Scleroderma is a long term, gradually increasing disease which is associated with an overactive immune system. The main and primary target of this disease is skin and later it involves other connective tissues of the body such as muscles, blood vessels or even internal organs. When the disease affects only skin then it is termed as localized scleroderma and when this disease involves the internal organs it is categorized as systemic scleroderma. The most commonly affected internal organs include intestines, lungs, kidneys, esophagus, and heart. Scleroderma in later stages can lead to complications such as raise in blood pressure and kidney failure etc.
SIGN AND SYMPTOMS
The clinical manifestation of this disease largely depends on the type of disease whether it is spread locally or systemically. The systemic involvement is further dependent on the organ involved or the whole body is involved. The most common clinical picture include that scleroderma initially affects the skin tissue causing tightness, calcium deposits in connective tissue resulting in enhancing stiffness of the skin and puffiness or swelling in feet or hands especially during morning hours, thickened and hardening of skin over fingers, muscle weakness, reddish spots on face and hands, ulcers on multiple joints or on the fingertips which may lead to gradual loss of fingerprints, inflammation and pain in joints, problems in the esophagus include problem in swallowing, breathing difficulties and trouble speaking, dryness of mouth, abdominal discomforts like bloating, diarrhea, heartburn, reduced vision.
The exact cause of this disease is still unknown. But it is considered to be an auto-immune condition. Also, scleroderma condition is believed to be due to some genetic predisposition or following some environmental factors such as radiation therapy, organic solvents or some viral infections. This disease mostly affects the females that too between the age group of 30-50 years, occurrence in males is rare.
The Ayurvedic aspect of Scleroderma is best understood by the Vatarakta disease mentioned by Acharya Charka. Ama is considered as the main reason for the autoimmune conditions. Here, in this case under the influence of ama (auto-antigen) there is vitiation of vata and rakta predominate other doshas. The initial manifestation (localized scleroderma) of the disease is taken as uttan vatrakt i.e. twagmansashryautanam (as it involves skin tissue primarily). Whereas the later stages (systemic involvement) are well elicited by gambhir vatarakta i.e. gambhirm twantrashrayam (when there is involvement of dhatus- body tissues and internal organ (Reference- Charka Samhita Chikitsa Sthan 29/20) The features of uttanvatrakta include itching, burning sensation, stretching or tightness of skin, tod (pricking pain), sfuran (fine tremors in the body parts), kunchan (deformities in the body parts) and blackish or red-brownish discoloration of the skin.
Further, when this condition is not treated well at time, it may lead to the transfer of vitiated dosha to the internal dhatus (bodily tissues such as blood, lymph, muscles and other internal organs). Thus, it is of prime importance to treat this disease at the very initial stage.
BEST AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR SCLERODERMA
(Withania somnifera) has proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be the one of the best herbal supplements for boosting up the overall health and immunity of the person. It has the ability to pacify vata and pitta dosha. Thus is very beneficial in improving the weakness and pain related symptoms of uttan vatarakta (scleroderma)
(Gotu kola- Centella asiatica) is the herb best known for its nervous tonic actions. This herb is very much beneficial in scleroderma patients as it quenches pitta dosha which results in improved blood circulation, maintains metabolic rate, enhances memory and maintains healthy brain function by balancing the satva, rajas and tamas.
(Terminalia chebula) is the best herb for detoxification of the body as it removes the toxic material by breaking up the blockages in the channels in the intestines, and other ducts, cleansing the system and reducing strain from the heart and other body organs. This will ultimately enhance the body’s capability to recover from the ongoing disease and also doubling the action of herbal drugs used for the diseased condition (scleroderma).
(Tinospora cordifolia) is the best immunomodulatory drug available. It has multiple health benefits. In scleroderma apart from its action on the immune system, this herb also has analgesic and antiinflammatory properties thus reducing pain and swelling cases symptoms. It also helps in fading down the various discolorations presented due to the disease.
(Curcumin- Curcuma longa) helps in giving glow and elasticity to the skin and also reduces skin. Also its multi therapeutic action helps in fast healing of the wounds on the joints and reducing the breathing related problems. It is an abundant source of antioxidants.
(Garlic–Allium sativum) is the best digestive stimulant herbs. These aids in eliminating the ama dosha from the body, helps in fast recovery of scleroderma.
(Purified form of sulphur)- This is a mineral preparation used since ages for various skin related disorders in Ayurveda. It enhances the blood flow and promotes digestion.
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Best herbal remedies suggested by Planet Ayurveda’s experts for Scleroderma are compiled under a pack i.e. Sclero care pack which includes a group of 5 herbomineral medicines which are Ashwagandha Capsules, Boswellia-Curcumin, Gotukola Capsules, Sanjivani Vati, Gandhak Rasayan. Here, Ashwagandha capsule, Gotukola Capsules, and Gandhak rasayan contain the standardised extract of Ashwagandha, Mandukaparni and shudh gandhak respectively. And Boswellia-Curcumin is the combination of two herbs i.e. Shallaki (Boswellia serrata) & haridra. Shallaki helps in improving the biochemical structure of cartilage and enhancing the blood supply to the joint tissue. Sanjivani Vati is a classical polyherbal formulation containing the goodness of haritaki, giloy, sunthi etc. This tablet is helpful in managing autoimmune conditions.
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In the end, this can be concluded that Scleroderma is a very dangerous condition as it can cause serious life threatening complications if not treated properly at early stages. Thus, regular use of these Ayurvedic herbs or formulations is the best way of treating the condition of Scleroderma.