Skin Conditions | July 19, 2016 | Author: Naturopath


What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is considered an immune-mediated genetic disease of the joint or the skin or both, characterized by patches of abnormal skin [1]. An autoimmune disorder is a type of disease in which the body’s immune system incorrectly identifies tissues and organs of the body as a threat and begins attacking them [2]. A part of the immune system called T Cells travel through the body looking for bacteria or viruses to fight but mistakenly begin to attack the skin. The usual symptoms of psoriasis are red, itchy, and scaly patches that can cover significant parts of the skin especially hands, neck, scalp and face. It can be accompanied by widespread blistering, intense discolorations of the skin, and lesions or small sores [3] with outbreaks possibly lasting months at a time. A psoriasis outbreak can affect the color and shape of your toenails and fingernails, which may take up to 6 months to recover. Sufferers may be embarrassed and avoid going out in company or doing the everyday things that others take for granted. This can affect self-esteem. There are different types of psoriasis each with different causes, slightly different manifestations, and all of them equally capable of making your life miserable [4].

What causes psoriasis?

Unfortunately for us, the causes are not fully understood. It is known that Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, and that there’s a genetic component. About one third of people with psoriasis report a family history of the disease, and people with identical twins face a 70% chance of developing the disease if their twin does so [3]. Both of these facts lend heavy support to the problem being mostly genetic. But there are other factors to consider as well. These include: - Infections of the throat or skin, such as strep throat or ringworm. - Injury to the skin such as insect bites or bad sunburns. - High stress loads. - Cold weather [5]. - Smoking. - Heavy alcohol consumption [6]. Most of these can be considered lifestyle issues. If you work too hard, smoke or drink, go to the beach or play in the pool, and spend time in extremes of heat or cold, then you are a prime candidate for developing psoriasis.

What can we do about psoriasis?


the Naturopathic approach to any autoimmune disease aims to correct the imbalance that allows chronic inflammation and tissue damage to occur; reduce oxidative stress, reduce and prevent exposure to infection, increase detoxification pathways, reduce and manage emotional and psychological resilience and encourage a healthy life style.

Reduce inflammation        

Omega 3 fatty acids reduces the production of pro inflammatory mediators - ( fish oil reduces inflammation). Increase fish intake in the diet or take fish oil capsules. Australian Government recommends EPA+DHA for men: 610 mg /day; 430 mg/day for women.

Curcumin, the active ingredient from Curcuma longa(Turmeric)has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in many autoimmune diseases.


Green Tea contains the polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG) has been shown to support the immune system by reducing the activation of autoantigen-specific T-cell.

Reduce Oxidation - oxidation causes tissue damage

Resveratrol (the beneficial ingredient found in red wine), citrus bioflavonoids (derivatives similar to Vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables), especially quercetin (found in red onions,tomatoes, red grapes, raspberries, cranberry's, black and green tea, apple and brassica vegetables) are considered powerful antioxidants.

Alpha lipoec acid,  a potent antioxidant that helps regenerate vitamin C and E and raises inter cellular Glutathione (produced in the liver and  involved in many processes in the body, including tissue building and repair, making chemicals and proteins needed in the body, supporting the  immune system and important for detoxification[13].

Topical applications shutterstock_76351432

Aloe Vera can be applied to the skin several times per day and has been shown to redu ce psoriasis scaling. Topical gels with 0.5% aloe should be used [10]. There has been no known benefit to ingesting aloe products. Use them on the skin only!

Apple cider vinegar can be applied to irritated skin several times per day. Dilute the vinegar with water in equal volumes and gently rinse the affected area with the mixture or apply it by dabbing with a cotton swab. If skin is broken or lesions are present, this method should not be used.

Capsaicin is the chemical that makes capsicums spicy. It can be extracted and refined to high purity and then used as an ingredient in various creams. These creams can have a positive impact on psoriasis, clearing up the irritation faster than without treatment [11], but some people can be sensitive to this. This cream can produce a prolonged burning sensation and some people may have allergic reactions. Precaution is advised.

Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial incorporated in creams and shampoos have been reported to help with a host of skin conditions, psoriasis among them [11].

Dietary considerations

Aim to reduce inflammation - reduce red meat intake which is pro-inflammatory. Eat oily fish at least 3 times/week. Limit grain intake (bread, pasta, flour), coffee and caffeinated drinks, reduce sugar, dairy and salt intake. Increase colourful vegetables in the diet. 

People suffering from celiac disease can be more prone to psoriasis, so it is important they avoid gluten containing foods.

Lifestyle  should be focused on  health with exercise for circulation and to reduce stress and anxiety, employing other relaxation techniques such as Yoga and doing the things you enjoy. Remove negativity and negative influences from your life.

Conventional treatments

conventional treatments aim to treat the symptoms and help the body’s resistance to disease[12].

For mild cases, topical agents such as corticosteroid preparations and vitamin D can be combined as an effective treatment, but can take as long as 8 weeks to get things under control [7].

For moderate cases, phototherapy can be used. This involves exposure to specific wavelengths of light which produce ultraviolet-B light. The very same that is associated with skin cancer. Although studies show only a small increase in the incidence of skin cancer from this type of treatment, it is still present [8]. Forward thinking doctors are advising patients to consume Nicotinamide (a form of B3 that has been found to reduce skin cancer) link along with this therapy to significantly decrease the chances of developing skin cancer.

shutterstock_67707355In severe cases, when psoriasis is spread over a wide part of the body and causes significant pain and discomfort, treatments such as oral or injectable medications are frequently required [9]. Most of these drugs are immunosuppressant in nature. They reduce the reaction of the immune system to stimuli. This can be a double edged sword. Normal immune system function keeps you healthy and free from infection. When the immune system is suppressed to subdue symptoms, you are at greater risk of contracting communicable diseases. Another form of systemic treatment can involve high doses of vitamin A. Normally beneficial, the amount of vitamin A used to treat psoriasis can have unwanted side-effects. These drugs can be harsh on the body as evidenced by frequent blood tests required to monitor liver activity when these medications are being administered.

Pregnancy must also be avoided during these treatments due to the risk of birth defects. For many, it becomes a matter of weighing the negatives against one another at this point.

Suffering from psoriasis can intensely affect your life in a very negative way. But there’s no reason why you have to suffer through it. There is no cure for this disease, but the treatments discussed above can significantly reduce the duration of outbreaks.


1) "Questions and Answers about Psoriasis". National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. October 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2015
2) Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine: Volumes 1 and 2, 18th Edition (18 edition ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional. 2011-08-11. ISBN 9780071748896
3) Menter, A.,Gottlieb, A., Feldman, S.R., Van Voorhees, A.S., Leonardi, C.L., Gordon, K.B., Lebwohl, M., Koo, JY., Elmets, C.A., Korman, N.J., Beutner, K.R., Bhushan, R. (May 2008). "Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: Section 1. Overview of psoriasis and guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis with biologics". J Am Acad Dermatol 58(5): 826–50. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2008.02.039. PMID 18423260
4) Boehncke, WH; Schön, MP (26 May 2015). "Psoriasis.". Lancet (London, England) 386: 983–94. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61909-7. PMID 26025581
5) Prieto-Pérez R, Cabaleiro T, Daudén E, Ochoa D, Roman M, Abad-Santos F (August 2013). "Genetics of Psoriasis and Pharmacogenetics of Biological Drugs". Autoimmune Dis. 2013 (613086): 613086. doi:10.1155/2013/613086. PMC 3771250. PMID 24069534
6) Clarke P (July 2011). "Psoriasis". Aust Fam Physician 40
(7): 468–73. PMID 21743850 7) Mason AR, Mason J, Cork M, Dooley G, Hancock H (2013). "Topical treatments for chronic plaque psoriasis". Cochrane Database Syst Rev 3 (CD005028). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005028.pub3. PMID 23543539
8) Menter A, Griffiths CE (July 2007). "Current and future management of psoriasis". Lancet 370 (9583): 272–84. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61129-5. PMID 17658398
9) Dogra S, Mahajan R (August 2013). "Systemic methotrexate therapy for psoriasis: past, present and future". Clin Exp Dermatol 38 (6): 573–88. doi:10.1111/ced.12062. PMID 23837932
10) 11) 12) Sarris, J and Wardle, J ; 2014 Clinical Naturopathy 2e, Churchill Livingston, Sydney Aust. Pg.593

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