Did You Know? Psoriasis is a chronic, recurrent, inflammatory skin condition that affects around 2% of the European population. The immune system gives faulty signals to the brain causing an exponential growth of skin cells which results in thick patches of psoriasis on various parts of the body. Severity can vary from mild to severe and, in rare instances, be life-threatening. Psoriasis affects people of all ages. The early-onset form of the disease is mostly seen in 16 to 22-year-olds and the late-onset form strikes those between the ages of 50 and 60. There can be a genetic component in some cases, as 40% of patients have positive family history of psoriasis.
There are several different types of psoriasis. Many people have only one form of psoriasis at a time, although it is not uncommon for two different types to occur together. In many cases, psoriasis may go through cycles, causing problems for a few weeks or months before easing or stopping.
Most often psoriasis manifests itself as plaque psoriasis involving plaques of red scaly skin characteristically distributed over bony prominences, normally affecting the scalp, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Guttate psoriasis can occur after streptococcal throat infections and appears as small red scaly teardrop-shaped spots on the arms, legs and middle of the body. Erythrodermic psoriasis is extremely rare. It involves most of the skin and may ultimately lead to dehydration. It is associated with cardiovascular disease and is characterised by intense itching and burning.
- Vitamin D may help to modulate the immune reaction in the Langerhans cells of the skin and impact favourably on skin lesions in psoriasis (1).
- Vitamin A is important for mucosal health and has been found to be low in psoriasis sufferers (2).
- Zinc supports skin repair and has an anti-inflammatory effect (3).
- Co-enzyme Q10, selenium and vitamin E support expression of endogenous antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase that appear impaired in psoriasis (4).
Increased levels of toxins is one of the most common causes for triggering an auto-immune disease. If the level of toxins increases beyond the safety limit in your body, then they may seep into the bloodstream and circulate throughout your body. This may create excess burden on the main detoxification organ, the liver.
When the liver can’t remove harmful substances, the immune system may perceive the rising level of toxins as a threat, which may cause inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Food allergies and sensitives or leaky gut syndrome may also become more likely. Eventually, your body would try to remove these toxins through secondary channels of elimination, e.g. through the skin, which may then manifest in the form of psoriasis patches.
- A low-sugar, low-toxin diet that’s filled with high-fibre foods is crucial for supporting your liver.
- Organic, high-antioxidant foods eg. dark green leafy greens, berries, nuts & seeds, fish oils help to fight the negative effects of stress, pollution and a poor diet on the health of your liver, while increasing natural liver detoxification and the ability to flush toxins out through urine.
- Green tea polyphenols may have beneficial effects on psoriatic lesions (5).
- Apple cider vinegar contains beneficial enzymes and antioxidants, such as acetic acid and malic acid. These may help to balance the pH level within the body, establishing a healthy ratio of acid to alkalinity, which nourishes the liver and other organs within the digestive tract, helping cleanse the body.
Supporting The Gut
Over 70% of our immune system is located in the Gut. Beneficial Bacteria may help to support immunity in auto-immune disorders such as Psoriasis (6). Digestive enzymes may also enhance protein digestion and antimicrobials like oregano and garlic may help to balance micro-flora.
- Stress management through lifestyle techniques and awareness.
- Applying coconut oil topically (for its anti-fungal and replenishing properties) has been helpful in some cases.
- Try and eat a whole food diet including oily fish, nuts and seeds. Where possible, avoid refined carbohydrates, alcohol and other stimulants.
- Avoid chemical irritants from household cleaners, cosmetics and perfumes and other allergens.
- A good book to read: “Healing Psoriasis in a natural way”by Dr John Pagano.
NB: Some supplements may interact with prescribed medication. It is important to contact a nutritional therapist and/or medical practitioner before starting any supplement regime.
If you would like more information, please contact skin care professional and Nutritional Therapist Emma Hooper (Dip.NNT) @ Woburn Osteopaths.
- A pilot study assessing the effect of prolonged administration of high daily doses of vitamin D on the clinical course of vitiligo and psoriasis. Danilo C Finamor, Rita Sinigaglia-Coimbra, Luiz C. M. Neves, Marcia Gutierrez, Jeferson J. Silva, Lucas D. Torres, Fernanda Surano, Domingos J. Neto, Neil F. Novo, Yara Juliano, Antonio C. Lopes & Cicero Galli Coimbra. Dermato-Endocrinology 5 , Iss. 1,2013.
- Majewski et al. Decreased levels of vitamin A in serum of patients with psoriasis. Arch Dermatol Res. 1989; 280 (8): 499-501.
- Poiraud et al. Human beta-defensin 2 and postriasin, two new innate immunity targets of zinc gluconate. Eur J Dermatol. 2012; 22 (5): 634-9.
- Kharaeva et al. Clinical and biochemical effects of coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and selenium supplementation to psoriasis patients. Nutrition. 2009; 25 (3): 295-302.
- Hsu et al. Green tea polyphenols induce differentiation and proliferation in epidermal keratinocytes. JPET. 2003; 306 (1): 29-34.
- Kim, Ji. Effects on probiotics on atopic dermatitis. Korean J Pediatr. 2012; 55 (6): 193-201.