October 5th, 2023 • By: Dr. Pratima Raichur
Psoriasis is a challenging skin condition that is the manifestation of a body's internal health struggle, causing irritating and often painful flare-ups. A natural, holistic approach to total wellness, along with topical remedies supported by Ayurvedic philosophy, offers profound relief and healing in psoriasis treatment.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic condition involving an overactive immune system that causes skin cells to multiply too quickly. Normally, the skin renews itself every month or 28 days. However, with psoriasis, this process speeds up to every three or four days, where the dermis becomes red, inflamed, very sensitive, visibly raised, and scaly. These areas are known as plaques and occur most often on the scalp, elbows, or knees.
The symptoms of psoriasis are sometimes cyclical, flaring for a few weeks or months, followed by periods when they subside or go into remission. Managing common triggers, such as environmental toxins, heavy metals, chemicals in daily life, improper nutrition, and high-stress levels, can support positive gut health and immunity that keep symptoms under control.
Common Types of Psoriasis
Common Vulgaris: Plaque where lesions are raised, darker in color, and clearly circumscribed.
Guttate: Lesions appear like little droplets on small or large areas of the body. Strep throat frequently precedes the flare-up.
Flexural: Develops in the natural folds of skin, like the underarms, breast folds, and genital area. This form is highly inflamed and irritated.
Generalized: Often widespread, covers the whole body, and is very red, with extensive scaling and severe itching. Arthritis often accompanies this type.
Pustular: Lesions are full, pus-like boils, are often painful and may be accompanied by fever and general debility. This type mostly occurs on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Exfoliative: A severe form of psoriasis across the entire skin with profound inflammation and scaling.
What Are Common Causes of Psoriasis?
Categorically considered an autoimmune disease, the imbalance can start deep inside the intestinal tract with a condition known as leaky gut. In these circumstances, food particles, bacteria, and waste products seep through the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream. When the liver gets overloaded with these substances, the body has an autoimmune response in an effort to eliminate these toxins.
Intestinal walls can be thinner than usual for a number of different reasons, often compounding each other, such as a Vata dominant dosha, genetics, ama (undigested food and emotions), poor elimination, improper diet, dehydration, stress, and negative emotions. Any number of these combined factors can cause a build-up of acidity and inflammation, triggering immune responses.
Internal Factors That Can Cause Psoriasis:
- Leaky gut resulting in autoimmune response
- Ama: undigested food and emotions resulting in poor elimination
- Improper diet
- Stress and feeling overworked
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Side effects from drugs such as lithium and beta-blockers
External Factors That Can Aggravate Psoriasis:
- Mental Stress
- Chemicals in detergents, soaps, laundry, personal care products
- Exposure to cold weather
- Physical stress or over-exertion
Additional Factors That Can Aggravate Existing Psoriasis:
- Injury to the skin, including scratches, sunburn, and bug bites
- Clothing, towels, and sheets
- Smoke and air pollutants
Dosha Forms of Psoriasis
Pitta Psoriasis: The most aggressive form of psoriasis where the skin can become very red, extremely itchy, and bleed easily as a result of scratching.
Kapha Psoriasis: A type of psoriasis that produces many layers of skin that appear similar to thick fish scales that are bulging, dry, and can peel.
Vata Psoriasis: A type of psoriasis where the skin becomes dry and flakey and can lead to the skin cracking and bleeding as a result.
Psoriasis Treatment: The Natural Ayurvedic Method
Ayurveda offers a multi-tier, holistic treatment approach that provides positive results in the immediate and long term. Gut health relating to proper nutrition, digestion, elimination, and healthy bacteria is paramount, as well as supporting proper immune response through stress management, exercise, sleep, and a healthy lifestyle.
There are some common foods that can aggravate or trigger itching, increase Vata or Kapha, and produce low-grade, inflammatory immune responses, making it difficult to manage symptoms.
Foods to Avoid:
- Acidic or sour foods like lemons and oranges, curds, buttermilk (unless fresh), pickles, or tomato
- Fermented food
- Baked goods, whey, and refined flour
- Sugar (in particular added sugars)
- Processed food and preservative-laden foods
- Packaged food
- Fast food
- Fried food
- Red meat
- Excessive caffeine intake
- Cold drinks
Favor fresh, real food and soluble fiber in asparagus, beans, broccoli, lentils, carrots, berries, goat's milk yogurt or fresh buttermilk, bottle gourd, ash gourd, ridge gourd, dodaka, pumpkin, cauliflower, padawal-snake gourd, karela, white eggplant, amaranth, soaked black raisins, millet, figs, and watermelon.
- Drink 7-8 glasses of water daily
- Drink a half cup of aloe juice twice daily
- Drink cabbage juice
- Drink coconut water, especially during the summer or in hot climates
Digestion and Elimination:
- Incorporate more fiber into the diet
- Sip cumin, coriander, and fennel tea before or between meals
- Use a natural, enzyme-boosting digestive herbal supplement, like Natzyme, for proper nutrient absorption and to reduce acidity
- Use a natural, non-stimulating colon-cleansing herbal supplement like Suprabhat, or one level teaspoon of Triphala powder with warm water before bedtime
Skin Supplements and Vitamins:
Enhance your good nutrition choices with the following:
- Non-GMO Sunflower Lecithin
- Omega 3
- Vitamin D3
- Prebiotics and Probiotics
- Prostaglandin E (for immune system)
- Evening Primrose Oil
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- NAT (Neem Amla Turmeric), a skin healing and anti-inflammatory blood purifier, or Neem Amla Capsules
- Tulsi, nettle, chamomile, coriander, and rose tea all offer anti-inflammatory and blood-purification benefits
PRATIMA Skincare for Treating Psoriasis
- Massage Healing Neem Oil twice daily into all affected areas
- Apply Psoriasis Lotion at night into all affected areas
- If the skin is itchy, blend a small bunch of organic, fresh cilantro with some water. Strain and drink 1-2 tablespoons. Massage the remaining liquid to all affected areas. Continue until itching subsides, then rinse. Repeat as needed. Fresh batches can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days for continued administration.
NEW from PRATIMA Skincare: Psoriasis Therapy Set
Our Psoriasis Therapy Set offers a daily face care ritual for psoriasis-prone skin that purifies and heals dry, itchy skin associated with psoriasis conditions, providing antibacterial and reparative botanicals to mitigate patterns of flare-ups.
Promote a stress-reducing and anti-inflammatory lifestyle:
- Implement regular wake and sleep times
- Develop techniques to manage stress levels. Include meditation and breathing exercises, or pranayama, that help regulate mental activity and promote inner resources of energy and focus. Alternate nostril breathing helps neutralize the hemispheric dominance within brain activity, resulting in a quieter state of mind beneficial for nighttime rest and relaxation
- Daily movement to benefit digestion, stress levels, and hormone balance.
- Eliminate harmful chemicals in your home-cleaning and self-care products. Opt for natural fabrics, detergents, and skincare.
- Support optimal air filtration in the home with an air filter or air-purifying plants.
- Perform regular stress checks. Since stress is a perception, reduce needs and wants, and make the shift from doing what you love to loving everything you do.
Connecting with Total Health
The skin is a manifestation of what occurs internally every second of our lives. Skin problems are the language of the body telling us what is stuck, trapped, or imbalanced. When we breathe freely, we feel good, and when we hold our breath, we suffocate. The same happens with our emotions; when we hold them in, we suffocate.
Swastiya is the word Ayurveda uses as the definition of health, translating to "the one who is the realized self." It is knowing that I am not the body, I am not the mind. I am the soul. To understand the characteristics of the soul, you can picture a silent passenger inside of you that is unaffected by any storm or stressor. The soul state is a totally blissful one. If you truly understand that you are the soul - as more true than anything else before you - you will align yourself with a frequency of total health.
Dr. Pratima Raichur is an Ayurvedic Physician and Doctor of Naturopathy with over 50 years of experience. She also holds degrees in chemistry and botany as well as certifications in aesthetics and acupuncture. Known as the pioneer of Ayurvedic dermatology, Dr. Raichur is an international lecturer and author of the best selling book, Absolute Beauty, hailed as the ultimate natural beauty bible by top editors and influencers.
Along with her eponymous skincare line, Dr. Raichur's current practice includes personalized Ayurvedic Consultations that address holistic health and beauty, including skincare, chronic skin conditions, nutrition, hormonal balance, weight management, mental wellbeing and more. Read more or book an appointment with Dr. Raichur.