Psoriasis

Psoriasis

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A really nasty condition. There are several factors normally involved in psoriasis, which is effectively, to my mind anyway, an inflammatory, possibly autoimmune, proliferative skin disorder.

Some key ones include maldigestion such as low stomach acid & enzymes and especially poor bile levels – it turns up a lot – the need for a gut and liver MOT (aka the Gut Plan), deficiencies of some key nutrients like Vitamin A, D, chromium and, importantly, an imbalance of fatty acids. A nutrient test for those might be a good starter approach.

I also nowadays think of it as linked in many cases to a gluten related disorder – it’s pretty high up in the most common gluten related disorders list here as you can see. I assume that’s why on the AIP approaches below are working for some.

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists recently detailed their three main herbal recommendations for psoriasis, which I thought might be useful for you. I’ve kept in their references for you to follow up as reading the abstracts can be helpful in your research:

“Psoriasis affects 1 in 50 people, usually starting in early adulthood. This chronic inflammatory skin condition typically develops in patches or plaques of red, scaly skin appearing on elbows, knees, scalp or lower back, which can make some people feel embarrassed about showing their skin and cause them to lose self-confidence. Flare-ups can be triggered by stress, smoking, scratched or sunburnt skin, hormonal changes and alcohol.

Herbalists have access to a wide range of plant medicines they can use to alleviate the discomfort psoriasis causes. Some people find that the symptoms can be reduced by making dietary changes and medical herbalists can also assist in creating personal dietary plans.  When creating a formula for the individual, your herbalist may include one of following herbs which have been traditionally used to help manage psoriasis:

Oregon grape (Mahonia/ Berberis aquifolium) extract was found to inhibit the growth of keratinocytes by 50% in vitro(note2).   This can be a useful herb to manage the condition as people with psoriasis have a faster than normal turnover of skin cells in the top layer of the skin. NB. Oregon grape is not suitable in pregnancy.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) flowers contain 1-2% essential oil which has anti-inflammatory properties, and a study on human volunteers found it can penetrate below the skin’s surface into the deeper skin layers which is important for its use as a topical anti-inflammatory (note 3).

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) cream was compared to a placebo in a double-blind, placebo controlled study of 60 patients with slight to moderate psoriasis. After 4 weeks, the aloe vera cream showed significantly higher rates of clearing the psoriatic plaques in 25/30 (83%) patients compared to 2/30 (6%) in the placebo group (note 4).

1 Fleischer AB Jr, Feldman SR, Rapp SR, Reboussin DM, Exum ML, Clark AR. Alternative therapies commonly used within a population of patients with psoriasis. Cutis. 1996; 58(3):216-220.

2 Brinker F. Eclectic Case Histories: Psoriasis Treatment with Oregon Grape Extracts. Journal of the American Herbalists Guild. 2005; 6 (1): 36-39.

3 Merfort I, Heilmann J, Hagedorn-Leweke U, Lippold BC. In vivo skin penetration studies of camomile flavones. Pharmazie. 1994 Jul;49(7):509-11.

4  Syed TA, Ahmad SA, Holt AH, Ahmad SA, Ahmad SH, Afzal M. Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 1996 Aug;1(4):505-9.

I definitely agree with the chamomile – note this is German chamomile, not the normal Roman type – and the aloe vera. In fact, I used to make a mix for patients using German chamomile essential oil in aloe vera gel once upon a time!

I have also found glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) cream works really well – it’s like a natural hydrocortisone cream and, in some tests, performs better than a steroid cream in chronic cases (also for eczema). There is one called Hope’s Relief, but it is best to get one made by a herbalist I think as the dosages can be worked out for you specifically then.

Other stuff..

I was sent this ray of hope so thought I would share it for you. An unconventional approach but the before and after pictures in this make it worth considering (ooh intriguing!):

The effects on psoriasis of hosting the human hookworm, Necator americanus

There are also several of my own published skin articles on the General Skin Factsheet page here so do check those out.

Also, SkinsMatter.com, for whom I used to be an agony aunt, have a great resource here:

Psoriasis Articles

And here are 4 successful healing stories where people used the AIP (autoimmune protocol) dietary approach:

Healing Psoriasis Using AIP

Hope it gives you some ways forward!

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