Psoriasis is a common skin disease affecting about 1-2% of general population. The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word “Psora” and “Iasis”. Psora means Itch or scale and lasis means condition.Acharya Charak has described the involvement of Vata and Kapha in Ekkushtha.
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 develops when the ordinary life cycle of skin cells accelerates. Normally, skin usually die and flake off in weeks but in people with Psoriasis this process happens within days.
This is a chronic condition, where there are periods when it becomes really bad alternating with times when in imporves or goes into remission.
2.What causes Psoriasis ?
Some people’s genes have a tendency towards acquiring psoriasis which could be triggered off by injury, throat infection, certain drugs and physical or emotional stress. Although the exact causes are not known, it is widely understood to be a genetic immune disorder.
The view of Ayurveda is that psoriasis is caused by a combination of bad food habits and stress. In order to understand the Psoriasis Ayurvedic treatment, it’s important to also understand the basic tenets of Ayurveda.
The five elements of Ayurveda, that make up the universe and everything in it, are:
The seven primary constituent elements of the human body are:
•Rasa dhatu (plasma)
•Rakta dhatu (blood)
•Asthi dhatu (bone)
•Majja dhatu (marrow)
•Mamsa dhatu (flesh)
•Medha dhatu (fat)
•Shukra dhatu (semen or female reproductive tissue)
Ayurveda promotes the balance of three elemental energies, or humors:
•Vata (wind, or air and space)
•Kapha (phlegm, or fire and water)
•Pittha (bile, or water and earth)
When these three energies are balanced, the human body is healthy. According to Ayurveda, psoriasis appears when the vata and kapha are corrupted due to various reasons, from diet to toxins in the body. Some causes of this “vitiation of Doshas” include the consumption of opposite foods, suppression of natural urges, exposure to severe climatic conditions, consumption of excessive salty, sour, or heavy food, and mental stress. Other causes include sleeping during the afternoon and taking a bath in cold water after exercising or other physical activities.
3.Is it contagious ?
No! Psoriasis is never spread from person to person. It does not even spread from one part of the body to another. It is a peculiar condition where some parts of the skin gets affected.
4.Is it serious ?
Although Psoriasis is a chronic, stubborn condition of the skin, it is rarely serious. However, the sore, dry, scaly skin can give it the appearance of a serious disease. It has been reported that around 10% of those affected by Psoriasis also get affected by a condition called Psoriatic Arthritis. This is an affliction of the joints particularly of fingers and toes occasionally in the lumbar joints causing a low backache. Like Psoriasis this form of arthritis can also wax and wane.
5. What makes psoriasis worse ?
Some things that can make Psoriasis worse are stress and infections. Some medicines can also make it worse. These medicines include lithium and certain high blood pressure medicines, such as beta-blockers abd angiotensin-converting enazyme (ACE) inhibitors, as well as pain relievers like some non-sterodial anti=inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Ibuprofen etc
6. Is there a cure for psoriasis ?
The treatment aspects of Psoriasis according to Ayurveda, aim at the detoxification of the body or elimination of toxins from the body fluids. It is achieved by “Panchakarma” treatments.
A strict diet regime has to be followed during the entire treatment period and it is better to continue as vegetarian. Yogurt, black gram, chilies and salted thing have to be restricted. It is better to avoid refrigerated/chilled foods. Psoriatic must keep a state of mental calmness.
7. What are the available treatments for Psoriasis ?
In order to cure psoriasis, Ayurveda encourages the purification (detoxification) of the body through a healing process called panchakarma.
8. Traditional Ayurveda treatment addresses the
a) Purification of blood. b) Rejuvenation of the complex systems of the skin, the nervous system in particular. c) Temperature regulation of the body. d) Strengthening of the body immunization system, and e) Psychological stabilization.
9. The net result of the treatment is
a) Blood purification by Snehapanam. b) Stimulation of hypothalamus by Dhara resulting in temperature regulation of the body. c) Stabilizing the blood chemistry by ensuring balanced nutritious food, which are more alkaline than acidic. d) Immunization of the body. e) Achieve a psychological state of mental well being by application of Yoga
10. Stages of the Psoriasis Ayurvedic treatment:
Lepanam (application of ointments)
Pizhichil (full body massage)
Avisnanam (medicated steam bath)
Snehapanam (taking medicated ghee)
Sirovasti (keeping oil on head)
Shirodhara(Keeping Oil On Head and Forehead)
Abhayangam (oil massage)
11. What can one do to improve the condition ?
The severity of psoriasis may be the subject to and influenced by several factors which can be under your control. Here are some dietary changes to consider :
Reduce stress level
Whenever possible, expose the Psoriasis affected areas to fresh air and mild sunlight.
Do not consume alcohol, or consume very small amounts.
Do not smoke.
Do not eat spicy, hot or acidic foods.
Rinse the affected skin only in lukewatrm water, sea water or baking soda bath.
Do not use synthetic or aggressive soaps which contain harsh ingredients or detergents. Use body wash or soaps with a cucumber, Glycerin or Aloe Vera base. You can also use these soaps to wash your scalp.
If you use topical products to control you psoriasis, it is recommended to keep your skin somewhat moist after you have taken you shover or bath.
Use medicated oil for your scalp.
If you are living close to ocean, try to take regular sea baths, leave your skin somewhat wet and let the salt crystals dry on your skin. Avoid bathing in polluted seas.
Regular daily doses of sunlight taken in short exposures are recommended. Avoid a sunburn which may make psoriasis worse.
Consider buying a tanning, or sun bathing lamp. Get the type which excludes or filters the damaging UV rays. Be careful not to overdo it and burn yourself.
Remember psoriasis cannot be cured, however, it can be asserted by regularly using your medications.
Some medications or treatments may have an adverse affects. Remember to discuss your condition with your doctor regularly.
Discuss the suggestions above with your doctor before you try them. make sure they will not conflict with your current prescription medications.
12. How does Psoriasis affect life ?
All types of psoriasis, ranging from mild to severe, can affect a person’s quality of life. Living with this lifelong condition can be physically and emotionally challenging.
Itching, soreness, and cracked and bleeding skin are common. Nail psiriasis can be painful. Even the simple act of squeezing a tube of toothpaste can hurt.
Several studies have shown tha people often feel frustrated. In some cases, psoriasis limits activities and makes it difficult to perform job responsibilities. A survey conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation in 2002 indicates that 26% of people living with moderate to severe psoriasis have been forced to change or discontinue their normal daily activities.
Studies also have shown that stress, anxiety, loneliness, and low se;f-esteem are part of daily life for people living with psoriasis. Embarrassment is another common feeling. What if one extended one’s hand to someone and the person recoiled ? How would one feel if one spent most of one’s life trying to hide one’s skin?
13. How does one cope with Psoriasis ?
The first thing that one needs to do is ‘accept’ that one has this skin condition and that it will most probably stay for a long, long time. Acceptance is the first step. Just as a person with diabetes learns to accept that it is a life-long disease so must one with psoriasis accept his or her condition. Shame, fear and embarrassment happen becuase of lack of proper information. If one gathers as much information as possible from the doctor, books, and the internet, one realises that it is a common condition that affects millions of people globally.
Do not avoid going to parties, family and religious functions. Socialising is a habit that one needs to cultivate. Isolation can lead to bouts of depression and frustration and further aggravate one’s condition. Being happy and socially connected does wonders to one’s overall outlook towards life.
Talking about it to one’s friends and colleagues also helps in becoming confortable with it. Wherever possible, try not to hide it. It will be surprising to learn that most people understand and that they still like you. Find a hair dresser/salon who understands the problem and has a special method of serving you. Most importantly talk to others suffering from psoriasis. It gives great relief and comfort. One can also exchange ideas, tips, and techniques to better one’s condition.