An Ayurvedic Aspect of Vitiligo

According to this shloka causes of vitiligo are:

Use of abusing words, disrespecting the teachers, sinful activities and have bad deeds and intake of unhealthy foods are the causes of shwitra.

(Reference: Charak Samhita (chikitsa sthan) Chapter-7 and shloka-177)

In Ayurveda, vitiligo can be correlated with shwitra or shwet kushta and can be correlated with skin disease “vitiligo” as per the modern aspect. According to the Ayurvedic system of medicine, the skin is one of the essential sense of organs. Vata dosha and bhrajaka pitta (a type of pitta dosha) mainly reside in the skin (skin is called twak in Sanskrit language). As the skin covers the whole body parts so the bhrajaka pitta should be maintained in a proper state. An imbalance in the bhrajaka pitta may cause skin diseases such as vitiligo.

It is of two types: kilas and Varuna. However, some acharayas may consider these types as the synonyms of vitiligo. Modern aspect explains it as a condition which is caused due to improper distribution of the melanin pigment (impaired melanocyte production), beneath the skin. This condition may be hereditary, may cause caused due to toxicity (medicine originated) and side effects of radiation or chemotherapy, etc. In Ayurveda, the disease shwitra is grouped under skin diseases.

What are the Causes (Nidan) of Vitiligo?

The main causative factors for skin diseases (kushta) and vitiligo (shwitra) are the same and these factors mainly affect the same basic body tissue (dhatus) levels. This condition differs from other skin disorders by the normal functioning of skin tissues but these “skin tissues” (twak) result in discoloration of the skin (twak vaivarnyata), without any discharge (aparisravi).

According to Ayurveda, the following factors are the reasons for vitiligo (shwitra):

  1. Virrudhahara (incompatible and improper food habits)
  2. Charrdivegdharana (suppression of vomiting)
  3. Atiaharasevan (excessive food intake)
  4. Atyamla, madhura, lavana, katu Rasa Sevana (intake of sour, sweet, salty, and pungent food intake in excessive quantity
  5. vipra-guru gharshana (Disrespecting your elders)
  6. Navanna, dadhi, and matsyabhakshana (intake of fresh grains, curd, and fish in excessive quantity)
  7. Paapkarma (doing sinful acts)

What is the Ayurvedic Pathophysiology (Samprapti) of Vitiligo?

Due to the above, all factors, three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are vitiated in association with skin (twak), muscles(mamsa) and rakta (blood) and other watery elements (udaka). These all together involved invariably in different grades, and hence various skin diseases occur. If blood (rakta) and lymph (rasa) are mainly involved, then it results in vitiligo that is, shwitra. Based on the clinical features or symptoms, in this condition the lesions appear with black hair, thin and are newly originated. The lesions which are very white in color and chronic in nature are also involved. The lesions of vitiligo appear on the palms, soles, lips, and genitalia.

What are the Symptoms (Lakshana) of Vitiligo?

  1. Vaivarnya (skin discoloration)
  2. Paridaha (Burning sensation)
  3. Kandu (itching)
  4. Toda (pricking pain)
  5. Romaharshana (Horripilation)
  6. Parushya (roughness in the skin)
  7. Aswedanam-atiswedana (absence or excessive perspiration)
  8. Suptata (numbness)
  9. Atishlakshannta (Excessive smoothness)

Herbs useful in Vitiligo

Manjishta (Rubia cordifolia), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Pitta papda (Fumaria officinalis), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Chirata (Swetia chiretta), Bahera (Terminalia bellerica), Ghrit kumari (Aloe barbadensis), Giloy (Tinopsora cordifolia), Daruhaldi (Berberis aristata), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Katuki (Picrorrhiza kurrao) and Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis).

The above-mentioned herbs are useful in boosting up the immune system and fight against the bacterial infections which can trigger these skin disorders. Moreover, these herbs are helpful in flushing out the toxins from the body. These herbs also balance the vitiated Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha and detoxify the blood and heal the skin surface.

Natural Remedies for Vitiligo

1. Babchi

Babchi or Psoralea corylifolia is an effective Ayurvedic remedy for treating hypopigmentation. The active compounds present in it can help to reduce white patches on the skin. It also has an antipsoriatic property that can help to treat vitiligo.

  • Seeds of babchi are to seep in the ginger juice for three days and the water should be renewed every day. After that rub the seeds with hands and remove the husks and should be dried in the shade and make a powder of it. One gram of this powder should be taken every day with one glass of milk for 1 month continuously.
  • You can apply these seeds on the affected parts. Babchi seeds along with tamarind (imli) oil are also very useful. Make a paste of it and apply it on the white patches for 1 to 2 weeks.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is another remedy that can be used to get rid of white skin patches or vitiligo. Turmeric along with mustard oil is considered particularly beneficial. Soak 500 gm of turmeric in 8 liters of water at night and boil it in the morning until the water left to 1 liter. Strain it, and then mix 500 ml of mustard oil to it. Boil this mixture until the oil is left in this mixture and then strain it, and preserve it in a bottle. Apply this oil on the white patches twice a day.

3. Neem

Neem is considered as an excellent herb for treating skin problems such as vitiligo. It is also believed that this herb is helpful to restore skin pigmentation. When it is taken internally, it works as a blood purifier and also as an immune booster.

Make a paste of neem leaves and add buttermilk to it.  Apply this mixture on the affected area and leave it until the mixture dries. Wash it off after some time and do this remedy for a few weeks daily.

4. Radish

Applying a paste of ground radish seeds along with vinegar is a popular Ayurvedic remedy for the treatment of white patches on the skin caused by vitiligo. Make a powder of 35 gm of seeds and add two teaspoons of vinegar to it and apply this paste on the affected area.

These above remedies are very helpful in treating vitiligo. In beginning the patient should undertake a fast of juice for the initial one week.