The word “Psoriasis” is derived from the Greek word for itch, but unlike some pesky prickle, psoriasis can be scratched away. It is a chronic skin disease characterized. By an overproduction of skin cells that result in flaky and patchy raised areas on the skin surface characterized inflamed skin that produces red, thickened patches covered with silver-colored scales or plaques.
Psoriasis actually begins below the surface, where skin cells are reproducing an abnormally fast rate. These skin cells pile up, one on top of the other, and the result is thick, scaly raised areas, or “plaques”. When one or more of these plaques develop, it is commonly referred to as a “flare-up.” Many psoriasis sufferers say their plaques never go away completely, but are “better” or “worse.”
The characteristic lesion is scaly “mother-of-pearl” patch, appearing anywhere on the body. Involvement may range from a single plaque the numerous patches that cover most of the skin.
Psoriasis Statistics: Psoriasis affects an estimated 1 percent to 3 percent of the world’s population. It is a common condition in US with an incidence of 2 percent and affects 6.4 million Americans.
Cause and Varieties of Psoriasis:The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. Recent discoveries lead scientists to indicate that psoriasis is a disorder of the immune system. Scientists now think that, an abnormal immune system T cells trigger the inflammation and excessive skin cell reproduction.
Psoriasis is classified as four main types. These are plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis and inverse psoriasis, this classification is made on the basis of appearance.
Plaque psoriasis : (its scientific name is psoriasis vulgaris) The symptoms of this type of psoriasis is that the lesions have a reddened base covered by silvery scales, thickened plaques, or raised patches, These appear on the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp, hairline and behind the ears, There is itching of the affected areas, with discovered nails.
Guttate Psoriasis: This type mostly affects children and adolescents, Guttate psoriasis produces circular, small, drop like lesions on the trunk usually on the back and on the chest, and this is often triggered by bacterial infections (for example, Streptococcus)
Pustular Psoriasis: This type of psoriasis is rare and can be life threatening. It is seen mainly in adults and takes the form of small blisters of non-infections pus, occurring on the palms and soles of the feet. Areas of red, shiny, thick and inflamed skin are present, which are very painful to touch. This type may involve the whole body at a later stage.
“Psoriasis is classified as four main types. These are plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis and inverse psoriasis.”
The theory of Ayurveda:As per many basic Ayurvedic texts, Psoriasis can be considered as the vitiation of Vata and Kapha. Accumulation of low potency poisons (dooshivishas) are the basic pathological changes taking place in the system. Any kind of toxins (ama) either in the form of mineral.Herb or animalproduct, which turns to work as a slow poison. Dooshivisha can cause many problems & diseases, if it stays in the body in the sub clinical state without being expelled from the body. The epithelium and sub-cutaneous substance of the skin and the mucus membrane produce mucoid substance, which is sweet in taste, which has power to some extent, to counteract the effect of the poison (toxin) and the residue poison which counteract with sweet mucus, in some conditions can stay long time in the body and results in many problems. Psoriasis is one of the diseases that many manifest due to the above factor. Ayurveda does also emphasize on the effect of stress in the pathogenesis of Psoriasis.
Pre-monitory symptoms of Psoriasis:
- Either Excessive sweating of no sweating.
- A change in the pigmentation of the skin.
- Itching in the affected area.
- A change in the texture of the skin.
The way Psoriasis starts and spreads: Psoriasis starts from a very small spot like a pinpoint and can spread until a very long lesion over the whole body. These lesions are generally circular in appearance but may also be of indefinite shape. Lesions are of a varied color and dry covered with rough scales. After removal of the scales, a red blood spot surface becomes visible. The lesions are more freely visible on the extensor surfaces such as forehead, legs and waist etc. After some time these lesions join each other and form different shapes. Generally, the face is the last part of the body to be affected.
Consequences of Psoriasis:
- A Main Characteristics feature of this disease is that it goes into remission spontaneously and jusr as suddenly replaces, usually in one year interval.
- This disease usually spreads in a cold and humid environment.
- It becomes a chronic condition after the 6th or 7th attack.
- If not treated properly, psoriasis may cause many complications such as:
- Swelling in the joints of the body.
- Joint pain and joints become curved.
- Spreads to whole body.
Different Diagnosis: A host of clinical conditions may resemble psoriasis and must be executed during diagnosis. Fungal infections, such as tianea may mimic psoriasis but the symmetry of psoriatic patches differs from the active scaly border seen in fungal infections. Laboratory testing confirms fungal infection. Although many forms of eczema resemble psoriasis, the classic vivid red color and silvery scale of psoriasis are important diagnostic points.
The strategy of Treatment: The general rule is restoring the balance of the imbalanced dosha. Second is to eliminate the accumulated dooshivisha (ama/endotoxins) in blood. Instead of elimination it one could counteract the visha by use of tadarthakari type of treatment. Here we should use “upavishya” (mild poisonous plants). Bhallataka is one such drug.
To use the mild poisonous plants. They must be purified in certain pharmaceutical process, so as to make it free from any harmful effect.
“Fungal infections, such as tinea may mimic psoriasis but the symmetry of psoriatic patches differs from the active scaly border seen in fungal infections.”
Treatment of psoriasis is either by Samana, Sodhana or both :
The Samana treatment aspects of psoriasis should be based on three medical approaches:
- Rakthasodhana (Cleansing the blood)
- To treat dermatosis and
To restore the balance of the aggravated doshas. The pathogenic agent of psoriasis, dooshivisha continues to remain in the blood. A specific compound of purified Bhallatakabeeja (Semecarpusanacardium) with other herbs such as Tuwarakabeeja (Hydnocarpus) Karanjabeeja (Pongamiapinnata) Bakuchi (Psoraleacorilifolia) Karanjabeeja (Pongamiapinnata) Bakuchi (Psoracorilifolia) and Nimbabeeja (Azadirachtaindica) is advised for three to six months. The medicine for dermatosis should contain such drugs, which have general effect for healing the lesions and restoring the normal function of the psoriatic skin. This compound should be prepared with other herbs and seeds in oil base. It is prescribed for three to six months.
The medication to restore the balance of the aggravated doshic functions of vatha is in oil form and for the vitiated kapha the ushnaguna of Bhallataka and Nimba will take care. Simultaneously the diet predominant in bitter and astringent food items will normalize and regulate the imbalance.
Here one should stress that especially in the advanced stage. The patient should have confidence of perseverance to continue the treatment for long time with hope and not for an immediate magic cure.
The Sodhana treatment aspects of Psoriasis accordingly aim at the elimination of toxins (dooshivisha) from the body fluids. It is achieved by “Panchakarma”.
Here is a rough scheme of panchakarma schedule which is proved effective.
- Intake of medicated ghee, in accordance to the Dosha type for one or two weeks.
- External oil application with drug of choice and nadisweda with aragwadadikwath,
- Shodana, by vomiting (Vamana) and purgation (Virechana) either one or each for three days.
- Followed by medicated buttermilk dripping overhead and body (Dhara or Kaya seka) it is a well known practice – Thakradhara
- Vasthi (suitable enemas) to be given for 16 days.
Avoid these foods and behaviors:
Milk; yogurt (curd); sugarcane products; new rice right after harvesting; fish; meat; too much salt in diet; acid fruits and foods; vinegar; too much oilley foods and food preparations; raw radish ; over eating ; sleeping during the natural urges; swimming right after sun bath.
Recommended Diet: Barley; whole-wheat bread; honeyl eggs brown rice; beans orange, meat of kada a wild bird; green vegetables; sweet and astringent fruits (not sour); ghee, butter and cheese (moderately); boiled and filtered water to drink tea, coffee (not after meal or during the period of digestion of meal) etc.
Prevention of Psoriasis: Cleanliness of hands nails and washing hands after every work is a must. Contamination of eatables with insects or rats should be taken care of and avoided.
Viruddhaahara (Incompatible foods) e.g. milk taken together with fish or acidic fruits or foods should be prohibited.
The use of sweet, sour and salty foods; milk products should be moderate.
Very heavy meal and opposite of it, hot drink right after cold drink or opposite of ir (we could note usually that people drink cold water after a cup of hot tea or coffee) is not good for the skin diseases.