Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder caused by rapid replication of skin cells, almost 10 times normal. It also can affect the nails and can cause joint pain. Psoriasis can be triggered by physical trauma, infection, some medications (ibuprofen, lithium salts, and beta-blockers), and especially stressful or emotional events. Severe psoriasis can substantially affect quality of life. The lesions are most commonly on the scalp, elbows, and knees, but there is a form called plantar or palmar psoriasis that affects only the feet or hands.
- Raised, pink patches of skin with white or silvery scales
- Pitting, thickening, or discoloration of the nails
Cracked, scaly skin on the palms or soles of the feet
- Painful, swollen joints
What You Need to Know
Lifestyle factors, including cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and obesity, can all contribute to psoriasis. Eliminating them can improve the symptoms.
Diet: Animal meats especially make psoriasis worse, and a diet high in protein and low in fiber can also make psoriasis worse. Foods containing omega- 3 fatty acids, especially coldwater fish (such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, halibut, herring), are helpful.
Meditation: Anxiety and stress are major factors in precipitating psoriasis, so meditation is very beneficial. One study showed that using meditation with ultraviolet light (UV) treatment heals skin four times faster than UV light without meditation.
Your balanced healing action plan for Psoriasis
For severe psoriasis, start at Step 9, then return to Step 1 when your symptoms are stable.
Step 1: Take Flaxseed Oil, Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin D, Selenium, and Vitamin E
Start with supplements of flaxseed oil (one tablespoon daily), vitamin A (10,000 IU per day), and zinc (30mg daily) because many people with psoriasis are deficient in these nutrients. Vitamin A and zinc are also essential for healthy skin. Vitamin D (400 IU daily), selenium (200mcg daily), and vitamin E (400 IU daily) can also help reduce the symptoms, so a good multivitamin may be your best bet to include all of these nutrients. It may take several months before you notice improvement from these nutrients.
Step 2: Undergo Colon, Liver, and Blood Detoxification
Toxins from bacteria and yeast in the gastrointestinal tract may contribute to the development of psoriasis. Poor liver function can also make psoriasis worse, because a weak liver cannot clean these toxins out of the blood. For these reasons, I recommend a series of detoxifications, including colon, liver, and blood.
Start with colon detoxification. To cleanse and detoxify the colon, first use a formula that cleanses the colon (called an activator), which should contain most or all of the following: cape aloe, cascara sagrada, barberry root, senna, ginger root, African bird pepper, and fennel. After a week on an activator, you should then take a formula that detoxifies your colon (i.e., takes out old fecal matter and any poisons, toxins, or heavy metals that have accumulated), which should contain most or all of the following; apple fruit pectin, slippery elm bark, bentonite clay (pharmaceutical grade), marshmallow root, fennel seed, activated willow charcoal, and psyllium seeds/husks. A good colon cleansing and detoxification program should take about two to three weeks.
I then recommend liver and blood detoxification. A good liver detoxification formula should include all or some of the following: milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke or beet leaf, and an herb called Picrorhiza kurroa root. Following liver detoxification, you can take a blood-cleansing formula that contains some or all of the following: red clover, burdock root, chaparral, periwinkle, and goldenseal. This detoxification process takes about two more weeks to complete.
Step 3: Undergo Acupuncture for Long-Tenn Relief
If the previous steps are not helpful or give you only partial relief, I recommend acupuncture as the next step. Principal points are usually found on the neck, back, arms, and legs. Always seek evaluation and treatment from a practitioner certified in acupuncture. You should notice improvement within six treatments, but you might need additional sessions for maximum benefits.
Step 4: Take Bovine Cartilage
If your psoriasis still isn’t controlled, take bovine cartilage (10g to 25g daily). It can be taken orally, subcutaneously (injected under the skin), or even topically (this form must be compounded by a pharmacist). New lesions can occur in the first few weeks as the bovine cartilage begins working, but eventually they will stop appearing. Expect it to take one to three months to see benefits.
Step 5: Apply Calcipotriol, Coal Tar, Capsaicin, Gotu Kola, or Glycyrrhetinic Acid
The previous steps are designed to give you long-lasting relief, but if they haven’t, you should use measures designed to give you short-term relief. There are several topical salves and ointments that may help, both prescription and natural. These include the following:
- Calcipotriol, a prescription compound that is related to vitamin D
- Coal tar solutions and shampoos
- Capsaicin (0.025 percent), derived from cayenne peppers (must be mixed by a compounding pharmacist)
- Gotu Kola (must be mixed by a compounding pharmacist) .
- GlycYlThetinic acid, a derivative of licorice (must be mixed by a compounding pharmilcist)
People respond differently to these products, so you may need to try more than one to obtain the best results. You should notice improvement within one to three weeks.
Step 6: Apply Steroid Creams and Tazarotene
If the topicals in Step 4 do not reduce your lesions, you can try topical steroid creams, which are beneficial at reducing symptoms and scales in mild to moderate psoriasis. If you add a topical retinoid (tazarotene), it will improve the response rate to steroids. Over-the counter steroids (such as Cortaid) can work on mild psoriasis, but if your condition is more severe, you will need a prescription from your doctor for a more potent form (as well asforthe tazarotene). You should notice improvements within a few weeks.
Step 7: Undergo Interactive Imagery
Because psychological factors can play a significant part in both causing psoriasis and its flare-ups, I recommend interactive imagery. You can use this along with any other step. This is a mind-body method in which you mentally interact with images that represent your emotions. It is a powerful method to uncover and deal with subconscious psychological issues of which you may not be aware, and which may be causing your condition.
Step 8: Take an Appropriate Homeopathic Remedy
If the previous steps have not reduced your lesions or symptoms completely, I recommend trying homeopathy. Remedies that may be of benefit include Sulphur, Graphites, Lycopodium, and Arsenicum album. Consult a qualified homeopathist for guidance on which remedies will be most beneficial and for proper dosages. You should notice improvement within one to two weeks.
Step 9: Undergo Phototherapy
If your psoriasis persists or is severe to begin with, you may need to undergo phototherapy (light therapy). This conventional method has been found to be beneficial in many people with psoriasis, both short term and for maintenance. One type uses ultraviolet B radiation, which carries a risk of non melanoma skin cancer. The other type (PUVA) uses a combination of Ultraviolet A in conjunction with a conventional medication, psoralen. Long-term treatment with PUVA carries a risk of squamous-cell cancer. You should consult with a dermatologist for further guidance. Using meditation along with phototherapy improves your condition four times faster than with phototherapy alone.
Step 10: Receive Anthralin Applications
If phototherapy is not effective, your doctor may use anthralin topically, which is reserved for severe cases of psoriasis. Only a properly trained therapist should apply anthralin.
Step 11: Take Prescription Methotrexate or Cyclosporin
If all else fails, there are many potent immune-suppressing drugs that can improve psoriatic lesions. The main drugs used for this purpose are methotrexate or cyclosporin. You should use these as a last resort only. Methotrexate can cause liver fibrosis, and cyclosporin has significant toxicities. You should be under the care and guidance of a dermatologist or rheumatologist when using these potent drugs.
If you’re taking methotrexate, you should supplement with folate, which reduces its toxicity. In addition, methotrexate lowers blood levels of folate, but folate also decreases the effectiveness of methotrexate, so you must take higher doses of this drug.