Herpes is known as “visarpa” in ayurveda. This article describes the pathology of genital herpes based on principles of ayurveda.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Dosha theory which help in diagnosis of the diseases
VATA Dosha :
The Vata dosha is the most important of the three doshas. It has been said in ayurveda classic books that “ pitta , Kapha and all other body tissues are considered lame without assistance of VATA .” Vata dominates the lower part of the body, which is below umbilicus. The movements of body fluid , metabolism, elimination of waste products, semen ejaculation , pushing the fetus out of body, relaying stimulus to brain and response to organs and tissues, heart beat, respiration ,body movements etc are assisted by VATA.
The pitta dosha assists the body fire or agni which plays a major role in body’s metabolic activities. The locations where pitta dominates are digestive system, skin, eyes, brain, and blood (rakta dhatu) . Pitta maintains body temperature. The secretions like digestive juices pigments like melanin ( bhrajaka pitta) , haemoglobin (ranjaka pitta) are all types of pitta.
Causes of Genital Herpes – According to Ayurveda
When these doshas are in balanced condition the body remains healthy. If these doshas get imbalanced the body succumbs to diseases. Doshas get imbalanced frequently due to change in climate, seasons, lifestyles , diet etc. The treatment is to bring back the doshas to normalcy and expel the toxin or ama produced during the imbalanced condition.
Herpes is caused by a virus the herpes simplex virus ( HSV) which belongs to the same family of viruses that cause chickenpox. There are two types of herpes simplex viruses
- herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and mostly causes oral herpes
- herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). And mostly causes genital herpes
However, both type-1 and type-2 can occur in the genitals, oral area or both.
Due to unhealthy life styles and diet the delicate balance between doshas get disturbed. This disturbs the body fire or agni .
(Agni is the body fire, which is responsible for transformation of one substance to another. It breaks down the food substances, eliminates toxins and wastes, maintains body temperature, and resists the invasion of microbes by maintaining strong body immunity.
The body fire which is assisted by balanced doshas digests the food completely to form Pakwa Anna rasa (the liquid form of food which is completely digested by digestive enzymes) which is ready to get absorbed by body tissues. According to ayurveda Pakwa Anna rasa nourishes the body and its components to keep the body devoid of diseases. But when body fire is impaired there will be an incomplete digestion of food forming Apakwa rasa (indigested food). The indigested food fails to nourish the body components leading to lowered body resistance.)
The disturbed agni fails to digest the food and toxins get accumulated in body due to improper metabolism. Accumulation of toxins reduces the body immunity and paves the way for invasion by microbes.
When a person who has low immunity comes in contact with HSV virus, he/she gets the genital or oral herpes.
- Over eating
- Sleeping in afternoons.
- Over physical exertion.
- Over mental exertion
- Consuming food frequently even when not hungry.
- Constant exposure to hot sunny climates
- Sour curd.
- Charred and overcooked food.
- Sesame , Bengal gram , horse gram , sesame oil, rice flour, garlic, fish.
Ayurveda mentions various foods which can not be used together. These are known as opposite foods. Curds , salt, mushrooms , bamboo shoots , sour fruits , meat , prawn , pork, should not be consumed with milk . The above mentioned foods should not be consumed by mixing one item with another. Sprouts, honey and milk should not be consumed with meat and fish.
Stress and Genital herpes
Many observe that stress increases frequency of herpes outbreaks. Weather it is genital herpes or oral herpes, stress kindles outbreak. Symptoms like radiating pain along affected parts, water filled blisters, itching and burning sensation on skin, ant creeping sensation, indigestion, body pain etc surface during this period.
What changes in body, during stressful conditions initiate activation of herpes virus ?
During stressful conditions our body secretes stress hormones. When stress continues to exist over a period of time, the stress hormones keep on circulating in body through blood stream. The cells and tissues of our body respond in a negative way for this constant presence of stress hormones. As a result, the aging process of tissues and cells accelerate and the body immunity nose dives. Plummeted levels of body immunity initiate activation of herpes virus. The dormant herpes virus resurfaces with painful symptoms.
Increased stress imbalances secretion of digestive juices and affect appetite of a person, who is undergoing stress. The person may stop consuming food or start over eating. Both these situations lead to indigestion and malnourishment. According ayurveda acharyas indigestion paves way to formation of “ama” a sticky body toxin. This toxin blocks the path of nutrients in tissues and cells. This causes malnutrition and low body immunity. Low immunity and weakness invite herpes reactivation.
Texts of ayurveda recommend natural herbal remedy for genital herpes. These herbs help to expel the sticky body toxin “ama” and boost body immunity. The herbs also help to calm mind and reduce stress level.
Yoga and meditation are other two best methods to beat the stress. Continuous practice of these two help to reduce stress level and a good gap can be maintained between two consecutive outbreaks. A good night sleep also breaks the cycle of stress. Healthy diet, lifestyle and immunity boosting herbs help to keep herpes outbreaks at bay.
The Transmission Of genital Herpes
A person can get genital herpes in following conditions
If he is sexual active and when he performs sex (oral or genital) with infected partners. A person who has oral herpes transmits herpes to genital organs of a partner during oral sex and a person who has genital herpes transmits this to his partner during coitus when they have a genital contact. The disease gets transmitted when mucous membrane comes in contact with infected area.
The disease gets transmitted mostly during active phase. But it may spread even during asymptomatic (when person is free of symptoms for a particular duration) phase. The virus needs a fluid media for its transportation. The body fluids like saliva, semen, vaginal tract secretions etc. Mucous membranes in mouth, vagina, urethra or open wounds facilitate the virus invasion due to their moistness.
The imbalanced doshas vitiate skin and the immunity of skin cells is lowered. The virus attacks these weak cells and starts exhibiting symptoms on affected area.
Genital Herpes Outbreak symptoms
Local symptoms of genital herpes outbreak
- Pricking sensation
- Feeling of constriction
- A sensation of ant creeping
- Many small eruptions gathering in a small area.
- These eruptions or blisters burst soon with exudates.
- These blisters will have different colors according to involvement of doshas. (Blackish red or blue in vata , red ,yellow , copper colored in pitta , shades of white in kapha).
The weakened body immune system tries to resist the virus invasion but fails to achieve the goal. In this futile attempt the following systemic symptoms are exhibited.
Systemic symptoms of genital herpes outbreak
- Impaired bowels
- Increased frequency of urination.
- Body pain.
- Increased thirst.
- Imbalanced vata causes the symptoms like pain, swelling and body ache
- The imbalanced pitta and vitiated blood and skin cause, Blisters, Change the color of skin, Cause burning sensation, and fever.
- The imbalanced kapha and vitiated lymph cause itching, tingling sensation.
After the first attack the virus moves from skin through the nerve paths to base of the nerve and becomes inactive. Now the herpes infected person will be devoid of all symptoms. But the imbalance of doshas still persists.
Reactivation of Virus to cause outbreaks
At unpredictable times, the virus becomes active. It multiplies and resurfaces on skin by traveling through the nerve path and exhibits the symptoms locally. The severity of symptoms of outbreak depends on the strength of body immunity.
The pelvis or shroni ,nerves and skin are dominated by vata. When vata gets vitiated due to precipitating factors , it reactivates the virus dormant in base of nerve end and the virus travel through nerve paths to reach the skin surface.
As we know the outbreaks have few precipitating factors like
- Excessive exposure to sun.
- Poor diet,
- Emotional stress
- Physical stress,
- Emotional stress.
- Genital trauma and intercourse.
- Repeated infections such as a cold or pneumonia.
These factors increase vata and increased vata activates the virus which is dormant.
The systemically imbalanced doshas interfere with the body metabolism by vitiating the body fire (agni). This leads to indigestion and malassimilation of nutrients, which in turn causes poor immunity. Due to decreased immunity the body fails to offer resistance to outbreaks.
Ayurveda Tips to avoid outbreaks
- Spicy, sour, fried and junk food, which aggravates vata.
- Precipitating factors.
- Sleeping in afternoon.
- Meat products over fried or deep fried with oil or fat.
- Charred and overcooked food.
- Consuming opposite food like fish and milk etc
- Physical exertion after a meal.
- Taking bath immediately after exercise or heavy outdoor work
- Include honey, pomegranate, fruits of Emblica officinalis (amla), legumes, dates and raisins in your diet.
- Practice Yoga and Meditation to control emotional disturbances
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