Psoriasis – A Naturopathic Approach
Amongst the skin disorders, psoriasis is probably up there as one of the trickiest to treat. Whilst it can present similarly to atopic dermatitis (eczema), it requires a slightly different approach to treatment.
Although it can be caused by a multitude of factors, there are lots of ways to reduce psoriasis occurrence, and sometime eradicate it for good. Here is what I know about psoriasis and what you can do about it.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder characterised by red and/or silvery scaly lesions that present most commonly near the scalp, elbows, knees and buttocks. In most people, epithelial (skin) cells take 28 days to divide and move to the surface, but in psoriasis this happens in only 4 days.
What causes Psoriasis & how do I treat it?
Basically, in psoriasis the skin cells are faulty, causing them to reproduce way too fast. This fault can be caused by either a genetic error (family history accounts for around 50% of cases), abnormal immune stimulation (psoriasis can be found in conjunction with autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and coeliac disease), or gastrointestinal dysfunction.
From a naturopathic perspective, the treatment of psoriasis focuses on reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of healthy skin.
Diet and Gastrointestinal health
Whilst a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet is key to reducing psoriasis, it is firstly important to ensure healthy gastrointestinal function. This means making sure you digest your food properly (e.g. sufficient digestive enzymes) and have healthy gut flora. You also want to avoid any foods to which you have demonstrated a sensitivity e.g. gluten.
Probiotics should be a regular component of your diet and can be added via foods (e.g. kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee) or supplements. Not only does good gut flora improve the absorption of key nutrients necessary for healthy skin, but it also benefits the immune system and is anti-inflammatory.
As with many skin disorders, the Mediterranean diet is perfect because it is high in antioxidants, high in fibre, low in red meat, low in refined carbohydrates and doesn’t include processed foods. It’s also rich in those all-important, skin-loving omega 3s (e.g. avocado, olive oils, oily fish).
Exercise, Stress and other Lifestyle factors
Exercise is a must for psoriasis sufferers as it decreases the activity of the main immune cells responsible for its progression. It also reduces stress, which has strong links to psoriasis progression. In fact, one study reported that 39% of psoriasis patients reported a significant stressful event within 1 month of their first psoriasis episode. Mind and body therapies including meditation have been shown to improve psoriasis outcomes.
As with any skin-related disorder, you want to minimise chemical and irritant exposure. This includes minimising exposure to paints, perfumes, aerosols (e.g. hairspray, deodorant), and household cleaning fluids (laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, surface spray etc.). All can be replaced with natural, low-allergen options.
Last but not least, you want to choose skincare that is going to reduce inflammation and improve the health of the skin. One of the botanicals that has been shown to be effective for psoriasis treatment is Aloe vera. This is what makes our Ultimate Hand + Body Lotion so well-suited. Aloe vera is the first and largest ingredient in this lotion, followed by rosehip oil and other anti-inflammatory skin superstars. Seriously, there is no water or fillers in this luscious body lotion, making it a standout when it comes to restoring skin health.
As always, I’m here to help, so please feel free to reach out if you have any specific queries.
Best of health to you,
Please note, this blog post contains general naturopathic recommendations. Individual cases may require specific treatment measures so please seek medical advice if symptoms persist.