Reduce Symptoms of Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system. Symptoms include flaking, inflammation, and thick, white, silvery, or red patches of skin.
They grow about five times faster than normal skin cells. Creating amass of thick, flaky and itchy patches. There’s more going on under the surface of this skin disease. Researchers think something sets off your immune system; that there is a link between genetics and these triggers.
When you have psoriasis, the genes that control your immune system signals get jumbled up. Instead of protecting your body from aggressors as it’s intended to do, it advances inflammation and turns skin cells on overdrive.
Scientists have found about 25 genes that are different in people with psoriasis. They think it takes more than one to cause the disease, and they’re searching for the main ones.
So what are the triggers that set the skin cell production into overdrive?
A cut, scrape, bug bite, infection, bad sunburn, or even too much scratching can trigger the condition.
Strep infections, in particular, are linked with guttate psoriasis, which looks like small, red drops. Kids will often have strep throat before their first flare. Earaches, bronchitis, tonsillitis, or a respiratory infection such as a cold, the flu, or pneumonia can also set off your skin problems.
The condition usually is worse in the beginning stages of the disease, but then it gets better after you start certain treatments.
Some can make psoriasis worse.
Scientists think your immune system may respond to emotional and mental pressures the same way it does to physical problems like injuries and infections.
People who are obese tend to get plaques in their skin creases and folds.
How do we treat these triggers?
Classic medical treatments include topical creams as one way or systemic treatment as the other.
How do they compare?
Topical vs. Systemic Treatment
Topical therapies are any psoriasis treatment that’s applied on the skin. Absorption into the bloodstream and effects elsewhere in the body is minimal.
Common topical treatments include:
Corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and moisturizers.
Ultraviolet light (phototherapy) can also be focused only onto affected areas of skin.
Systemic treatments, working on the entire body, often act on the immune system to reduce activity over large areas of the body.
These are used to treat moderate to severe conditions.
Severity Is Important
In considering systemic treatment, consider how severe your condition is. Doctors normally treat according to how much skin is affected.
Mild-to-moderate or limited skin disease:
Less than 3% of total body surface is affected.
3% to 10% or more of body surface is affected.
Greater than 10% is affected.
Quality of Life
Doctors and sufferers don’t always agree on what’s mild and what’s serious. The skin disorder can affect self-image and make people self-conscious. This can even lead to depression and social isolation.
Balancing Risks and Benefits of systemic Treatment
The immune system is involved and most systemic treatments target the immune system. Some systemic treatments can increase the infection.
Phototherapy can cause skin damage, increasing the risk of skin cancer. Shining ultraviolet rays onto your condition can stop skin cells from growing too fast. But don’t sunbathe or hop in a tanning bed. That might make your symptoms worse
Strong medicines called biologic s treat some types of moderate and severe psoriasis. They block specific parts of the immune system that seem to help fuel the disease. However some of the chemicals found in the Biologic therapies and medications such as Methotrexate and Cyclosporine which require monitoring for liver, bone marrow, kidney, and lung damage.
Before taking any herbal remedy for your psoriasis, talk with your doctor. Some herbal remedies can cause dangerous interactions with your medications. Also, you should not take some herbal remedies if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or mood disorders.
Stop using the remedy immediately should you experience side effects and tell your health care provider.
Here are some herbs/natural remedies that may help with your psoriasis
This herb is being frequently studied for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric also has the ability to alter gene expression.
People often feel powerless. Taking control of your diet is the most basic way to regain control of your life and fight back against the disease. But can modifying your diet help?
Scientists say there’s little evidence at the moment to support the notion that diet can have a major impact on the disease. But many people with psoriasis swear they’ve found relief by changing what they eat. Dropping surplus weight and improving your cholesterol and blood sugar is empowering—even if these changes do little for your skin or joints.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease. Many individuals have benefited from following an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce their symptoms.
“The response to any medical intervention will vary based on individual circumstances, compliance to the recommendations, and genetics,” said Dr. Andrew Weil, who directs the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and is the author of numerous best-selling books on diet and health.
“However, in my experience, most people respond well to dietary and lifestyle modifications aimed at controlling chronic inflammation.”
University of Pennsylvania psoriasis researcher Dr. Joel Gelfand supports patients following a healthful diet, but says people should keep their doctors informed about the changes they are making—and be careful not to do anything that might actually cause harm.
Foods to avoid because they have been shown to cause or increase inflammation:
- Fatty red meats
- Dairy products
- Processed foods
- Refined sugars
- Nightshade vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes and peppers
Foods to include in your diet that have been shown to reduce inflammation:
- Cold-water fish (see the Heart-Healthy diet above).
- Flax seeds, olive oil, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. These are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Colorful fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose foods from the colors of the rainbow.
Nutritious examples are:
- Squash and sweet potatoes
- Kale and broccoli
- Strawberries and figs
Many people with psoriasis who are looking for treatments that don’t involve drugs are interested in gluten-free diets. They wonder if these diets will improve their condition.
Many studies have evaluated the benefits of a gluten-free diet. The link between psoriasis and gluten (a complex protein found in wheat, barley and rye and in many processed foods, from lunch meats to salad dressings) is not well understood, but new research estimates that up to 25 percent of people may also be sensitive to gluten. Celiac disease is caused by intolerance to gluten. A gluten-free diet is the only known treatment for celiac disease.
A number of studies suggest that this skin disorder and celiac disease share common genetic and inflammatory pathways. Research further suggests that your chance of being diagnosed with celiac disease is doubled.
There is no published evidence that going on a gluten-free diet can improve the condition in people who do not have celiac disease – but there is anecdotal evidence from people who have tried the gluten-free diet and swear by it.
Eliminating gluten from your diet may help reduce your symptoms as well as eliminate digestive woes, but it’s only likely to help if gluten is a problem food for you in the first place.
Obesity may provide the push that triggers psoriasis in people who are already predisposed to it. The researchers also found that in overweight individuals, losing weight may improve the effectiveness of treatments. Fat cells secrete cytokines, which are proteins that can trigger inflammation.
Vitamins and Supplements
Studies have not shown a direct link between vitamins and dietary supplements and psoriatic disease. Yet many people with psoriasis find that including vitamins and supplements in their diet helps clear their skin and may ease joint pain.
Dietary supplements can be extracts or concentrates and preferably in powder form.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation, and psoriasis is a disease of inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids also seem to have a positive impact on the body’s immune system.
Vitamin D. A report published in the 2011 Science Translational Medicine journal found that vitamin D helps counteract the body’s response to inflammation associated psoriasis. The safest source of vitamin D is food.
Glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Glucosamine may help in cartilage formation and repair and possibly inhibit inflammation.
- Chondroitin may promote cartilage elasticity and inhibit the breakdown of cartilage.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organic sulfur-containing compound found in plants, fruits and vegetables. However, it is destroyed when food is processed. The body needs sulfur to maintain healthy connective tissue.
Things to keep in mind about using dietary supplements to treat psoriasis
- Tell your doctor before taking any supplements. Every substance has a potential to interact with your other medications and treatments
- Purity, quality, strength and composition can vary widely among different brands.
- Should you take supplements and experience side effects, stop taking them and tell your doctor.