Allopathic and Ayurvedic physicians collaborated on a study of traditional medicine, which was sponsored by the World Health Organization.
The aim of the study was to test the efficacy and safety of Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Settings and Design:
This study was conducted at the Ayurvedic Trust, Coimbatore, India.
Materials and Methods:
In this unique study of classical Ayurvedic treatment for RA, allopathic physicians enrolled a total of 290 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of RA over a 7-year period, and once every 6 weeks evaluated Ayurvedic treatment outcomes on the basis of American Rheumatism Association criteria: grip strength, walking time, number of swollen and painful joints, joint count, functional class, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and rheumatoid factor. Ayurvedic physicians administered individualized treatment, closely adhering to principles set forth in classical Ayurvedic texts. The duration of treatment varied from 1 to 6 months.
Statistical Analysis Used:
Due to limitations in computer technology in the 1970s, the data were not computerized. Therefore, data for 12 months at a time were analyzed, using repeated measures t-test. Measures of central tendency (means) and probability values were reported. Results from the patients enrolled and discharged at the end of the first year of the study (N = 33) are presented in this paper.
There was statistically significant improvement in all parameters from admission to discharge.
The results indicated that classical Ayurvedic treatment was effective in this first cohort of patients who completed treatment. Even patients with severe functional limitations showed significant improvement. Although there was no control group, the results are positive enough to warrant further study of classical Ayurvedic treatment for RA in controlled trials.
Keywords: Ayurveda, longitudinal study, rheumatoid arthritis