Scientific Basis of Ayurvedic Management of Skin Disorders / Kusht`ha


Ayurvedic concept of skin formation


At the time of fertilization the Sperm (Pitrija Bhaava) and the Ovum (Maatrija Bhaava) along with other contributing factors come together in the Fallopian Tube, to enter the uterine cavity (Trutiya Aavarta of Grabhaas`hayya). The act of penetration of the cell wall of the Ovum is responsible for a lot of events. It begins with formation of the primordial space (Srotas / representative of Aakaas`ha / space) in it. The first lining is the precursor of all the internal linings (Kalaa). The unified nucleus forms the seat of spirit (Aatman), mind (Manas) and sensory-motor apparatus (Indriyaan`i). The intercellular space is occupied by the nutrient fluid (Rasa). The outer covering is formed by skin (Tvachaa). This is formed in layers like those on a pot of milk on a low fire. The fetal blood (S`hon`ita) is slowly converted by the digestive fire of the fetus (Jaat`haraagni of Garbha). The more is the density of the fetal blood dense/thicker is the resulting skin layer.

The slowly converting blood forms progressively thicker layers of skin as well as the outer layers of various internal organs. These layers are as under

Vreehi is a rice corn and is used to measure the thickness levels of different skin layers.


  1. Avabhaasinee: The first and outermost, thinnest layer of skin measuring 1/18thof a Vreehi. The root word in an Avabhaasinee is Bhasin, which means to show, to reflect, and to enlighten. Thus it is the one which reflects the Chhaayaa (aura)


Conditions like Sidhma Padmineekan`t`aka originate in this layer. Charaka mentions this as UdakadharaaUdaka Dharaa which means which holds the aqueous tissue (Lasikaa) within. If this layer is slightly scratched then a watery, yellowish, warm fluid oozes. The one layer, which holds this fluid, isUdakadharaa. Like the first thin layer on slowly heated milk, retains heat under the surface and hastens the process of separation of the cream from the bulk of fluid. This layer of skin is also responsible for retaining the fluids and nourishes the lower layers. In so doing it secretes the unctuous sweat and sebaceous material from the pores (Sveda). In cases of abrasion on the skin a warm, yellowish fluid is secreted is Lasikaa. This layer is the site of all the oozing, weeping lesions.


  1. Lohitaa: This is the second in sequence. It is as thick as 1/16thof a Vreehi e. slightly thicker than Avabhaasinee. Conditions characterized by various colored lesions on the skin like Nevi, polyps, warts (Tila VyangaNyachhaKaalaka) etc. originate here. This has a red hue due to the presence of various peripheral blood vessels in it. Hence Charaka mentions the second layer as As`rukdharaa. It is the one, which holds As`ruk (blood) in the body I.e. if it is injured then bleeding occurs.


  1. S`hvetaa: This is third layer and is s thick as 1/12thof a Vreehi. Conditions like Psoriasis characterized by scaling, raising various flaccid hanging growths (CharmadalaAjagallikaaMashaka) originate in this layer.



  1. Taamraa: The fourth layer and is as thick as 1/8thof Vreehi. Different types of lesions characterized by a copper colored discoloration and rich capillary network, worsening on exposure to sunlight (Kusht`haKilaasa) originate in this layer.



  1. Vedinee: The root word in Vedinee is Vedin means to know, to perceive. Thus we can say that this is the true skin, which is responsible for perception of sensation. It is as thick as 1/5thof a Vreehi. Different conditions like Kusht`haVisarpa  spread their roots within this layer. Thus symptoms like loss of sensation develop. The post herpes (Visarpa) burning is because of erosion of this layer.



  1. Rohin`ee: The pre Maamsadharaa layer is sixth in hierarchy. It is as thick as 1 Vreehi and actually forms a covering to many organs along with underlyingMaamsadharaa  The conditions occurring in this layer are much graves e.g. various kinds of tumors, mumps, S`hleepadaArbuda_s. These stages many a time require surgical intervention, some kind of Kshaara karmaAgnikarma etc. this is the last layer mentioned by Charaka. He says this is crucial layer and if injured seriously then it becomes difficult to cure.



  1. Maamsadharaa: The last and innermost layer, which has a thickness of 2 Vreehi. The term can be understood as Maamsa DharaaMaamsa is the muscle / MaamsadhaatuDharaa is one, which holds or imparts support. So these two meanings imply that it is mostly the covering facial /layer, which is adhering to the muscles. Diseases that originate here are BhagandaraArs`ha, different varieties of Vidradhi. This layer is not considered by Charaka.



Role of Rasa in skin physiology and Pathology:


The food after its first and second stage digestion reaches the heart (Hridaya) for circulation. The primordial nutrient fluid is capable of nourishing all the body constituents. When it is received at various sites of tissue metabolism (Srotas Moola) it is selectively absorbed and processed further to yield the final products of metabolism. In the case of Rasa, the Aahaara Rasa on reaching the heart is taken up by the Rasa Tissue Agni (Dhaatvaagni) for processing. This goes on for the next twenty-four hours.



This process of tissue conversion from the nutrient fluid goes on to yield five by products Rasa proper this is the main tissue that is responsible for the functions of reaching nourishment, maintain the fluidity of internal environment, subtle Rakta (Sookshma Rakta) this is utilized in cases of acute or chronic vitiation, depletion of the Rakta to act as a seed around which newer tissue could be built, waster Kapha (Dhaatu, Mala, Kapha) this is the fluid found around the lungs and the heart responsible for the smooth function of these organs, Tissue sub-type (Upadhaatu) these are the subtypes that are designated to carryout specific functions but they are terminal in the sense that they do not yield any new product, menstrual bloods (Raja) failure to conceive leads to liquefaction of the Endometrial lining that flows as menstruation and Breast milk (Stanya) in case of a lactating mother and finally contribution to OjusRasa is only tissue that harbors all three Dosha_s and the movement of all the constituents is through the agency of Rasa, the Ayurvedic management is incomplete without the appropriate Rasaayana / rejuvenation therapy.



Rasa the lymph / nutrient fluid circulates all over the body providing nourishment maintaining fluid balance in the internal milieu. It provides the essential passage to Dosha_s to move along its vessels enabling them to perform their respective functions. Thus it controls the fluid balance, body temperature, nourishment of tissues, enhances the softness, color and complexion of skin. Thus Rasa has an important role to play in maintaining the equilibrium of various body constituents and a state of well being health.



Role of Rasa in skin pathology:


Whenever a causative factor (Hetu) is in contact with the human body, it depending upon its nature and intensity sets a chain of events into motion. This finally culminates in manifestation of disease of slow onset psoriasis, ringworm and eczema (Kusht`ha) or acute onset herpes (Visarpa) or a similar syndrome. Most of the intrinsic disorders are a direct result of abnormal Agni activity resulting in Aama formation, vitiated Dosha_s, but before that can take place the Rasa gets contaminated and then the specific cause causes vitiation of the Dosha_s and contamination of other Dhaatu_s. All the movements of the vitiated or normal Dosha_s are through Rasa as vehicle, as Dosha_s do not have a specific Srotas attributed to them.



Role of blood in skin disease:


In the intra uterine life, the skin is formed as progressive thick layers from slowly converting fetal blood. This has an important role in the formation of various body constituents. No organ can be formed without the participation of blood in some form or other. With this background Sus`hruta the great surgeon of ancient times equates blood with life itself. In later life after delivery the nourishment of skin, is done by nourishing first fluid tissue (Rasa) and muscle tissue (Maamsa).



Ayurveda has made an interesting observation that it attributes a confirmatory tactile perception to blood (Asams`haya Sparsha Dnyaana) along with sustaining life. This explains the various tactile Parasthesias found in skin disease like itching (Kand`oo), burning (Daaha), pricking sensation (Toda) etc. therefore the advice for bloodletting in the management of skin disorders is sound and is practiced extensively by the Ayurvedic fraternity.



Role of muscle tissue in skin disease:


The skin formed of the blood in the intrauterine life, in later life is nourished by muscle tissue. Both have the same function of covering the body and various organs by forming an external wall. As seen before the innermost skin layer is made up of muscle and it supports various vessels that carry various fluids within them. Other important function of the muscle is to bring about various movements in the body like ambulation, circulation. This it does by a series of controlled and rhythmic contraction and relaxation of opposing groups of muscles with the help of synergistic muscles. Arteries, veins, organ walls and even the cell walls are made up of muscle tissue. Some of the more grave conditions like Herpes (Visarpa) do involve the muscular layer; some other conditions like Fistula in ano (Bhagandara), causes deep situated eruptions (Visphot`a) etc.



Role of reproductive tissue (S`hukra) in skin disorders:


Ayurveda considers reproductive activity at two levels. First is the reproductive proper and the second is regenerative activity, capacity to create a similar body constituent. Various factors like VaayuPitta and Kapha also pitch in the act, but the main factor is the S`hukra. Hence the membrane bringing about this phase transition of AAahaara Rasa to S`hukra is spread all over the body (S`hukradharaa Kalaa). This is the reason most of the rejuvenating agents (Rasaayana) are potent aphrodisiacs (Vrishya). Normal skin color, luster and skin glow is due to proper S`hukra. Hence in conditions that are characterized by discoloration consideration to S`hukra is important.



Role of incompatible attributes, food articles, regimen indulgence in manifestation of skin disorders (Viruddha Aahaara Vihaara)



This is an important contribution to the field of pathogenesis of almost all the intrinsic disorders. Some substances are wholesome singly but on combination with one or more of other equally wholesome substances, the combination more often than not proves harmful to the body. The combination on coming in contact with the Agni proves beyond its capacity, hence it is not converted in the alimentary canal to Aahaara Rasa but it leads to generation of a toxic sticky material calledAama. It is partially processed metabolite hence the molecular size is much large than the normal nutrient fluid. It is sticky, dense, cold, slimy, and unctuous. It leads to obstruction of various channels, vessels. This results in deprived nourishment to other physiologically more distally situated tissues. Again depending upon the specific combination the resultant vitiation varies. Fish and milk, when consumed together lead to manifestation of skin diseases characterized by oozing. Strong sauna or steam bath repeatedly followed by ice cold shower leads vitiation of sweat metabolism (Svedavaha Srotas) culminating in deranged fat metabolism and sometimes skin diseases.



Causative factors (Hetu):


A variety of factors have been identified as causative factors of skin disorders. Since there is impairment of skin as discoloration, ulceration, scaling, oozing, pus formation, raising and selling these are collectively called Kusht`ha.



The causative factors for skin disorders are as follows consumption of incompatible food combinations (Viruddha Aahaara) e.g. improper use of honey, molasses, jaggery, fish, raddish, beans, (Dolichos lablab Linn) jackfruit, barley, black gram (Phaseolus mungo Linn), horse gram (Dolichos Biflorus Linn), improperly set Yogurt /curds, food articles made from fine mesh flour white bread, pasta, noodles, paste of sesame, peanuts. Milk with alcohol (Rum punch), fish (Fish chowder), salty (salted biscuits), sour substances (lemon ice cream, sour cream), fruit (pineapple milk shake); use of oils from rapeseed, Saffflower, sesame seed (Sesamum indicum), suppression of vomit (Chhardi Nigraha), improper administration of purificatory measures (Panchakarma Apchaara), mental factors like fear (Bhaya) fatigue / lassitude (S`hrama), anger (Krodha), fatty / grease rich food persistently and in significant amounts, vegetable / hydrogenated oils, excessive indulgence in sex (Ati Vyavaaya), exercise (Vyaayaama), repeated exposure to strong sun (Aatapa Sevaa), excessive water intake more than 2000 ml / day excessive fat intake more than 20 gm / day sudden and extreme change of temperature sauna / steam bath followed by ice cold shower, consuming cold water before hot beverage, dousing eyes with cold after exposure to sun etc. consuming food in spite of persistent indigestion (Ajeern`a Bhojana).



Pathogenesis (Sampraapti)


These factors on coming in contact with the body affect the Agni function adversely resulting in generation of Aama instead of Rasa. This is a metabolite that is contaminating in nature since it is gross (Sthoola), slimy / sticky (Pichchhila), cold (S`heeta), heavy (Guru) and slow (Manda) in attributes. It is partly or incompletely converted hence is incapable of nourishing but highly contaminating and occluding in nature. Since it has access to all the sites and channels of Rasa it can have a varied and generalized spread of its signs and symptoms. Since the skin is the main site that represents the status of Rasa in the body the majority of them manifest themselves on the skin causing disfigurement. These can be localized like scabies, ringworm, bullae, macuels, paules, pustules etc. to generalized manifestation like psoriasis, leprosy, (Galat Kusht`ha Mahaa Kusht`ha), vitiligo (S`hvitra), herpes zoster (Visarpa).



Prodromal signs and symptoms (Kusht`ha Poorva Roopa) of skin disease. The imminent skin conditions indicate them by producing some Prodromal signs and symptoms. They are as follows, either lack or excessive sweating (Asvedanam Atisvedanam Vaa), hardness or excessive smoothness of skin (Parushyam Ati S`hlakshn`ata Vaa), discoloration (Vaivarn`ya), itching,Pruritus (Kan`d`oo), pricking pain (Nistoda Toda) diminished or lack of sensation (Suptata), generalized burning sensation (Paridha), Hyperaesthesia (Pariharsha), Horripilation (Romaharsha), roughness of skin (Karatvam), release of heat like a wave (Ushmaayanam), thickening, subjective heaviness (Gauravam), Oedema (S`hvayathu S`hotha), repeated and acute episode of eruptions on skin (Visarpa Aagamanam Abhikshn`am), discharge from body orifices (Kaayaa Chhidra Upadeha), excruciation pain in previous lesions, burns, bites, stings, traumatic wounds, ulcers, fractures etc (Pakva Dagdha Dasht`a Bhagna Kshata andSkhalita Ati Maatra Vedanaa), putrefaction and non healing of even smaller wounds (Svalpa Vran`aanaam Api Dusht`i Asamrohan`am cha)



Types of Kusht`ha and their probable equivalents in Allopathy


Give English name first and Samskrita name in parenthesis () do it for all the names below (this chapter is to put forth the Ayurvedic thinking about skin disorders hence I think theAyurvedic terminology has to precede the possible allopathic equivalent and not vice versa)



  1. KapaalaRupiod psoriasis (hyper keratotic, cone shaped, grayish brown lesions mainly on the extremities) lichen planus with wickhams striae (hyper keratotic, hyper granular, vacuolar degeneration of the basal cell layer and a band of Lymphohistiocytes in the upper dermis) Vaata Pitta predominant (the dermic lesions are dry, reddish, hard, uneven spread with rough and thin edges, elevated externally, numbed to anaesthetic. They may be covered with bristly hair, afflicted with piercing pain, have little pain, pruritus, burning, suppuration or discharge. The onset and spread is acute, tends to ulcerate and be infested with parasites quickly. They resemble a piece of broken black earthen pot in most respects.



  1. AudumbaraChronic Discoid Lupus erythematosus (hyperkeratosis with follicular plugging, irregular atrophy if the stratum malpighii, liquefactive degeneration of basal cell layer, periappandagle lymphyocytic infiltration) Pitta Kapha predominant (the dermic lesions are copper colored wit rows or rough copper colored hair, distribution is dense with purulent, bloody or serious discharge. Strong itching followed by burning, moisture, sloughing and suppuration. Onset, maturity and suppuration is acute, parasite infestation is quick. Resemblance to ripe fruit of Ficus glomerata is striking)



  1. Mand`alaThe dermic lesions are glossy, large, raised, smooth, and stable with swollen and yellowish edges with a red tinge, covered with white hair. Thick white discharge, very moist, strong, itching, slow, sluggish onset spread. Round merging to form a large lesion



  1. Rishya Jihvaa Rushya Jihvaa Kusht`haLichen planopilaris or pityaris rosea. Vaata Pitta  The dermic lesions are rough, nodular, blackish blue like the tongue of a deer or cow. They are more common on the joint. They are dry, no itching, discharge sometimes pricking pain.



  1. Pund`arikaPitta Kapha  Tinea corporis well defined oval lesion with active border and a clear center. Kapha Pitta predominant. The dermic lesions are pink to reddish in color, rich in red veins, raised borders, sero sanguineous, purulent or serous discharge. Strong pruritus. Acute onset and spread. Resemble pink lotus flower petal.



  1. Siddhma Kusht`haPityriasis versicolor Kapha Vaata  The dermic lesions are mostly distributed on the chest. They are rough, bluish white; on rubbing they release powder, no pain, burning or secretion, chronic onset and limited spread. Resemble flowers of Alaabu (Lagenaria Siceraria Standl)



  1. Kakanaka Kusht`haHistiocytosis X letterer siwe disease, rare, proliferative, histiocytosis of unknown origin, three phases acute letterer siwe disease, transitional hand schuller christian disease and chronic, benign and localized (eosinophilic granuloma of the bone). The dermic lesions resemble the seeds of Gunjaa (Arbus precatorius Linn) bright red and smooth initially but acquire a variety of colors and bizarre symptoms indicating involvement of all the three Dosha_s



  1. Eka Kusht`haPsoriasis common paulo-squamous disorder of world wide distribution, generally among young adults but can affect any age group, both sexes, genetic predisposition; multifactorialinheritance, trauma, infections, climatic change, emotional upsets precipitate attacks. Knees elbows, palms, scalp, lumbosacral region commonly affected but could be generalized. Asymptomatic or mildly itchy red, scaly papules or plaques, sharply defined, covered with white scales, overlying translucent membranous scale removal of latter reveals punctuate bleeding spots. Unpredictable course, worse either in winter or summer, has spontaneous relapse and remissions. Kapha  The dermic lesions are dry, rough, covered with scales like fish, itching and extensive spread. icthyosis, exfoliative dermatitis and scabies crustosa etc.



  1. Charmaakhya or Dry eczemaLichen simplex chronicus Kapha Pitta predominance localized, raised, bluish black, dry rough resembles elephant skin. Xerodermia pigmentosa, keratosis follicularis, sclerodermatitis, senile and seborrhic keratosis, hyperkeratotic eczema and erysipelas etc



  1. Kit`ibha Kusht`hasome equate it with psoriasis. Vaata Kapha  Localized round, weeping, solid glossy and dark, has intense itching. Psoriasis, Psoriasis diffusa, pityriasis versicolor, occupational melanosis etc.



  1. Vipaadikaa Kusht`haTinea pedis diffuse hyperkeratosis with mild scaling? Tuberculous verrucosa cutis Keratotic lesions on sole. Vaata Kapha  Mainly found in soles and palms. May be with deep ridges, fissures and bleeding. Tylosis, keratoderma palmaris et plantaris, keratoderma climactericum etc.



  1. AlasakaKusht`ha – In this the skin gets covered with erythematous itchy nodules. Lichen planus, pityriasis rosea, dermatitis herpetiformis an eczema poplosum




  1. Dadru Kusht`ha Red colored lesions appears on skin. Thee are round and with red Macule. Itching is present. Ringworm (Tinea Circinata), eczema and pustular ringworm etc.



  1. Charmadala Kusht`haGape, painful, red colored eruptions develop. These are tender to the touch and are painful also. Excoriations, seborrhic eczema, Varicose eczema, erythema intertrigo and pustular erysipelas etc



  1. PaamaKusht`ha – White reddish and black papules appear on skin. Patient presents severe itching. Scabies, eczema rubrum and erysipelas etc.



  1. Visphot`a Kusht`ha– White blisters with reddish tinge appear on skin. The skin becomes very thin and gets luster. Boils, pimpetigo, bullae pemphigus, dermatitis herpetiformis, pemphigoid, erysipelas bullosum and bullous dermatitis etc



  1. S`hataaru Kusht`ha– Presents as multiple ulcers with burning and pain. erythema multiforme, rupia erythema, ecthyma, eczema paracitucum and dermatitis herpetiformis etc.



  1. Vicharchikaa Kusht`ha– skin has dark eruptions and itching and discharge from eruptions. Eczema, pustular dermatitis and weeping eczema etc.



Other conditions than those described above are:


(Visarpa) herpes of various types including conditions like pemhigus of various types, (S`hvitra Kilaasa) Leucoderma / Vitiligo, (Romaantikaa) chicken pox, (S`hitalikaa) small pox, Prameha Pid`akaa (carbuncles of diabetes mellitus), (Vran`a S`hotha) etc.



Management of skin diseases (Kusht`ha Chikitsaa)


S`hodhana purificatory management (Panchakarma)


Since the pathology is accumulating and occluding in nature the aim of management is on purification (S`hodhana Panchakarma). If properly administered, this cleanses the internal environment and improves Agni function while getting the vitiated Dosha_s physically out of the system. But if administered improperly or is inadequate, the result is aggravation of the disease for which it was done. Since the main factor is Agni and the resultant Rasa Nutrients: S`hodhana has to be done repeatedly and diligently.



Since most of the constituents involved in the pathogenesis are represented in the various skin layers the relationship between Rasa and skin is that of host and subject. It is very important that optimum purity and functionality of Rasa be maintained at all times. The movement of Dosha all over the body is through the medium of Rasa. These Dosha_s are generated in the gut as result of the first stage digestion. From there they are secreted in the vessels and carried to heart for circulation. In order to purify the Rasa and purify the internal environment the trend from gut to the constituents is to be reversed. They have to be bought to the gut to be eliminated from the nearest orifice.



(Vamana) English Word GIRST medically administered vomiting. This is administered to rid the Kapha dominant Dosha, from the stomach (Aamaas`haya).



In the preceding week a patient is given a combination of herbs in the form of medicated ghee (Mahaa Tiktaka Ghrita), in increasing doses till he shows symptoms of saturation of the internal environment with ghee (Samyak Snigdha Lakshan`a).



During this time he is advised a certain regimen (Sneha Parihaara). He is given a whole body massage either with sesame oil or medicated oil with base ofAzadiracta indica (Nimba Neem seed oil or Neem oil), or Pongamia pinnata see oil (Karanja Taila).



Sudation (Svedana) is done be steam using the same herbs. On the previous night the patient is given a specific diet aimed at precipitating the Dosha. It contains fish, jaggery, black gram (Phaseolus mungo), and sesame seeds / paste, Yogurt, banana etc.



On the day of Vamana, in the morning, just prior to the main procedure (Pradhaana karma), he is given a mixture of Yogurt, banana and common salt or Yogurt, banana and jaggery to drink. This is followed by massage to the whole body, followed by fomentation by steam. Then a paste in honey of Randia spinosa seed powder (Madana Phala Pippalee), Acorus   calamus (Vachaa) rhizome powder and powder ofGlycyrrhiza glabra root (Yasht`imadhu) is give. On symptoms of impending vomiting a decoction (Kvaatha) of neem leaves is given till the yellow bile is expelled.

Depending upon the end result of vomiting, the dietary restrictions are imposed and a graded diet is followed till the normal diet is allowed. This is known as post Vamana regimen (Paschaata Karma)



Like Vamana English word after the normal diet the patient is again given Mahaatiktaka Ghrita in increasing doses till saturation and on the third day after the Oleation (Snehana) is finished a therapeutic purging (Virechana) is done to eliminate Dosha from the small intestine (Pachyamaanaas`haya). The day between Oleation and purging, the patient is asked to consume a weak infusion (Phaant`a Siddha Jala) of Cassia fistula (Aaragvadha), Vitis vinifera (Draakshaa / black resins)



The purging medication is administered around 0930 hrs. The common herb used is Operculum turpethum (Trivruta), Cassia fistula (Aaragvadha) or a combination of some herbs called Avipattikara Choorn`a. The bouts of loose motions continue till a white jelly like mucus is passed. Depending upon the amount of Dosha_s evacuated the dietary regimen is followed for another five to nine or twelve days. In case of Vaayu predominance, medicated enemata (Basti of decoctions (Nirooha) or oils for retention (Anuvaasana) are administered. For the enema decoction five bitter barks (Pancha Tikta Kvaatha Nirooha Bastiwith sesame oil, rock salt) is given just after sunrise. The retention enema is given in the late afternoon immediately after a snack. For both enemata the patient is in a left lying position after previous oleation and sudation are along with other purificatory measures.



Sometimes the Dosha_s are harboring (Leena Dosha Avasthaa) in the Dhaatu_s and the attempts to precipitate them (Dosha Utkles`hana) and bring them back to the alimentary canal (Kosht`ha Aanayana) are not plausible. Sometimes a correctly diagnosed disease does not respond to the appropriate treatment adopted. There the affliction should be considered as arising out of vitiated blood and blood letting (Rakta Mokshan`a– As`ra Visruti) should be carried out. In case of local lesion depending upon the Dosha predominance, various methods like application of Leeches (Jalaukaa Avacharan`a) taking incisions (Prachchhaana Karma), sucking by cupping with carved bullock horn (S`hrunga). Prior oleation, fomentation and precipitation are done as usual. The dietary regimen restriction on behavior, remain the same as in other measures.



The palliative (S`hamana Chikitsaa) is done after the purificatory treatment and consists of conversion. Conversion of undigested or partly digested food residue (Aama Pachana). This includes use of medicinal herbs, fasting, or a particular kind of diet, hot or prepared water using herbs like Acacia catechu (Khadira), Cassia tora seeds (Chakramarda), the Three myrobalans Terminalia chebula (Haritakee), Terminalia bellerica (Bibhitaka),Emblica officinalis (Aamalaki). Minerals like sulphur (Gandhaka) and some animal products too, in appropriate form and dosage with its vehicle (Anupaana) see the list of herbs next page.



Since the main involved constituent is the skin it is important to treat the lesions locally by application anointing the area with various herbs. This process is called Lepa. In case of generalized spread a more rigorous treatment by applying (Abhyanga) / pouring (Dhaaraa) mediated oils (Taila Dhaaraa) or buttermilk (Takra Dhaaraa) which is prepared using herbs like Cyperus rotundus rhizome, N. Jatamamsi root and Emblica officinalis fruit powder. The milk for making curds with these powders is set and then buttermilk is prepared from the set curds. This is used after the whole body massage for a period of 45 minutes (one Muhurta). The unctuousness of oil and buttermilk is removed using herbal powder (Udvartana) likeAzadiracta indica leaves, Acacia catechu, three myrobalans, Phaseolus mungo etc. to reduce sweating and contamination it is advised to fumigate the clothes of a person suffering, with powders of Acorus calamus, Azadiracta indica leaves, Brassica / mustard seeds, olio resin from Commiphora mukul, roxb. (Guggulu).



Role of Ghrita in the management of skin disorders:


As seen before the main function of the skin is to retain moisture in the body and secrete the unctuousness sebum out of the pores to maintain the control onVaayu and Vaata activity. Fluid and unctuous are two attributes of Jala Mahabhoota or water element, one of the five elements but they have strikingly different functions in the body. The fluid is responsible for the fluid balance; adequate movement of nutrients while the unctuous is responsible for maintaining the lubrication chain in the internal environment. Both have differing physical attributes and cannot mix freely, the one factor responsible for keeping them in an emulsion / miscible form is the digestive power (Agni) of the individual. Ghrita an end product of milk, is an ideal substance that has a unique action on the body constituents, it has a beneficial soothing effect on the unctuous chain (Dhaatu Sneha Paramparaa) of the tissues. It also has a facilitatory effect on digestive fire and tissue conversion. It also is comparable to the sublime and pure essence of tissues (Ojus). It controls the physiological metabolism of the tissues and ensures smooth and optimum function for sustenance of life. Ghrita is important at various levels of management. In the purificatory stage it helps remove the vitiatedDosha from the tissue without causing damage to them. In the palliative phase it ensures optimum digestive function and reduces the chances of Aama formation. It also ensures an adequate supply of unctuous, lubricant, material for various physiological processes to continue. After the condition is cured it is advisable to follow the seasonal purification regime as preventive management. After the purification one has to ensure that the disease does not recur on provocation. Towards this end no Ayurvedic treatment is complete without proper rejuvenation (Rasaayana).



For skin disorders use of Ghrita is a good rejuvenator along with herbs that are Rasaayana like Glyceriza Glabra, Hemidesmus indicus, and three Myrobalans etc.



A list of some herbs used in Kusht`ha Management from the texts.


No Name of Herb (Latin) Dose / Oral External Part of the plant Reference
1 Azadirecta


Paste of local application

Bark decoction for ghee

Leaves, Bark Charaka Samhitaa
2 Trichosanthes Decoction for gheeMahaatiktakaGhrita 20 ml b d Whole plant Charaka Samhitaa
3 Holarrhena antidysenterica Decoction for Ghee 20 ml twice a day Decoction for Vamana Dried root bark seed powder with honey forVamana Charaka Samhitaa


4 Berberis aristata Bark Powder external paste for cows urine, decoction for oil, ghee internal 50 ml twice a day Ghana Saara(Whole plant) Charaka Samhitaa
5 Cyperus rotundas Powder internallyMustaadi Choorn`a 3g TDS with honey and ghee Dried tuber Charaka Samhitaa
6 Solanum indicum Oil prepared from decoction forAnuvaasana 30-60 ml Dried roots Charaka Samhitaa
7 Pongamia pinnata Externally paste of seeds in cows urine Internally leaf juice, bark powder with ghee Seed oil forAnuvaasana 30 60 m Seed, leaf, bark seed-oil Charaka Samhitaa
8 Embelia ribes Externally Paste in water Internally powder 3g along withMahaatiktakaGhrita Dried fruit Charaka Samhitaa
9 Acacia catechu Drug of choice all forms and versatile use Decoction for bath, dusting Bark, Heartwood Charaka Samhitaa
10 Jasminum officinale External paste in water Internal powder withMahaa Kalyaan`akaGhrita Tender leaves Charaka Samhitaa
11 Tinospora cordifolia External Application Paste from stem

Internal Aasava30 ml BD

Whole plant Charaka Samhitaa
12 Emblica officinalis + Terminalia chebula + Terminalia belerica Drugs of choice all forms and versatile use Decoction for bath, dusting Fruits Charaka Samhitaa

Sus`hruta SamhitaaAsht`aanga HridayaAsht`aanga Samgraha


13 Nerium indicum Externally Paste form, leaves, oil prepared from leaves Fresh leaves Charaka Samhitaa
14 Piccrorhiza kurroa One of the ingredients ofMahaatiktakaGhrita 15-30 ml BDAarogyavardhineeRasa 250-500 mg TDS both are used internally Dried Root Charaka Samhitaa





15 Gentiana Kuroo One of the ingredients ofMahaatiktakaGhrita dosage as above Dried leaves Charaka Samhitaa
16 Hemidesmus indicus One of the ingredients ofMahaatiktakaGhrita dosage as above

Decoction for drinking, bath

Externally Powder for dusting and paste in water

Dried Root bark Charaka Samhitaa

Asht`aanga HridayaSus`hruta Samhitaa

17 Rubia cordifolia Externally paste in water ointment in bees wax decoction for bath internally decoction ghee Stem Charaka Samhitaa

Asht`aanga Hridaya

18 Cedrus


One of the ingredients ofKalyaan`aka


Externally paste in water



Oil for fomentation

Charaka Samhitaa


Asht`aanga Hridaya

19 Alstonia scholaris One of the ingredients ofMahaatiktaka


Vajraka Ghrita

Dosage as above

Decoction for drinking, bath

Dried / fresh leaves Charaka Samhitaa



Asht`aanga Hridaya

20 Curcuma longa One of the ingredients ofMahaa KhadiraGhrita MahaatiktakaGhrita dosage as above Pate in water / milk external Rhizome fresh / dried powder Charaka Samhitaa

Asht`aanga HridayaSus`hrutaSamhitaa

21 Butea frondosa External as paste of ashes of root and leaves in water / cows urine Root, leaves Charaka Samhitaa
22 Psoralea corylyfolia Externally application of seed paste in cows urine Seed Charaka Samhitaa
23 Saussurea lappa Externally paste in honey / water cows urine Dried bark Charaka Samhitaa
24 Balanitis egyptica Seed oil locally Seeds Charaka Samhitaa

Asht`aanga Hridaya

25 Nardostachys jatamansi  Externally application of paste in water / cows urine

Internally decoction 20-30 ml b d

Roots Asht`aangaHridaya

Charaka Samhitaa



26 Albizia lebbeck Externally application of paste in water / cows urine Bark Charaka Samhitaa
27 Brassica campestris Externally paste of seeds and oil is used both internally and externally Seeds Charaka Samhitaa
28 Cassia fistula Externally paste of leaves and oil prepared from leaves is used externally for application is also the major ingredient ofMahaatiktakaGhrita AaragvadhaGhrita internally Fresh leaves Charaka Samhitaa





Asht`aanga Hridaya

29 Mallotusphilippinensis  External application paste in bees waxVipadikAahaaraTaila Fruit Charaka Samhitaa
30 Cassia tora Externally paste of seeds and oil is used both internally and externally Seeds Charaka Samhitaa


Research reference on indigenous Ayurvedic herbs as reported in literature



Therapeutic plants of Ayurveda: A Review of selected clinical and other studies for 166 species By Sarah Khan M.S., M.P.S., C.N.S., and Michael J. Balick Ph.D

Institute of Economic Botany, the New York botanical garden, Bronx, NY



The journal of alternative and complementary medicine volume 7, number 5, 2001 pp 405-515 Mary Ann Liebert Inc.



Genus / Species / Family [common name] Plant pat used preparation and dosages Design model Results References
Aloe barbadensis  Aloe Vera extract cream 0/5% 100g of placebo or active ingredients 3x daily for 5 consecutive days per week (maximum 4 weeks) Double blind, placebo controlled study: 60 patients with Psoriasis Patients with slightly o moderate chronic plaque type psoriasis were treated. By the end of study, 25/30 (83.3%) were cured compared to 2/30 (6.6%) in placebo group, Psoriasis and Area and Severity index score decreased to a mean of 2.2 Syed TA, et al management of psoriasis with aloeVera extract in a hydrophilic cream. A placebo controlled, double blind study top medInt health 1996; 1(4) 505-509
Azadiracta indica Group: Azadiracta Indica Powder 4g /3 x day, paste of Arbus Precatorius and Plumbegi Zeylanica applied externally group II powder of Phyllanthus Emblica, Acacia Catechu and seeds of Psorelea Corylifolia 4g /3 x day Random trial; 60 patients with Vitiligo Encouraging improvement in treatingVitiligo(appearance of white patches on the skin) was noted from both groups Naie RP, et al clinical evaluation ofAyurvedicpreparations in Vitiligo J Res Ayur Siddh `987; VIII (1-2): 30-38
Capsicum annuum Capsaicin cream, 0.0025% standard therapy included 1.5 ml Betamethasone sodium phosphate, 1.5 ml Triamcinolone Acetonide Case study Healthy male 66 years Olspresented with herpes Zoster. After 18 months of standard treatment initiated Capsaicin treatment. Discomfort decreased within two days (4x/day) four weeks after initiating treatment patient awoke with no pain Hawk RJ, Millikan LE. Treatment of oral post herpetic Neuraligia with topical capsaicin Int J Dermatol 1988; 27(5): 336
Hemidesmus indicus (L) W.T Asclepiadaceae saarivaa Air dried roots and simple distillation with water Feeding in



Tested on mice infected with M.Leprae. The drug may cause a delay in multiplication of organisms in the mouse foot pads Gupta PN. Anti Leprotic action of an extract of Anantmul Lepr. India 1981; 53 (3) 323-335
Curcuma longa Ethanolic extract and ointment of Curcumin Human trial;62 patients withexternalcancerous lesions Decrease in smell 90% and in itching in almost all cases was noted. Dry lesions were observed in 70% and 10% had a decrease in lesion size and pain Kuttan R, et cal, Turmeric and Curcumin as topical agents in cancer therapy Tumori 1987; 73:29-31
Glycyrrhizaglabra,L Leguminosae Embelia Ribes, Glycerriza Glabra, Holorrhena Antidysentrica, N. Jat`aamaamsee, Phyllanthus Emblica, Santalum album, Terminalia Beleerica, Terminalia

Chebula, Zinziber Officinalis

Single blind randomized comparative study: 49 adolescent to young adults with mild to moderate facial


Each 3-treatment groups were administered different herbal mixtures successful treatments in group A and groups B proved effective against both inflammatory (pimples) and Non inflammatory (black heads and otherComedoens) lesions. The mechanism of action remains unknown Paranjape P Evaluation of topical application of herbal formulation in Acne Vulgaris: a single blind randomized comparative Styd J med aromatic Platn Sci. 1997; 19:414-418
Embelia ribes brum.f. myrsinaceae Embelia Ribes, Glycerriza Glabra, Holorrhean Antidysentrica, N. Jat`aamaamsee, Phyllanthus Emblica, Santalum album, Terminalia Bellerica, Terminalia Chebula, Zinziber Officinalis Single blind randomized comparative study: 49 adolescent to young adults with mild to moderate facial acne Each 3-treatment group was administered different herbal mixtures successful treatments in group A and groups B proved effective against both inflammatory (pimples) and non- inflammatory (black heads and othercomedoens) lesions. The mechanism of action remains unknown Paranjape P Evaluation of topical application of herbal formulation in Acne Vulgaris:A single blind randomized comparative study J Med aromatic plantsci. 1997; 19:414-418












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