Psoriasis is an immune-related skin condition which causes over-production of new skin cells. Though not contagious, this is a chronic and highly refractory skin condition which can cause immense distress to affected individuals. Five types of psoriasis are normally observed which include plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. The plaque type of psoriasis is the commonest and usually appears as red and white scaly patches. Psoriasis commonly affects the scalp, palms of hands, soles of feet, genitals, and outer side of joints. Psoriasis can cause immense physical discomfort, severe itching, considerable psychological distress and social embarrassment.
The conservative treatment of psoriasis includes local applications, phototherapy, and oral treatment in the form of retinoids and immunosuppressants. While symptoms can be significantly reduced, this condition is highly resistant to treatment and may remain life-long. This refractory nature of psoriasis is highly significant especially when considering its high prevalence; for example – according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the NIH – nearly 6 million people in the US and an estimated 21 million people in India are currently affected with this condition.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment for psoriasis is aimed at treating the immune dysfunction in the skin; bringing about an immunomodulation in the affected individual; treating skin lesions; bringing about a complete remission; and preventing a long-term relapse of the condition. Treatment is in the form of herbal extracts in tablet form to be taken orally, supplemented by local applications in the form of oils, ointments, and pastes. Medicines which act on the skin as well as on the blood tissue are used in high doses to bring about an early reduction in the skin lesions. These medicines include herbs like Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia,), Saariva (Hemidesmes indicus), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Triphala (Three fruits), Patol (Trichosanthe dioica), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus) and Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa).
Psoriasis can be aggravated by various factors such as climate change, infections, and stress. Such aggravating factors need to be treated appropriately with the help of effective medicines. It is important to note that different patients respond differently to treatment, depending upon the severity of the skin condition as well as the individual immune status. Treatment for psoriasis therefore needs to be tailor-made to suit individual requirements, so as to bring about the maximum therapeutic response at the earliest.
Most patients of psoriasis, even those with severe skin lesions, can usually be controlled so as to completely heal the skin lesions within about four to six months of commencing Ayurvedic herbal treatment. After a complete remission of the condition, treatment is continued for another month or two in order to confirm a complete healing of the skin lesions. After this period, medicines can be gradually tapered over the next few months and then stopped completely. The gradually tapering of medicines ensures that there is no relapse of the skin condition after stopping treatment. Patients affected with this condition need to avoid known aggravating factors after having gone into a complete remission.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment thus has a significant role to play in the management and successful treatment of even very severe forms of psoriasis.