Arthritis, the leading cause of disability in human beings, affects daily activities and the sufferers endure severe pain and have more difficulty performing personal-care routines than people without arthritis. More than 10% of Indian population is affected with this painful disease.
Most forms of arthritis are associated with pain that can be divided into two general categories: acute and chronic. Acute pain is temporary. It can last a few seconds or longer but wanes as healing occurs. Chronic pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ranges from mild to severe and can last till lifetime.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in relieving pain in rheumatoid arthritis (Towheed and Hochberg 1997). The best-known NSAID is aspirin. As with aspirin, the side effects of other NSAIDs are potentially severe when taken at the elevated doses that are necessary to control rheumatoid arthritis pain. Recently drugs that act against inflammatory system have been developed and clinical trials are going on. For example, infliximab, an anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha drug.
Drug treatments for rheumatoid arthritis can be divided into two categories, those that treat the symptoms of pain and those that treat the inflammation. More aggressive drugs only slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Medications that treat acute rheumatoid arthritis symptoms but are not used for long-term care include corticosteroids (also known as steroids), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Medications that slow rheumatoid arthritis are called disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). This category includes a wide range of unrelated drugs that affect the body’s immune system. They are effective against rheumatoid arthritis, but also cause many serious side effects because they weaken the body’s defenses.
NSAIDs Side Effects
Ulcers, bleeding in the stomach, increased blood pressure, retention of salt and water in the body, impaired kidney function, interference with coagulation of blood etc are some of the side effects of NSAIDs.
Among the safest NSAIDs are salsalate, fenoprofen, and low-dose ibuprofen. Among the least safe appear to be ketoprofen, indomethacin, and piroxicam. DMARD The common DMARD drug used in the treatment of RA by majority of the doctors is the Methotrexate. Methotrexate is in a class of drugs known as antimetabolites; it slows the growth of certain cells in our body. Methotrexate helps control the symptoms but may not cure the disease.
Side effects from methotrexate include thinned or brittle hair, blistering skin or acne, loss of appetite or weight and can last for several hours. Mouth blistering and fatigue can also occur in many patients. As the modern medicines could only slow the progression of the disease and having several side effects, the need of the hour is plant based medications. Rheumatoid arthritis is mentioned in ancient literatures as “saravangi” and there were several formulations listed. Based on this information, and from recent publications about these plants, a formulation was developed by our research team. The plant and their extracts were carefully chosen to answer several symptoms and root cause of the disease and this include, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, immunomodulatory, nervine stimulatory, CNS depressants etc. The formulation was divided into two categories that include internal consumption and external application. The dosage and contents in the formulation was finalized after an extensive search on the toxicity of the individual plants and a toxicology study conducted by the Research Centre on the formulation, ArthoPack.