Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)
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Syphilis is one of the most popular and also one of the most dreaded of the sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, the fear psychosis for syphilis is rivaled only by that of the other killer disease, AIDS.

Since long, syphilis has been believed to be a foreign disease, especially originating from Europe. One of its slang names, the French Disease, is indicative of this. Even its Indian name phiranga roga literally means ‘foreign disease’. Another interesting name given to syphilis is Cupid’s Disease.

Syphilis has totally entrenched itself all over the world today and its origin is of no consequence. Ayurveda has made drastic advancements in the study of causes and treatment of syphilis.


Definition of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused due to a bacterial infection. The bacterium responsible for syphilis is Treponema pallidum and it is transferred from one person to another mainly during sexual contact. Other modes of transmission are physical contact with an infected person and from an infected mother to baby.

The disease is curable with penicillin, but the course must be followed until the end for it to be effective and to minimize the chances of recurrence. However, people tend to leave the course halfway when some improvements are observed and hence syphilis makes a comeback in most cases. Another method employed for treatment is to give injections in each buttock. The drug injected is benzathine penicillin. This is a very effective treatment method, but is not much followed because it is painful. In most cases, procaine is added to the drug in order to mitigate the pain to some extent.

Syphilis is a disorder of the blood. The circulation of blood is controlled by the kapha dosha. Hence, according to Ayurvedic principles, syphilis is treated as a disorder caused due to vitiation in the kaphadosha.

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Causes and Transmission of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

Syphilis is a bacterially transmitted sexual disease. The bacterium responsible for syphilis is the Treponema pallidum. This bacterium can enter the body during sexual contact, through breaks in the squamous and columnar epithelium of the skin. Hence, if one partner is affected by syphilis, then there is a full chance that the other partner will be affected too.

Since Treponema pallidum enters the body through the skin (and not through sexual fluids), it can be transmitted by mere physical contact, especially of the genital area. Couples who believe that syphilis cannot be caused by mutual masturbation or simple foreplay are grossly mistaken. A mere contact of the skin of the affected area is enough for the bacterium to jump from one body to another.

Another manner in which syphilis is caused is congenital. If a pregnant woman has syphilis, then she will pass it to her baby when it is delivered. Such syphilis is called congenital syphilis and it is often fatal to the baby.

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Symptoms of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

The symptoms of syphilis do not arrive all at once, but make their appearance in distinct stages. The following table illustrates the different stages of syphilis.

Stage of Syphilis

Period of Appearance


Primary Syphilis

Primary syphilis begins from 10 to 90 days of the infection; but most normally it begins after about three weeks of the infection.

The first symptom of syphilis is the presence of a sore, called a chancre. The chancre is painless and it makes its appearance at the point where the infection has passed through, such as the vagina, penis, rectum or even the mouth (in case of oral sex). There might be an initial swelling at the chancre. Within about four to six weeks of the appearance of the chancre, it heals itself automatically and no further chancres are observed.

Secondary Syphilis

If the syphilis was not treated at the primary stage, then the secondary syphilis makes its appearance after one to six months; but commonly six to eight weeks.

In the second stage of syphilis, a symmetrical rash appears on both sides of the body. The rash is reddish in color and is non-itchy. It occurs on the trunks and is most prominently seen on the palms of the hands and the feet. Whitish lesions occur in the mouth and on the genitals. Fever and sore throats are common during this condition. There may be several more complications if treatment is not obtained at this stage. The person is very contagious when he or she is in the secondary stage of syphilis.

Tertiary Syphilis

Tertiary syphilis can occur any time after one year from the secondary syphilis. Its symptoms can be seen after ten years or more after the initial infection.

In this stage, soft tumerous growths are seen on the skin anywhere on the body. These growths are called as gummas. Joints of the person become degenerated. The tertiary stage of syphilis is marked by neurobiological changes in which the personality undergoes a drastic change. In severe cases, there is a hazard that the person can go totally insane. The complications of the tertiary syphilis are often fatal.

Latent Syphilis

Latent syphilis is the stage when the tertiary symptoms are done with. This can be even a few decades after the initial infection.

If the person passes over the tertiary syphilis stage, then latent syphilis sets in. This is the phase when the person’s blood still contains the infective bacteria, but the person no longer shows any external symptoms. In the early latent stage, the person is still contagious. But as the latent stage advances to the late latent stage, the person can no longer transmit the disease to other people.

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People who are at Risk of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

Anybody who has an active sexual life is at risk of syphilis. The following trends are observed:-

Men are at a much higher risk of getting syphilis than women.

Men are also good transmitters of the disease.

Syphilis is rampant in commercial sex workers. Prostitutes often get syphilis from the men they cater to, and then they spread it onto other men.

Recent studies have shown that syphilis is more predominant in the cities than in the villages. Crowded urban areas have more cases of syphilis.

Syphilis is a disease more commonly found in the young age group, i.e. between fifteen to thirty-five years.

About-to-be born babies of women having syphilis have an extremely high risk of having congenital syphilis when they are born.

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Complications of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

The list of complications of syphilis is very long. There are different complications that can occur at different stages of syphilis. The following is a list of the complications that syphilis can cause:-

Stage of Syphilis


Primary Stage

In the primary stage, the only complication is the presence of the chancres. The lymph nodes get enlarged.

Secondary Stage

Simple complications of the secondary stage are:-

  • Fever and malaise
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

In rare cases, the following severe complications can occur:-

  • Acute meningitis
  • Hepatitis
  • Renal failure
  • Gastritis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Arthritis
  • Periostitis
  • Optic neuritis

Tertiary Stage

In the tertiary stage, syphilis spreads to the brain, heart and other organs. At this stage, syphilis is also referred to as neurosyphilis (which spreads to the brain) and cardiosyphilis (which spreads to the heart).

Complications of neurosyphilis are:-

  • Changes in personality
  • Unstable emotions
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Abnormal dilations of the pupils
  • Locomotor ataxia which causes the shuffling gait

Complications of cardiosyphilis are:-

  • Aortitis
  • Aneurysm
  • Aortic regurgitation

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Prevention of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

Since syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, it is fairly easy to prevent it. The following are some guidelines:-

Syphilis is spread through mere contact with an infected person. Hence simply using condoms during the sexual act is not enough. There is nothing such as ‘safe sex’ when it comes to syphilis. If there is a shred of a doubt, then complete abstinence from sex is the only way to remain free from syphilis.

Avoid all kinds of crowded places. Avoid physical contact with other persons on the road and while using public transport.

Be careful when visiting underdeveloped and developing countries. Do not indulge in sexual activities with the locals of such countries as there are several cases of syphilis among their sex workers. Remember that there are no effective vaccines against syphilis.

Do not use clothes of other persons, especially innerwear. The bacterium may exist on the clothes even if it seems to be washed and dry cleaned thoroughly.

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Diet for People with Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

Realistically speaking, diet cannot treat syphilis as it is a complex disease that is spread through bacterial infection. However, there are a few foods that can relieve some of the symptoms of the disease, and some foods that can aggravate the conditions. Following is a list of them.

Foods that can provide relief to certain symptoms of syphilis are:-

  • Honey
  • Rice, especially of the red-streaked variety
  • Wheat and barley
  • Bitter vegetables such as bitter gourd and radish
  • Green gram
  • Food cooked in sesame oil

Foods that can aggravate symptoms of syphilis are:-

  • Heavy meals that take a long time to digest
  • Soured buttermilk
  • Jaggery

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Ayurvedic Treatment of Syphilis (Phiranga Roga)

Ayurveda has a very rich repertoire of treatment methods for syphilis. Several Indian indigenous herbs are found to be very effective in the treatment of the problem. Their curative measures are being studied even to this day, and with astounding results. The following are some of the most potent herbs with their actions on the human body:-

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body


Juglans regia


The walnut provides relief in allaying some of the symptoms of syphilis.


Hygrophila spinosa


A decoction prepared of the leaves of gokhulakanta is used as a traditional remedy in the treatment of syphilis.


Abutilan indicum

Indian Mallow

Indian mallow is effective in the treatment of almost all kinds of skin infections and sores. It shows better effects in the primary stage of syphilis when the chancres are developed.


Centella asiaticum

Indian Pennywort

Indian pennywort is also an effective herb in the chancre stage of syphilis. A powder of the dried leaves of the Indian pennywort is dusted on the affected areas to remedy the sores. The juice of its leaves is beneficial in allaying the fevers that set in during the secondary stage of syphilis.


Papaver somniferum

Poppy seeds

Seeds of the poppy plant provide opium which is effective in the treatment of syphilis sores when applied locally.

The following Ayurvedic preparations are highly beneficial in treating Syphilis problems:-

Type of Preparation

Name of Preparation




Mahatiktadhi kashaya, Sonithamrutham, Patoladi, Phirangahara dravaka, Madhusnuhi rasayana




Mahatikata ghritam


Manibhadra lahya, Sarivadi lehya


Rasa karpura, Vangeshwara rasa, Svarna raja vangeshwara rasa, Rasa chandradi yoga, Ameer rasa



It must be borne in mind that while taking any Ayurvedic preparation, the doctor must be consulted first. Most of the herbs do not have any side-effects (and are indeed a regular part of the diet), but some people may be allergic to certain herbs and may show adverse reactions.

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itna accha information dene k liy thanks
#1 - Dr.j.r.kumar - 05/16/2012 - 21:32
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