Traditional Medicine and the Treatment of Arthritis!
Traditional medicine is a comprehensive term used to refer both TM systems such as traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurveda and Arabic Unani medicine and to various forms of indigenous medicine. Use of herbal medicines is a medication therapy of TM therapies.
Herbal medicines include herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations and finished herbal products that contain as active ingredients parts of plants or other materials or combination thereof.
The traditional systems of medicines are based on the experience in the use of plant products in amelioration of common disease. A vast majority of our population, particularly those living in villages depends largely on herbal remedies, it has served as a source of alternative medicine, new pharmaceuticals and health care products.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a system with its own rich tradition and sizeable collection of data from over 3,000 years of continuous use and refinement through observation, testing and critical thinking. It encompasses many practices classified as Complementary and Alternative medicine (CAM) that include herbal medicine, acupuncture and Tai Chi/Qi Gong in the US and Europe.
However presently, only acupuncture and herbal drug therapies are practiced as major branches. TCM is widely used in China as a treatment of RA and is a major research interest of whole world in the field of CAM. Extract of Trypterigym wilfordii Hook. F has been presented for the treatment of RA since long centuries.
In India several medicinal plant having tremendous therapeutic effect have been used by Ayurvedic practitioners to cure all forms of arthritis. A review of Ayurvedic Medicine have been published explaining the core concept, therapeutic principles with reference to rheumatism and arthritis. The first recorded text available on Ayurveda is Charaka Samhita.
The fundamental principle followed in Ayurvedic treatment is Tridoshic (tri- three; dosha- biologic humor) and is classified into Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They correspond primarily to the elements of air, fire and water. These are primary physiologic forces and are considered to govern the bio-motor, metabolic and preservative activity.
In Ayurvedic practice rheumatic disorders are often described as Vat and arthritis is Sandhivat (sandhi-joint). In Ayurvedic text it is mentioned that if excess vata (one of the three doshas ,or humors) is vitiated all over the body, there is quivering and breaking pain in limbs and joints as if cracking.
If it is localized in the joints, it produces swelling that feels like an air filled bladder and produces pain on movement; this explanation is more or less similar to that of inflammatory arthritis. The pathogenesis of arthritic disorders according to ayurvedic system has been explained by ama hypothesis which attributes to the affliction of the joints to the excess accumulation of viscous substances called ama.
Some plant based ayurvedic therapies practiced since ancient times includes Boswellia serrata, Zingiber officinale, Curcuma tonga, Embellica officinalis, Tinospora cordifolia, Allium sativum, Withania sominifera, Terminalia chebula etc.
The origin of Unani medicine in Greece and it was started by Hippocrates (460-377 BC). This system of medicine was introduced by the Arabs and Iranians, sometimes it is also termed as Graco-Arab medicine. The diagnosing methods is based Nabz (pulse), a rhythmic expansion of arteries which is felt by the fingers. Baul (urine), Baraz (stool) also include the diagnosis method in Unani system of medicine.
In Unani system of medicine Rheumatoid arthritis is known as Waja- Ul- Mafasil.
Through the co-ordination of Central council for Research in Unani Medicine, New Delhi at different institutional network, a combination of oral drug UNIM-301 and an oil UNIM- 304 has been clinically investigated for rheumatoid arthritis which shows complete relief in 76% of the cases. Regimental therapy namely Hajamat (cupping) is also a popular therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (Anonymous, 2002; Ali, 2003).
Ethno medicine is the key system followed in the remote areas for treating various ailments, the literature of which is not available in any part of the world. Rather it is passing from generation to generation orally. People in the remote areas are said to suffer more from degenerative arthritis and they have their own prescriptions to treat it efficiently.
They have their own classification and number of ethno medicinal formulations to treat arthritis, which hardly match each other’s. Important is to document this precious knowledge. The gathering of information about the use of particular plants as medicine has been in progress for a least a century. Recently this documented information is made available in the Internet databases.