The first-ever study of Ayurveda in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis was conducted in collaboration with Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the Ayurvedic Trust, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. This study was sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) for a period of 7 years from 1977 to 1984.

The sample consisted of 290 patients (61% women, 39% men) in the age group of 15 to 60 years with the disease duration ranging from less than 6 months to more than 5 years and functional class 1 to 4.

Functional class

Characteristics

1

Can carry out activities independently

2

Limited motion in one or more joints

3

Limited to very little duties of self-care

4

Incapacitated or bed-ridden

Patients were tested on the below parameters:

  • Grip strength
  • Walking time
  • Number of Swollen and Painful Joint
  • Joint count
  • Functional class
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Rheumatoid factor

The treatment was administered by Ayurvedic physicians closely adhering to the principles of classical Ayurveda texts.  It included several pharmacological dosage forms of internal herbal medicines like Kashayam, Arishtam, Gulika, Lehyam, Choornam etc, specialised oil therapies (Sneha-Sweda); purificatory therapies (panchakarma chikitsa), medical enema(vasti), therapeutic purgation(Virechana), external application of analgesic herbal pastes (lepam), medicated oils (Tailam) and dietary and lifestyle modifications.

There were clear indications after Ayurveda treatment:

  1. Patients in functional areas 3 and 4 improved more than those in 1 and 2.
  2. Those with a shorter history of Rheumatoid arthritis improved more than those with a long history.
  3. There was no evidence of liver, renal, or other toxicity due to Ayurvedic treatment.

 

Conclusions

Ayurveda has been recognized by WHO as a complete system of natural medicine.

Classical Ayurveda uses an individualized, holistic treatment and can treat chronic and complex diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis in patients irrespective of gender, age, functional status, and disease duration and the outcomes measured by rigorous allopathic criteria were significant and positive.

While Ayurveda Physicians can prescribe any combination of medicines or therapies based on their clinical judgment, they must adhere to the principles laid down in the texts.

Though Allopathic treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis is improving, remission remains rare and treatment remains unsatisfactory. Hence Ayurveda with these proven results should be the treatment to go for.

Ayurvedic texts are well documented and the treatments and outcomes are recorded meticulously which allows for quantitative analysis of the Ayurvedic outcomes. Ayurvedic Physicians are now able to see a pattern such as patients of a certain constitution is more prone to developing the disease.

With similarities in the allopathic and classical Ayurvedic diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis, one can conclude that there is scientific proof for the efficacy of Ayurveda in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.