By Vedika Global Anchor Teacher Vaidya Abhijit Jinde, B.A.M.S.
Ayurveda believes that all disease and afflictions are caused by an imbalance in an individual’s prakriti, or “physical and mental constitution.” Ayurveda’s approach is to put the client back into balance by recommending changes in diet and lifestyle, and for more advanced cases, herbal formulations and other treatments may be necessary.
This type of approach looks beyond addressing a single symptom and seeks instead to heal the whole person. In this way, Ayurvedic treatment often benefits a client in multiple ways, as observed in the following case study.
Knee Pain Case Study
CLIENT BACKGROUND AND SYMPTOMS
A 65-year-old woman came into my office with a wobbling, shaky gait, holding onto whatever she could to make it from the door to a chair. She was experiencing excruciating knee pain, which had been going on for the past five years. She was also overweight.
X-rays confirmed my suspicion that the client was suffering from an advanced case of osteoarthritis. Deterioration to the structure of the knee joint and a lack of synovial fluid, which keeps the knee lubricated were causing significant friction in the joint, resulting in debilitating pain.
After speaking with the client at length about her diet, lifestyle, and personal history, it became clear that many of her activities were contributing to an imbalance in her prakriti, mainly an excess of the vata dosha (one of the three bio-psychic forces that make up an individual’s prakriti). The vata dosha is made up of air and ether and is known for its qualities of dryness and roughness. Vata is seated in the large intestine, so the first signs of excess vata in the body are typically gas and constipation, which impair our ability to metabolize food and absorb nutrients properly.
When vata continues to increase, it moves to other vata sites such as the joints, where it can “dry up” the synovial fluids that keep things moving smoothly, causing pain, inflammation and cracking. Let’s look at some of the factors contributing to an excess of vata in the client.
The client ate on an irregular schedule, frequently skipping meals, and eating biscuits with tea in place of a full meal. She ate tur dal (yellow lentils) daily and admitted to snacking on bakery products and dry toast every afternoon.
All of these dry foods are known to aggravate vata. In conjunction with the irregularity of her meal schedule, her digestion was being compromised, resulting in the constipation, gas, and acidity she was experiencing.
The client worked on her feet for 4-6 hours per day without breaks, putting a significant strain on her knee joint.
She also had a tendency to worry excessively, which was exacerbated by the increasing intensity of the pain. Such worrying creates a constant motion in the mind, which also aggravates vata.
To address the knee pain, we must first correct the digestion. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that wears down the bones and cartilage. We can provide herbal formulas to help rebuild some of the degeneration, but at this point, it would not be effective. For if we are not metabolizing nutrients in our digestion, nor will our bones be able to metabolize nutrients from the herbal formulas.
To improve digestion and ultimately restore health to the knee, our treatment will be directed at repairing the imbalance by reducing vata and increasing the kapha dosha (another one of the three bio-psychic forces that make up an individual’s prakriti). Kapha, made up of the earth and water elements, is known for promoting lubrication, stability, and tissue-building in the body.
Following are some of the main recommendations I made to re-balance this client’s prakriti.
Diet: I advised the client to eliminate those vata-aggravating foods, such as bakery products, biscuits, dry toast, and tur dal. I asked her to replace these with kapha-increasing foods such as black raisins, at least 2 teaspoons of cow’s ghee, and one glass of spiced milk per day.
In addition to these specific foods, I advised her to eat meals at regularly scheduled times every day. This helps the agni, or digestive fire, to work more efficiently at breaking down foods for optimal absorption of nutrients.
Lifestyle: To give her knee joint some relief, I recommended that the client take small breaks and change her physical position throughout her work day by sitting part of the day on a chair and then part of the day sitting on a low stool with crossed legs.
I also advised her to start taking short walks outside during the day to keep the knee moving and to ensure she was getting some Vitamin D from the sun to help regenerate some of the bone loss.
Herbal Oils and Formulations: A daily massage of the knee with a special herbal oil formulation inspired from the original scriptures was also advised. I also prescribed a daily herbal formulation to improve bone metabolism. This formulation contains Guggul, a plant native to India, whose gum resin has been used successfully in Ayurvedic treatment of arthritis for centuries.
At her 4-month follow up appointment, the client entered my office visibly changed. Her knee pain was 75-80% gone. She was walking without need of support and was able to do all of her daily activities without pain.
But because we healed the imbalance, not just the knee pain, the treatment bestowed additional benefits. The client’s digestion had improved tremendously. She reported regular bowels and little gas or acidity. In this way, Ayurveda was able to address the root causes of this client’s problems, and much to her surprise, she even lost 20 lbs. in four months.
About Abhijit Jinde, B.A.M.S.
Vaidya Abhijit Jinde is an Ayurvedic practitioner, an Anchor Faculty Member of Vedika Global, and head of the department of Panchakarma. He earned his Ayurvedacharya degree (B.A.M.S.) from Pune University and his Ayurveda Vachaspati (M.D. in Ayurveda) from Gopalbandhu Ayurveda Mahavidyalay in Puri, where he specialized in Kayachikitsa (Internal Medicine), with a focus on skin diseases. A practicing Ayurvedic physician since 2002, Vaidya Abhijit Jinde is director of his own private Panchakarma clinic in Pune — Sukhayu Ayurveda Clinic — where he specializes in computer-related disorders, spine and knee care, and lifestyle diseases. He is also a specialty consultant for skin diseases, diabetes and digestive care at Vishwanand Kendra, a Yoga Ayurveda Naturotherapy Clinic in Pune, where he heads a Panchakarma Therapist Course affiliated with the Mumbai Vocational Board of Government of Maharashtra. Currently, Vaidya Abhijit is developing a unique research project on diabetes prevention using classical Ayurvedic principles to understand the role of specific aspects of diet, lifestyle, occupation, prakriti (physiological constitution), and the impact of Panchakarma on prevention, as well as better management of diabetes.