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Ayurveda Takes Diet and Lifestyle Approach to Arthritis

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are different diagnoses—one is worn and tears on the joints; the other is an autoimmune dysfunction—but Ayurveda takes the same general approach to both: dietary modifications, herbal remedies, detoxification, and lifestyle counseling with meditation and therapeutic yoga. Treatment specifics are based on the individual’s body constitution or dosha, says Dr. Somesh N Kaushik, Ayurvedic, and naturopathic physician. 

Doshas are unique combinations of elements found in nature: pitta (fire/water); Vata (air/space); and Kapha (earth/water). When these elements are out of balance, illness results, Kaushik says. Ayurveda identifies arthritis as an imbalance in the Vata dosha, which controls movement—circulation, blood flow, breathing, elimination of wastes—and pain sensitivity.

“Imbalance results in stagnation and a buildup of toxins, which leads to inflammation, pain, and discomfort,” Kaushik says. 

Ayurveda’s aim is to discover the root cause of an issue, beginning with diet and digestion. If the diet is poor or digestion weak, toxins build up in the joints and tissues, inhibiting function and mobility, Kaushik says. If the body can’t eliminate toxins, they cause a never-ending cycle of inflammation and pain. 

Panchakarma, Ayurveda’s signature detox program, removes embedded toxins while improving circulation and relaxing the nervous system, Kausha says. It’s complemented by anti-inflammatory foods that aid digestion and are easily assimilated. In general, choose cooked vegetables, whole grains, and fruits over heavy, oily, rich, fatty, or raw foods; plant- or nut-based drinks or yogurt over dairy products; and warm or room-temperature water over cold, which restricts circulation. The preferred herbal supplements—including cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, ginger, and turmeric—are warming but not spicy, as hot spices aggravate inflammation.

Because a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to arthritis, Kaushik recommends gentle exercise like yoga, tai chi, swimming, or walking. To keep the mind and body in balance, he suggests establishing a routine for eating, sleeping, and working, as well as a regular meditation to reduce stress and pain.

Dr. Kaushik’s Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Clinic is located at 792 Rte. 35, Cross River, NY. The clinic is open Monday through Friday. To reach the clinic, call 914.875.9088; for telemedicine, call 646.670.6725. For more info, email [email protected] or visit


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