Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disorder, which involves red, itchy scaly patches on the skin, and is most commonly found on the knees, elbows, trunk and scalp. It is a common with no allopathic cure. It has a tendency to appear and go in cycles, flaring up for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a while or going into remission. There are several types of psoriasis, being plaque psoriasis, nail psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erthrodermic psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
It is considered to be an immune system disorder that causes the skin to regenerate at faster than normal rates. The cause is idiopathic, but genetic factors and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Triggers for the condition can involve smoking, stress, infections (e.g. strep throat or skin infections), weather conditions, heavy alcohol consumption, certain medication, rapid withdrawal from oral or systemic corticosteroids.
There are seven types:
- Plaque psoriasis: Affects about 80% of all sufferers, and is defined by well-defined areas of raised red skin that characteriSe this form.
- Guttate psoriasis: presents as small, salmon-pink coloured drops on the skin is guttate psoriasis, affecting about 10% of people with psoriasis.
- Inverse psoriasis: Presents as red lesions in skin folds - most commonly under the breasts, in the armpits, near the genitals, under the buttocks, or in abdominal folds.
- Pustular psoriasis: Presents as well-defined, white pustules on the skin. These are filled with non-infectious pus.
- Scalp Psoriasis: Presents as fine, scaly skin or heavily crusted plaque areas on the scalp.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: Presents as a type of arthritis, accompanied by inflammation of the skin (psoriasis).
Treatment aims to (1) stop skin cells from proliferating too quickly and (2) to remove scales. Options include creams and ointments (topical therapy), light therapy (phototherapy), and oral or injected medication. The choice of treatment, or combination thereof, will depend on severity and how responsive it has been to previous treatment.
Ayurvedic Approach to Psoriasis (Eke Kushta/Kithiba):
Ayurvedic classical texts have a great deal of focus on skin conditions, and psoriasis is no exception. Seen Ayurvedically as a condition that occurs from the vitiation of three the humours on the body (Vata, Pitta and Kapha – to varying degrees), and seen as stemming from impurities within the blood, which is caused by irregular food habits, consumption of incompatible foods, excessive intake of yogurt, paneer, black gram, seafood, sour and salted items etc., irregular lifestyle, as well as alcohol and tobacco and also stress.
The Ayurvedic perspective on psoriasis tells us that psoriasis first begins when the Kapha Dosha becomes aggravated. The symptoms that follow depend on which other dosha/humor (Vata, Pitta) becomes aggravated as well. Thus, the type of psoriasis that one manifest will depend on which humor is vitiated.
Vata type psoriasis: causes pain, dryness and scaling of the skin.
Pitta type psoriasis: lead to burning feeling, redness, inflammation, bleeding of the lesions and is the most aggressive type.
Kapha type psoriasis: causes rashes, itching, discharge, thickening of skin.
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR PSORIASIS:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Aloe vera juice, turmeric, shallaki, triphala, sariva
Vata Kapha Balancing: Aloe vera juice, turmeric, guggulu, shallaki, triphala, ashwaganda, black cumin, sariva
Pitta Vata Balancing: Aloe vera juice, turmeric, shallaki, triphala, sariva
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Aloe vera juice, milk thistle, manjistha, turmeric, chamomile, neem, shallaki, triphala, sandalwood, kutaja, sariva
Kapha Vata Balancing: Aloe vera juice, turmeric, guggulu, shallaki, triphala, ashwaganda, black cumin, sariva
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Aloe vera juice, milk thistle, manjistha, turmeric, chamomile, shallaki, triphala, kutaja, sariva
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Psoriasis:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Psoriasis:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- Eat meals regularly and on time (avoid irregular eating).
- Avoid overeating. (Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal, and only if hungry). Make dinner the lightest meal of the day. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- Eat easy to digest foods and avoid salads. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, including steamed veggies. It is preferable to eat a vegetarian diet.
- Avoid dry foods and acidic/sour foods, minimise legumes except for mung dahl, no potato, no dairy, no sesame seeds, no jaggery, no eggplant and no radishes. Avoid processed foods, fried foods, left-over foods, cold foods, additives, alcohol, smoking,
- Favour green leafy vegetables, non-sour fruits, aged cereals, cooked oats, barley, rice, cream of wheat, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel, fresh ginger, ajwain, non-sour fruits.
- Drink/sip warm water throughout the day. Room temperature water in summer.
- Ayurvedic buttermilk can also be beneficial at the end of a meal. 1 teaspoon of yoghurt with the same quantity of water. Add in some fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin or fennel and blend well with blender before consuming.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Advice for Psoriasis:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Avoid pricking, scratching or peeling the affected psoriatic skin lesions. Pat the skin dry after bathing. Avoid using artificial cleansers. Chickpea flour is excellent to use instead.
- Make a preference for natural fibres that help the skin to breathe. Lycra, polyester and other synthetic fibres so not allow the skin to breathe, and can aggravate the condition.
- Maintain balance and routine in lifestyle. establish a regular daily routine.
- Avoid stress, anger, and worry as much as possible. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Use yoga and meditation in one’s daily routine. Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial.
- Moderate daily exercise is recommended, but do not continue such vigorous exercise.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Be in bed by 10pm and wake at a regular time each day.
- Avoid overexposure to full summer sunlight. A small amount of sunlight, especially in the morning can be highly beneficial.
- Avoid sleeping during the day. Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.