Table of Contents
- What is psoriasis?
- Symptoms of psoriasis
- Probable causes of psoriasis
- Why some people might have a predilection for psoriasis more than others?
- Ayurveda and psoriasis interception
- What is Ayurveda?
- Avoiding the triggers and causes of psoriasis
- Ayurvedic Medicines for Psoriasis
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian therapy for various types of diseases, trying to provide a remedy by rebalancing the doshas in the body. People tend to take up Ayurveda nowadays along with mainstream therapy because of the effects seen in various types of chronic disease conditions. In the disease of psoriasis also, a wide range of therapeutic options are nowadays found in Ayurveda and these are being opted for, especially because of the long term therapy needed for this autoimmune skin condition. Many such chronic conditions are also being attended to by these ayurvedic procedures and results have also been positive.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic disorder of the skin marked by scaly skin with flakes and dryness. This can be manifested in the scalp and dependent areas of the skin such as the elbows and arm. Primarily it is a chronic disorder with some genetic dependability while environmental causes are also responsible. It is usually difficult to predict if someone would have psoriasis. Moreover, in some people, it is mild and restricted to a very small area of the body, while in others it can be quite extensive and with high turnover. There is marked inflammation and immune reaction. The inflammation is marked by reddish patches on the skin, itching and sometimes blisters. This disease can aggravate sometimes and produce lots of flakes from the skin and lead to pain in general. Varying degrees of affliction actually make psoriasis more common than people actually imagine.
Symptoms of psoriasis
Although the range of manifestations of psoriasis is quite wide, some aspects are quite common in people. Redness and thickened skin are seen in most people mostly in their arms, legs, knees and elbows. The scalp skin might not be thickened but it gives out a lot of flakes, giving an impression of dandruff. Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales are common in almost all types of psoriasis. Redness is also a common feature of most of the psoriatic lesions.
In some people, there might be cracks developed at the areas of psoriasis, with bleeding or congested blood.
Itching and soreness are very common in most of the types of psoriasis. This makes people itch the area and hence lead to more flakes and increases the chances of redness and bleeds. The urge to itch is seen in small or extensive varieties. The nails in such patients are thickened, pitted and ridged. The joints are usually swollen and stiffened when involved.
Flare up and triggering – Psoriasis is a disease condition which goes through cycles of flaring and remission, thereby giving an uneven therapeutic approach and confusing degree of affliction. It can be aggravated for a few weeks or months and then subside within the next few days and then remain dormant for the next month or so before flaring up again. This may lead to mental stress for the patients and further flaring up of psoriasis.
In psoriatic patients, various reasons may be responsible for flare up, especially the stress and weather. Dry and cold weather is seen to aggravate the disease condition. Even some medicines like drugs for heart diseases, lithium and anti-malarial drugs can cause flare-ups. Tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse can lead to an increase in the psoriatic conditions of the skin. Stress is also an important reason which can be a precipitant as well as the cause of psoriasis in many patients.
Apart from skin afflictions, patients may suffer from other types of systemic conditions when having psoriasis. Some people have psoriatic arthritis as a result of reactive inflammation of the joints. This is usually seen during flare-ups and hence need treatment to keep these conditions subsided.
Probable causes of psoriasis
No exact cause of psoriasis can be pinpointed because this is a disease that is quite unpredictable and doesn’t follow any pattern. Even though it has a genetic base, sometimes environmental triggers may start up psoriasis for the first time in some people. One thing that is certain is the auto-immune basis of the disease, where T cells and white blood cells are usually involved. Usually, the T cells work in providing immunity against infections and foreign substances. But in people suffering from psoriasis, the normal body skin cells are identified as foreign and the immune system led by T cells mount an attack on these cells. Therefore, the skin affliction is quite common in this condition, as the T cells are directed towards the skin cells and the residing white blood cells and macrophages. Generally speaking, the T cells attack healthy cells albeit mistakenly as if they are fighting foreign substances or infections or healing some part of the body.
There is an increase is the production of skin cells but with the overactive process, which can then get shed off to form the flakes of the psoriatic patches. Due to the action of T cells, there is an increase in the presence of neutrophils in the region, which can lead to pustular manifestation and produce inflammation in general. This also leads to redness of the skin where the disease is manifesting. It is, therefore, an ongoing process where the shedding of newly formed cells is faster and skin lesions comprise of dead skin and scales in abundance.
It is although not very clear as to what causes the T cells to malfunction and this appears to be an interesting point of discussion in most of the forums for psoriasis.
Why some people might have a predilection for psoriasis more than others?
Something known as the risk factors might be responsible for triggering psoriasis in patients, which is, therefore, necessary to be understood and avoided in the first sign of psoriasis. Although it may not be possible to avoid the risk factors and triggers, still people come to know about these issues if they are suffering from psoriasis.
Family history is one of the important risk factors that can tell if someone will have psoriasis or not. Any history in the family may be a signal for this disease condition to precipitate on being exposed to triggers. In some people, especially those suffering from HIV or tuberculosis or any other chronic autoimmune diseases, there is a greater risk of having psoriasis if the triggering factors are present. Obesity is also an important reason for this disease to start, because it may interfere with the immune process when triggers are working. In this context, people should be aware of these risk factors. Few other such factors nowadays being held responsible are the features of smoking, alcohol or substance abuse and stress conditions. People under stress on a constant level can get the psoriatic disease when the trigger factors are present. So, there is more than one reason for this skin condition to start in the presence of triggering factors, which could be alcohol and smoking, injury or sudden stress or infections. It can be therefore clearly observed that the blend of triggers and risk factors are responsible for psoriasis as a disease condition in some people.
Ayurveda and psoriasis interception
As in the case of lots of chronic disorders, the ayurvedic treatment seems to work great for psoriasis also. It has not only been researched quite widely but is being actively used as a treatment modality in many of the psoriasis patients. The need to have psoriasis treatment in Ayurveda has increased because of the side effects found with allopathic treatment which is required to be continued for months and years together. In contrast to allopathic medicines, ayurvedic treatment comprises of herbal components which do not cause any side effects, are acquired from herbal plants and most of them have been used in one form or another since ages. So, when psoriatic patients are given the option of treatment with ayurvedic medicines, they usually readily agree to it even though this form of therapy also takes many months and years. At least in this approach, the side effects are negligible or absent.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a form of treatment based on herbal ingredients and has been in practice for a long time, even though it is not the mainstream therapy for diseases. But gradually people are accepting this form of therapy for various chronic conditions because they realise that the side effects are absent. It is based on the concept that diseases are caused due to an imbalance in lifestyle and general body health. If the balance is restored and healthy lifestyle is maintained, people will get relief from the conditions. So, Ayurveda is based on getting a healthy lifestyle, good healthy diet, meditation, yoga and detoxification.
From the ayurvedic point of view, diseases are caused due to internal alterations in the energy found inside the body. These energies are vata energy responsible for bodily functions, kapha energy for growth of the body and pitta energy responsible for the control of metabolic functions. When either of these energies is disrupted, the body suffers from diseases and hence the right way to get the solution is to have restoration of the energy. This can be done in different ways under the Ayurveda form of treatment, which also is the case with psoriasis.
Avoiding the triggers and causes of psoriasis
One of the important treatments for psoriasis in Ayurveda is avoiding the factors that may cause the disease. This is known as nidana parivarjana, involving diet and lifestyle changes. The non-vegetarian diet is avoided because it alters the energy of the body. An excessive amount of certain food items like fish, milk, curd, flour, jaggery and sour food should be reduced because these cause conflict in the digestive system and the energy of the body. When there is disbalance in the internal energy, skin disorders like psoriasis with immune base can occur. Viruddha ahara or incompatible food can also lead to an imbalance in the immune energy flow inside the body. Increased emotional energy also is seen to lower the immunity by forming inflammatory masses.
Use of panchakarma therapy
One of the very popular methods in ayurvedic treatment for psoriasis is that of panchakarma therapy. Although this is quite often the case in most of the chronic disorders, it has been proven to be highly effective for psoriasis. In this approach, there is a change in the dietary habits of people, along with the use of certain ingredients that help in the restoration of dosas. It involves the intake of medicated ghee, inducing vomiting, covering the body with a paste of mud and medicines, putting buttermilk drops on head and using medicated enemas. Each of these methods is a way to remove the dosas and hence rectify the immunity. These are known by specific names, such as Vamana for vomiting, basti for enemas and virechana for purging. Prior to the carrying out of these procedures, there is the process of preparation, where toxins are channelled into the alimentary canal, involving the lubrication of the body externally and internally. Usually, a body massage using medicinal oils can be done for this purpose. Ingredients like madanaphala, yastimadhu and vacha are helpful in vomiting.
The process of shamana helps in rectifying the dosas, which is through buttermilk, sandalwood and cabbage juices. Various herbal preparations are utilised in these procedures, along with the use of various other ayurvedic ingredients for topical remedies. Using lime juice, aloe vera gel, almonds and shikakai, the paste is formed to be applied over the psoriatic skin. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent along with providing the moisturizing effect to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.
So, by rectifying the inner dosas or energies and using outside topical agents, there can be an improvement in the psoriatic symptoms and the disease process can be kept under control to a great extent. Most people benefit from these therapies, but usually, the ayurvedic doctors customise the medicines for each individual as different things work best for different persons according to their dosas.
Apart from these remedies, some of the other herbal ingredients used in the treatment directly or as adjuvants are black nightshade, jasmine, Guggulu, turmeric, neem and garlic. Such ingredients are well known to have protective effects on the skin as well as boost the immune system due to which their importance holds in most treatment regimens.
Meditation and psoriasis
An integral part of the ayurvedic treatment for psoriasis is meditation and yoga. These are done in order to boost the immune system along with providing holistic therapy for psoriasis so as to keep the body of the patients in balance with the external environment. This is of much help along with keeping the energy balance maintained. Various types of meditations are offered by the ayurvedic specialists and the Ayurveda centres by assessing the overall condition of the patients. Yoga positions are also very much different and the best for an individual is planned based on the body’s energy and Prakriti balance. So, when people arrive for their psoriatic treatment through Ayurveda, they are also offered a long term program of meditation and yoga.
While it has already been stressed that proper dietary habits can help control psoriasis to a great extent, Ayurveda proposes lifestyle changes also to make psoriasis healed. One of the important lifestyle modifications with psoriasis patients is the regularity in their day to day work. This will keep the doshas from being out of balance and hence prevent the psoriatic attacks from occurring. There are lots of therapeutic procedures under Ayurveda, which can be customized for individual patients. These procedures have to be followed strictly when mentioned by the specialists. Moreover, it is very essential to have yoga and meditation has part of the lifestyle of individuals. By doing so, they have a balance between the inner body and outer environment which is essential to keep the symptoms under control. In fact, the importance of regular meditation and yoga has been proven by many practitioners by keeping the flare ups under proper control. Read about Top 10 Ayurvedic ways of Treating Psoriasis.
Ayurvedic Medicines for Psoriasis
Here are some of the popular ayurvedic medicines for Psoriasis.