In contrast to science-based Western medicine, Ayurvedic medicine looks at illness and disease from the perspective of unbalanced energy. According to the principles of Ayurveda, if a disruption in your vata, pitta and kapha energies causes an imbalance, illness or disease relating to the type and degree of imbalance will develop. In the case of psoriasis, a skin condition viewed by Western medicine as possibly the result of genetics, Ayurvedic medicine views it as an imbalance of the energies vata and kapha, correctable, in part, by making changes to your diet.
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The skin condition Western medicine calls psoriasis produces symptoms that vary in degree and severity depending on how your condition progresses. Common symptoms include itching and burning, thickening and reddening of the skin and the development of silver-colored scales. More severe cases of psoriasis can lead to blistering, severe shedding of skin in the affected area and skin lesions. Dr. Ch. Murali Manohar, author of “Ayurveda for All” identifies three skin diseases, Eka-kushta, Kitiba-kushta and Sidma-kushta, as the Ayurvedic equivalents of psoriasis.
According to Dr. K. S. Nandalal, lecturer and consulting physician at Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College, Ollur Trichur, India, diet is a major cause of the energy imbalance that leads to psoriasis. Vata, the energy that controls bodily functions, and kapha, the energy that controls growth, can become unbalanced due to improper food choices, improper food combinations and dooshi vishas, or toxins that accumulate in your digestive tract, resulting in psoriasis.
Bringing vata and kapha back in balance requires a strict, vegetarian diet regimen that adds certain foods and eliminates others. You must also practice portion control to prevent indigestion and constipation that allow dooshi vishas to build up in your digestive tract. Finally, you must consider the temperature of the foods you eat. According to Dr. Nandalal, for optimal digestion your food should be at room or a warm temperature, rather than chilled or refrigerated.
An acceptable Ayurvedic diet for psoriasis features foods and spices in the bitter taste category such as dandelion root, holy thistle, yellow dock, rhubarb, bitter melon, romaine lettuce, spinach, chard, fresh turmeric root, fenugreek and gentian root. Foods with a bitter taste create balance by increasing vata energy while decreasing kapha, tighten muscles and skin tissue, and reduce burning, itching and inflammation. In addition to the foods you should include at mealtime, Ayurvedic practitioners suggest munching on a few garlic cloves before eating breakfast each morning to clear toxins from your blood and eating thin onion slices fried in a clarified butter called ghee each day.
Ayurvedic practitioners suggest avoiding foods that are hot, spicy or pungent, as these foods delay digestion. Also avoid salt, salty foods and curds, to prevent inflammation and increased itching, as well as animal protein, fats and sugars.