A psoriasis diet is a specific diet plan that helps in healing psoriasis. Many psoriatic patients have observed that they see sudden flare-ups in their psoriatic symptoms when they eat or drink a particular food article. The one who watched those usually avoids them to prevent the flare-ups. But many others are unable to observe these changes. In a recent survey conducted in the United States, about half the subjects with psoriasis reported an improvement in their symptoms after changing their diet. Considering this fact, Ayurveda has explained the importance of food in maintaining health and recovering from illness.
Choosing the right diet nourishes our body and prevents it from getting any kind of diseases that can occur through improper diet. In Ayurveda, while explaining treatments of various illnesses specific diet has been advised for faster recovery and asked to avoid particular food articles, which helps the progression of the disease. In skin diseases like psoriasis, adopting a diet helps to prevent further progression of the illness and heal it faster.
Acharya Charka says
परीक्ष्य हितमश्नीयाद्देहो ह्याहारसम्भवः || cha.su 28/41
Food forms the body. So One should not take food with greed and ignorance. One should consume wholesome food after evaluation.
It clearly states that our health depends on the food that we consume, and indulgence in wrong food habits will result in diseases.
In Ayurveda, food consumption is considered as science and guides to choose the right food to be healthy. Food is not just something that we can be ignorant about, as it helps sustain life and keep us healthy.
How does Food act on the body?
Ayurvedic science says that the entire universe is made-up of panchamahabutas (five basic elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether) and whatever the Food we consume are also made-up of panchamahabutas. The Food that we consume nourishes respective panchamahabhuta’s in the body. These panchamahabutas are considered as the structural aspects, and their functional perspective is known as doshas in the body. The doshas are three in number and are responsible for health and disease in humans. The three doshas, namely Vata, Pitta, Kapha can get an increase or decrease by various factors like food, drinks, season, age, etc…its evident that the majority of the influence on the state of dosha is food and beverages. Hence it is essential to understand the link between the Food and our health.
Consumption of Food will change the doshic balance in the body, depending on the properties of the Food.
If one consumes kapha predominant food articles regularly, then gradually kapha dosha gets aggravated in the body leading to the manifestation of kapha dominant diseases. To bring the balance or to cure the disease, the first step will be avoiding the intake of causative factors. Then administration of the foods that are opposite in qualities to the kapha dosha will help to reduce the increased kappa dosha. The reduction of kapha dosha will lead into the normalcy of doshas and brings back the health. Ayurvedic medications (more potent than food) also work similarly by their action on doshas and help bring them back the normal state.
So whenever one gets disease to reverse the disease as early as possible, one needs to change the diet by avoiding the foods and drinks that can increase the condition. One should adopt the foods and beverages that can have the opposite the qualities of the disease for faster recovery. These changes are explained in Ayurveda as Pathya.
The term pathya comes from the root ‘patha‘ that means the path or the right direction. Pathya has to be adopted whenever one becomes unhealthy to bring back the health. In Ayurveda, each disease has mentioned specific diets (pathya) to be followed, and particular things have to be avoided known as Apathya’s.
There is also one saying in Ayurveda, which highlights the importance of the pathya or intake of the right food habits goes like
“when the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when the diet is right, medicine is of no need.”
Each disease has specific causative factors, and similarly, each condition has been advised to follow the particular dietary path.
What are the reasons for psoriasis and other skin diseases according to Ayurveda?
Ayurvedic texts mentioned the following factors are primarily responsible for the initiation of skin diseases. They are as follows.
- Caused by Food
- Caused by Activities or lifestyle
- Caused by Conduct
- Other reasons
Food is considered as one of the most responsible factors for the initiation of skin diseases. Intake of incompatible food and not following dietary regiment, consumption of one particular taste, intake of specific food articles, and intake of specific quality food leads to the vitiation of doshas in the body and produce skin diseases.
Virudha means the opposite. The food substances that act as antagonists to healthy body tissues (dhatus) are known as virudha ahara or incomparable Food. Regular consumption of these will change the normal functions of the body and leave them susceptible to diseases. Virudha ahara has the propensity to provoke the doshas and do not expel then out. The dislodged provoked doshas then get circulated all over the body and produce various disorders by altering the body’s normal functions. Consumption of viruddha food may also lead to death. The use of virudha ahara once time may not produce any disease, but regular intake will lead to the manifestation of the disease.
Acharya charka has mentioned 18 types of viruddha
1. Desha Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against place or land.
Example: To have Ruksha (Dry) and Tikshna (potent) substances in the arid region (Maru desha).
2. Kala Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against time or season.
Example – Intake of Katu (Pungent) and Ushna (hot) substances in Ushna Kala (Grishma, Sharada Rutus)
3. Agni Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against digestive power.
Example – Intake of Guru food (foods that are heavy to digest) when there is Mandagni (low digestion power).
4. Matra Viruddha – Intake of those substances which are against quantity.
Example – Intake of Madhu (Honey) and Ghrita (Ghee) in equal quantity.
5. Satmya Viruddha – Intake of those substances which are unaccustomed.
Example – Intake of Madhura (sweet) and Sheeta (Cold) substance by a person accustomed to Katu (Pungent) and Ushna (hot) substance.
6. Dosha Viruddha – Utilization of drugs, diets, and regimen having similar qualities with Dosha, but at variance with the habit of the individual.
7. Sanskar Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against the mode of preparation. Drugs and diets, which, when prepared in a particular way, produced poisonous effects.
Example – Heated Madhu (Honey)
8. Veerya Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against Potency Substances having Ushna (hot) potency in combination with those of Sheeta (cold) potency substances.
Example – Fish + Milk
9. Koshta Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against the nature of gut.
Example – Administration of less quantity with mild potency purgative drug to a person of Krura koshta (Constipated bowel).
10. Avastha Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against States.
Example – Intake of Vata aggravating food by a person after exertion or physical exertion.
11. Krama Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against the order.
Example – Consuming curd at night.
12. Parihara Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against things that relieve the symptoms.
Example – Intake of hot potency food after taking the meat of boar etc.
13. Upachara Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against treatment.
Example – Intake of cold things after taking ghee.
14. Paaka Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are against cooking. Preparation of Food with wrong or stale fuel and undercooking, overcooking, or burning during the process of preparation.
15. Samyoga Viruddha – Intake of those substances which are against combination or intake of two such substances which on combination have poisonous effects.
Example – Intake of sour substances with Milk
16. Hridaya Viruddha – Consumption of those substances which are not liked by the person.
17. Sampad Viruddha -Consumption of those substances which are not having their proper qualities.
Example – Intake of substance those are not mature, over matured, or putrefied.
18. Vidhi Viruddha – Consumptions of Food, which is not according to the rules of eating.
- Example – Eating Food in a public place or open place.
Regular intake of Antagonistic (viruddha ahara) Food can cause impotence, blindness, erysipelas, ascites, pustules, insanity, fistula-in-ano, fainting, narcosis, tympanitis, spasm in the throat, anemia, ama visha, leucoderma, leprosy, grahaniroga, edema, acid gastritis, fever, rhinitis, genetic disorders, and even death.
The next factor in Food is mithya Ahara. A person who does not follow the right diet and dietic rules are known as mithya ahara. Someone who does not follow the eight factors (Prakruti, karana, samyoga, rashi, desha, kala, upayoga samstaha, and upayokkta) mentioned by acharya charka about the food is considered as mithya ahara. Indulgence in mithyahara is regarded as one of the factors for the manifestation of skin disease. Eating excess, eating at an inopportune time, eating less, Intake of Food during indigestion, regular and excess intake of honey, alcoholic preparation, lakucha (variety of fruit), radish, kakamachi (Solanum nigrum ), use of excessive unctuousness, Vidhahi ahara, excessive use of sour and salt, excessive use of meats of domestic animals, animals of marshy land, fresh grains, curd, fish, black gram, radish, sesame, grained food, milk, jaggery, etc.
Activities and lifestyle
Indulgence in improper physical, mental, and vocal activities are called mithyayoga. Mithya vihara is one of the crucial causes of the manifestation of many diseases, including skin diseases. Suppression of natural urges, indulgence in physical activities immediately after Food, etc. will lead to impairment of doshas and produces skin diseases.
Behavioral misconduct, antisocial activities, sinful deeds, and other bad conducts are also essential factors mentioned in ayurvedic texts that can impair doshas in the body and produce skin diseases. There are specific skin diseases which show no improvement even after the best treatments are given are considered as papa karma vyadhi (because of past deeds)
Other factors like infectious diseases, hereditary, and improper administration of treatment procedures can also cause skin diseases.
In all the above-said causes virudha ahara is considered one of the main causative factors for the manifestation of the skin diseases.
What kind of food should be avoided in psoriasis?
According to Ayurveda, the following food substances are said to be avoided in psoriasis or any skin diseases.
- Amla (sour substances)
It is predominant of Prithvi and Agni Mahabuta. Hot in potency and cold in touch. When the sour taste is used in excess it causes looseness of the body, liquefies of kapha, produces itching, produces pallor, defects vision, produces visarpa (a skin disease can be correlated o herpes) bleeding diseases, severe thirst, edema, it can produce giddiness in emaciated persons.
- Lavana ( Salt)
It is predominant of Jala and Agni mahabhuta and hot in potency. When used in excess produces baldness, grey hairs, thirst, burning sensation, fainting, visarpa, edema, kitiba (a variety of skin disease), rashes on the skin, convulsions, obstructions, bleeding disorders, increases wounds, produces symptoms of poison and intoxication, produces vata rakta ( disease related to skin and joints can be correlated to gout), reduces the strength and ojus (immunity)
- Katu (Pungent)
It is predominantly made-up of Vayu, and Agni mahabhuta is hot in potency and is light, dry, and penetrating in nature. When used in excess, it produces thirst, intoxication, fainting, vomiting, delusion, weakness in the body, reduces strength and semen. It can cause dryness of throat, tremors, giddiness, feeling of warmth, exhaustion, severe emaciation, severe burning sensation in hands, feet, flanks, and back, constricting, twisting, or pricking pain due to predominance of vayu and agni mahabutas.
- Curd (Dadhi)
Curd is sour, and sour at the end of digestion. It can cause constipating, hard to digest, hot in nature, mitigates vata, increases fat, semen, strength, kapha, pitta, rakta, Agni, and edema. Curd helps in increasing the taste, in intermittent fever, running nose, and dysuria. If consumed daily, it can lead to fever, hemorrhagic diseases, visarpa, skin diseases, anemia, etc.
- Milk (Dugda)
It is sweet and remains sweet at the end of digestion, its unctuous increases Ojas promotes the growth of tissues, mitigates vata and pitta, its aphrodisiac, and increases kapha, hard to digest, and cold.
- Jaggery (Guda)
Its sweet in taste increases kapha dosha helps in the elimination of urine and feces weakens the digestion.
- The meat of animals which are from marshy lands (Anoopa Desha mamsa)
The meat of animals from marshy lands or reared in one place is hard to digest, increases kapha dosha, and is unctuous.
- Sesame (Thila)
It is unctuous, hot in potency, bitter, pungent, astringent, and sweet, useful for increasing intelligence and hairs, hard to digest. It improves color, cold to touch, mitigates vata, producers less urine quantity, is pungent after digestion, and increases intellect, kapha, and pitta.
- Balck gram (Masha)
It is unctuous, increases strength, kapha, faces, and pitta helps in movement of materials inside the body, is hard to digest, hot in potency, mitigates vata, is sweet, and increases semen and purgation. It is considered as one of the inferior ones in the group of cereals.
Now let us look about the pathogenesis of skin diseases
Due to the intake of causative factors, doshas get aggravated. The provoked doshas then circulate all over the body and vitiate twak, rakta, mama, and lasika dhatus, making them weak and deranged. Then the doshas get moves to the external surface of the body produce various skin diseases.
When we look at the food substances that are said to be avoided in skin diseases have many qualities like hard to get digested, capable of creating an obstruction, have the qualities to initiate skin diseases, weakening immunity, producing itching, unctuous, etc.
The consumption of food substances having these qualities further provocate the doshas in the body to produce skin diseases.
What kind of food is beneficial in psoriasis or other skin diseases?
When a person is suffering from skin diseases, he is advised to consider the following aspects.
- Food should be easily digestible and wholesome Food,
- Consumption of green leafy vegetables, which are bitter, is beneficial.
- Food and ghee prepared by fortifying with Bhallataka (Semecarpus Anacardium), Triphala and Nimba (Azadirachta indica) (individually as medications)
- One-year-old cereals are best as they are easy to get digested.
- The meat of animals inhabiting from an arid area, or which are not reared at one place.
- Preparations of mudga Green gram-Vigna radiate) and patola (Trichosanthes dioica)
Some others are
- Shalidhanya (variety of rice)
- Yava (Barley-Hordeum vulgare)
- Godhuma (Wheat- Triticum aestivum)
- Koradusha (Paspakum scrobiculatum)
- Priyangu (Paspalum scrobiculatum)
- Masura (Lentil-Lens culinaris)
- Tuvara (pigeon pea)
- Kadira (Acacia catechu)
- Asava & Arista(wine laced with medicinal drugs)
- Mathitha (Buttermilk)
Important factors that are responsible for the quality of Food
One needs to consider the following eight factors before taking the Food.
- Prakruti (nature of the Food) – Knowing the food ingredients’ natural qualities helps to choose the right kind of Food according to various factors like digestive powder, season, body constitution, etc.
- Karana (food processing) – The transformational change that occurs to the Food when it is processed through various mediums like soaking, baking, roasting, etc. should be aware of theses changes in the Food to eat accordingly.
- Smyoga (the combination of foods) – Various blends of Food also alter the food qualities. Some combinations may work well, and some combinations can be dangerous to health.
- Rashi (quantity of Food) – The right amount of Food nourish the body or provides health. Improper quantity will lead to doshas’ vitiation without observing once digestive capacity overeating may cause diminished digestive activity resulting in inadequate nourishment to tissues or formation of undigested material inside the body that can produce diseases.
- Desha (a place where the food is grown) – Foodgrains grew in a particular location will have specific qualities, for example, the Food grown in dry place are usually light and easy to get digested and tends to increase vata. Similarly, the Food produced in marshy lands is hard to get digested and increases kapha dosha in the body. So it is essential to know the place where the food source.
- Kala (time of intaking Food) – Eating without considering the time leads to impaired digestion and can cause diseases. Eating the right quantity and right time after observing hunger is the right way to consume Food. The other factors like age, season, etc.. also to be considered while taking Food.
- Upayoga Samantha (rules of taking Food) – One should follow the deistic rules while consuming Food such as feeling proper hunger, eating hot, the right quantity, etc.…This helps in the appropriate nourishment of tissues and avoids indigestion.
- Upayokta (individual who consumes Food) – Person should consider his appetite, nature, place of living, nature of work, etc. to choose the right kind of Food. Selecting the right food according to one’s nature helps the person to keep healthy and nourished.
What are the qualities of the right Food?
Food should not only be satisfactory to the body but also should be pleasant to the body.
Food should stimulate the digestive process( antaragni ) and get appropriately digested by respective tissues (dhatwagni) and specific digestion as per the primary constituent of the structure( panacha maha bhutagni).
Food should be easily movable inside the body without staying a long time anywhere.
During digestion, it should not hamper the functions of digestive fire, vata, or to the channels through which it moves.
It should nourish the tissues through the circulation channels without any interruption and should produce plumpness, strength, complexion, health, and longevity.
It should nourish all the tissues through various nourishing factors.
The Food, which includes all these six factors, is known as a complete food. Any deficiency in these factors may not bring good health.
Acharya charka says If someone wants to be healthy, he should follow the following rules to eat the Food.
- Eat warm and freshly cooked food.
- Eat unctuous Food.
- Eat-in proper quantity.
- Eat after complete digestion of previous meals.
- Eat a suitable combination of Food.
- Eat at the right place and with the right accessories.
- Do not eat too fast or do not eat very slowly.
- Eat with a proper concentration on eating and with a healthy mental state.
- Eat with self-awareness.
Psoriasis is a systemic, immune-mediated disorder characterized by inflammatory skin and joint manifestation. The exact pathogenesis of psoriasis has not been completely understood, and various factors like genetics, external environment, etc.. play a vital role in the manifestation of psoriasis. Though psoriasis does not have any cure through medication, it is only manageable.
Various psoriatic patients notice that their psoriasis gets increased whenever they consume or drink certain Food substances, which are known as triggers. By avoiding those triggers, one can prevent further flare of psoriasis. Few common triggering factors can worsen psoriatic patients’ conditions, and there may be some individualized triggers for each person. Many are ignorant to observe the triggers’ impact, and psoriasis gets worse with the consumption of triggers.
Ayurveda has explained the importance of Food, how to eat right, how to select suitable Food when healthy and in illness, changes in the qualities of Food during their combination, processing, etc.…By understanding these principles and adopting in daily routine will help to overcome from any diseases. There is individual instruction depending upon the disorders in which Ayurveda advises to eat certain foods and asks to avoid a particular food. By following them in conditions like psoriasis, it will help to heal psoriasis faster.