Skin covers the body, protecting it from heat and cold; it also covers the internal organs. Innumerable nerves and blood vessels form this internal protection and maintain the sense of touch. Skin is nourished by rasdhatu (essence of digested food), and there is a continuous flow of liquid waste passing out through it. Rasdhatu is vitiated by kaph dash (phlegm) and pitta (bile), which also affect the skin. The seat of kaph is am ashy a (the stomach). Kaph, if aggravated and not properly eliminated, becomes a causative factor for skin diseases. These can be cured by purification of the rasdhatu and a wholesome diet.
Skin diseases generally occur due to malnutrition, disharmonious conduct and habits, contact with infected persons, and uncleanlinest of internal and external organs. They also appear in association with such diseases as asthma, bronchitis, leprosy, erysipelas, elephantiasis, epilepsy, peptic ulcer, indigestion, worms, throat, nose and mouth problems, and headache. Skin infections commonly develop on the hands, thigh, groin, armpit, buttock and side of the chest.
There are many processes used to purify the aggravated kaph from the body, the chief among them being dhauti (cleansing). Dhauti is one of the major methods of bhodan chikitsa (purification and treatment) and is part of the Panch Karma in ayurveda. In winter and spring, kaph is often aggravated. At these times dhauti should be applied for evacuation of kaph dosh from the body, and as a preventative and precaution against kaph dosh diseases. There are two types of dhauti mentioned in yoga shatkarmas (cleansing techniques) which can be used for this purpose: vastra dhauti and vaman dhauti. Both are most economical to perform as they require no medicine or therapeutic drugs.
In vastra dhauti a clean cloth several feet long and two inches wide is swallowed completely and then slowly taken out. This, process is more difficult and requires the guidance of an expert in the beginning. Vaman dhauti or kunjal is very simple, effective and easy to apply. In this practice one to two litres of warm saline water is drunk and then vomited out completely.
Vaman dhauti can be applied in cases of skin diseases, especially scabies, for three to fifteen days. During treatment the patient is advised to take light, lubricative food, drink tepid water all day, avoid heavy work and sleep soundly at night. Camphor with coconut oil can be used for massage followed by sunbath and water bath. The following asanas should be performed before doing vaman: shalabhasana, matsyasana, ardha matsyendrasana and tad asana (see Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha).
To perform vaman prepare tepid water and add the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt per glass. Five glasses of saline water should be drunk as quickly as possible in standing position. Then immediately massage and press the back of the tongue with the index finger and vomit all the water. The stomach should be completely evacuated. In the same position perform bhastrika pranayama (rapid breathing with quick, rhythmical expansions and contractions of the abdominal muscles) to remove all the excess water from the nostrils. After performing vaman, relax in shavasana (corpse pose) for twenty minutes.
Vaman dhauti has been applied successfully to many patients in the outpatient department at the govt. Ayurvedic College, Nanded. It has especially benefited the middle age group who have gastro-intestinal problems. By cleansing of the upper tract and proper nourishment, the blood is purified, thus eliminating skin infections and deceases. No patients of any age group have ever suffered and complication from this treatment. All report they feel light, fresh, energetic and cheerful after vaman dhauti.