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  • Healing Itchy Rashes Naturally: Ayurvedic Insights On Hives

    Healing Itchy Rashes Naturally: Ayurvedic Insights On Hives

    The Ayurveda Experience August 30, 2023

    In the ever-evolving landscape of modern living, our lifestyles have taken a whirlwind turn. The rise of environmental pollutants, unhealthy dietary habits, the relentless grind at work, and the constant undercurrent of anxiety have collectively contributed to the unsettling of the delicate balance within us, leading to the disruption of tridosha. One result of this disharmony is the emergence of various health issues, and a prominent one among them is skin disorders. Skin problems have become so ubiquitous that they account for a staggering 34% of all occupational diseases1. Dermatitis, Eczema, Acne, Urticaria, Psoriasis – the list goes on, each necessitating prolonged medical attention.

    This is where the age-old wisdom of Ayurveda steps in. This ancient science of holistic well-being encompasses these concerns under the term "kustha”. Interestingly, there are instances where certain allergic reactions – the kind that lead to a maddeningly itchy, fiery-red rashes all over the body – are not classified as kustha. Instead, they are referred to as "shitapitta," "udarda," or "kotha." Although different in nomenclature, they share a common trait: a never-ending itchiness that can drive anyone up the wall.  

    The similar symptoms of urticaria and sheetapitta suggest a correlation between these two conditions. The term "sheetapitta" is formed by combining "sheeta" and "Pitta," denoting cold and warm respectively. This ailment arises due to an elevated Pitta dosha that overpowers the Kapha and Vata doshas. In this context, Pitta represents the qualities of heat, while Kapha signifies cold attributes.

    Compared to urticaria or hives in modern science, they often start as bouts of itching, but can persist for days, weeks, or even months if left unchecked. But in the world of Ayurveda, the approach is different – it's about not just alleviating the symptoms but restoring the balance. 

    Common symptoms of hives

    • Itching
    • Burning/stinging sensation
    • Wheals/bumps can appear anywhere in the body
    • Sometimes small bumps join together to form plaques

    Types Of urticaria according to modern science2

      Acute utricaria/hives:These last less than 6 weeks. Common symptoms include - skin itching, elevated welts or lumps on the skin, which might appear reddish on lighter skin tones. Hives undergo blanching (the central area becomes pale when pressure is applied), beneath-the-skin swelling leading to puffiness (angioedema). Additionally, they can manifest as distressing swelling of the lips, eyes, and the interior of the throat.

      Chronic utricaria/hives: Chronic hives and acute hives may share several similarities: both can be characterized by itchy, elevated welts that exhibit a lighter center upon applying pressure. However, chronic hives possess the following distinguishing features:

      They can change in size and form. These hives can manifest, vanish, and subsequently reappear, occurring at least every few days for extended durations, spanning even months or years. They might occur concurrently with exposure to heat, physical exertion, or stress.

      Physical utricaria: These are caused by the direct physical stimulation of the skin in response to extreme cold/heat, sweating, and others.  

      Ayurveda’s opinion on hives

      Sheetapitta arises when all three doshas are imbalanced. The affected tissues in this disorder are mainly rakta (blood tissue) and rasa (plasma). Interestingly, the term "sheetapitta" stems from two Sanskrit words: "sheeta" meaning cold and "pitta" signifying heat. This disorder specifically occurs due to the dominance of Pitta dosha over Vata and Kapha doshas. 

      In essence, sheetapitta puts forward an intricate interplay of doshas in Ayurveda, and understanding its dynamics can offer insights into both its origin and potential remedies. 

      Causative factors as per Ayurveda3

      • Overindulgence in spicy and salty foods
      • Intake of sour soups and incompatible food combinations
      • Midday sleeping
      • Abrupt exposure to cold surroundings
      • Confronting cold winds or cold water unexpectedly
      • Insect bites
      • Harmful insects, microbial interactions, and allergenic substances
      • Influence of shifts in seasons and environmental elements

      Due to any of the above-said causative factors, the Vata and Kapha dosha get aggravated and get mixed up with Pitta. 

      Furthermore, the vitiated dosha spreads over the body and lodges in the external surface beneath the skin. This causes pale reddish eruptions with intense itching and stinging. 

      Prevention Guidelines3

      • Opt for a balanced diet and avoid excessive intake of sour, salty, and spicy foods, as well as fast food and junk food
      • Limit your consumption of curd and pickles
      • Minimize prolonged exposure to air conditioning
      • Wear clothing with full sleeves for added protection
      • Be cautious about excessive traveling
      • Be mindful of your sleep schedule, avoiding late nights
      • Stay vigilant during humid weather conditions

      Preventing and healing urticaria through Pitta balance in Ayurveda4 

      Urticaria, a skin condition triggered by inflammatory responses, finds its roots in Ayurveda as a primarily Pitta disorder. This holistic perspective also recognizes the influence of Vata imbalance and disturbed Kapha in this condition, leading to what is referred to as "sheetapitta".

      Understanding Pitta: Pitta, possessing the qualities of fire and water, is the force behind transformative processes in nature and living organisms. From digestion and detoxification to skin health and inflammation regulation, Pitta plays a pivotal role in our wellbeing. An excess of Pitta can result in various imbalances such as hyperacidity, skin issues,and more. 

      The key approach to addressing urticaria lies in reducing excess Pitta in the body. However, it's essential to strike a balance that aligns with an individual's constitution (prakriti) during optimal health. Those naturally inclined toward higher Pitta levels can tolerate more, necessitating a gentle adjustment. Meanwhile, individuals with lower Pitta require more intensive measures to bring their levels to equilibrium. 

      Dietary Recommendations: Cooling, fresh, and sweet substances are paramount in pacifying Pitta. Optimal choices include: 

      • Fresh, cooling fruits
      • Sweet and bitter vegetables like cooked carrots, beets, and cucumbers
      • Grains such as oats and rice
      • Almond milk
      • Freshwater fish
      • Cooling spices like fennel and coriander

      READ MORE: Causes, Effects, And Ways To Manage Stress For Pitta Dosha | Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know

        Management of hives in Ayurveda3 

        Managing sheetapitta (urticaria) in Ayurveda involves two main approaches: Shaman (pacification) and Mridu Shodhan (mild cleansing). 

        Shaman (Pacification) Treatment

        Morning Routine:

        • Start the day with 1 teaspoon of cow ghee (clarified butter) and ¼ teaspoon of maricha (black pepper) on an empty stomach.
        • Take 1 tablet of laghu sutshekhar rasa with lukewarm water.
        Syrups and Herbal Formulations:
        • Take syrup argleam forte - 3 teaspoons after meals, twice a day.
        • Consume haridra khand- 1 teaspoon twice a day with milk.
        Local Application:
        • Apply eladi tailam to the affected areas.

          Mridu shodhan (mild cleansing) treatment

          Digestive Support:
            • Take chitrakadi vati, 250 mg twice a day for 2 days to enhance digestion.
            Internal Oleation:
              • Undergo snehpana (internal oleation) with tiktak ghrita in increasing doses over 3 days.
              Purgation:
                • Administer trivrutta avleha, 20 gm with milk on an empty stomach in the morning for purgation.

                External approaches1

                1. Medicated oil massage and herbal decoction:
                • Perform abhyanga (massage) using katu taila (mustard oil).
                • Apply hot herbal decoction through parisheka (sprinkling) on the body.
                1. Herbal applications:
                • Apply a mixture of durva (Cynodon dactylon) and haridra (Curcuma longa) to affected areas.
                • Use tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) juice for local application.
                1. Herbal paste application:
                • Apply a paste made from siddhartha (Brassica compestris), haridra, tila (Sesamum indicum), and katu taila through udvartana (rubbing).
                1. Mineral and herb application:
                • Apply a mixture of saindhava lavana (rock salt) and kustha (costus plant) with ghee on affected area.

                Sheetapitta or urticaria, can be managed effectively through Ayurvedic practices. The treatment involves both internal medications and external therapies to bring balance to the body and alleviate symptoms. Remember to always consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before beginning any treatment regimen. 

                Conclusion

                Ayurveda offers profound insights into managing urticaria by addressing Pitta imbalance. Embracing a lifestyle and dietary adjustments aligned with one's constitution can pave the way to harmonious health, letting the body's transformative processes flourish while keeping skin conditions and imbalances at bay. 

                Please consult your Ayurvedic practitioner before trying the remedies and herbs mentioned in this article. If you ever notice you’re having an allergic reaction, seek medical care immediately. Consult your primary healthcare provider if you get hives often. 

                References

                1. (PDF) Potential medicinal plants and trditional ayaurvedic approach towards Urticaria, an allergic skin disorder (researchgate.net) ; https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Santosh-Maurya-8/publication/282877302_Potential_medicinal_plants_and_trditional_ayaurvedic_approach_towards_Urticaria_an_allergic_skin_disorder/links/5621269c08ae70315b58c8d4/Potential-medicinal-plants-and-trditional-ayaurvedic-approach-towards-Urticaria-an-allergic-skin-disorder.pdf 
                2. Urticaria | Nature Reviews Disease Primers / Urticaria - Zuberbier - 2003 - Allergy - Wiley Online Library
                3. (PDF) Ayurvedic management of Sheetpitta with special reference to Urticaria: A Case Study. (researchgate.net) ; https://www.wjpmr.com/download/article/104122022/1672727242.pdf 
                4. (PDF) Clinical Roundup: Selected Treatment Options for Urticaria: Ayurveda (researchgate.net) ; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324158729_Diagnosis_and_Treatment_of_Urticaria_in_Primary_Care 

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