Charaka Samhita, Twacha (the word Twacha means skin) is defined as that
which covers the body from outside. Anatomically, Acharya Charaka has
described 6 layers and the corresponding diseases of the skin. The outermost
layer is the Udakadhara (containing watery substance or lymph). The second
one holds the blood. The third layer is the seat of Sidhma (dermatitis) and
Kilas Kushta (leucoderma). The fourth layer is the seat of Dadru Kushta
(ringworm). The fifth layer produces Alaji (boil) and Vidradhi (abscess).
The sixth and deepest layer is the origin of deep seated red and black
colored boils and glands. Susrutha has described 7 layers of skin.
Other than anatomical description, Charaka has also described the natural
texture of skin in Prakriti (constitution) and Sara Praikshana (examination
of excellence of skin tissue).
In persons of
Vata Prakriti, skin is dry, rough, and cold, with less sweating or without
sweating and its color is black and smoky.
In pitta prakriti person, skin is hot, secretes more sweat and does not
tolerate heat. Different color pigmentation is also present in this type of
skin. Skin color is fair and yellowish to yellow.
In Kapha prakriti person the skin is unctuous, soft, cold and color is fair
whitish and very pleasant to see.
Twak Sara Purusha Lakshana (Excellence of skin tissue in a person)
The skin is usually unctuous, smooth, soft, very pleasant and with luster
Even though the skin condition and other description of a single prakriti
are given in texts, in practice we always see a combination of two or three
doshas in a single person. So in practice we label prakriti according to
predominance of doshas as Vata Pitta ja or Vata Kapha ja, etc.
The Effect of
Rasa or Taste on Skin
Charaka, the effect of food article on the body is predominantly due to
its taste (Rasa). Hence general effect of different Rasa on the body is
also mentioned along with the properties of individual food articles. The
Rasa also directly affects the Doshas.
Sweet taste in general increases the luster of the skin. It is beneficial
for skin and hair.
Sour taste has
no direct effect on skin but if taken in excess can increase process of
pus formation in the preexisting injury or eruption on the skin.
Saline taste if
taken in excess can increase cuts on the skin particularly in preexisting
skin diseases. It accelerates the wrinkle formation on the skin and
graying of hair as well as alopecia.
reduces oiliness as well as itching of the skin but at the same time can
create patches over the skin.
Bitter taste in
general is useful in all skin diseases. It reduces almost all secretions
in the body.
taste if taken in excess can produce tanning over the skin.
Diet as an
Etiological factor in skin diseases
Dietetic incompatibility - This is a peculiar Ayurvedic concept related to
diet interaction and is described in almost all Ayurvedic compendiums. In
general along with some other diseases, dietetic incompatibility can produce
skin eruptions, leucoderma and different types of dermatitis. The famous
example of this is fish and milk. This combination if taken together will
cause skin disorders over a period of time. Some other combinations like
milk, honey, bamboo leaf and jujube fruit if taken together can adversely
affect the luster and texture of skin.
Food items indicated and contra indicated in skin disorders
good for skin health – Charaka has mentioned the use of easily
digestible food and vegetables with pungent taste for skin disorders. The
ghee prepared with marking nut, triphala and neem if used along with food is
useful for skin disorders. Old grains, flesh of animals belonging to dry
land and forest, green gram are good for skin disorders.
Food items to
be avoided in skin disorders - Heavy diet, sour taste, curd, milk, flesh
of animals belonging to marshy land, jaggery, and sesamum are
contraindicated in all skin disorders.
From this we can
conclude that almost every aspect of dietary advice to skin care and
diseases are discussed in Charaka Samhita and on the basis of this we can
rewrite the dietary regimen applicable in today’s life.
This article is
written by Dr. Fiyonika Mehta Porwal. She is BAMS and she can be contacted