Psoriasis is an immune-mediated skin condition affecting more than 3 million Americans each year. The condition is caused by an over-production of skin cells, which results in thick, scaly patches on the skin. Initially, symptoms appear as a skin rash, with the build-up of cells turning into thick, itchy patches over time that appear red, silvery or white.
Psoriasis is not contagious and tends to run in families. Triggers include stress, infections and extreme weather conditions. The condition mostly affects adults and symptoms vary depending on which type of psoriasis you have.
- Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. This type includes painful, itchy plaques of red skin, which are often covered with silvery scales. These plaques can sometimes crack and bleed and in severe cases can cover large areas of the body. Plaques can also be found on the scalp and on fingernails and toenails, including discoloration and crumbling of the nails
- Guttate psoriasis is the second most common form of psoriasis and looks like small, salmon-pink drops on the skin. The word guttate is derived from the Latin word ‘gutta’, meaning drop. This condition usually starts in childhood or young adulthood. It is often triggered by strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, withdrawal of certain medications such as beta-blockers and anti-malarial drugs
- Pustular psoriasis can be found on the hands and feet and is characterized by raised bumps filled with non-infectious pus (pustules). The skin around the pustules is red and tender
- Inverse psoriasis is found in skin folds including the arm pits, under the breasts and in the groin area and is characterized by bright red, shiny lesions
What natural treatments for psoriasis are available?
Psoriasis treatments are aimed at slowing down the growing of skin cells and to help the removal of scales on top of the skin. Psoriasis is an uncomfortable, frustrating condition to have and even after successful treatment, symptoms can flare up.
Since diet has such a great effect on the immune system, the following dietary changes can have a positive effect on psoriasis symptoms:
- Probiotic foods, including Kefirs and yogurts can have a positive impact on the balance of good bacteria in the gut, which in turn can strengthen the immune system. See our post on Kevita Probiotic drinks
- Increase fiber in your diet by eating more fresh fruits and nuts. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help to reduce stress and stimulate the immune system. A list with the fruits and nuts that are high in antioxidants, can be found here
- Omega-3 oils (by taking supplements or eating seafood rich in omega-3s such as salmon)
- Herbs that detoxify the liver, such as milk thistle, turmeric and dandelion
- Herbs that are anti-inflammatory, such as licorice root, grape seed, sea kelp, reishi mushroom, wormwood, turmeric
- Enzymes that help digest proteins, such as pepsin