Ashwagandha is a multipurpose herb well known to strengthen the body physically and ease arthritis symptoms. Both the ancient Ayurvedic manuscripts and modern scientific research consider it the best remedy for Rheumatoid Arthritis (Amavata) and Osteoarthritis (Sandhi-gata Vata).1 If you’re searching for a natural alternative to conventional arthritis treatments, consider Ashwagandha for arthritis.
Today, more than 50 million American adults are suffering from arthritis. Common analgesics such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, paracetamol (acetaminophen) are used to aid in reducing symptoms. But these drugs don’t give long lasting relief.
In fact, if taken for a long period of time they can have severe side effects including stomach pain, ulceration, heartburn, allergic reactions, liver problem, kidney problems and high blood pressure. Joint replacement to alleviate arthritis has its own complications. Today, over 100 types of arthritis are known in which the most common forms are osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and rheumatoid arthritis.
Ashwagandha, due to its proven effectiveness, is a supplement of choice for arthritis.
What does the Ayurvedic classical text say about Ashwagandha?
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered a rejuvenator (Rasayana) effective in many conditions including vata-kaphaja disorders (diseases due to an imbalance of Vata and Kapha dosha) as well as inflammation (Shopha).2
Ashwagandha For Arthritis: How It Works
In Ayurveda, arthritis is linked to the gut. Due to irregular food habits, weakened digestive fire (Agni), or disturbed dosha equilibrium, toxins (Ama) are formed in the gut which affects the joints and soft tissues resulting in inflammatory and obstructive processes.3
Ashwagandha has a hot potency (Usna virya) that subsides Vata and Kapha and ignites the digestive fire (agni-deepana). As a result, nutrients reach the tissues (Dhatus) through minute channels called Srotas. It also helps in subsiding Vata dominance in old stage thereby delaying senility (Vayasthapana).4
Pharmacological Actions Of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha has significant anti-stress5, adaptogenic6, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, analgesic effects that soothe the nervous system from the pain response.7
In a study conducted on anti-arthritis activity of Ashwagandha it was observed that its analgesic action is due to the involvement of serotonin.8
Another study conducted on mice found that Ashwagandha was more effective than phenylbutazone in controlling inflammation.9 Ashwagandha also showed better results in reducing inflammation as compared to hydrocortisone.10
Patients of rheumatoid arthritis receiving Ashwagandha root powder showed excellent response. Their pain and swelling completely disappeared. A double-blind placebo controlled study, combining Ashwagandha, turmeric and zinc showed significant improvement in pain and inflammation.11
A study conducted by Nagareddy et al. in 2006 showed potent anti-osteoporotic activity of Ashwagandha.12
Besides these effects, it was also found that there is a significant improvement in hemoglobin, red blood cell count, hair melanin, and seated stature. Serum cholesterol was decreased with use of Ashwagandha and nail calcium was preserved.13
The Main Components Of Ashwagandha
Withaferin A and withanolide present in Ashwagandha has promising antibacterial, antitumor, immunomodulating14 and anti-inflammatory properties. Withaferin A and Withanolide E exhibited a specific immunosuppressive effect.15 Both of them act like estrogen and prevent net bone loss, suggesting an anti-resorptive activity. Treatment with Ashwagandha appeared to maintain normal integrity, structure and compactness of the bone.16
Withaferin A can be compared with steroids and is as effective as hydrocortisone sodium succinate dose.17
Somniferin, one of the alkaloids in Ashwagandha, has a hypnotic property which helps in relaxation and promotes sound sleep.18
Topical Use Of Ashwagandha
If applied topically in the form of a paste made from the roots and leaves with water, it effectively reduces inflammation at the joints.19
For relief of stubborn joint pain without facing other side effects, opt for Ashwagandha for arthritis, a natural anti-arthritis herb.
1,2 Dr. J.L.N.Sastry, Dravyaguna Vijnana, Study of essential Medicinal Plants in Ayurveda Vol 2, Chaukhambha Orientalia,Varanasi
3 Srikanta Murthy KR. Madhava Nidanam (roga viniscaya) of Madhavakara (Englishtranslation), Chapter 28. Delhi, India: Chaukhambia Orientalia; 1993.
4 Effect of Ashwagandha ghrita Matra vasti on knee Osteo arthiritis of elderly population, Anand Katti, www.ijrap.net.
5 Lakshmi Chandra Mishra, Betsy B. Singh, Simon Degenais B, LACC. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) a review.
6 Alternative Medicine Review 2000; 5(4) 334-3464 G. Singh, P.K. Sharma, R. Dudhe & S. Singh.Biological activities of Withania somnifera. Annuals of Biological Research, 2010, 1(3): 56-63
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Twaij HAA, Elisha EE, Khalid RM. Analgesic studies on some Iraqi medicinal plants. International Journal of Crude Research. 1989;27:109–112
8 Contributions to the pharmacodynamic study of roots of Withania somnifera Dun speciesof Pakistani origin. Note III: Testing of analgesic activity of dichlormethanic and methanolicextract from Withania somnifera roots.Sakka Mazen E, Pavelescu M, Grigorescu ERev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 1990 Oct-Dec; 94(3-4):603- 5.[PubMed] [Ref list] 9 Begum VH, Sadique J. Long term effect of herbal drug Withania somnifera on adjuvantinduced arthritis in rats. Indian J. Exp. Biol. 1988; 26(11): 877‐882
10 Comparative study of anti-inflammatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) with hydrocortisone in experimental animals (Albino rats) Dr. Kiran R Giri , ISSN 2320-3862 JMPS 2016; 4(1): 78-83.
11 Gupta GL, Rana AC. Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review. PHCOG MAGPlant Review 2007. 1(1): 129‐136.
12 Nagareddy & Lakshmana, 2006 ). (Nagareddy P. R. and Lakshmana M. 2006.“Withaniasomniferaimproves bone calcification in calcium deficient ovariectomized rats”. JPharm Pharmacol; 58(4): 513-9.)
13 Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayuvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia:Phytotherapy Press. 1996: 137-41.)
14 Budhiraja RD, Sudhir S. Review of biological activity ofwithanolides. JSIR. 1987;46:488–491
15 Kuttan G. Use of Withania somnifera Dunal as an adjuvant during radiation therapy.Indian J Exp Biol. 1996;34 (9):854-856.
16 Mishra L. C., Singh B. B., Dagenais S. 2000. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use ofWithaniasomnifera(Ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev; 5: 334-46.
17 Khare CP. Indian Medicinal Plants–An Illustrated Dictionary. First Indian Reprint,Springer (India) Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. Kirtikar KR, Basu BD. Indian Medicinal Plants 2:717-718; 2007.)
18 Ali M. Textbook of Pharmacognosy. 2nd ed. New Delhi: CBS Publishers and Distributors; 1998. p. 300-302
19 Bhandari CR. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) “Vanaushadhi Chandroday” (AnEncyclopedia of Indian Herbs) Vol. 1. Varanasi, India: CS Series of Varanasi VidyavilasPress; 1970. pp. 96–97