Mim Beim

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects 2–3 in every 100 people. It is an autoimmune condition whereby the skin cells divide faster than normal, resulting in a thickening of the skin and silvery scales. Some people may have a little patch that appears only when they are stressed, whereas other poor souls may be covered from top to toe with itchy, white scales. Eczema and psoriasis are often confused, however, psoriasis usually visits the knobby bits of elbows and knees, whereas eczema is more likely to affect the inner bends. Psoriasis also often visits the scalp and shins. Psoriatic arthritis can appear along with psoriasis. Treating the psoriasis can also help the arthritis.

Symptoms

  • Thickened salmon-pink to red skin.
  • Flaky, silver-white scales.
  • Itchy and irritated patches of skin.
  • Areas often affected include the scalp, elbows, knees, shins, torso.
  • Nail changes can include thickened nails, nails with yellow–brown discolouration, pitting of the nails looking a like pinpricks.
  • Can be associated with psoriatic arthritis.

What causes it?

  • In around 50 per cent of cases, there is a family history of psoriasis.
  • Psoriasis is often triggered by stress. Other triggers include trauma to the skin including cuts, burns, sunburn and insect bites.
  • Allergies may be a factor. Gluten is the first food to suspect.
  • One naturopathic view is that psoriasis is due to a ‘leaky gut’. A ‘leaky’ gut or bowel is when toxic substances are absorbed into the bloodstream from the bowel. Leaky gut is also thought to be a major cause of food allergy.
  • In addition to a leaky gut, it is likely that you have a dodgy liver too. Although this sounds dire, a ‘naturopathically dodgy’ liver is nothing to be too alarmed by. We like our livers to be squeaky clean. Just treating your liver with TLC can likely result in improvement for your psoriasis. Avoiding alcohol, reducing fatty foods, drinking lemon juice each morning is plenty of TLC.
  • There is nearly always a candida overgrowth in those with psoriasis. Possibly due to the leaky gut scenario.

What to do

Diet

  • The forbidden foursome: sugar, alcohol, coffee and red meat. Avoiding them entirely is very important as well as very effective. The foursome are generally enough to bid psoriasis adieu, but sometimes dairy avoidance will do the trick. So make that a fivesome.
  • As the yeast Candida albicans often cohabits with psoriasis, in addition to avoiding sugar and alcohol as recommended above, reduce yeasted foods such as the black spread, bread, yellow and blue cheese. (See Candida on page 00.)
  • A plant-based diet will serve you well. However, if you don’t want to go the whole hog, (or in this case the whole hazelnut), adding fish to your diet will provide the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids your skin will love.
  • A diet high in soluble fibre, including legumes, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, can improve intestinal flora and reduce bowel toxins.
  • Drink the juice of half a lemon in hot water first thing each morning to aid the bowel and liver.
  • Drink at least 2 litres of pure water daily. It is always recommended to drink plenty of water with any skin condition as the skin is the largest organ of elimination.
  • Reduce animal fats and deep-fried foods.

Remedies

  • Herbs work particularly well in the treatment of psoriasis, especially St Mary’s thistle, sarsaparilla, coleus, Oregon grape, gotu kola, burdock, red clover and fumitory. These herbs are generally good for the skin and liver. Take 1 or a combination of these herbs in tea, tablet or tincture form 3 times a day.
  • Cod-liver oil combines vitamins A and D. Both vitamins are necessary for normal cell growth, which ain’t happening in the case of psoriasis where cells are growing in a topsy-turvy fashion.
  • Evening primrose oil is an excellent supplement for psoriasis. It is anti-inflammatory and so good for skin conditions. Heavy-handed dosages work best.
  • B12 and folate can also help in cell differentiation and growth. They are also methyl donors, which are recommended in any autoimmune condition as they help ‘turn off’ the genetic switch that codes for this disease.
  • The minerals zinc and selenium can help in the treatment of psoriasis.
  • The topical application of creams containing selenium, B12, vitamin D, gotu kola, lavender oil, aloe vera and/or evening primrose oil can be helpful.
  • A good daily probiotic will help restore microbial balance and treat your leaky gut.
  • Check your vitamin D levels. If they are low, catch some rays and take a supplement.
  • If psoriasis is in your scalp, wash your hair with an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains selenium.

Other

  • Sunshine is an effective and inexpensive treatment for psoriasis, particularly so when combined with seawater. If you are lucky enough to live near the ocean, take a walk in the sun by the seaside several times a week. Make sure you splash seawater on your skin. It is the UV-B rays that are so healing. No need to get sunburnt, just reveal your skin to the gentle rays of the sun as often as you can. There are also UV-B sunlamps available.
  • Magic psoriasis cure stories abound from people who have swum in the Dead Sea in Israel. If Israel is not on your travel plans, there are products made from the salts derived from there.
  • Dry skin is an invitation for a visitation from any skin condition you are predisposed to. Keep your skin well moisturised even when you are not suffering an outbreak of psoriasis.
  • Avoid soap and wash with a stocking filled with oats.
  • As stress is a major trigger, deal with it.

Aromatherapy

Mix 5 ml of cold-pressed avocado oil, 5 ml of borage oil with 20 g of unscented vitamin E cream and massage into the affected area at least twice daily then use as needed. The following blend can also be used with dead sea salts in a full bath as an all-over general method.

  • 5 drops of lavender oil – antimicrobial, antiseptic, nervine, immune defense and vulnerary
  • 3 drops of tea-tree oil – antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary
  • 4 drops of cajeput oil – antimicrobial, carminative and antineuralgic
  • 2 drops of cedar wood oil, Virginian – anti-seborrheic, antiseptic, balsamic and astringent

At a glance

Diet

  • Avoid sugar, alcohol, coffee and red meat. Do this, and you will be a long way down the path to being psoriasis-free. If your psoriasis does not completely clear with this combination, add dairy to the mix.
  • Drink the juice of half a lemon in hot water first thing each morning to aid the bowel and liver.
  • Avoid fatty and deep-fried foods.

Remedies

  • Vitamins A and D are required for normal cell growth. Cod-liver oil combines both of these vitamins.
  • If you are low in vitamin D, take a supplement. The amount present in cod-liver oil is insufficient to boost low levels.
  • Evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are particularly effective in skin complaints such as psoriasis.
  • Zinc and selenium can help.
  • Keep the skin well moisturised. After each shower, apply a cream containing selenium, B12, vitamin D, gotu kola, lavender oil, aloe vera and/or evening primrose oil.
  • Take a good probiotic each day.

Other

  • Sunshine and seawater are a lovely combination at any time, and just happen to help psoriasis. UV-B sunlamps are available if sunshine is in short supply.
  • If you find stress a trigger, as many do, find some solace in meditation, counselling or belly breathing.
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