Yes. Ayurveda has a definite solution for every skin condition. in fact it is worthwhile for everyone to go to an Ayurveda skin clinic to get the best advice to maximise their life force, energy and joy!
Ayurveda has talked about skin anatomy in vital detail for more than 6,000 years. Ayurvedic books talk about the 7 layers of skin and their function, along with the diseases linked to them. It’s the same skin. Nothing has changed today, as modern science says the same.
Ayurveda also discovered the gut and skin connection and used this in healing, effectively. While they have, Modern science is yet to get there. Hence, while Ayurveda addresses the gut, fluid, and skin to reverse psoriasis, modern science sees psoriasis as a skin condition and offers symptomatic treatments.
Ayurveda classified dermatitis into 60 groups with a specific therapeutic approach for each. Modern science is yet to come anywhere close. The intriguing factor is this – while Ayurveda treatments improve your general health while curing your skin condition, none of the individualised Ayurveda treatments damages your liver or immune system. An Ayurvedic skin clinic considers your mind-body, your individual presentations and circumstances.
This is not the case with chemical medicine – your liver and immune system will be always in the firing line. Instead of covering up the symptoms and allowing the disease to grow inside like modern medicine, Ayurveda removes the digestive, metabolic and nutritional reason for each condition specifically, and helps repair the system fast.
Ayurveda understands the exact pathology and cause for each condition. Its therapeutic approach is precise and tailored individually.
Skin and its formation in Ayurveda
Skin is a sense organ that has a lot to do with maternal genetics. Skin forms in the third month of intrauterine life. Skin does the dual work as a barrier between the outside environment and our body.
The skin has seven layers:
- Avabhasini – Horne layer
- Lohita – stratum lucidum, and Shweta – stratum granulosum form epidermis
- Tamra – malphagian layer
- Vedini – papillary Layer
- Rohini – reticular layer form dermis
Mamsadhara is subcutaneous tissue and muscles.
Skin health is determined by hydration/Rasa, nourishment/Rakta, elasticity/Mamsa, oiliness/Medas, tone/firmness/Asthi, regenerative strength/Majja, and repair-ability/Shukra.
Doshas and skin
Doshas are categorizing techniques. Sensory and circulatory functions are broadly Vata dominant, luster, color and metabolic activities by pitta and moisture and softness by Kapha.
Skin as an eliminatory organ. Daily full body sweating indicates a good level of skin and body health. While sweating itself is not a major cleansing, it indicates how the cells are taking nutrients in and waste materials out. Sweat-inducing treatments are actually contra-indicated in skin diseases, in order to cut down skin activities and thus rest it.
Three-zone functional approach
Body has three vital zones. Tissue, fluid, and gut. Nutrients pass from gut to fluids and then to tissues. Wastes in the reverse. This can be called vascular or biochemical traffic. As long as these 2 movements are working well, the skin should be more or less clean and toxin-free.
Free radicals – Ayurvedic concept of Ama covers this. Free radical is known as an uncharged molecule (typically highly reactive and short-lived) having an unpaired valency electron. This triggers biochemical stress and related pathological developments.
Skin and it challenges
Challenge 1) Excess exposure to UV light damages the skin cells. It causes permanent damage, called photodamage. Acute photodamage is called as sunburn which produces erythema skin laxity, wrinkling, impaired wound healing are some of the side effects of prolonged U.V. exposure.
Challenge 2) Dryness. The extracellular water content declines as cells migrate towards outer skin. TEWL (Transepidermal water loss) is used to determine skin dysfunction. Hince (NMF) natural moisturizing factor is needed to retain moisture content. Dry skin may be caused after prolonged washing with detergents, lack of fatty acids, etc.
Challenge 3) Wrinkles: – Accentuated by loss of blood vessels in dermis Photodamage increases wrinkles. Role of nutritional factors in wrinkling of the skin is not transparent.
Challenge 4) Wound healing. After an injury, macrophages and neutrophils and neutrophils are necessary to remodel tissue at wound skin. The re-epithelialization process occurs and restores the skin. Wound repair is never perfect and hence tensile strength of healed injury is less than uninjured skin.
Challenge 5) Ageing. Intrinsic aging is difficult to distinguish from other effects. Ridges on the interface between two layers are diminished, hence preventing dermis from providing adequate mechanical support to the dermis. Aged skin keratinocytes are relatively slow to differentiate and shed. Hence altering their ability to maintain stratum corneum. These lead to an overall dull skin appearance and loss of the protective ability of the skin.
Most Common Skin conditions seen in our skin clinic
What’s common and different between different skin diseases: Environment, lifestyle (food, routine, etc.), pathogen, depletion, digestion, metabolism, immune system, stress and genetics.
Zones and skin conditions
Bilateral / unilateral, exposed / hidden areas, skin / soles, joints / in between, lower body / upper body, seasonal / non seasonal, daytime / night time, stubborn / responsive.
Ether/Vata toxins cause absence of skin components, create a loss of cells or functions.
Air/Vata toxins alter the natural rhythms, dries, blocks and twist the channels and pathways. Fire/Pitta toxins burn cells. Water/Kapha toxins dampen and swell the skin and Earth/Kapha toxins stiffen or thicken the tissues.
Inflammatory/Jwaram, Autoimmune/Ojakhaya, Degenerative/Dhaatukshaya, Infectious/Bhuutaja, and Traumatic/Kshataja.
One can have a combination of any of the above, or have different issues in different parts of the body as well.
- Digestive and metabolic issues. E.g. Bowel irregularity due to acidosis causes rashes.
- Mild inflammation – assisted by the immune system, tissues attack pathogen/toxin – low level /grade/quantity toxins – usually, self-limiting.
- Strong inflammation– tissues attacking pathogen/toxin in order to defend themselves.
- Suppressed inflammation results in deficiency conditions such as vitiligo.
- Autoimmune – weak immune system won’t pay attention to the inflammation, hence the inflammation gets out of hand.
- Hormonal – Conditions like acne are linked to hormonal toxicity. Ayurveda looks at who upsets hormones. Is it stress, physiology, gut, nutrition, other aspects of lifestyle, environment?
- Degenerative – pathogen arrests regeneration. Dermatosis is an example.
- Nutritional and insufficiency – nutritional and metabolic weakness.
- Infections. Microbial invasion to deal with the toxins and body, during an inflammatory state. Depleting toxins eventually attract virus, humid toxins bacteria and damp ones fungus.
- Injury – burn, cut, scratch, etc.
- Allergies / Sensitivity issues – weak tissues reacting to stress. A combination of autoimmune, range of ama types and abused skin result in allergic reactions.
- Accelerated ageing – triggered by stress, lifestyle and genetics.
Stress-related skin conditions
Generally speaking, all systemic conditions are stress related. Stress has many definitions. According to one school, stress means the excessively repeated subconscious thoughts in terms of ability. This is mirrored and matched by the body with precision. Subconscious stress about anything in terms of image can trigger a skin problem, ‘damaged image’ eczema like > conditions, ‘need for improved image’ > psoriasis, ‘a different image’ > vitiligo and so on.
While a “need to stop worrying” trigger an autoimmune response, “will need to deal with it” causes an inflammation. A good counsellor can explore the underlying reasons and help dissolve them. Treatment will be appropriate counselling and the judicial use of Saraswatarishtam, Ashwagandharishtam, Aravindasavam, Varavisaladi etc.
Three zones and pathology
When nutrients are not processed efficiently, toxins are formed. Local tissues will attack them resulting in inflammation. If the gut is toxic skin tissues end up receiving them. If the fluid is congested skin may not flush or get nourished properly. This is the straight forward view on systemic diseases of the skin.
A holistic approach to reverse pathology.
- Importance in the interactivity between tissue, fluid, and gut.
- Primary and secondary skin conditions. Treat the primary and protect the tissue affected by secondary.
- Three-zone approach: Flush and repair gut, keep the fluids moving, protect the skin. Inflammation: Dissolve the toxins, move it across the fluids into GIT and flush it.
Prescription protocol from the skin clinic – what to consider
A typical skin repair starts with the following prescription of five traditional products.
Here is how an inflammatory or infectious condition is treated in the clinic: Tiktakam Kashayam. Kaishora Guggulu. Manibhadra Gulam. Aragwadha Arishtam. Eladi Thailam. This is stage one treatment of most skin problems.
Stage one treatment of non-inflammatory conditions such as vitiligo. Guggulutiktakam Kashayam. Kaishora Guggulu. Manibhadra Gulam. Khadira Arishtam. Eladi Thailam. Local treatment to drain the white spots is also recommended.
Cleanse. On skin cleanse v cell cleanse. The science of cleanse (TFG / Tissue Fluid Gut).
Home Therapies. Use chickpea flour cream instead of any soap. Natural luffa is another option. Use hibiscus leaf + rice soup blended as shampoo/conditioner. Massage skin using oil as a lubricant, and wash the oil within 1-2 hours.
Vital nutrition. Seasonal, natural and local food. Start high energy, low inflammatory nutrition
Effects of products and environmental factors: We need everything natural, at the right amount. Excess or deficiency – it is a problem! Sun, alcohol, chemicals (shaving cream, after-shave, anti-sweat, perfumes & cosmetics) and natural alternatives. The general approach here is to empower skin with tools and techniques that you have access to. Abhyanga-mardana (oiling and stroking) on a regular basis is a good example. Having bare skin time is vital.
Rejuvenative rituals and Routines (Charyas)
Self-massage with suitable herbal oil and shower within an hour or two are primary and powerful care for the skin. Adding low impact cardio to pump up the circulation between oiling and shower quadruples the effect. Fist time oil users should be done under guidance. Start with 5 minutes between oiling and shower. Increase 2-3 minutes every 2nd session towards 1-2 hours.
A routine of rest. Routinely resting skin is vital with proper sleep and baring it.
Yogic cleansing rituals such as kunja kriya and shankha prakshalana are amazing short and long term skin cleanses. Must practice under supervision. Among body movements salute to the sun / surya namaskara – otherwise known as the lymphatic pump – is one of the best. The 12 vital mantras have strong healing powers as well.
Do’s and don’t on skin care
Heating herbs such as ginger is rarely used in dermatitis. Generally, therapeutic massages and sauna/steam sweating are contraindicated. Oils and any greasy topical applications need to be removed within 1-2 hours.
Restorative and preventative nutrition
Avoid dense, deep fried, dehydrated, acidic food items. Large breakfast v large dinner. Chewing 30 times versus shoveling down.
Preventative foot care
Bala / Balashwagandhadi / Eladi / Lakshadi / Nalpamaradi oil massage and foot soak. Stretches to improve circulation.
Keeping the skin glowing
Intermittent fasting. Digestion, absorption/assimilation, retention, and elimination of food material. Digestion is where food is converted into an absorb-able stage by digestive acids, hormones, mucus and enzymes – the rest is eliminated as stool. Absorption is where the digested food from the digestive canal moves into the blood system. The small intestine is specially adapted for this function. Assimilation is where the nutrients from blood move into cells and tissues and consequent building up into more complex substances. Retention is the length of a nutrient that should stay in the body. Elimination is the process of removing it from the body. Any issue with any of the above stages may result in endotoxins which may trigger inflammation.
Commonly available skin care herbs
Ayurveda has a rich source of herbs, formulas and their scientific application. Wrightia tinctoria – anti-inflammatory, effective in psoriasis and eczema. Hemp – anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, moistening, hydrating, oleating. Mango butter – regenerative, restores elasticity. Aloe gel – heals wound and burns, effective against U.V. radiation. Honey – wounds burns, decubitus ulcers, antifungal and antibacterial. Turmeric – anti-inflammatory. Neem – antifungal, anti-inflammatory. Sausssurea – pimples, black spot and patches on the face.
Aloe vera Bicarb soda Camomile Cardamom Cinnamon Clove Cumin Lavender Fennel Fenugreek Nutmeg Oils (coconut, sesame, olive) Paprika Saffron Sesame Turmeric Vinegar Witch hazel
Hydration and oiling
Sipping versus drinking water. Cold pressed v boiled v smoked oils. Sweating v sauna / steam room / sun baking. 2 hours v overnight oil application.
Widely used, time-tested herbs
Most popular 148 herbs from ancient texts: Abrus precatorius Acacia catechu Acacia leucophloea Acacia nilotia Acacia polyantha Achyranthus aspera Aconitum ferox Aconitum heterophyllum Acorus calamus Albizia lebbeck Allium cepa Allium sativum Aloe vera Alstonia scholaris Alternathera sessilis Amomum subulatum Amora rohataka Andrographis paniculata Aquilaria agallocha Argemone mexicana Artemisia vulgaris Artocarpus integrefolia Asparagus racemosus Azadiracta indica Bacopa monnieri Baleospermum montanum Bambusa arundinacea Bauhinia variegata Berberis asistata Bombax ceiba Boswellia serrata Brassica juncea Butea monospermum Caesalpinia crisis Callicarpa macrophylla Calotropis gigantean Capparis decidua Careya arborea Carthamus tinctoris Casia fistula Cassia absus Cassia auriculata Cassia oxidentalis Cassia tora Cedrus deodara Celastrus panniculatus Centella asiaflca Ceratophyllum demersum Ceratophyllum xemersum Cinnamomum camphora Cinnamomum tamala Cinnamomum zeylenica Citrus Limon Citrus medica Clerodendrum infortunatum Clitoria ternatea Cocus nucifera Comiphora myrrha Commiphora mukul Convolvulus pluricalis Coptis teeta Crataea nurvala Crinum asiaticum Cucumis trigonus Curauma aromatica Curcuma amada Curcuma longa Cycleaburm anni Cynodon dactylon Cyprus rotundus Datura metal Delbergia sissoo Desmochaeta prostrate Desmodium triflorum Eclipta alba Elettaria cardmomum Eragrostis cynosuroides Euphorbia neriifolia Euphorbia thymifolia Ficus bengalensis Ficus hispida Ficus racemosa Ficus religiosa Gloriosa superba Glycyrrhiza glabra Gmelina arborea Gymnema sylvestre Hedychium coronareum Helianthus anus Hemidesmus indicus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Holarrhena antidysenterica Holoptelia intergrefolia Hydnocarpus taurifolia Indigofera tinctoria Ipomoea panniculata Ipomoea tridentata Jasmine officinale Jasminum auriculatum Juglans regia Lawsonia inermis Lens culinaris Linum usitattissinum Lipidium sativum Liquidamber orientalis Madhuka longifolia Magnifera indica Mallotus philipinessis Maranla arndinacea Marselia quadrifolia Melia azadarach Mesua ferrea Michelia champaka Mimosa pudika Mimosops elengi Miristika Fragrans Momordica charantia Moringa oleifera Mucuna pruriens Neirum indicum Nelumbo nucifera Nilgirianthus ciliatus Nordostachys jatamamsi Nyctanthes arbortristis Ocimum sanctum Operculina turpithum Oscimum americanum Oscimum besilicum Oxalis corniculata Pandanus ororatissimus Papaver somniferum Phyla nodijlora Phyllanthus emblica Phyllanthus niruri Picrorhiza kurroa Pinus roxburghaii Piper betle Piper longum Plumbago rosea Pongamia pinnata Prunus cerasoides Psoralea corylifolia Pterocarpus santalinus Pterospermum aceri Pueraria tuberosa Quercus infectoria Randia dometorum Wrightia tinctoria.
Famous time-tested products. Traditional Ayurveda products such as Aragwadhadi Kashayam Guggulutiktakam Kashayam Mahatiktakam Kashayam Manjishtadi Kashayam Nimbadi Kashayam Tiktkam Kashayam Aragwadha Arishtam Khadira Arishtam Saribadi Asavam Eladi Oil Nalpamaradi Oil Lakshadi Oil
Sorion cosmetics range – shampoo, cream and scalp lotion all very effective.
Super Six – curative and preventative measures:
Avoiding acidic food, eating, meal-time, lifestyle, breathing and mindset.
Day and night rituals
Day – nourishing / cleansing. Night – calming / resting / restoring.
Nimbadi, Tiktakam, Manjishtadi, Chitrakadi.
Guggulutiktakam, Kaishora Guggulu, Triphala Guggulu are very powerful as well as Nimbadi, Tiktakam, Manjishtadi.
Herbal immune herbs
Ashwagandharishtam, Ashwagandha Leham, and Ashwagandha extracts.
Cleansing herbs and rituals
Manibhadram, Trivrilleham, Dantihareetaki, Triphala.
Tiktakam, Triphala Guggulu.
Nutrition for Skin
Bad food for skin during inflammation
Fish, red meat and eggs. Fermented and fermentable items in inflammation and infection.
Minerals. Zinc, copper, selenium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and silica and sulfur. Regular use of shilajit.
A personalized lifestyle that includes appropriate sleep, exercise, nutrition and rest are vital for any tissue in our body.
Skin as a diagnostic interface
Responsive analysis: Skin is analysed to assess the internal organs. Wet green /red / white clay is applied all of the body first. If it dries in a uniform fashion, you are healthy. A patch indicates that the organ below needs help.
Observing qualities such as hot and cold, moisture and dryness indicate some aspects of pathology.
Every individual presents uniquely at a skin clinic, with their own set of innate, learned and environmental factors, and so consulting an Ayurvedic Doctor is recommended for both skin and overall wellness considerations.
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