psoriasis causes symptoms treatment

Psoriasis Causes, Symptoms + Ayurvedic Remedies, Treatment For Psoriasis

The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word psora which means “to itch”. Let’s take a look at Psoriasis causes, symptoms and Ayurvedic remedies and treatments for psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory, and autoimmune skin disease. In psoriasis, abnormal skin patches form on various body parts.

Psoriasis patches usually form on the elbows, knees or scalp but they can appear on other areas as well.

These patches are dry, red or silvery red, scaly, and flaky. These patches can be itchy and painful. For those with darker complexions, these patches can look purple in color.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious disease.

In psoriasis, the life cycle of skin cells speeds up. As a result, skin cells build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells that grow on the surface form scales and patches over the skin.

Psoriasis associated patches may vary in severity. They can range from small, localized patches to complete body coverage.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious disease. It doesn’t spread via skin contact or sexual activity. Inflammed areas of the skin (or even an injury) can often turn into lesions associated with acute psoriasis.

Psoriasis affects approximately 2% to 4% of the population in Western countries, with prevalence rates influenced by age, geographic location, and genetic background among other factors.

Causes Of Psoriasis

While the exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown, there are various causes which are known to trigger instances of psoriasis.

These include the following.

  • Immune system.
  • Genetic factors.
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Environmental factors like sunburn.
  • Changes in season and climate.
  • Certain medications like beta-blockers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Management Of Psoriasis In Conventional Western Medicine

The management of psoriasis may include the use of topical agents, phototherapy, and the use of systemic agents.

Depending on a patient’s condition and severity of psoriasis, a physician may advise the use of one or more medications.

Topical management of psoriasis includes the use of moisturizers, emollients, topical corticosteroids, topical retinoids, vitamin D analogs, tar, anthralin, and salicylic acid.

In phototherapy, UVA or UVB rays are used. Systemic therapies for psoriasis include the use of retinoids, methotrexate, and cyclosporine.

While these medications and management options often help in reducing the severity of the condition, psoriasis can often recur even after medical intervention.

Ayurvedic Perspective On Psoriasis

The term kushta roga is mentioned frequently in classical Ayurvedic medical texts whenever skin diseases are discussed. This Sanskrit term translates to “skin disease” or  “skin condition”.

One must note that the term kushta roga is not used for a specific disease or condition but is rather an umbrella term for all skin problems in Ayurvedic medicine.

Ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka particularly stressed on kushta roga. In his Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita, there is a complete chapter dedicated to kushta roga (skin conditions).

A term related to kushta roga is kushnati sarvam vapu iti kushtam.

Besides Charaka, well renowned Ayurvedic scholars like Sushruta and Vagbhata have also talked about kushta roga in their own Ayurvedic medical texts.

This means that the condition is called kushta because it damages/deforms the entire body. This term depicts just how seriously kushta roga can affect the body if not treated properly.

In kushta roga, all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) get vitiated. Kushta roga mainly involves tavacha (skin), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscles), and lasika (lymph or plasma).

The Ayurvedic text Charak Samhita mentions the various causes, pathologies, symptoms, and types of skin conditions that come under kushta roga.

It also describes different management strategies and remedies for the various skin conditions listed.

The Charaka Samhita mentions a total of 18 types of kushta roga.

These are the following.1

  1. Kapala kushta
  2. Udumbara kushta
  3. Mandala kushta
  4. Rishya jihva kushta
  5. Pundarika kushta
  6. Sidhma kushta
  7. Kakanaka kushta
  8. Ekakushta
  9. Charma kushta
  10. Kitibha kushta
  11. Vipadika kushta
  12. Alsaka kushta
  13. Dadru kushta
  14. Charmadala kushta
  15. Pama kushta
  16. Visphota kushta
  17. Shataru kushta
  18. Vicharchika kushta

Out of these 18 types of skin conditions, the first 7 are known as maha kushta. The remaining 11 are known as kshudra kushta. Here, maha means primary and kshudra means secondary.

Each of these 18 skin conditions has its own symptoms, causes, and treatments.

For clinical representation, one can say that there are two types of kushta roga namely ek kushta and kitibha kushta, which can be correlated with what western medicine calls psoriasis.

Causes Of Psoriasis According To Ayurveda 2

Charaka has listed a set of common causes which can be attributed to all 18 varieties of kushta roga. These include the following.

  • Virodhi anna paan sevana which is intake of wrong food combinations according to Ayurveda.
  • Excessive intake of oily/heavy-to-digest drinks.
  • Suppressing excretory bodily urges (vomiting, defecating or urinating).
  • Engaging in excessive physical activity or excessive exposure to sunlight after heavy meals.
  • Following improper protocols for fasting and eating.
  • Using cold water (without rest) immediately after exposure to sunlight, physical exertion or exposure to stressful situations.
  • Intake of food even if the previous meal is undigested.
  • Improper administration of panchakarma therapies.
  • Excessive intake of freshly harvested grains, yogurt, fish and other salty and sour foods.
  • Excessive intake of black gram, radish, jaggery, milk, and sesame seeds.
  • Engaging in sexual intercourse despite indigestion.
  • Daytime sleeping.
  • Committing sinful acts.

Pathogenesis Of Psoriasis

Due to the above-mentioned causes, all three doshas get vitiated in psoriasis. These vitiated doshas, in turn, vitiate the skin, blood, muscles, lymph or plasma tissue.

These seven factors together produce kushta roga and these seven factors together are known as kushta dravya sangraha.

Kushta roga is never caused by vitiation of single dosha or vitiation of only one of these seven pathogenic substances, all of them have to be vitiated for the causation of kushta roga.3

As psoriasis falls under kushta roga, the pathogenesis of psoriasis is also similar to that of other kushta roga.

Psoriasis Warning Signs And Symptoms 4

psoriasis causes symptoms treatment

These premonitory signs and symptoms are common for all types of kushta roga and also for psoriasis. These are described below:

  • Loss of (touch) sensation in affected skin areas.
  • Excessive sweating or absence of sweating.
  • Discoloration/hyperpigmentation.
  • Elevation of patches on the skin.
  • Goosebumps
  • Itching
  • Pricking pain in the affected area.
  • Tiredness and fatigue.
  • Improper functioning of sense organs.
  • Pain (if ulceration occurs) in affected areas.
  • The instantaneous appearance of ulcers.
  • Continuous persistence of ulcers and their delayed healing.
  • Burning sensation in the affected area.
  • Numbness in the affected area.

Symptoms Present In Ekakushta 5

  • Absence of sweating.
  • Affects skin extensively.
  • The affected area resembles the scales of a fish.

Symptoms Present In Kitibha Kushta 5

  • The presence of black or brown discoloration or ash-colored discoloration in affected areas.
  • Affected areas become rough like scar tissue.
  • The affected area feels hard on touch.

Therefore, considering the similarity in symptoms, the symptoms of ekakushta and kitibha kushta can be correlated with what western medicine calls psoriasis.

Dosha Dominance In Kushta Roga

While all three doshas simultaneously get vitiated in all types of kushta roga, there is a predominance of a single dosha in every type of kushta roga.

In ekakushta and kitibha kushta, there is predominance of Vata dosha and Kapha dosha.6

Managing Dosha Predominance According To Charaka

Even though each variety of kushta roga presents its own signs, symptoms, and remedies, the management of the dominant dosha is always the first priority in Ayurvedic medicine.

The specific type of kushta dosha can be determined according to the nature of predominant dosha and vice versa.

The causative factors of kushta roga are determined on the basis of signs and symptoms and imbalanced dosha.

In ekakushta and kitibha kushta there is a predominance of Vata dosha and Kapha dosha and they should be managed first.

Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriasis Based On Aggravated Doshas

Besides the general signs and symptoms of psoriasis, certain dosha-specific symptoms also appear along with most skin conditions.

Following are the signs and symptoms at the affected area when Vata dosha is vitiated. 7

  • Emaciation of the body.
  • Pricking pain sensation.
  • Generalized pain.
  • Shrinking of skin.
  • Tightness in the organs.
  • Horripilation or erection of skin hair.
  • Black or brown discoloration or reddish discoloration

Following are the signs and symptoms at the affected area when Kapha dosha is vitiated. 7

Ayurvedic Management Of Psoriasis

psoriasis causes symptoms treatment

The same line of management is followed in general for all varieties of kushta roga. So the same is also usually implemented for the management of ekakushta and kitibha kushta.

Chikitsa sutra or management according to dosha predominance as mentioned in the Charak Samhita 8

  • When Vata dosha is aggravated, internal administration of herbal ghrita (clarified butter infused with herbs) should be given.
  • When Kapha dosha is aggravated, vamana (emesis therapy) should be administered.

Kushta shamaka yoga or herbal combinations helpful in treating psoriasis 9

These herbal combinations are helpful in relieving symptoms related to psoriasis and can also be helpful in treating psoriasis itself.

Intake of powder of daruharidra (Berberis aristata) along with gau mutra (cow’s urine) is helpful in curing psoriasis.

  • Intake of ras anjana (solid extract prepared from the decoction of daru haridra) along with gau mutra (cow’s urine) is helpful in treating psoriasis.
  • Combine haritaki, shunthi (dry ginger), miracha (black pepper), pippali (long pepper), guda (jaggery) along with tila taila (sesame seed oil). Taking this mixture for one month is helpful in effectively treating psoriasis.

 More Ayurvedic Herbal Combinations For Psoriasis

  • Patola muladi kwatha.10
  • Mustadi churna.10
  • Triphaladi churna.10
  • Madhav asava.11
  • Kanaka bindva arishta.11
  • Amaltaas kwath.11
  • Triphala asava.11
  • Gandhaka (sulfur)12

 Diet For Psoriasis According To Ayurveda13

psoriasis causes symptoms treatment

In psoriasis, the following diet should be adhered to.

  • Laghu guna ahara (which means the person should prefer eating light food).
  • Tikta rasa shaka or vegetables having a bitter taste like bitter gourd are very useful for psoriasis.
  • Use food items and ghrita (clarified butter) after boiling with bhallataka (Semecarpus anacardium), triphala, and a decoction of neem.
  • Usage of purana dhanya or old cereals.
  • Use of jangala maansa. Jangala maansa is the meat of animals and birds inhabiting arid lands.
  • Use of mudga yusha (a soupy preparation of green gram).
  • Use of parvar (pointed gourd).

 What To Avoid In Kushta Roga? 13

  • Avoid food items which are heavy to digest.
  • Avoid food items having a sour taste.
  • Avoid milk and yogurt. (milk and yogurt from dairy)
  • Avoid fish, jaggery, and sesame.

Ayurvedic Topical Ointments And Pastes For Psoriasis

Take equal quantities of the following herbs.

Ela (cardamom), kutha (Saussurea lappa), darvi (Berberis aristata), shatapushpa (Anethum sowa), chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica), vidanga (Embelia ribes), rasanjana (an aqueous extract of daruharidra), and haritaki (Terminalia chebula).

Mix these with water, make a paste and apply this on psoriasis patches.14

  • Kushtadi lepa.15
  • Prapunnadadi lepa.15
  • Karviradi lepa.15
  • Lodhradi lepa.15

Siddharthaka Snana For Psoriasis16

The Ayurvedic scholar Charaka has also mentioned a special bath for psoriasis (and similar conditions) called siddharthaka snana. It is described below.

Boil water using these herbs. Musta (Cyperus rotundus), madana (Randia dumetorum), triphala, karanja (Pongamia pinnata), aragvadha (Cassia fistula), indrayava (seeds of kutaja), daru haridra (Berberis aristata), saptaparna (Alstonia scholaris).

Boil these herbs in water and then use it for bathing.  This special bath is called siddharthaka snana. It is known as siddharthaka snana because it is helpful in treating psoriasis.

Kashayas/Decoctions For Psoriasis 17

The following 8 recipes (for oral and topical use) are useful in the treatment of kushta roga.

  • Rasanjana which is a solid extract collected from daruharidra (Berberis aristata).
  • Nimba (Azadirachta indica bark) and patola (Trichosanthes dioica leaves).
  • Heart-wood of khadira (Acacia catechu).
  • Aragvadha (Cassia fistula leaves) and vriksaka (Holarrhena antidysenterica bark).
  • Triphala 
  • Saptaparna (Alstonia scholaris bark).

These six recipes are helpful in treating kushta roga and used as a kwatha (decoction for drinking purpose). These six decoctions can also be used for bathing and even topical application for dusting and rubbing.

Tinisha (Abelia chinensis) kshayaya (decoction) should be used for drinking and bathing purpose. It can also be used for bathing and external application for dusting and rubbing.

Ashvamara (Nerium indicum) kashyaya or decoction is also used for bathing and external application like dusting and rubbing.

Ayurvedic Oil/Ghee Preparations For Treating Psoriasis

  • Kushtadya taila.18
  • Shweta karviradya taila.18
  • Shweta karvir pallavadya taila.18
  • Tiktekshvadi taila.18
  • Kanaka kshiri taila.18
  • Tikta shatpala ghrita.19
  • Maha tiktaka ghrita.19
  • Maha khadira ghrita.20

Besides the above-mentioned herbal combinations, some other combinations, decoctions, oils and other preparations for external applications have also been mentioned in the Ayurvedic medical text Charaka Samhita.

In short, the following management plan should be followed for the management of ekakushta and kitibha kushta.

Nidana parivarjanam: Includes avoiding causative factors of psoriasis.

Sanshodhana chikitsa: Includes management through panchakarma therapies like vamana (emesis therapy) and virechana (purgation therapy).

Sanshmana aushadh: Includes palliative management. It further includes anta parimarjana chikitsa and bahir parimarjana chikitsa.

Anta parimarjana chikitsa: Means giving various oral preparations according to Ayurvedic system of management.

Bahir parimarjana chikitsa: Includes various kinds of Ayurvedic ointments, oils, and pastes.

PLEASE NOTE:

This article is for educational purposes only. You should always check with a qualified physician before trying the remedies and medicines for psoriasis mentioned in this article. 

Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner if you plan to manage your psoriasis with Ayurveda. 

References

  1. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/13, p.no.182, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  2. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/4-8, p.no.181, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  3. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/9-10, p.no. 182, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  4. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/11-12, p.no.182, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  5. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/21-22, p.no. 184, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  6. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/29, p.no. 185, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  7. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/34,36, p.no. 185-186, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  8. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/39, p.no. 186, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  9. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/61, p.no. 189, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  10. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/62-68, p.no. 189-190, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  11. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/73-81, p.no.191-192, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi,  Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  12. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/70, p.no.190, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  13. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/82-83, p.no.192, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  14. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/84, p.no.192, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  15. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/93-95, p.no.193, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  16. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/91-92, p.no.193, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  17. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/97-99, p.no. 193-194, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007
  18. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/102-116, p.no.194-195, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  19. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/140-150, p.no.198-199, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
  20. Charak Samhita with Hindi commentary, part-2, Chikitsa Sathan,7/152-156, p.no. 199-200, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.

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Dr. Alka Sharma, BAMS is an Ayurvedic practitioner and an avid learner of the field. She graduated with a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, Punjab in India. She has been practicing Ayurvedic medicine and doing related work for the last six years. She works as an independent consultant in Ayurveda through online consultancy services. She has a personal app on the Google play store where she consults patients on their health problems following the Ayurveda medical sciences. She additionally has a Masters degree in Business Administration for Health Sciences from Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), India.

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