Psoriasis is an Autoimmune Disease and an inflammatory skin condition characterized by frequent episodes of redness, itching, and thick, dry, silvery scales in discrete patches on the skin. It’s most commonly seen on the trunk, elbows, knees, scalp, skin folds, or fingernails, but it may affect any or all parts of the skin. When the patches are on the scalp and in body fold areas, the skin is often itchy, but some people with Psoriasis do not feel itchy at all.
In Psoriasis, patches grow much quicker than normal skin. Normally, the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) grows continuously from its outer surface, and a new layer is reformed each month. In Psoriasis, the skin reforms a complete layer every 3-4 days, so that extra skin sheds in scales. This process is similar to the healing of the Epidermis after an injury – except that normal skin knows when to slow down and Psoriasis skin does not.
The main problem caused by these patches is the scaly shedding leaving a red and raw looking surface underneath. It can be visible on the hands, arms, legs, back, abdominal area and even the genitalia. Psoriasis can show up in the scalp and the neck, particularly behind the ears which can make it nearly impossible to hide during daily life interactions. Psoriasis sufferers can have a difficult time trying to camouflage this condition. Self esteem issues can arise while trying to hide, treat and cope with this Autoimmune Disease.
Psoriasis is not infectious in any way. It cannot be transferred to other people by any form of contact. Of course this does not stop people from worrying about Psoriasis if they see it, fearing that it may infect them. Because of this stigma the disease comes with, or lack of others understanding this disease, it can leave the Psoriasis sufferers feeling isolated. This can negatively impact their self confidence which can carry over into their relationships with others.
The Five Types of Psoriasis
1) Plague – The most common of all. In this type, patches are raised, reddish skin covered by silvery- white scales that appear on almost all body parts.
2) Guttate – Small red spots appear on the skin.
3) Pustular – White pustules surrounded by red skin appears on the skin.
4) Inverse – Smooth red lesions are formed in the folds of the skin.
5) Erythrodermic – There is itching, pain and redness of the skin.
Theories On The Cause of Psoriasis
-Severe emotional stress
-Abnormality in the metabolism of proteins and amino acids
-Food Allergies/intolerances-this may include Gluten
Psoriasis: Digestion, Infection, Arthritis and Liver Function
Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion: Incomplete protein digestion or poor intestinal absorption of protein breakdown products can result in elevated levels of amino acids and polypeptides in the bowel. These are metabolized by bowel bacteria into several toxic compounds. The toxic metabolites of the amino acids have been shown to be increased in individuals with Psoriasis. Polyamines contribute to the excessive rate of cell proliferation. Lowered skin and urinary levels of Polyamines are associated with clinical improvement in Psoriasis, so digestive function should be evaluated and could be key.
Yeast / Candida Infection: A number of gut-derived toxins are implicated in the development of Psoriasis including Endotoxins (cell wall components of gram-negative bacteria), streptococcal products, Candida Albicans, yeast compounds, and IgE or IgA immune complexes. These compounds increase the rate of skin cell proliferation dramatically. Chronic Candidiasis may play a major role in many cases.
Psoriatic Arthritis: Approximately 1 person in 20 suffering from Psoriasis can experience joint troubles, with a degree of arthritis affecting the back, and large or small joints of the body. This Arthritis is rare, but worth looking into if you have Psoriasis and an aching spine or joints.
Liver Detoxification / Support Requirement: Correcting abnormal Liver function is of great benefit in the treatment of Psoriasis. The connection between the Liver and Psoriasis relates to one of the Liver’s basic tasks (filtering and detoxifying the blood). Psoriasis has been linked to the presence of several microbial byproducts in the blood. If the Liver is overwhelmed by excessive levels of these toxins in the bowel, or if there is a decrease in the liver’s detoxification ability, the toxin levels in the blood can increase and the Psoriasis can get worse.
Biologic Drug Treatment Options
These medicines target the Immune System response that causes the symptoms of Psoriasis. Medications can have both short and long-term effects on the body, all of which should be carefully examined. Several drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Psoriasis and are approved for the treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis, but may be trigger some negative side effects. Side effects can include problems with the Liver, as well as other organs, and a compromised Immune System. Serious infections have been reported with people taking these types of medications such as Tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis B, and infections caused by bacteria and fungi that can spread throughout the body. These meds may increase the chance of getting a Lupus-like Syndrome as well as Lymphoma and other types of Cancers. Fillers and dyes used in the pills, along with enteric coatings can also exacerbate Psoriasis if the person is sensitive to certain chemicals.
As always, check with your doctor and holistic practitioner before entering into any alternative healing program.
1) Coconut Oil – An antibacterial and antifungal agent. Some practitioners recommend 1 teaspoon ingested 2x’s daily or used topically (on the skin).
2) Colloidal Silver Liquid – 100 ppm (parts per million). An antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral treatment. Some have found a ½ oz daily dose helpful or as suggested by your healthcare practitioner.
3) Vitamin E – Studies have shown that 200-800 IU’s have been helpful and may reduce itching.
4) Cayenne Pepper – In a double-blind study, application of a Capsaicin Cream to the skin helped relieve both the itching and the skin lesions in people with Psoriasis.
5) A Healthy Fat/High Fiber Diet – A “moderate” diet is best in coping with Psoriasis, without an excess of rich, fatty, starchy or spicy foods, or alcohol. Using healthy fats is recommended.
6) EPA (Eicosapentanoic Acid) – Several double-blind clinical studies have demonstrated that supplementing the diet with EPA, equivalent to a small volume of mackerel or herring, resulted in a significant improvement. Keep in mind that the presence of DHA in fish oil may reduce the effectiveness of the EPA. A high EPA, organic fish oil is recommended.
7) Vitamin D – Vitamin D has been recognized to improve some of the important abnormalities present in Psoriasis skin, but ingestion of even only slightly above the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D can lead to problems with Calcium metabolism in the body (possible kidney stones and irregular heart beats).
8) Lecithin – Some study subjects have shown improvement using this daily.
9) Omega Supplement – Individuals with Psoriasis have been found to be deficient in Omega 3. Omega 3 fats and minimizing sources of Arachadonic Acid (Omega 6) in the diet may help reduce inflammation and the Psoriasis. There is a delicate balance between these 2 types of Omegas.
10) Zinc – Zinc deficiencies have been found in people with Psoriasis. Also a Zinc deficiency can cause slow wound/skin healing. Taking a powdered Zinc supplement mixed into water could be beneficial and is easily absorbable. This is key for people with Psoriasis since many have a compromised digestive system, which may include a sluggish liver.
11) Probiotics – To replace healthy bacteria in the gut. There are many types available, however, refrigerated probiotics with a bacterial count in excess of 13 billion are best.
12) Liver & Gallbladder Detox – This can be a useful but complex process. Work with a well-credentialed Naturopath Doctor or other qualified healthcare professional for the directions and practice of this.
13) Colonics – Colon Hydrotherapy is a more extended form of colon cleansing. This cleansing procedure removes feces, retained gas and mucus due to insufficient mastication (chewing), as well as metals, and existing parasites and infectious material. In addition, the filtered water bathes the cells of the colon and dilutes bacterial toxin concentrations. Therapeutic effects of the bathing process with an alternating temperature of the inflowing water results in improved tone and peristalsis, promoting optimal absorption of nutrients from the Cecum and Ascending Colon. Colon Hydrotherapy is not proposed as a cure-all, but an important adjunctive approach in the overall health of the client.
14) Psychotherapy – The use of a qualified therapist has been extremely helpful in many cases. Emotional stress can cause “flare-ups” as well as blockages in the various parts of the body. By addressing and releasing past and painful memories, it allows the mind, body and spirit to be rebalanced. Focus topics can be unconditional love, courage, forgiveness of oneself, and others, compassion, patience, and acceptance.
15) Low Intensity Exercise – Examples like weightlifting, biking, yoga & walking that focus on frequency rather than intensity. Sweating can be very uncomfortable for people with Psoriasis and may sting the skin surface. Qi Gong and Tai Chi can be beneficial for cleansing/detoxifying as well as having a meditation component for relaxation and focus.
16) Reiki/Energy Healing – Reiki (pronounced Ray-Key) is a Japanese word representing “Universal Life Energy,” which is called “Chi” or “Ki” in Martial Arts or “Prana” in Yoga. The art and science of balancing and healing the body, mind, emotions and spirit. The treatment takes place on a massage table in a quiet room while soft, soothing music is played. The practitioner places their hands very gently above and on designated areas of the client’s body, starting at the head. Their hands remain on each position for as long as is needed. The client remains fully clothed; there is very light pressure on the body and no manipulation. Some benefits of Reiki treatment are the release of physical tension and mental/emotional stress, detoxification, dissolving of energy blocks, balanced energetic systems, and enhanced immunity. It also helps to change negative thought patterns into positive ones & can help heal injuries and relieve pain. Reiki is used in hospitals to comfort patients and add to their overall wellness. Reiki treatments are offered at Spas, Wellness Centers & Medical Facilities all over the world.
17) Phototherapy – Regular exposure to the sun or artificial ultraviolet lights can cause Psoriasis symptoms to subside. Approaches include UVB (exposure to ultraviolet B light) and PUVA (exposure to UVA combined with the drug psoralen, which increases the light sensitivity of the skin). Newer techniques include lasers, which are a means of giving a highly concentrated UVB light exposure to a small area.
18) Infrared Sauna Therapy – The lights and heat detoxify and stimulate the Immune System. Allowing the capillaries to dilate improves circulation, thus stress levels are reduced.
It is important for someone suffering with Psoriasis to first take responsibility for their own well-being and become their own health/wellness advocate. The patient should look at the pros and cons of each medication and alternative treatments, and discuss them all with experts before making any big decisions. For many, a combination or complementary approach will be best.
Through educating themselves about this Autoimmune Disease, learning to read their own body and trusting their intuition when making important decisions, Psoriasis sufferers can move closer toward the relief of their pain and suffering. Eliminating unnecessary stresses, being at peace with themselves, and being assertive when it comes to questions and treatments, leads to empowerment and true healing on all levels.