Vitiligo: Causes, Diet Ayurvedic Treatment
Vitiligo is a progressive and idiopathic disorder of the skin which is characterized by hypopigmented white lesions. It has complex causes in which depigmented patches appear on the skin, mucous membranes, hair and retina. This condition can begin at any age, but in 50% of the cases, it starts before the age of 20.
In general terms, it is also called Leucoderma. Leuco means white and derma means skin.
The emergence of white patches can be brought on by a variety of impulses. Many people report that their vitiligo first appeared following a stressful event, death of a family member, severe sunburn, serious illness, loss of job etc. This condition is also sometimes associated with and is secondary to hypothyroidism, pernicious anaemia, diabetes mellitus etc.
In modern medicine, there is no known way to prevent or cure this condition. However, it offers ways to improve the appearance of the affected skin. But the corticosteroids and cosmetics used to treat vitiligo are ladened with chemicals which can cause potential side effects.
In modern medicine, skin grafting is also done but this treatment is quite expensive and not entirely safe for the patient.
That’s why, people are now turning to Ayurveda to opt for safe, natural and permanent solution.
What are the causes of Vitiligo according to Ayurveda?
According to Ayurveda, the skin is one of the essential sense organs. VyaanVaata and Bhraajak Pitta remain present in skin. Therefore, an imbalance in VyaanVaata and Bhraajak Pitta leads to skin disorders.
In Ayurveda, Kilaasa or Shvitra is the term used to describe disorders of the skin. In Ayurveda, it is said that Shvitra is caused by various dietic and behavioural factors which aggravate the tridoshas, especially the Kapha dosha that vitiates the Meda Dhaatu (fats). Many Ayurvedic herbs and herbal formulations have been mentioned for the regeneration of melanocytes.
Some of the causes of Vitiligo are:
- Viruddhahaara (intake of incompatible food)
- Chardivegadhaarana (suppression of vomiting)
- Atibhojana (excessive food intake)
- Atyamla lavana, madhura, katu rasa sevana (excess intake of sour, sweet, salty and pungent food)
- Navanna, dadhi, matsyabhakshana (heavy intake of fresh grains, curd and fish)
Due to the above said factors, the doshas get aggravated in association with twak (skin), rakta (blood), maamsa (muscles) and udaka (watery element). These altogether get involved invariably in different grades and hence varieties of skin disorders are caused. If rasa (lymph) and rakta (blood) are significantly involved, it results in vitiligo.
What is the treatment of Vitiligo according to Ayurveda?
Vitiligo is a chronic condition that should be treated immediately. The classical textbooks of Ayurveda recommend four steps of the treatment of Vitiligo.
These four steps are:
- Shodhana Karma (Purification therapies): This procedure is done to induce the multiple bouts of purgation to eliminate the toxins within the system.
- Oil Massage: In the next step, oil massage with medicated oils is done which is selected on the basis of rogi pariksha (patient examination) and roga (examination).
- Soorya rashmi santhapam: Step 3 includes the exposure of the lesions to the sun rays as long as the patient can tolerate.
- Diet: After receiving sun bath, the patient receives peya (gruel) for the following 3 days. If bullae arise after sun bath, they must be punctured using a sterile needle. For the last 3 days, the patient should take salt free diet and the diet should contain buttermilk in addition to herbal preparations.
In addition to the above treatment, classical Ayurvedic texts list many more combined formulations and single herbs. These may be topical or oral medications, or herbal or herbominerals.
Some of the single herbs used for the treatment of Vitiligo are:
- Bakuchi Oil (P. corylifolia): Bakuchi Oil is an Ayurvedic oil prepared from the dried fruits of P. corylifolia and sesame oil. The treatment consists of applying the oil to the affected area of the skin and exposing them to sunlight.
- The major secondary metabolites present in Bakuchi oil are furanocoumarin and psoralen. The psoralen stimulates the repigmentation by sensitizing the skin to ultraviolet light.
- Bakuchi (P. corylifolia), commonly known as Babchi, is a popular herb which has been used in Ayurvedic system of medicine thousands of years ago. It is known for its magical effects to cure variety of skin disorders.
- Khadira (Acacia catechu): Rishi Charak has listed Khadira under the group of herbs that help in alleviating skin problems. It is commonly known as cutch tree.
- Khadira is prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians for all types of chronic skin disorders including vitiligo.
- It is regarded as a great blood purifier and used in the treatment of vitiligo as it affects pigmentation.
- It has cold potency and balances Kapha and Pitta dosha.
- Bhallataka (Semecarpus anacardium): Bhallatak, commonly known as marking nut is extensively useful in skin disorders.
- Milk medicated with Bhallataka mitigates skin disorders.
- It has myriad uses besides being a powerful rasayana (rejuvenator).
- Turmeric-Haridra (Curcuma longa): Turmeric is extremely beneficial for skin disorders.
- Soak 500 gram of turmeric powder in 7 litres of water overnight. Then boil it till it becomes ½ of the solution. After that, add 500 ml of mustard oil and apply this mixture on the patches twice a day for 2-3 months.
- Manjistha Powder (Rubia cordifolia): Manjistha is known for its strong medicinal properties that can cure vitiligo as well.
- It has the healing power that can repair any damaged tissue in the body.
- It removes toxins within the system effectively and also balances excess of Pitta dosha, thereby healing the disease internally.
Wholesome diet mentioned in Ayurveda:
- Laghu aahaar (intake of light food)
- Mudga (green gram)
- Patola (bitter gourd)
Unwholesome diet mentioned in Ayurveda:
- Virudhhaahara (incompatible food like taking fruits with milk, fish with milk, salt with milk etc.)
- Guru aahara (heavy food)
- Vidaahi aahara (spicy and pungent food)
- Vishtambhi aahara (foods that cause constipation)
- Kanda-moola (roots and tubers)
- Amla-katu-lavan rasa (sour, pungent and salty food)
Habits that are mentioned in Ayurveda are:
- Vrata-pooja-paatha-daana (fasting, worship, enchanting the sacred hymns, donations etc.)
In summary, Ayurveda has different approach to the understanding and treatment of vitiligo.
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