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Originated in India around 3000 years back, Ayurveda as an alternative form of treatment has gained worldwide approval. Aiming to improve and work upon a person’s mind, body and soul, the treatment is appreciated for the fact that its side effects are limited. Through usage of a special diet, herbal compounds and other supportive medical practices, this method provides a holistic treatment experience. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is an ailment that leads to excess growth of skin cells which means that plaque-like deposits are formed on the skin. Initially considered to be an incurable disease people have claimed that Ayurvedic treatment can reduce its extent.
What does Ayurveda say about Psoriasis?
As per Ayurveda doctors suggest that Psoriasis as a “kushtha” health ailment. The word “kushtha” emphasizes the fact that this ailment is chronic in nature. In the sense that Psoriasis by itself cannot be treated i.e., it is incurable. Ancient Ayurvedic texts have it mentioned that the disease happens due to an imbalance of two doshas or “Vata” and “Kapha” to be precise.
It is believed that Vata is responsible for the smooth working of bodily functions. This, in turn, causes the dryness and scaling of the skin which is an integral part of Psoriasis. On the other hand, Kapha takes care of body growth and a flaw in the same can lead to itching and quick creation of skin cells.
When there is an imbalance between both these elements, toxins are created in a human being’s immune system and this leads to inflammation of the skin. Therefore to treat Psoriasis, Ayurveda uses herbal applications, lifestyle changes and dietary methods to control the imbalance caused.
Ayurvedic methods for Psoriasis Treatment
The Ayurvedic treatment module for Psoriasis is divided into various types. Let us have a look at the different treatments that fall under this category.
This is actually the main treatment method that Ayurveda uses to cure the disease. The Panchakarma treatments involve the use of herbal methods to detox and purify the body. During the treatment some alternative steps taken are consumption of medicated ghee, vomiting forcefully, dripping buttermilk on the head, covering the body with a paste of mud and medicines and performing enemas.
According to Ayurveda there are three elements which need to be balanced in order for a person’s body to work smoothly i.e. person’s universe, body constitution or Prakriti and body’s life forces also known as a dosha. An effective method to maintain balance is to keep the stress and tensions away which can be achieved by meditation and Pranayama.
3. Changes in diet
Generally Ayurveda recommends Vegetarian diet. It suggests patients suffering from Psoriasis to avoid items having excess carbohydrates and sugar in them. Apart from that Ayurveda also suggests that excessive consumption of everything should be avoided. Hence too acidic, salty or sour food items should be ignored. It is advised that a patient listens to what his body is trying to convey in order to get quick relief.
Herbs used for Treatment of Psoriasis
1. Aloe Vera
As a plant, Aloe Vera is widely known for its cooling properties. Using an Aloe Vera cream with 0.5 % Aloe content can reduce the inflammation of Psoriasis. For best results, the cream needs to be applied three times a day for up to 5 days in a row. After 3-4 weeks of continuous use, the treatment should be given a break as overuse may increase the redness.
Again Turmeric is from the same family as Ginger and has an active ingredient known as Curcumin. This provides Turmeric anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties due to which it is recommended as a medicine for Psoriasis. A study for such patients was conducted in which patients applied a gel having Curcumin and results showed a major improvement in the symptoms seen.
3. Apple cider Vinegar
In ancient times Apple cider vinegar was used as a disinfectant and when it comes to Psoriasis it relieves itchy feeling experienced in the scalp. A bottle of organic apple cider vinegar is available at all pharmacy stores and regular application can reduce a scalp itch. On the other hand, if you dilute it with water you can use it on your skin as well. But, you may experience irritation once the solution dries so wash it off as soon as you can. However, if it works well for your skin the results would be visible to you in a few days.
4. Tea Tree oil
The efficacy of the same has not been proved as such but overall Tea Tree oil reduces irritation of the skin. Tea tree users say that after using tea tree shampoo on scalp they have noticed a decline in the itchy feeling. As scientific studies have not been able to prove the same, those who are allergic to Tea Tree oil should stay away from it.
5. Indigo Naturalis
An important constituent of Chinese medicine, Indigo Naturalis helps in creating the Indigo dye. You can distill it into an oil extract and apply not only on regular Psoriasis affected areas but even on nails in case they have been afflicted too. For the nails, usage for 24 weeks can show significant improvement.
6. Oregon Grape
Also known as Barberry, the herb has anti-inflammatory properties. The stem of the plant is usually ground into powder form or converted into an extract that can be further used to prepare a topical cream. Skin creams containing Oregon grape with 10% extract is shown to be the most effective. However, its usage may show some side effects and it is better to use it only for mild or moderate inflammation.
7. Baths and moisturizers
Usage of mild baths and moisturizers and keeping the lesions clean are believed to be effective too. These reduce the itching sensation present during the inflammation of Psoriasis. Calming oils like olive and coconut oil softens your skin and reduces the incidence of Psoriasis.
A popular Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha(Indian Ginseng) is known to reduce the stress levels. The herb also acts as a restorative tonic. However, the same cannot be consumed without recommendations of an Ayurvedic doctor.
This is one of the main ingredients seen in chili peppers and is responsible for the burning sensation in them. Application a gel having Capsaicin regularly showed a decline in Psoriasis signs. However, they also said that its application causes a burning sensation which subsides after a few minutes.
10. Alternate treatments
You can use alternative treatments to reduce the problem.
- Black nightshade juice reduces inflammation
- Using garlic and onions is recommended to purify the blood.
- Jasmine flower paste can be helpful in reducing inflammation as well as itching
- Guggul also reduces the infection and pain
- Neem leaves purify the blood and boosts your immune system
- Boswellia supports your immune system.
Risks of using Ayurveda for Psoriasis
In spite of Ayurveda being an old practice and having centuries of legacy behind it, there are no solid proofs to whether it is effective against Psoriasis. There is no research which can substantiate or deny the claims that are being made by the practitioners of Ayurveda in this regard. However, some people have come up with the reports of benefits from Ayurveda.
USA’s food and drug administration authority usually classify Ayurvedic medicines as dietary supplements. This means that the authority would never consider them for checks and any kind of research. National Centre for Complementary and integrative health on their part conducted research where 200 Ayurveda products were ordered and analyzed.
To their surprise around 21% of these medicines contained dangerous levels of lead, Arsenic, and mercury. As per the US standards these levels were exceeding the permissible limits. Therefore a directive was issued that consumers should be careful while using Ayurvedic products be it for Psoriasis or for any other ailment.
Skin conditions like Psoriasis can be extremely disturbing and patients suffer a lot as there is no formidable treatment for the same. People who ignore the ailment have been known to face further complications like psoriatic arthritis. Ayurveda works on the principle of purification of blood leading to a reduction in the symptoms arising from the disease. Once these toxins are removed, digestion also improves thus benefitting the body in multiple ways. Though there are no valid proofs to establish that Ayurveda can reduce Psoriasis there is no harm in giving it a try. There are no side effects associated with them and if the treatment works well you can actually get relief from an ailment which is considered invincible. However, the treatment should always be undertaken under the guidance of a certified Ayurveda practitioner to avoid any failures in relief seen.