Vitiligo, also known as Leucoderma is a non-infectious skin disorder, which literally means white skin. Medical statistics have shown that this is a common condition across the world, affecting children and adults alike.
The disorder starts as a small white or pale coloured patch on the skin, which grows into larger patch in course of time. Although the exact cause of this condition cannot be pointed out, it could be due to failure to sustain melanin in the skin, wherein, the white blood cells, instead of protecting the pigment cells, destroy it, leading to pale or white skin.
Ayurvedic texts refer to this condition as ‘Swithra Roga’ or ‘Shveta Kusth’. Ayurveda considers Vitiligo to be also caused due to factors such as improper hygiene, wrong food combination, excess exposure to chemicals/insecticide, history of jaundice/typhoid, misuse of detoxification therapies, suppression of natural urges, excessive exposure to heat, stress and trauma, intake of fatty and spicy food, and hereditary factors.
The common affected areas are face, hand, feet, groins, axilla and trunk, although any part of the body may be affected too. Generally, the areas which are subjected to friction and trauma are involved, and any damage to skin would leave a white de-pigmented scar. The lesions of vitiligo are usually painless, but, remain sensory, unlike Leprosy. Vitiligo is otherwise a harmless disease, except for the cosmetic defects.
Ayurvedic treatment methods
Treatment can help in achieving re-pigmentation, and its spread can be arrested, provided, the patient follows appropriate treatment for requisite period. Ayurveda adopts three kinds of therapy for Vitiligo, based on health condition and age of the patient:
- Pacification therapy (use of herbs and mineral medications).
- Detoxification therapy (involves two-fold purification therapies like purgation and Leech therapy).
- Nasal Drops (involves administration of medicated oil through nose to cleanse accumulated toxins)
- External applications (smaller patches are usually treated with herbal powder or oil applications…usually for children below the age of 7).
Some of the single and compound herbal combinations for Vitiligo used in Ayurveda, such as Acacia catechu bark extract,Bakuchi / Vakuchi (used as internal medication / external application) are all well documented by scientific research. These herbal medications act on melanoblasic cells and successfully stimulate it.
Ayurveda uses photo-sensitizing drugs and herbo-mineral drugs to treat Vitiligo. Certain drugs made with Bavichi, Marking nut and Kakodumbar, are used locally as well as systematically on exposure to sun. It is advised to avoid sun exposure for at least three hours after drug administration. As for blood purifiers, Haridra, Bhringaraj, Guduchi, Sariva, Apamarga and Khadir are used.
The Herbo Mineral Drugs include Ras Manikya, Taal Sindur, Sameer Pannag Ras and Talkeshwar Ras, which act as immune suppressant used in patients where disease spread at a fast rate. Generally, medicines like Khashish bhasm, Tamra bhasma and Subhra bhasm are used to re-induce regimentation.
Not all patients suffering with Vitiligo are treated with same medicines. There are different types of Vitiligo and their nature, are different. However, some common medicines based on ancient Ayurvedic formulae are Gandhak Rasaya, Kishore Guggulu, Somraj Ghrita etc.
Purified Psoralea-corylifolia, Bhringraj leaves extract, Hartal, Ghungchi root, Mainsil, Sandalwood oil, Root of Chitrak, and Somraj oil are used for external application.
Bark of Margosa tree, Dhanvantari, abstract of Amrita, Punarnava, Ashwagandha, Dhanvantari, Purified Somraj are all used as internal medicine.
- Application of 5 teaspoons of turmeric power in 250 ml of mustard oil on the white patches of skin, twice a day, usually advised for a period of 12 to 15 months.
- Soak tamarind seeds and Bakuchi seeds in water, grind into a paste and apply on the patches.
- Bakuchi seed powder can be mixed with coconut oil and used for external application.
- Ginger juice with red clay may be used for external application.
- Application of sweet basil leaves extract with lemon juice advised for 5 to 6 months.
Ayurveda is effective in treatment of Vitiligo, but long time medications and treatment may be required for results. Along with medicine, prescribed diet and stress-free lifestyle play a vital role too. Remarkable re-pigmentation can be achieved in every patient, and its spread can be arrested if appropriate treatment is followed for prescribed duration.