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Dr. Vikram Chauhan - MD (Ayurveda)

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Ayurvedic Herbs For Skin Disorders


The outer covering of the body is called 'skin" which is the largest organ of the body. Skin acts as the first line of defense against any infection or any outer stress (sunlight, radiation, chemicals etc). In a lifetime of a person he or she at one point of life suffers from skin disorder. According to Ayurveda, skin is an essential sense organ. Ayurveda has a different take on skin disorders. Most of the skin disorders in Ayurveda are kept under a broader term called "KUSTHA". We will try to give you a brief on skin disorders. We will be discussing Ayurvedic herbs in a detailed perspective here on this topic.

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Before discussing the Ayurvedic herbs let's have a short overview on the anatomy of skin. As we know skin is the largest organ of the body and it acts as the first line of defense and protects the body from ultraviolet rays, chemicals, and infective organisms in the atmosphere. Apart from this skin also offers different functions like stored water, fat, vitamin D etc. Skin is further divided in three main layers:

  1. Epidermis: Outermost layer protects the body from environmental stress. Thickness varies (0.05mm-1.5mm).
  2. Dermis: Located beneath epidermis (1.5mm-4 mm in thickness) makes 90% thickness of skin. Main function of dermis is to  regulate temperature, water storage(much of the water is stored here)
  3. Hypodermis: Also called subcutaneous or superficial fascia. Lies between dermis and underlying tissue and organs. Consist of mostly fat (adipose tissue). Size varies and is the location of hair follicle, sweat glands, sebaceous glands.

Ayurveda Perspective Of Skin

In Ayurveda we call skin "TWAK" one of the Jnanendriyas (sensory). Twak (skin) is considered updhatu (i.e metalloid) of "MAMSA DHATU"(mamsa dhatu = muscle element). Twak is attributed with function of sensation of touch and is the location of sweat channels (swedavahi stotras) and hairs (loma)

According to Acharya Sushruta and Acharya Bhavmishra twak (skin) is of 7 layers while Acharya Charak & Acharya Vagbhatta have described 6 layers.

Sl. No. Name of Skin Layer Thickness Name of disease related to Skin Layer Modern Concept
1. Avabhasini 1/18 vrihi (rice) Padmakantak, sidhma Epithelial layer, horny layer, stratum corneum
2. Lohita 1/16 vrihi Tilkalak, vyang (melesma), nyachchha Stratum lucidum
3. Shweta 1/12 vrihi Charma dala Stratum granulosum
4. Tamra ⅛ vrihi Kshara of Tila (Kusth, kilasa) Malphigian layer
5. Vedini ⅕ vrihi Kustha, visarpa (herpes) Papillary layer
6. Rohini 1 vrihi Apachi (lymphadenitis), arbuda (tumor) sleepada (filariasis), galganda (goiter) Reticular layer
7. Mamsadhara 2 vrihi Bhagandra (fistula), vidradhi (abscess), arsha (piles) Subcutaneous tissue, muscular layer

Common Skin Problems

  • Rashes: Area of red, inflamed skin is called a rash. Can be caused by irritation, allergy, infection etc. For example acne, hives, eczema etc.
  • Viral infection: Due to penetration of virus in the skin (stratum corneum) infects the layers of skin. Example shingles, warts.
  • Fungal infection: Fungi is always present on the skin however decrease in immunity causes fungal infection such as athlete's foot jock itch, ringworm.
  • Parasitic infection: Parasitic infections like lice and scabies.
  • Pigmentation disorders: Pigmentation of skin or skin color is due to melanin produced by the body. Loss of pigmentation is called hypopigmentation due to loss or absence of melanocytes, cold exposure, chemicals, infection etc. Whereas hyperpigmentation can be due to irritation, hormonal disbalance, metabolic disorder, ageing etc.
  • Tumors
  • Trauma

Some Herbs Useful To Treat Skin Disorders

Sl. No. Name of Skin Layer Thickness Name of disease related to Skin Layer
1. Sariva (Indian sarsaparilla) Hemidesmus indicus (Asclepiadaceae) Root
2. Amla Emblica officinalis (Euphorbiaceae) Fruits
3. Arjuna Terminallia arjuna (Combretaceae) Bark
4. Ashoka Saraca asoca (Caesalpiniaceae) Ashokar
5. Bakuchi Psoralea corylifolia (Papilionatae) seed, oil
6. Bibhitaki Terminalia bellirica (Combretaceae) Fruits
7. Bhumi amla Phyllanthus niruri (Euphorbiaceae) Whole plant
8. Bhringraj Eclipta alba (Compositae) Leaf / whole plant
9. Calendula Calendula officinalis (Asteraceae) Whole plant
10. Chitrak Plumbago zeylanica (Plumbaginaceae) Root
11. Chandan / Sandalwood Santalum album (Santalaceae) Heart wood, oil
12. Chiraita Swertia chirata (Gentianaceae) Whole plant
13. Daruhaldi Berberis aristata (Berberidaceae) Heart wood
14. Rose Rosa indica (Rosaceae) Rose petals
15. Hartaki Terminallia chebula (Combretaceae) Fruits
16. Henna / mehndi Lawsonia inermis (Lythraceae) Leaf
17. Karanj Pongamia pinnata (Leguminosae) Bark, leaf, seeds
18. Kumkum / Kesar Crocus sativus (Iridaceae) Pollen stems
19. Khadir Acacia catechu (Mimosoideae) Stem bark
20. Stree kutaj Wrightia tinctoria (Apocynaceae) Bark

In the above table we have tried to compile the best herbs for skin disorders. Further we will discuss the chemical composition and action of some drugs on skin disorders.

1. SARIVA (Hemidesmus indicus)

Chemical constituents are hyperoside, rutin, desinine, hemidesminine etc. Uses are as follows-

  • Kushthahara - treats eczema.
  • Kanduhara - relieves itching
  • Jawarahar - treats fever
  • Mehnashana - treats diabetes
  • Atisarahar - helpful in diarrhea
  • Aamahar - flushes out toxins
  • Vishapaha - anti toxic
  •  Pradaranut - good in menorrhagia

2. AMALA (Embillica officinalis)

Also known as amalaki / indian gooseberry is packed with wonders. Word AMLA comes from the word "AMAL" which means sour. It is the main constituent of many ayurvedic medicines like triphala, chyawanprash etc. amla has an effect on all 3 doshas and hence pacifies all 3. Main constituents of amala are emblicanin b, emblicanin a, chebulagic acid, corilagin, glucogallin etc. Action of amla

  • Vrushya- aphrodisiac
  • Rasayana - rejuvenation
  • Kanthaya - useful in throat disorders
  • Pramehghan - useful in diabetes
  • Raktapittaghan - useful in bleeding disorders
  • Hridya - good for heart
  • Dah har - relieves burning sensations in body
  • Jwarahar - treats fever
  • And is also good in skin related ailments.

3. ARJUNA (Terminalia arjuna)

This ayurvedic wonder treats multiple ailments like diabetes, useful in hypertension, reduces cholesterol, and also acts as antioxidant. Polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, sterols etc. Pharmacological action of arjuna.

  • cardiotonic
  • Antidysenteric
  •  Antihypertensive
  •  Diuretic
  • Helpful in skin disorders

4. ASHOKA (Saraca asoca)

It is a very well-known Ayurvedic drug and has very good results in gynecological conditions. Along with it act as a blood purifier hence is helpful in skin disorders. Word ashoka means getting someone out of shoka (grief). Chemical constituents are tannins, catecholetc. Some actions of ashoka are as following

  • Sheetala - coolant
  • Grahi - absorbent
  • Varnya - improves skin complexion
  •  Doshahara - antioxidant
  • Krimihara - treats worm infestations
  • Hrudya - useful in cardiac issues
  • Shoolahara - relieves abdominal colic

5. BAKUCHI (Psoralea coryfolia)

This herb has very good results in skin issues. Also called as bavachi. Its chemical constituents are psoralen and iso-psoralen. Besides being good for skin disorders it also treats worm infestations. More medical effects are as follows

  • Kushthaghna - treat skin disorders
  • Ruchya - improves taste digestion
  • Shleshmahara - balances kapha
  • Hrudaya - good in cardiac disorders
  • Mehahara - treats diabetes
  • Jwarahara - treats fever
  • Vishtambhahara - relieves constipation

6. BHUMIAMALAKI (Phyllanthus niruri)

It is a very good liver protective agent along with treatment of skin disorders, fever etc. Application of paste of Phyllanthus niruri helps treating skin disorders. The Chemical constituent of this herb is phyllanthin. Some uses are as follows

  • Rochani - improves taste and digestion
  • Kushthahara - treats skin disorders
  • Trushna - helpful in thirst
  • Dahahara - treats burning sensations in the body
  • Hidhmahara - Treats hiccups
  • Kshatksheen - treats wounds

7. BHRINGRAJ (Eclipta alba)

It is a very good herb for rejuvenation, hairfall, liver disorder, skin disorders etc. It has 3 varieties according to the flowers white, yellow, and blue. Chemical constituents - ecliptic, wedelolactone, stigmasterol, heptacosanol etc

  • Hepatoprotective
  • Purgative
  • Analgesic
  • Hypotensive
  • Antiviral

8. GENDA (Calendula)

This is a very common flower in India used in religious functions and offering to god. Apart from this, calendula has very good effects on the body as herb. Chemical constituents are rutin, calendulin, salicylic acid etc. Some Medicinal uses

  • Shothahara - reduces inflammation
  • Arshaghan - treat piles
  • Jwarahara - treats fever
  • Vistambhahara - relieves constipation
  • Twak vikara - good for skin disorders
  • Doshahara - antioxidant

9. CHANDAN (Santalum album)

Also called as sandalwood helps treat skin diseases along with it is good for gastritis, burning sensations in body etc. Chemical composition - santalol, santelol, teresantalic acid etc. Medicinal uses are as follows

  • Rakta prasadna - blood purifier
  • Vrushya - aphrodisiac
  • Vishahara - antioxidant
  • Trushnahara - relieves thirst
  • Krumighan  - treat worm infestations
  • Varnya - good for complexion

10. DARUHARIDRA (Berberis aristata)

This herb is very useful in eye disorders, piles, diabetes, itching etc. Berberine, the main constituent of daruharidra is very helpful in treating diabetes and high cholesterol levels. Berberine has antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor properties along with it is also a very good antioxidant. Some medicinal properties -

  • Vranajit - good for wound healing
  • Shophahara - anti-inflammatory
  • Kanduhara - relieves itching
  • Kushuthara - good in skin disorders
  • Vish hara - antioxidant

11. GULAB (Rosa indica)

As we all know, roses have a very high cosmetic value. Rose has anti-inflammatory action along with it cures diarrhea and intestinal ulcers. Also it is a blood purifier, mouth ulcers, thirst, vomiting. Rose contains saponins, citronellol, geraniol, phenylethanol, tannins, vitamin C, malic acid, citric acid. Some uses of rose are as follows

  • Varnaya - improves skin complexion
  • Shukral - improves semen quality and quantity
  • Hrudya - act as a cardiotonic
  • Pittahara - balances pitta
  • Dahahara - relieves burning sensation
  • Jwarahara - treats fever

12. HARITAKI (Terminalia chebula)

This herb is one of the contents of triphala churna. Word haritaki means which removes diseases and also improves complexion. Haritaki contains chebulagic acid, chebulic acid, tannic acid, gallic acid etc. Some medicinal uses of haritaki.

  • Kushthahara - treats skin disorders
  • Shothahara - treats inflammation
  • Madahara - tresta delirium
  • Arshahara - treats piles
  • Atisarahara -b treats diarrhea
  • Arochkahara - treats anorexia

13. MEHNDI (lawsonia inermis)

Also called as henna this herb has wonderful results in skin disorders. Also it treats dysuria, fever, ulcers, bleeding disorders. Chemical constituents - lawsone, coumarins, flavonoids, tannins, gallic acid, glucose, mannitol, mucilage etc. According to ayurveda henna is used in

  • Kushthahara - treats skin disorders
  • Jwarahara - treats fever
  • Kandughan - relieves itching
  • Dahahara - relieves burning sensation
  • Hrudroga - good in cardiac disorders
  • Vrana Ropak - heals ulcers and wound

14. KARANJ (Pongamia pinnata)

Karanj is a very important herb related to skin disorders. Its seed oil is used in neuromuscular disorders. In blood borne disorders it is also helpful. Chemical constituents - oleic acid, linoleic, palmitic acids. Anti-ulcerative property of karanj is due to karanjin (isolated from seeds). It is used both externally and internally.

External Use

  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Relieves itching
  • Oil is a good wound healer

Internal Use - (Decoction, Powder, Tablet)

  • Liver stimulant
  • Treats anorexia
  • Blood purifier
  • Treats edema
  • Decreases urine quantity(diabetes)
  • Pacifies kapha dosha(seed powder given in cough)
  • In skin disorders

15. KHADIR (Acacia catechu)

Most commonly used is ayurveda also called "katha". Commonly called as Cutch tree.word acacia means gun yielding property. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-allergic properties. Acacatechin, quercetin, gum quercetin etc. are the main active constituents of Khadir.

Some medicinal properties of Khadir

  • Kasa hara - cures cough
  • Kushtaghan - treats skin disorders
  • Shophahara - treats edema
  • Kandu Ghana - relieves itching
  • Ruchaya - improves appetite
  • Agnivardhak - improves digestion.

16. STREE KUTAJ (Wrightia tinctoria)

This plant balances tridoshas. Treats fever, stomach ache, skin diseases especially psoriasis and non-specific dermatitis. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-dandruff properties. Chemical constituents- indigotin, wrightial etc. Reduce scaling, skin lesions and helps in decreasing the surface area of skin involved.

  • Pacifies tridoshas(vatta, pitta, kapha)
  • Relieves stomach ache
  • Antipyretic
  • Helpful in skin disorders(dermatitis, psoriasis)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-dandruff

17. KUMKUM (Crocus sativus)

It is a very useful herb used to treat acne, black heads, skin disorders etc. Also acts as an immunity enhancer. Also called saffron. Saffron contains terpenes, terpene alcohols, crocin, picrocrocin, riboflavin, thiamine etc. saffron oil is applied on the face for better skin tone. Saffron powder mixed with milk if consumed improves sexual vigour. As per ayurveda saffron has multiple uses

  • Varnya - improves skin complexion
  • Kantida - improves skin tone
  • Vrana shodhana - cleanses and disinfects wounds
  • Balances all 3 doshas (vatta, pitta, kapha)


According to vedic sciences, disbalance of tridoshas and bad lifestyle causes skin disorders. Tridoshas here are the elements of the body vatta, pitta, kapha. Vatta causes dryness with rough appearance, cracks, Fissures. Pitta causes redness, burning, ulceration, pus formation whereas kapha causes white discoloration, itching, swelling, retention of fluids in the skin. Skin issues may seem superficial but the pathology behind can be very complex and deep. Ayurveda provides holistic and natural management for the long term. Ayurveda not only treats a disease but also works on digestive fires so that the toxins in the skin are flushed out. Along with this Ayurveda also focuses on one's lifestyle change as the environment and habits are also major causes of diseases. Above mentioned herbs in this article are very helpful in managing skin disorders; however, they shall not be consumed without consulting a Ayurvedic physician. In case of any queries kindly visit

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