths the joints and improves circulation in the badly afflicted parts. The leaves are cut into fine pieces and fried in vatahara oil along with pieces of lemon and grated coconut. Next, these ingredients are tied in a cloth in the form of bolus. Moreover while administering this treatment; medicated oil would be heated in a pan, which is kept in a mild flame. The bolus consisting of the medicated stuff is dipped in warm oil and massaged on the most affected areas.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. While inflammation of the tissue around the joints and inflammatory arthritis are characteristic features of rheumatoid arthritis, the disease can also cause inflammation and injury in other organs in the body.

The disease usually begins gradually with fatigue, morning stiffness (lasting more than one hour), widespread muscle aches, loss of appetite, and weakness. Eventually, joint pain appears. When the joint is not used for a while, it can become warm, tender, and stiff. When the lining of the joint (synovium) becomes inflamed, it gives off more fluid and the joint becomes swollen. Joint pain is often felt on both sides of the body, and may affect the wrist, knees, elbows, fingers, toes, ankle or neck.

Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease & is a progressive illness that has the potential to cause joint destruction and functional disability.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also produce diffuse inflammation in the lungs, membrane around the heart (pericardium), the membranes of the lung (pleura), and white of the eye (sclera), and also nodular lesions, most common in subcutaneous tissue. Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, autoimmunity plays a pivotal role in both its chronicity and progression.

In some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation leads to the destruction of the cartilage, bone, and ligaments, causing deformity of the joints. Damage to the joints can occur early in the disease and be progressive. Moreover, studies have shown that the progressive damage to the joints does not necessarily correlate with the degree of pain, stiffness, or swelling present in the joints.

Most people with RA experience intermittent bouts of intense disease activity, called flares. In some people the disease is continuously active and gets worse over time. Others enjoy long periods of remission – no disease activity or symptoms at all. The symptoms and course of rheumatoid arthritis vary from person to person and can change on a daily basis.

About 1% of the world’s population is afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis, women three times more often than men. The disease occurs in all ethnic groups and in every part of the world. It is most likely to strike people 30-50 years of age, but it can occur in children, teenagers, and elderly people. A similar disease affecting young people is known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.


Rheumatoid arthritis usually inflames multiple joints in a symmetrical pattern (both sides of the body affected). Early symptoms may be subtle, usually with only minor joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Wrists, fingers, knees, feet, and ankles are the most commonly affected.

Joint symptoms may include:

  • Morning stiffness, which lasts more than 1 hour, is common. Joints may feel warm, tender, and stiff when not used for an hour.

  • Joint pain is often felt on the same joint on both sides of the body.

  • Over time, joints may lose their range of motion and may become deformed.

Other symptoms include:

  • Chest pain when taking a breath (pleurisy)

  • Dry eyes and mouth (Sjogren syndrome)

  • Eye burning, itching, and discharge

  • Nodules under the skin (usually a sign of more severe disease)

  • Numbness, tingling, or burning in the hands and feet

  • Sleep difficulties


There is no test that can determine for sure whether you have RA. Most patients with RA will have some abnormal test results, although for some patients, all tests will be normal.

Two lab tests that often help in the diagnosis are:

  • Rheumatoid factor test

  • Anti-CCP antibody test

Other tests that may be done include:

  • Complete blood count

  • C-reactive protein

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

  • Joint ultrasound or MRI

  • Joint x-rays

  • Synovial fluid analysis

Ayurveda perspective

According to Ayurveda, Rheumatoid arthritis can be compared as “Ama vata“. It has been described as

” Sa Kashtaha Sarvarogaanaam yadaa prakupito Bhavet |
Hastha paada shiro gulpha trika jaanu uru sandhishu ||
Karoti sarujam shopham yatra doshaha prapadyate |
Sa desho rujate atyatham vyaviddha iva vrishchkaihi || “

This means ” If the disease “ama vata” (rheumatoid arthritis) gets aggravated, it becomes most difficult disease comparatively to others. The joints of hands, feet, ankles and elbow, low back, knee, and hip become inflamed and painful. The pain in the affected joints resembles the pain of a scorpion’s sting.”

A detailed description of the causative factors, pathophysiology, symptoms, treatment principles and diet & lifestyle modifications for treating ‘Amavata’ have been clearly explained in Ayurveda, thousands of years back.

Cardinal symptoms of Amavata

  • Vriscik damsha vata vedana (Morning pain severe in nature)

  • Sanchari Vedana (shifting pain)

  • Stambha (stiffness of joints)

  • Jwara (Increase temperature)

  • Karmahani (loss of movements)

  • Sandhi Vikruti (joint deformity)

  • Kshudhamandya (Loss of appetite)


Disease with early onset and single dosha prominence in young individual can be cured with proper treatment and with religiously following the do’s and don’ts. As the disease become chronic it involves multiple systems, which makes the disease incurable. If it is present with signs of complications then it may produce serious threats to life.

Ayurveda Management

In Ayurveda following are the lines of treatment in Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis):

  • Langhanam (Fasting)

  • Sodhana chikitsa (Purification of the body)

  • Shamana chikitsa (Treatment for subsiding the symptoms)

Langhana (fasting) – It is done by means of complete absence of food, or by giving green gram / rice / barley soups.

Shodhana – It is done through Panchakarma therapy. Usually treatment is long term and various procedures are done according to the patient condition and presentation. Therapies like Snehapanam, Vamanam, Manal kizhi, Virechanam, Podikizhi, Elakkizhi, Pizhichil, Vaitharana / Kshara basti, Navarakizhi etc are done to get the maximum results.

Shaman Chikitsa – It is done by using very effective and time tested Ayurveda formulations like kashaya, asavarista. Choorna, vati, taila, Rasoushadi etc.

Apart from these three, strict diet regimen and life style changes are advocated.

At CHARAKA, we are providing a very effective treatment methodology for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis (Ama vata), based on the Ayurveda lines of management coupled with years of experience and dedication.

If patient can come for the treatment in early stages of the disease, even complete cure is also possible provided patient follows all the guideline including diet restrictions strictly.

In chronic cases, complete cure may not be possible but control over the disease and dependency on allopathic medicines can be reduced.

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Ayurveda believes only in natural methods and maintains the harmony of the body with perfection. Well, various diseases and disorders of the body are treated with great ease and natural treatment procedures are offered that have long lasting effects on psychic and physical appearance. There is no side effect whatsoever. One of the best panchakarma therapy is Janu Basti. Well, it is basically for arthritis, joint pains, and other inconveniences happening to the body. Basically, it treats the body’s lower parts.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition of the joints in which the cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones gradually loses its elasticity and wears away. Without the protective cartilage, the bones begin to rub against each other, causing stiffness, inflammation, and loss of movement. Osteoarthritis treatment therapies with current conventional medicine typically focuses on pain reduction and control of inflammation; however, these approaches have no effect on the natural course of the disease.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

While science has no definite answers about what causes OA, researchers have identified several factors involved in the development and course of OA. Some of these factors include inflammation, biomechanical imbalances that put stress on the joints, and cellular disorders that lead to the abnormal breakdown of cartilage. It is important that the approach we use in treating OA address as many of these factors as possible.

Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.

Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be effectively managed, although the underlying process cannot be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.


Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain. Your joint may hurt during or after movement.

  • Tenderness. Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.

  • Stiffness. Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

  • Loss of flexibility. You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.

  • Grating sensation. You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.

  • Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.

Ayurvedic Approaches to Osteoarthritis

Given the only moderate effectiveness and potential side effects of conventional treatment, both patients and health care professionals are seeking out alternative therapies, including those offered by the ancient healing system known as Ayurveda. In this article we’ll look at the three main modalities Ayurveda uses to treat osteoarthritis and other disorders: herbal treatments, meditation, and yoga.

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Janu Basti for the Treament of Osteoarthritis

In Sanskrit, Janu means knee and Basti means something that’s contained inside. Hence, in this Ayurvedic therapy i.e. Janu Basti, there is medicated hot oil that’s retained on the knee’s surface so as to give comfort to the body. There are many benefits associated with this therapy.

This is a process of detoxifying the body and you need to know several advantages that are offered by the same.


Even this procedure is similar to other hot oil therapies in Ayurveda. In Janu Basti, medicated oil that contains herbal extracts is administered, which in turn offers great convenience. In this procedure, oil is retained on the knee’s surface and it provides warmth to the skin.

At Ayurvedic Resort Goa, our therapists prepare special dough with medicated and effective ingredients in a dam shaped circumference. Once you lie down on the droni, we install that dough in the knees; it has an opening in the middle. Then, hot and medicated oil is poured in this space and is retained for a while. The duration depends on the physician’s advice. Sometimes it’s for 30 minutes while at times, it is for 45 minutes. More the time, more are the benefits. The best thing is the oil preparation that’s done on the knee’s surface.

When oil touches the skin, it deeply nourishes the joints inside so that the pain is relieved. Oil nourishment is the main key of Janu basti and it offers a lot of health benefits. Our knee is the main juncture of human body and as we age, it keeps on suffering a lot. The fluid between the bones tend to dry up, owing to which, there is a lot of pain. Yes, it causes friction and hence, smooth movement is not possible. With Janu Basti, proper lubrication is provided to the joints and the stiffening cells and fluid are rejuvenated. Benefits offered by this procedure are many and long term. Pain relief is the main benefit that the procedure offers. Aches and discomfort are reduced to a great extent.

Duration of the therapy

At Ayurvedic Resort Goa, you can select the duration as per your requirement. We offer 30 minutes therapy also and 45-60 minutes therapy also. If you have severe orthopedic problems or if you have chronic arthritis, it’s recommended to go for a 45 minutes session. It will give instant relief and you will have complete comfort from all your issues.

Medicines used in Janu Basti

Mainly, oil is used in the procedure. The oils differ from person to person. At Ayurvedic Resort Goa, we use sunflower oil, Mahanarayana Taila, Murchit tila tail, sesame oil, almond oil, bala taila, bhringaraj oil, neem oil or brahmi oil, depending on the constitution of the body as well as the imbalance of the bio energies. We carefully study the body’s property and accordingly use the oil. All we believe is in complete eradication of the problem. Our therapists are knowledgeable and know well how to select oil as per your body needs.

Benefits of Janu Basti

  • If you have vata dosha in knee areas, Janu basti will pacify it.

  • Brings in lubrication in the knees

  • Regulates the movements of the knees.

  • Makes the structure of the knees proper.

  • Pain and stiffness in the knees is eradicated.

  • When you age, Janu Basti will protect knees against damage

  • Blood circulation in the knee area is regulated

  • Nourishes and strengthens the joints of the knees

  • Mobility of the knee joints is enhanced to a great extent.

  • Good for chronic knee pain

  • Good for chronic arthritis

  • Flexibility of joints is enhanced

  • Removes inflammation and pain

  • Protects the knee cartilage

  • Nerves of the knee are strengthened

  • Vasodilatation is increased

  • Knee joints are stopped from degeneration

  • Rigidity and spasms are reduced

  • Good for tendonitis and osteoarthritis

At Ayurvedic Resort Goa, we have the best therapists who will tailor the therapy as per your needs and conditions. Our rates are reasonable and benefits are immense.

Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments

Ayurveda offers many herbal treatments for the treatment of OA. These plants have documented anti-inflammatory properties without the side effects of commonly prescribed medications. For example, at a recent meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, a study was presented that showed an herbal Ayurvedic therapy to be as effective in treating knee osteoarthritis as a commonly prescribed medication (Celebrex) and glucosamine – and with fewer side effects. The ACR stated that

Ayurveda offers “safe and effective treatment alternatives” for OA.<

The herbs boswellia, turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, triphala, guggulu, and shatavari have all been shown to decrease inflammation by interfering with the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.


There is evidence that the Ayurvedic herb Boswellia serrata, also called Indian frankincense, alleviates joint pain and inflammation. Boswellia blocks an enzyme (5-lipoxygenase) that plays a major role in the formation of chemicals called leukotrienes, which stimulate and perpetuate inflammation. Researchers have found that people with osteoarthritis who took boswellia along with ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc reported less joint pain and increased mobility and strength.


Turmeric is a spice commonly used in South and East Asian cooking. It is also used both orally and topically in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments, many of which are related to inflammation. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to inhibit key inflammation-producing enzymes (lipo-oxygenase, cyclo-oxygenase, and phospholipase A2), thus disrupting the inflammatory cascade at three different stages. Interestingly, some data suggests that it may protect the stomach against non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Although current studies for its use in treating osteoarthritis are few, curcumin/turmeric is a promising option in the treatment of OA.


Another Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), has known anti-inflammatory effects. In a study published in 2007, the extract of this herb was found to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory molecules (TNF-alpha and two interleukin subtypes. In one study, the anti-inflammatory effect of ashwagandha was comparable to taking the steroid hydrocortisone.


The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger (Zinziber officinale) have also been documented. Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory by interfering with an enzyme (cyclooxygenase) that produces inflammatory chemicals in the body. There is some data showing that ginger has a moderate beneficial effect on OA of the knee. Further research is needed to determine the extent of ginger’s effectiveness in treating OA.


The Ayurvedic herb triphala has been used in India for thousands of years for treatment of osteoarthritis. Triphala is a formulary that consists of three herbs (amalaki, haritaki, and bibhitaki). Preliminary studies show that the herbs in triphala have anti-inflammatory effects.


In addition, the herb guggulu (Commiphora guggul) has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of the enzyme NFKB, which regulates the body’s inflammatory response. There are several studies that show decreased inflammation and joint swelling after administration of extracts of guggulu resin.


Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is an Ayurvedic herb that is considered to have a soothing, cooling, and lubricating influence on the body. Studies have found that it has an inhibitory effect on chemicals that create inflammation in the body, such as TNF-alpha, and IL-1B.

The Benefits of Meditation

An important principle in Ayurveda is acknowledgment of the importance of the emotional and spiritual aspects of health and healing. Health is achieved by balancing not only the body, but mind and spirit as well. Meditation provides a way to achieve this balance. The practice of meditation also creates many physiological changes, including reduction of inflammation in the body.

Mind-body practices such as meditation have value as part of a treatment regimen for chronic pain caused by a variety of conditions. Although to date there are no studies specifically done on the effects of meditation on osteoarthritis, several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can be useful in the treatment of pain syndromes.

Yoga for Osteoarthritis

Yoga is a time-honored science for balanced living and self-realization. By integrating body, mind, and spirit with the practice of yoga, we experience physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. In addition, by bringing our attention to the present moment, we increase our body awareness, not only while practicing yoga, but also in our everyday movements.

From a physical perspective, the practice of yoga increases strength, flexibility, and balance, all of which are important for health in general and are particularly vital for those coping with osteoarthritis (OA).

When practiced regularly, gentle yoga movements not only strengthen the muscles that support the joints but also improve the flexibility of the muscles, which is more effective than just strengthening alone. Several studies have shown the benefit of stretching and increasing flexibility for people with OA in the knees.

While some exercise programs focus solely on strengthening the quadriceps muscle (an important part of most approaches to knee OA), including yoga stretches builds strength as well as increasing flexibility. One study that focused exclusively on quadriceps strengthening demonstrated that patients actually lost flexibility when they only focused on strength training. This did not occur in programs that included stretching.

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