Rheumatic Diseases

Arthritis: Inflammation and tissue damage in the joints. The term has been applied to many types of joint diseases, not always correctly because with some types there is no real inflammation. The common factors are pain, occasionaldull-ache, sharp pain and walking painful.

Rheumatism: A painful disorder of joints or muscles not directly due to infection or injury. This rather ill-defined group includes rheumatic fever (acute rheumatism), rheumatoid arthritis, osteo-arthritis, gout, and “fibrositis” -itself an ill-defined group of disorders in which pain felt in muscles is the common factor.

Rheumatoid-arthritis: A chronic disease of connective tissue, commoner in women than men. The characteristic feature is a small knot or nodule of unflamed fibrous tissue; these tender nodules are often just under the skin. Any organ may on occasion be affected, but most of the symptoms arise from inflammation of the fibrous connective tissue around joints. Any joint may be affected but the knuckle-joints and wrists tend to suffer most.

The course of the disease varies widely. In most cases the inflammation occurs without doing much damage; though further attacks are possible less often a sort of grumpling inflammation persists and the affected joints are stiffened by damage to their linings of smooth cartilage. In severe cases joints may become crippled. This is partly due to direct damage to the joint linings, and partly to the action of muscles around the joint. The muscles over
any seat of inflammation tighten as a defensive reaction, and when this happens around damaged joint, the joint may in time be deformed or even dislocated.

In rare cases, rheumatoid arthritis takes the form of a generalized feverish illness like a protracted attack of rheumatic fever.

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. There is evidence that it may be an instance of auto-immunity i.e., of a sustained allergic reaction to some component of the patient’s own tissues. Physical and emotional stresses play some part in setting off attacks, and there may also be hereditory factors. The immediate damage for joints is probably due to the release of destructive enzymes from inflammed cells, and some research is directed at the source of these. Rheumatoid arthritis is not likely to be completely
curable until more is known of its causes, but much can be done to alleviate it.

Osteo-arthritis: Degeneration of joints, with some loss of the almost frictionless cartilage linings and formation of rough deposits of bone. Since there is inflammation, “Osteo arthritis” is the better term. It is one of the seemingly inevitable processes of ageing, affecting mainly the joints subject to most wear and tear from weight-bearing-those of the legs and spine. Joints that have been subjected to abnormal stresses by faulty posture, injury or deformity
are especially vulnerable and may develop osteo-arthritis before middle age. There are discomfort or pain, and limitation of movement due to this disease.

Gout: A chemical disease with precipitation of uric acid crystal in the tissues. Most of the symptoms are caused by crystals around joints, often single joints.

There are numerous sources of the uric acid in the body. It is a break-down product of nucleic acid, an essential component of all living matter. All foods contain some. The highest concentrations are in animal products such as kidney and liver, and vegetable seeds such as peas (kesariki-dal is one of the pea species that causes crippling joint disease). A more important source than the diet is the regular break-down of the body’s own cells; and uric acid is also synthesised from ammonia formed in the body. In a healthy person the concentration in the blood and tissue fluids is kept to about 0.02 percent by excreting any excess in the urine. The solubility of uric acid is about 0.06 per cent. Above this level, crystal may be precipitated and gout develops. The excess could arise in three ways; too much in diet, too much synthesised in the body, and too little excreted by the kidneys. Unfortunately diet is usually the least important, otherwise gout could be controlled simply by cutting out unsuitable food. Oversynthesis, due to an inherited biochemical anomaly, is much more significant. Defective exeretion may arise from a similar fault, and also gout is occasionally a complication of kidney disease.

A classic attack of gout begins without warning, often middle of the night. A single joint, proverbially at the base of the big toe, is suddenly inflammed and extremely painful. After a day or two the symptoms vanish, but the attack may be repeated at any time, not necessarily in the same joint. Injury predisposes a joint to gout. A bout of heavy drinking can set off an attack by interfering with the excretion of uric acid, but as often as not there is no evident reason for the attack to start.

After many attacks a joint can become permanently deformed, with large deposits of uric acid in the bones e.g., of the knuckles.

Although the main symptoms arise from affected joints, the real danger of gout is damage to the kidneys by uric acid crystals, which can ultimately lead to a condition like Bright’s disease (disorder of kidney) associated with retention of water in the body and loss of protein in the urine followed by nephritis (inflammed kidneys). Untreated gout is also associated with degeneration of arteries and its complications.

Many plants are available for the management of joint’s diseases.

Role of Plants

  1. Colchicum luteum, BakerFamily : LiliaceaeNames : Hindi – Harantutiya

    Sanskrit – Hiranyatutha

    English – Golden Collyrium

    Punjabi – Surinjan-e-talkh

Urdu – Suranjanetalkh

Description: An annual herb; corms brownish in colour, almost conical in shape, with one side flat, the other roundish. Leaves narrow but broader towards the tip, inceasing in size as the plant approaches fruiting stage, 15-30 cm long, 0.8-1.5 cm broad. Flowers large, 2.5-4 cm diameter, 7-10 cm long, yellow. Fruits 2.5-4 cm long, their beaks recurved.

Distribution: Plant is found in Himalayas 700 to 2,800 altitude, usually in outskirts of forest or in open grassy places. Available in Market on Ayurvedic or Unani/ Homoeopathic shops.

Parts used: Corms and seeds.

Properties: Alterant, carminative, laxative, aphrodisiac,

Phytochemicals: Alkaloid-colchicine of dried corm and

Forms of use: Powder (125 to 300 mg) and extract (25 to 30 mg).

Medicinal Uses

The fresh corms of the plant collected before its flowering season constitute the drug colchicum corm and the ripe dried seeds, the drug colchicum seed.

The corms contain the active principle colchicine, it is useful in pains and inflammation of gout. Clinical experiment with colchicum in small doses over a long period have shown success in about sixty per cent of patients. It is also applied externally in paste to reduce swelling and pain.

Its other uses are in the diseases of liver and spleen.

2. Boswellia serrata, Roxb.

Family: Burseraceae

Names : Hindi – Luban

Sanskrit – Shallaki

English – Indian olibanum

Bengali – Salaidhoopa

Gujarati – Dhupro

Tamil – Parangi saambraani

Trade name – Salaigonda, Salai, guggul

Description: Bark thick and aromatic leaves look like neem leaves. Flowers small, its aromatic and white. Fruit contains single compressed seed. When its bark is cut, a secretion exudes which becomes gum-like after exposure to air. The drug consists of oleo-gum resin. The material sometimes occurs as lumps of agglutinated tears.

Distribution: Mountainous tracks of central India. Bihar, Orissa and North Gujarat etc.

Parts used: Bark and gum.

Properties: Refrigerant, diuretic, demulcent, aperient
alterant and emmenagogue.

Phytochemicals: Gum, aromatic, oil, resin and

Forms of use: Gum resin and bark decoction.

Medicinal Uses

A paste made of the gum resin with coconut oil or lemon juice is applied over indolent swellings and in rheumatism.

Its other uses are in skin diseases, cystic breast, lung diseases, gonorrhoea, piles etc.

3. Apium graveolens. Linn

Family : Umbelliferae

Names : Hindi – Ajmoda

Sanskrit – Ajmoda

English – Celery

Gujarati – Ajamoda

Bengali – Randhuni

Kannada – Ajamoda voma

Marathi – Ajamoda vova

Tamil – Asham taagam

Trade name – Ajamoda

Description: It is biennial erect herb about 2 to 3 ft high. Leaves pinnate, arising from the roots, the fruit is small about 1mm long and 1mm in diameter and contains minute seeds.

Distribution: Found at the base of the north western Himalayas and outlying hills in the Punjab and in Western India.

Parts used: Root and seeds.

Properties: Tonic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant and antirheumatic.

Phytochemicals: Glycosides, terpenes, furocoumarins and volatile oil besides minerels and vitamin A and C.

Forms of use: Seed powder.

Medicinal Uses

It has been successfully employed in rheumatoid arthritis.

Its other uses are as diuretic, stomachic, aphrodisiac and tonic. As antispasmodic, it is used in bronchitis and asthma.

Other Useful Plants

  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (Mulathee)– It is powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and various inflammatory conditions.
  • Yanda roxbughil (Rasna)– Its root is used against inflammation, rheumatic pains and tremors.
  • Piper longum (Lal-mirch)– It is very useful in gout, rheumatism and lumbago.
  • Mentha piperita (Vilayati Podina)– Peppermint oil obtained from it is used in medicine for rheumatic and other pains.
  • Gaultheria fragrantissima (Gandhpura-ka-tel)– It is also called oil of winter green, used in treatment of various forms of rheumatism.
  • Ricinus communis (Arandi)– Its half warmed leaves are applied on joints to relieve pain (It is for better results-apply warm mustard oil over the joints and cover it with Arandi leaves, keep doing it for 10-15 days for complete relief).


Ayurvedic : Vatreene Tablet

Mahanarayan Taila

Prasarini Taila

Unani medicines : Majoon Suranjan

Majoon Auja

Majoon Chobchini

Homeopathic : Rhustox 30 and Arnica 30 (alternatewith 2 hr gap)

Rhustox complex

Ledum complex (Gout)