The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word psora which means “to itch”. Let’s take a look at Psoriasis causes, symptoms and Ayurvedic remedies and treatments for psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory, and autoimmune skin disease. In psoriasis, abnormal skin patches form on various body parts.
Psoriasis patches usually form on the elbows, knees or scalp but they can appear on other areas as well.
These patches are dry, red or silvery red, scaly, and flaky. These patches can be itchy and painful. For those with darker complexions, these patches can look purple in color.
Psoriasis is a non-contagious disease.
In psoriasis, the life cycle of skin cells speeds up. As a result, skin cells build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells that grow on the surface form scales and patches over the skin.
Psoriasis associated patches may vary in severity. They can range from small, localized patches to complete body coverage.
Psoriasis is a non-contagious disease. It doesn’t spread via skin contact or sexual activity. Inflammed areas of the skin (or even an injury) can often turn into lesions associated with acute psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects approximately 2% to 4% of the population in Western countries, with prevalence rates influenced by age, geographic location, and genetic background among other factors.
While the exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown, there are various causes which are known to trigger instances of psoriasis.
These include the following.
The management of psoriasis may include the use of topical agents, phototherapy, and the use of systemic agents.
Depending on a patient’s condition and severity of psoriasis, a physician may advise the use of one or more medications.
Topical management of psoriasis includes the use of moisturizers, emollients, topical corticosteroids, topical retinoids, vitamin D analogs, tar, anthralin, and salicylic acid.
In phototherapy, UVA or UVB rays are used. Systemic therapies for psoriasis include the use of retinoids, methotrexate, and cyclosporine.
While these medications and management options often help in reducing the severity of the condition, psoriasis can often recur even after medical intervention.
The term kushtaroga is mentioned frequently in classical Ayurvedic medical texts whenever skin diseases are discussed. This Sanskrit term translates to “skin disease” or “skin condition”.
One must note that the term kushta roga is not used for a specific disease or condition but is rather an umbrella term for all skin problems in Ayurvedic medicine.
Ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka particularly stressed on kushta roga.In his Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita,there is a complete chapter dedicated to kushta roga (skin conditions).
A term related to kushta roga is kushnati sarvam vapu iti kushtam. Besides Charaka, well renowned Ayurvedic scholars like Sushruta and Vagbhata have also talked about kushta roga in their own Ayurvedic medical texts.
This means that the condition is called kushta because it damages/deforms the entire body. This term depicts just how seriously kushta roga can affect the body if not treated properly.
In kushta roga, all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) get vitiated. Kushta rogamainly involves tavacha(skin), rakta(blood), mamsa(muscles), and lasika(lymph or plasma).
The Ayurvedic text Charak Samhitamentions the various causes, pathologies, symptoms, and types of skin conditions that come under kushta roga.
It also describes different management strategies and remedies for the various skin conditions listed.
The Charaka Samhita mentions a total of 18 types of kushta roga.
These are the following.1
Out of these 18 types of skin conditions, the first 7 are known as maha kushta.The remaining 11 are known as kshudra kushta. Here, maha means primary and kshudra means secondary.
Each of these 18 skin conditions has its own symptoms, causes, and treatments.
For clinical representation, one can say that there are two types of kushta roganamely ek kushta and kitibha kushta, which can be correlated with what western medicine calls psoriasis.
Charaka has listed a set of common causes which can be attributed to all 18 varieties of kushta roga.These include the following.
Due to the above-mentioned causes, all three doshas get vitiated in psoriasis. These vitiated doshas, in turn, vitiate the skin, blood, muscles, lymph or plasma tissue.
These seven factors together produce kushta rogaand these seven factors together are known as kushta dravya sangraha.
Kushta roga is never caused by vitiation of single dosha or vitiation of only one of these seven pathogenic substances, all of them have to be vitiated for the causation of kushta roga.3
As psoriasis falls under kushta roga, the pathogenesis of psoriasis is also similar to that of other kushta roga.
These premonitory signs and symptoms are common for all types of kushta rogaand also for psoriasis. These are described below:
Symptoms Present In Ekakushta 5
Symptoms Present In Kitibha Kushta5
Therefore, considering the similarity in symptoms, the symptoms of ekakushtaand kitibha kushtacan be correlated with what western medicine calls psoriasis.
Dosha Dominance In Kushta Roga
While all three doshas simultaneously get vitiated in all types of kushta roga, there is a predominance of a single dosha in every type of kushta roga.
In ekakushta and kitibha kushta,there is predominance of Vata dosha and Kapha dosha.6
Even though each variety of kushta roga presents its own signs, symptoms, and remedies, the management of the dominant dosha is always the first priority in Ayurvedic medicine.
The specific type of kushtadosha can be determined according to the nature of predominant dosha and vice versa.
The causative factors of kushta rogaare determined on the basis of signs and symptoms and imbalanced dosha.
In ekakushta and kitibha kushtathere is a predominance of Vata dosha and Kapha dosha and they should be managed first.
Besides the general signs and symptoms of psoriasis, certain dosha-specific symptoms also appear along with most skin conditions.
Following are the signs and symptoms at the affected area when Vata dosha is vitiated. 7
Following are the signs and symptoms at the affected area when Kapha dosha is vitiated. 7
The same line of management is followed in general for all varieties of kushta roga. So the same is also usually implemented for the management of ekakushtaand kitibha kushta.
Chikitsa sutraor management according to doshapredominance as mentioned in the Charak Samhita 8
Kushta shamaka yoga or herbal combinations helpful in treating psoriasis 9
These herbal combinations are helpful in relieving symptoms related to psoriasis and can also be helpful in treating psoriasis itself.
Intake of powder of daruharidra(Berberis aristata) along with gau mutra(cow’s urine) is helpful in curing psoriasis.
In psoriasis, the following diet should be adhered to.
What To Avoid In Kushta Roga? 13
Take equal quantities of the following herbs.
Ela(cardamom), kutha(Saussurea lappa), darvi (Berberis aristata), shatapushpa (Anethum sowa), chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica), vidanga(Embelia ribes), rasanjana (an aqueous extract of daruharidra), and haritaki (Terminalia chebula).
Mix these with water, make a paste and apply this on psoriasis patches.14
The Ayurvedic scholar Charaka has also mentioned a special bath for psoriasis (and similar conditions) called siddharthaka snana. It is described below.
Boil water using these herbs. Musta(Cyperus rotundus), madana(Randia dumetorum), triphala,karanja(Pongamia pinnata), aragvadha(Cassia fistula), indrayava (seeds of kutaja), daru haridra (Berberis aristata), saptaparna(Alstonia scholaris).
Boil these herbs in water and then use it for bathing. This special bath is called siddharthaka snana. It is known as siddharthaka snana because it is helpful in treating psoriasis.
The following 8 recipes (for oral and topical use) are useful in the treatment of kushta roga.
These six recipes are helpful in treating kushta roga and used as a kwatha(decoction for drinking purpose). These six decoctions can also be used for bathing and even topical application for dusting and rubbing.
Tinisha(Abelia chinensis) kshayaya(decoction) should be used for drinking and bathing purpose. It can also be used for bathing and external application for dusting and rubbing.
Ashvamara(Nerium indicum) kashyayaor decoction is also used for bathing and external application like dusting and rubbing.
Besides the above-mentioned herbal combinations, some other combinations, decoctions, oils and other preparations for external applications have also been mentioned in the Ayurvedic medical text Charaka Samhita.
In short, the following management plan should be followed for the management of ekakushta and kitibha kushta.
Nidana parivarjanam: Includes avoiding causative factors of psoriasis.
Sanshodhana chikitsa: Includes management through panchakarmatherapies like vamana(emesis therapy) and virechana(purgation therapy).
Sanshmana aushadh: Includes palliative management. It further includes anta parimarjana chikitsaand bahir parimarjana chikitsa.
Anta parimarjana chikitsa:Means giving various oral preparations according to Ayurvedic system of management.
Bahir parimarjana chikitsa: Includes various kinds of Ayurvedic ointments, oils, and pastes.
This article is for educational purposes only. You should always check with a qualified physician before trying the remedies and medicines for psoriasis mentioned in this article.
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner if you plan to manage your psoriasis with Ayurveda.
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