What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is known to affect an individual’s quality of life similar to other chronic diseases like depression, hypertension, myocardial infarction, etc. Psoriasis is a type of chronic autoimmune skin disorder that is known to affect around 2% of the population and the stats are almost the same in the whole world. Psoriasis can affect a person’s life at any stage whether a child, adult, or even the old age people. Various studies indicate that Psoriasis affects mostly men when compared to women. The exact etiology behind Psoriasis is still unknown, but the major predisposing factor of psoriasis is known to be a genetic inheritance. Other factors may include lifestyle choices like alcohol consumption, stress, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, smoking, excessive weight, inflammatory bowel disease, and the use of certain medications like corticosteroids.
Psoriasis is not a life-threatening or contagious disease, but it may cause detrimental side effects by impacting your life both physically and psychologically. Suffering from psoriasis can make you feel embarrassed and depressed to face the crowd, thus cutting you out from the social interaction. It is estimated that around 2-3% of the U.S population suffers from some type of psoriasis and its prevalence rate is considerably higher in western countries compared to Asian countries.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that is classified under auto-immune disorder. It is characterized by abnormal growth of skin cells that leads to piling up of the underlying skin cells. The symptoms of psoriasis include flaking, redness, itching, irritation, and inflammation of the skin. Psoriasis can affect an individual’s skin either in a small area or can affect the whole body. There are different types of psoriasis that include Plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type, Guttate Psoriasis, Flexural (inverse) psoriasis, generalized pustular psoriasis, Erythroderma, Palmoplantar pustulosis (affects the palms and soles) and Psoriatic nail disease
The exact etiology behind Psoriasis is still unknown; however, some major factors that can cause Psoriasis may include genetic inheritance, lifestyle habits like alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, sedentary lifestyle, certain food habits, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and use of certain medications like corticosteroids.
There are many Western or conventional medicines available today that offer treatment for psoriasis like topical therapy, phototherapy, and systemic therapy. Psoriasis is well known for its course of remissions, and treatment through modern medical science is associated with serious side effects like bone marrow depletion, liver failure, and kidney failure. psoriasis treatment in Ayurveda is found to be effective and most preventive, which can help in the successful remission of Psoriasis with negligible side effects.
What causes Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory disorder that affects the skin and nails. It is marked by patches of thick, red skin covered with silvery scales that occur primarily on the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp. Although not life-threatening, it can be painful and cause psychological and emotional distress. Psoriasis occurs when the immune system mistakes the skin cells as a pathogen and sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells.
Acharya Charak has described the involvement of Vata and Kapha in Ekkushtha. Accumulation of Toxins or Ama could also lead to this condition. The following four factors are responsible for Psoriasis as described in Ayurveda:
Viruddha Ahara, (Opposite Diet)
Mithya Ahara, (Improper Diet)
Mithya Vihara, (Improper Lifestyle)
Adrista Hetu, (Unknown Cause)
Other factors include mental stress, Viruddha Aahar, excessive Intake of yogurt, seafood, salty foods, black gram, sour and spicy foods, fermented foods, fine flour, fast foods, and frozen food.
Ayurvedic view of Psoriasis
Ayurvedic literature describes Psoriasis as an imbalance between two basic energies of the human body called Vata and Kapha. Vitiated Doshas can cause accumulation of toxins in deeper tissues like lymphatic tissue, blood, plasma, and muscles. These toxins in turn act as triggering factors that lead to psoriasis of the skin.
All the skin diseases are broadly classified under ‘Kushta Roga’ in Ayurveda. One of these Kushta Rogas in ‘Eka Kushta’ whose symptoms can be correlated with Psoriasis. Before going deep into the diet and regimen to control psoriasis let’s look at the characteristic features of Eka Kushta.
Causative Factors/Nidana for Eka Kushta
• Excess intake of garlic and radish (Mulaka)
• Virudha Ahara or incompatible food intake, especially the intake of fish and milk together or meat of animals residing in marshy land along with milk
• Excessive intake of long pepper or Solanum nigrum popularly called as Kakamachi in Ayurveda along with curd
• Intake of millets and grains along with curd, buttermilk, oil, etc.
• Vega Dharana or suppression of natural urges
• Excessive intake of honey, molasses, fried foods, salty and sour food, etc.
If you look at the above causative factors, you might notice that most of the causative factors for Eka Kushta are improper diet. In addition, Karma Phala or bad deeds of past life have also been mentioned as a cause for Kushta.
When you constantly get exposed to the above causative factors, there will aggravation of all the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (Predominantly Vata & Kapha) and they further vitiate the Tissues like Tvak (Skin), Rakta (Blood), Mamsa (Flesh), and Lasika (Plasma). This can lead to the manifestation of skin lesions in different parts of the body.
Premonitory signs and symptoms of Psoriasis as per Ayurveda
• Increased/Decreased perspiration
• Dryness and roughness of skin
• Discoloration and Itching of skin
• Fatigue or tiredness
• Burning & Pricking sensation over the skin
At a later stage, patient experiences reduced perspiration, scaling, and extended skin lesions, discoloration, and blackening of the lesions.
Anyone can develop psoriasis, but these factors can increase the risk of developing the disease:
–Family history. Perhaps the most significant risk factor for psoriasis is genetic. About 40 percent of people with psoriasis have a family member with the disease, although this may be an underestimate.
–Viral and bacterial infections. People with HIV are more likely to develop psoriasis than people with healthy immune systems.
– Stress: Because stress can impact the immune system, high-stress levels may increase the risk of psoriasis.
– Obesity: Excess weight increases the risk of inverse psoriasis. In addition, plaques associated with all types of psoriasis often develop in skin creases and folds.
– Smoking: Smoking tobacco not only increases the risk of psoriasis but also may increase the severity of the disease. Smoking may also play a role in the initial development of the disease
See: dosha shaman
Psoriasis treatment in Ayurveda
What are the common Ayurvedic treatments for Psoriasis?
Ayurvedic treatment for Psoriasis aims to treat the condition by detoxifying your body, through maintaining a balance between the two bio-energies Vata and Kapha Dosha. It also suggests following some strict lifestyle and dietary changes along with pranayama. Ayurvedic therapy like Panchakarma is the most suited treatment for psoriasis that aims to cleanse and detoxify your body to deeper tissue level. The procedure involves Vamana, Rakta moksha, and Virechana that together help to purge your whole body through vomiting and detoxifying it through a herbal remedy. Most of the patients today are going for Panchakarma treatment not only for psoriasis but to get treated with other disorders as well.
Psoriasis Treatment in Ayurveda is based on the following:
-Panchakarma treatment for the management of Psoriasis; especially Vamana and Virechana in the case of Scalp Psoriasis. Shirodhara with proper oils Is also a very effective treatment.
-Oral Ayurveda Medicine
-Yoga And Meditation to relieve mental stress
Ayurveda aims to restore and maintain skin health by targeting the different layers of the skin. Rasayana drugs along with Diet modification can bring miraculous results in people suffering from various skin disorders. Some of the diet modifications include consuming a diet rich in wheat, pulses like brown beans, pigeon peas, old barley, red lentils, honey, bottle gourd, Neem, garlic, Ghrita and Tikta, and bitter herbal juices.
Clinical trials have proved that Ayurveda therapy in the form of “Rasayana drugs” and certain dietary modifications can be an effective treatment for all dermatological related issues. Ayurvedic treatment aims to cleanse the toxic materials from all the body tissues and bring harmony in all the body fluids providing long-lasting effects.
Ayurvedic formulations like Wrightia Antidysenterica, Navayasa Rasayana Leha, and Dhatryadhyo lepa which can be consumed or applied externally on the skin can treat psoriasis. Also, various other Rasayana drugs with some modification in the diet can promote longevity and maintain the optimal health of an individual helping them fight all the skin-related disorders.
Clinical studies that involve Ayurveda for the treatment of Psoriasis have proven that making necessary changes to your diet and detoxifying your body through natural herbal remedies can help maintain a balance between the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). Ayurveda aims to treat patient psoriasis without a patient noticing any side effects.
Research of Ayurveda in Psoriasis Management
1. A clinical case study, named Clinical efficacy of Shodhana Karma and Shamana Karma in Mandala Kushtha (Psoriasis) 1.has proved that Panchakarma treatment for Psoriasis can bring marked improvement in patients suffering from psoriasis.
The study involved 40 patients suffering from clinical symptoms of psoriasis. All the patients were randomly divided into four groups, each group containing 10 patients. The groups divided, received different treatments which included
Group A – patients were treated with Vamana and Virechana once during the trial period.
Group B – In this group, Vamana and Virechana was done along with Dermo-care solution 5 g twice a day for a period of 2 months.
Group C – Received Dermo-care treatment only.
Group D – was treated with Neotrexate (Methotrexate) 7.5 mg/week
After completing the treatment, the patients were clinically assessed for various symptoms of psoriasis.
And the results showed significant improvement in the PASI score who received Vamana and Virechana therapy followed by Dermo-care. Whereas, the remaining groups showed only mild to moderate effect.
2. A clinical study named Ayurvedic compound drugs in the assessment quality of life of patients with Eka Kushtha (psoriasis).2. This clinical study has proved that Ayurveda for psoriasis can be one of the most preventive, preservative, and rehabilitative therapy for treating various diseases.
This clinical case study involved a total of 111 patients who were divided into two groups where one group received Navayasa Rasayana Leha and Dhatryadhyo lepa for external application on the skin. Whereas, the other group received Medhya Rasayana drugs, along with the external application of Dhatryadhyo lepa. The duration of the treatment was 3 months followed by one month of follow up.
After completing the treatment for 3 months, the clinical assessment was carried out where the patients in both the groups reported equally good results like improvement in their quality of life in terms of Dermatology life quality index and Psoriasis disability index.
3. A controlled test was carried out to measure the clinical efficacy of Shodhana Karma and Shamana Karma in Mandala Kushtha (Psoriasis) in India. Results observed were encouraging with a positive outcome in remission of the condition.
4. Another study was undertaken to understand and efficacy of Parangichakkai chooranam (PC), a Siddha oral herbal formulation for Psoriasis treatment. It was considered a safe herbal remedy as per the experiment undertaken in India.
Real world outcomes from PCOS / PCOD patients
1. A 36-year-old female presented with Psoriasis Vulgaris was found to be suffering from a severe erythematic plaque on the thighs, below lower back, and on breasts with a PASI score of 42. She couldn’t find much relief from the modern medical treatments and found her condition to be recurrent and worse. She wanted to undergo ayurvedic treatment and upon consulting with an ayurvedic specialist she was admitted to the hospital. During her treatment, she was administered with internal and external therapies, Shodhana therapies, and Thuvaraka Rasayana for around 43 days.
At the end of the study, various histopathological studies and PASI scoring concluded that all the symptoms were considerably reduced, and the lesions disappeared completely. The PASI score was found to be reduced from 42 to almost zero when followed up with the patient after treatment.
This concluded that treatment through Thuvaraka Rasayana has found to have a definite role in the successful remission of psoriasis.
2. Similarly, in another case study, the ayurvedic formulation has shown considerable results in treating Psoriasis. A case study published in the Thuvaraka Rasayana regimen in Psoriasis Vulgaris – A case report. .
Ayurvedic home remedies for Psoriasis
Ayurvedic home remedies for Psoriasis and general suggestions are listed below:
– Natural Aloe Vera juice must be taken from Aloe Vera and not from processed sources. Aloe Vera is good in reducing the symptoms of inflamed skin in Psoriasis as the fibers in Aloe Vera help not only with skin problems but also helps to detoxify the whole body, It helps to cool down the system and cleanse the blood and get rid of toxins.
– Another good and suitable cure for Psoriasis can be bathing in seawater regularly. Seawater also helps to relieve itching and pain.
– Bath with Epsom Salt: Add 1/2 a cup of Epsom salt in a bathtub filled with warm water and soak your body in it. It helps to get relief from Itching and pain caused by Psoriasis as well as from inflammation.
– An alkaline diet is recommended in Psoriasis patients, According to Ayurveda, it is an imbalance of fire energy. Consuming food rich in acids or consuming an acidic diet is not at all recommended. All fruits except citrus are recommended.
– Avoid acidic foods like frozen food, packaged food, refined flour food, sour fruits like lemons. Also avoid yogurt, non-vegetarian diet, alcohol as they are considered hot or acidic in nature. Avoid soft drinks as they contain carbon dioxide, which is another toxin for the body.
– Coconut water is one of the most effective home remedies for Psoriasis.
– Take fresh cabbage leaves and apply them over the affected skin. This is also one of the very effective home remedies for Psoriasis.
– Applying olive oil mixed with virgin coconut oil is recommended for massing the patches of psoriasis. This is a wonderful natural treatment for psoriasis as virgin coconut oils contain mega-chain fatty acids and is considered one of the best anti Inflammatory agents that can help to reduce inflammation and itching. coconut oil is the best natural moisturizer for patients of Psoriasis.
– Soak up the sunlight after applying virgin coconut oil that provides Vitamin D and E.
– Yoga: Ayurveda does emphasize the effect of stress in Psoriasis as this condition can be reclusive for the patient on the social front. Additional stress can be controlled by practicing Yoga and Pranayama in the morning.
– Ayurveda Panchakarma Treatment under qualified Ayurveda Physician, as Shodhan(Detoxification) of the body, is the best line of treatment for Psoriasis patients.
Numerous clinical studies have proven that Ayurveda can treat patient psoriasis without a patient noticing any side effects. Ayurveda believes in treating psoriasis condition by purifying the body through natural herbal remedies and maintaining a natural harmony among all the body fluids. There are many pieces of research that prove Ayurveda treatment may be able to treat psoriasis, but it still lacks evidence-based medical dermatology research data. More research needs to be carried out on a large scale population to understand the efficacy of numerous ayurvedic herbs in treating psoriasis. Today, most of the dermatologists combine integrative approaches which include herbal products, minerals, dietary modifications, and stress management techniques, to provide the best outcomes to their patients.
There are many pieces of research that prove Ayurveda treatment like panchakarma is able to treat psoriasis through different aspects. Panchakarma offers holistic treatment that includes purely herbal originated internal and external medications that have proven to reduce the severity of psoriasis if taken strictly. Similarly, my client has also followed the Panchakarma treatment to find effective and satisfactory results in getting rid of psoriasis.