Natural Psoriasis Treatments
What natural medicines do you recommend for psoriasis?
The scaly silvery plaques of psoriasis that typically affect the elbows, knees, scalp, and other actively moving or injured regions can be unbelievably frustrating to manage and treat with natural or conventional therapies.
Conventional treatments work to reduce itching, inflammation, and inhibit skin overgrowth. Natural medicines also work to address those factors as well as identifying and treating causes of health imbalance that makes an individual more susceptible to the development of psoriasis.
In my opinion, most cases of psoriasis just need a thorough diet and lifestyle clean up. Most patients with psoriasis have terrible eating and lifestyle habits, and will easily improve with naturopathic care. Harsh medication such as corticosteroids and methotrexate should be avoided when at all possible as the side effects of these drugs are far worse than the symptoms of psoriasis that they are being used to treat.
Please check with your naturopathic physician or family doctor for drug-herb interactions or other contraindications before implementing any of these treatment ideas.
Diet for Psoriasis
- Eliminate all McInflammation.
- Vegan, gluten free diet. Animal fats will increase inflammation as discussed in my “Anti-inflammatory diet”.
- Current conventional postulations regarding the cause of psoriasis indicate a possible genetic error in mitotic control. This means that cells are dividing and replicating faster than they should. Excessive activation of lymphocytes (a form of white blood cells) are thought to be responsible for the short epidermal cell cycle that results in hyperproliferation of skin tissues. Since 70% of our immune system surrounds the gut in GALT (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue) food allergies or intolerances may be to blame for immune dysfunction triggering the skin overgrowth aspects commonly associated with psoriasis.
- Dairy and wheat intolerance are common triggers for most people with skin conditions, especially psoriasis. A three week trial elimination of both with a re-introduction period individually of first wheat and then dairy is prudent. If wheat and dairy are not a problem I would continue on to a full allergy elimination diet and see if other foods may be resulting in inflammation and resultant immune dysfunction.
Kitchen Remedies for Psoriasis
- Avoid aspartame. Aspartame is not just a “Kitchen Table Villain”, but sensitivity is common in those with itchy skin conditions.
- Liver Support Foods: Most patients will benefit from some gentle detox.
- Liberal use of green leafy vegetables for magnesium content to aid detoxification.
- Anti-inflammatory Smoothie: Dr. Nicole’s Smoothie Recipe drink daily to reduce reactivity to foods you may be allergic or intolerant to, as well as reduce inflammation.
- Cultured Foods: The friendly bacteria in yogurt and other fermented foods are valuable sources of acidophilus and other probiotics needed for healthy gut flora and proper digestion.
Lifestyle Considerations for Psoriasis
- Eliminate stress: a common culprit known to exacerbate symptoms of psoriasis.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking and drinking alcohol were shown to increase symptoms.
- Lose weight. Obesity is a risk factor for psoriasis.
- Try to avoid injuring the affected area. Studies also show that skin injuries may make your psoriasis worse, which is why it typically shows up on active areas such as elbows, knees, and eyelids. Sunlight was shown to either make psoriasis better or worse. Drugs that increase psoriasis symptoms are lithium, beta blockers, and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and over the counter analgesics).
- Acupuncture and hypnosis may also be beneficial.
- Use a chlorine shower filter, especially if you have psoriasis on your scalp.
Vitamins for Psoriasis
- Vitamin D oral and topical are effective for psoriasis. The topical drug Dovonex is a prescription preparation using vitamin D. Don’t take more than 1000 IU of oral vitamin D daily without being supervised by a physician for potential life threatening conditions such as hypercalcemia that may occur.
- Vitamin A orally and topically is also helpful for psoriasis. Both vitamins A and D play a role with cell differentiation, the same mechanism that prescription pharmaceuticals play a role with.
Fish Oil for Psoriasis
- Fish oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Cod liver oil also contains both vitamins A and D. I typically recommend 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil with food daily. This can be increased to twice daily.
- Cod liver oil should not be used by pregnant women due to high vitamin A content. Fish oils are not recommended for those with bleeding disorders or using anti-coagulant medicines such as Coumadin. Check with your doctor before using fish oil therapeutically. The omega 3 fats in fish oil are very powerful natural medicine for psoriasis. I would opt for the use of fish oil over flax oil unless the patient has ethical or spiritual concerns regarding the use of animal products. Flax oil may be helpful, but it is not nearly as potent as fish oil, nor has it yet been researched for efficacy with this skin disease.
Herbs for Psoriasis
- Capscasin cream synthesized from cayenne peppers is helpful for reducing pain and controlling itching.
- Topically you could also try some aloe vera gel as well as calendula succus (juice) or cream; as both herbs are particularly soothing to most irritating and itchy skin conditions.
- Detox Herbs. Rather than using herbs mechanistically to fight psoriasis, I would opt instead to use them to “Treat the Cause”. Most people with psoriasis have a large toxic burden on their body, as evidenced by the exacerbations caused by smoking and consuming alcohol. Cleaning up the diet and lifestyle is fundamental, herbs to protect the liver and aid the moving out of toxins such as milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock root, and turmeric should be helpful for addressing the long term big picture of this disease which typically tends to just worsen over time. For those with digestive upset I would also do a course of gut healing herbs such as slippery elm and marshmallow root to address underlying causes such as food allergies.
Research on Psoriasis
- PMID: 10651693; Psoriasis patients with antibodies to gliadin can be improved by a gluten-free diet. Br J Dermatol. 2000 Jan;142(1):44-51.
- PMID: 12949434; Rapid regression of psoriasis in a celiac patient after gluten-free diet. A case report and review of the literature. Digestion. 2003;68(1):9-12. Epub 2003 Aug 29. Review.
- PMID: 9838718; A review of the epidemiology of psoriasis vulgaris in the community.Australas J Dermatol. 1998 Nov;39(4):225-32. Review.
- PMID: 8977698; Cigarette smoking in men may be a risk factor for increased severity of psoriasis of the extremities. Br J Dermatol. 1996 Nov;135(5):859-60. No abstract available.
- PMID: 15346196; Association between alcohol, smoking and HLA-DQA1*0201 genotype in psoriasis.Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2004 Sep;36(9):597-602.
- PMID: 10396014; A pilot study of hypnosis in the treatment of patients with psoriasis.Psychother Psychosom. 1999;68(4):221-5.
- PMID: 15244317; Calcipotriol cream in the treatment of flexural psoriasis.Int J Tissue React. 2003;25(4):127-30.
- PMID: 15018018; Calcipotriol ointment versus cream in psoriasis vulgaris.Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 2003;23(2-3):47-51.
- PMID: 7688774; A double-blind evaluation of topical capsaicin in pruritic psoriasis.J Am Acad Dermatol. 1993 Sep;29(3):438-42.
- PMID: 10417520; Capsaicin treatment induces histamine release and perfusion changes in psoriatic skin.Br J Dermatol. 1999 Jul;141(1):87-93.
- PMID: 11306830; Phototherapy of psoriasis: comparative experience of different phototherapeutic approaches.Dermatology. 2001;202(2):108-15.
- PMID: 7921757; A double-blind placebo controlled trial of Efamol Marine on skin and joint symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.Br J Rheumatol. 1994 Oct;33(10):954-8.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table to ask the question!
~ Dr. Nicole Sundene
Naturopathic PhysicianDr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.
She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.
For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
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