Experts report that there are 8 million people in the UK living with some form of skin disease. It the most common complaint that GP’s treat every day. Eczema affects one in five children and one in twelve adults. Skin disorders don’t just affect the skin, but often have a huge impact on a person’s daily life, their self confidence, limiting their opportunities, and can often lead to depression and worse.
The ancient science of Ayurveda has a natural and effective answer for those who suffer with eczema, psoriasis and other skin disorders, no matter how chronic the condition may be.
What is Ayurveda?
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, Ayurveda was developed in the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful health systems. More than merely a means of treating physical illness, Ayurveda literally means ‘the science of life’ (“Ayu” in Sanskrit meaning life and “Veda” meaning science or knowledge). It is an ancient and dynamic body of wisdom which can help people live at their optimum best, vibrant and happy.
What causes skin disease?
According to this ancient knowledge the cause of all skin disorders is impaired digestive fire (known as “Vishama Agni” in Sanskrit), which in turn is caused by incorrect diet and lifestyle. When the digestive fire is imbalanced, either too high or too low, it causes some food to convert to toxins (known as “Ama” in Sanskrit). These toxins or Ama then circulate throughout the body, and are deposited on the superficial fascia, which can leave the skin feeling and looking dry, causing irritation, scaling or inflammation and infection. Like a blocked and overflowing drain, the body finds the point of least resistance to deposit toxins.
Even though skin disorders are influenced by genetics, according to Ayurveda, they can be eliminated or significantly reduced by using the right combination of topical preparations to help heal and repair the skin, diet and lifestyle choices, in accordance with your constitution (known as “Dosha”). Thus the first step in the Ayurvedic approach to management of skin disorders is to know your predominant dosha.
Which Dosha are you?
According to Ayurveda’s fundamental principles each person is a combination of the three Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each Dosha has specific qualities and it is the combination of these qualities, which make us each as unique as our DNA or genetic code. Each of the Doshas is a combination of two of the five elements – space, air, fire, water and earth.
Vata has the light and mobile qualities of air and space; pitta is passionate and energetic like fire; and kapha is steady and reliable like earth.
Once a person understands their own constitution (particularly with the help of an Ayurvedic doctor) and re-orders any imbalance through the use of diet, lifestyle, medicinal herbs, and detox treatments such as Panchakarma, they can expect to live unhindered by skin disorders.
Three types of skin disorders
Long before the existence of microscopic technology, Ayurveda recognised that the skin was made up of three main layers.
The superficial fascia (known as “Apicharma”) is in constant contact with the outside world and so it constantly repairs itself to adjust to the outside atmosphere. As a result it tends to get dry, flaky and irritable frequently. People who are predominantly Vata (made up of the qualities of air and ether) are more likely to suffer with irritable skin disorders at the most superficial layer of skin. Hence Vata people have a greater tendency to dry skin, dry eczema, irritable skin, and dandruff. Damp weather, dry, cold and raw food and stress tend to aggravate and increase Vata dosha. Reducing exposure to these aggravators can help to eliminate this disorder, as well as applying the right moisturiser and making simple adjustments to life style and diet. Just like vata people, vata type eczema is ‘easy come, easy go’.
The second layer of skin consists of more connective tissue, blood vessels and plasma. It tends to be more moist and warm. When toxins or Ama circulate in this layer, skin tends to get irritable, hot and red. Hot blooded ‘Pitta’ people (made up of the qualities of fire and water) are more prone to a type of eczema which is inflammatory, hot and red as well as rosacea, dermatitis and other types of inflammatory skin conditions. Stress and anger can further aggravate these types of skin disorders. The application of suitable moisturisers, following a Pitta reducing diet and stress reducing adjustments to lifestyle can help to significantly heal these types of disorder.
Pitta people are characterised by their dominant qualities and so pitta skin disorders take some effort to overcome.
Third layer (known as “addhus charma”) is made up of connective tissue, fat and blood. It tends to be the moistest layer of the skin and has a greater tolerance for toxicity. However, when toxins build up to saturation point, disorders begin to appear slowly. When this third layer gets affected it is much harder to cure. Normally people with Kapha constitutions (made up of the qualities of earth) are more prone to disorders of third layer, such as Psoriasis, the most common disorder in this layer, infected boils and wet eczema. With effort and a longer term approach, through application of the correct moisturisers, herbs, and adjustments to life style and diet as well as deep cleansing programmes like “Panchakarma”, Kapha skin disorders can be cured. Just like Kapha people, it takes a long time to come, a longer time to eliminate but once gone it may never return.
How can skin disease be eliminated?
As we are all as unique as our DNA code, specific diagnosis along with highly individualised advice to identify the cause of the disorder, eliminate toxicity built up in the body and to heal, repair and maintain healthy skin can only be provided by a qualified Ayurvedic Physician.
This basic advice will significantly support the body in eliminating any type of skin disorder:
- Daily moisturisation of the skin with a suitable, healing cream.
- Protecting the skin from extreme weather conditions
- Improving circulation by staying properly hydrated and taking regular exercise, especially stretching, yoga or walking
- Gentle regular sweating to excrete toxins from the system
- Following a diet which allows proper regular bowel movements
- Avoid acidity, red meat, red fish, tropical fruit, red wine, tomatoes, cold raw salads, nuts and seeds
- Passing urine regularly throughout the day whenever the body requires
- Reducing stress levels through meditation or leisure activity
Advice for Vata, Pitta, Kapha constitutions
|Foods to avoid||Dry, cold, raw||Acidic, raw, spicy||Dairy, starchy, creamy, sugary|
|Lifestyle essentials||Good night’s sleep; maintaining routine in lifestyle||Stress reduction; meditation||Regular vigourous exercise; regular meals|
|Mealtimes||Regular meal times||Avoid frequent meals||Moderate food intake|
|Physical activity||Yoga, walking, swimming||Regular relaxing exercise such as yoga||Regular, vigorous, aerobic exercise|