What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a long-lasting autoimmune disease characterized by patches of abnormal skin. These skin patches are typically red, itchy, and scaly. Psoriasis varies in severity from small, localized patches to complete body coverage. Injury to the skin can trigger psoriatic skin changes at that spot, which is known as the Koebner phenomenon.
There are five main types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. Plaque psoriasis, also known as psoriasis vulgaris, makes up about 90 percent of cases. It typically presents as red patches with white scales on top. Areas of the body most commonly affected are the back of the forearms, shins, navel area, and scalp. Guttate psoriasis has drop-shaped lesions. Pustular psoriasis presents as small non-infectious pus-filled blisters. Inverse psoriasis forms red patches in skin folds. Erythrodermic psoriasis occurs when the rash becomes very widespread, and can develop from any of the other types. Fingernails and toenails are affected in most people with psoriasis at some point in time. This may include pits in the nails or changes in nail color.
Psoriasis is generally thought to be a genetic disease that is triggered by environmental factors. In twin studies, identical twins are three times more likely to be affected compared to non-identical twins. This suggests that genetic factors predispose to psoriasis. Symptoms often worsen during winter and with certain medications, such as beta blockers or NSAIDs. Infections and psychological stress can also play a role. Psoriasis is not contagious. The underlying mechanism involves the immune system reacting to skin cells. Diagnosis is typically based on the signs and symptoms.
There is no cure for psoriasis; however, various treatments can help control the symptoms. These treatments include steroid creams, vitamin D3 cream, ultraviolet light and immune system suppressing medications, such as methotrexate. About 75 percent of cases can be managed with creams alone. The disease affects two to four percent of the population. Men and women are affected with equal frequency. The disease may begin at any age, but typically starts in adulthood. Psoriasis is associated with an increased risk of psoriatic arthritis, lymphomas, cardiovascular disease, Crohn's disease and depression. Psoriatic arthritis affects up to 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis.
What are the Causes of Psoriasis as per Ayurveda?
As per Acharya Charak vata and kapha dosa are vitiated in ekkushtha (Kitibha) or psoriasis also accumulation of toxins or ama is an important factor in disease manifestation.
Viruddha and Mithya Aahar (contradictory and Improper Diet)
Mithya Vihara (Improper lifestyle)
Adrista Hetu (Unknown Cause)
Excessive Physical and Mental Stress
Other Factors: Infections, Skin trauma (Koebner phenomenon), Psychological stress, Drugs (e.g. lithium, beta blockers), Sunburn, Metabolic factors (e.g. calcium, vitamin D deficiency), Hormonal factors (e.g. pregnancy) etc also plays a role in disease manifestation.
Factors making Prognosis difficult
Family history, Viral and bacterial infections, Stress, Obesity, Smoking etc are the factors which makes the treatment of Psoriasis difficult.
How does Ayurveda Manages Psoriasis?
Ayurvedic treatment of psoriasis includes:
- Counselling: Counselling plays a major role as patient feels himself or herself cut off from social life which further increases the stress and escalates the disease making it difficult to cure.
- Lifestyle management: A disciplined lifestyle helps a lot in the management of Psoriasis.
- Diet management: Dietary restrictions specifically sour and sweet substances are suggested.
- Panchakarma: Purificatory procedures- especially vamana [i.e. therapeutic vomiting] and virechana [i.e. purgation] plays a major role in the treatment of Psoriasis. For scalp psoriasis shirodhara with proper oils is also a very effective treatment.
- Stress management: It’s an integral part of the treatment plan so as to calm down the Limbic system.
- Ayurvedic medicines- Internally Ayurvedic-Herbal medicines are prescribed specifically of Tikta ras with medicated Ghee to pacifiy vata and kafa.
- Immune modulation: With certain Ayurvedic medicines immune modulation is done so reverse the auto-immunity factor.
- Topical (local) application: Ayurvedic creams and lepas are prescribed for local application to enhance the process of healing.
- Regular follow up appointments: Is very important for the management as its difficult disease.
- Yoga and meditation is suggested to relieve mental stress.
Following substances are to be avoided to speed up the process of healing:
Acidic (sour) foods, citrus fruits, pickles, milk, milk products, fermented food, all bakery items, icecreams, cold drinks, packaged food, fast food, outside food, preserved food items such as juices, jams etc., chocolates, tobacco and tobacco products, alcohol, non-vegetarian foods, fried items etc.
How much time is needed for treatment?
It depends from person to person and on severity of the disease. Generally minimum 3-4 months are required for assessment of any disorder in Ayurveda. Remember the Disease manifested over a period of time so do the management of the disease. Management becomes easier if patient follows all the advices and treatment as prescribed. Punctuality of medicines intake and following are treatment protocols along with PATIENCE is the key to success. Both Physician and Patient need to be having good patience so as to get sufficient time for recovery.
We at Vaidyalya Ayurveda clinic and store at Chitranjan park near to Kalkaji at South Delhi follow the classical treatment protocols i.e Chikitsa Sutra’s mentioned in ancient texts of Ayurveda. We consider it to be disease of whole body and not to be originated from single organ such as pancreas, liver, kidney or physiological malfunctioning such as disorder of metabolism. Ayurvedic medicines and herbal products are prescribed according to the Dosha (morbid factor), Agni (Digestive fire), Bala (both strength of the patient and the disease), Prakruti (physical and psychological constitution), Dhatu (assessment of body tissues), Kala (assessment of time) etc. Type and strength of herbal preparations or medicines are decided after considering all the above mentioned factors. Along with the medications specially tailor made Diet chart or plan is prescribed to achieve the desired goals. Also Yoga and specific daily routine, exercise and pranayam is suggested.