Psoriasis: Causes & (Natural) Treatments

There are several types of psoriasis, but most commonly psoriasis occurs with plaque-like lesions on extensor surfaces (such as elbows and knees).  It is autoimmune in the sense that antibodies against the layers of the skin activate an immune response, which causes those skin cells to die sooner than they should, creating plaques of dead skin in the first place.

 Psoriasis

English: A plaque of psoriasis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditional Treatment for Psoriasis: 

For this reason, traditional treatments often include immune suppressants (steroids), as well as topical and oral Vitamin D analogues or UV light stimulation (since this is what produces Vitamin D in the skin.)  Other treatments include retinoids (Vitamin A analogues), which block the proliferation of skin cells.

I am not strictly against most of these topical treatments, aside from the fact that steroids thin the skin, and none of them deal with the root cause.  Sometimes treating symptoms is appropriate, but I try to deal with the underlying problem whenever possible.

Natural Treatment for Psoriasis: 

Although the triggers are many (including several prescription medications, physical trauma, alcohol and smoking), most skin problems are in some way linked to the gut.

In this case, psoriasis is often linked with poor digestion of proteins (possibly due to gut inflammation, possibly food allergies, or both), overgrowth of gut flora (dysbiosis), poor liver detoxification, and nutritional deficiencies.  Since 80% of your immune system resides in your gut, this makes sense… clean up the gut, and you can limit a large portion of immune system dysfunction.

Another angle involves adrenal support.  Two of the hormones produces by the adrenals (cortisol and DHEA) serve (in part) opposite functions from one another – the former favors a breakdown process (catabolism), while the latter favors a build-up process (anabolism).   Supporting the adrenals helps to balance this ratio, which is important, since psoriasis is a catabolic (breakdown) process.

Vitamin D is one nutrient in which quite a few of my patients are deficient (even in AZ!), and this will certainly be a part of a psoriasis protocol.  Vitamin D is also a great support to the immune system, and other immune calming (but not suppressive) measures may be appropriate too.

And, when necessary, there are also several herbs (and higher dose nutrients) that have similar mechanisms of action to the prescription meds listed above.  These may be necessary to control symptoms while the underlying cause(s) are addressed.

Skin problems can be emotionally draining in addition to everything else.  There are alternative approaches.  If you’re interested in learning more, call 520-351-2285 for an appointment.

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