(NaturalNews) Psoriasis is a skin condition where reddened rashes or plaques covered in slivery scales can appear on the skin of the scalp, back of the wrists, elbows, knees, buttocks, ankles and sites of repeated trauma. There is a family history in 50% of cases. The condition is fairly common, occurring in 2-4% of the population, and mainly in Caucasians. Some individuals also experience associated arthritis (psoriatic arthritis). So what causes psoriasis, and how can it be treated naturally?
Psoriasis is caused by a buildup of skin cells that have replicated too rapidly. The rate at which skin cells divide in psoriasis is roughly 1000 faster than normal skin cells. This high rate of replication is simply too fast for the cells to shed, so they accumulate, resulting in the silvery, scaly characteristic of psoriasis.
The problem results from a basic defect within the skin's cells. Although genetic factors play a significant component, rebalancing the defect in skin cells is the prime therapeutic goal. A number of problems appear to cause or contribute to the condition.
Incomplete digestion increases levels of undigested protein in the bowel and creates compounds called polyamines. These contribute to the excessive formation of skin cells. Polyamines have been found to be increased in individuals with psoriasis. Taking protein digesting enzymes to ensure proper protein digestion may help.
Toxins from bacteria in the gut have been found to be higher than normal in individuals with psoriasis. These toxins increase skin cell proliferation. Low fibre diets are linked to increased bowel toxicity. Sarsaparilla has been found very useful to help reduce toxins from the bowel. A high fibre, low sugar, low saturated fat diet promotes good gut health. Probiotics may also be useful.
Inflammation can cause psoriasis since these individuals often have a far higher production of inflammatory compounds called leukotrienes. Leukotrienes have been found to increase cell proliferation. These compounds are produced from arachadonic acid; a fat found solely in animal fats and other animal food sources. Omega 3 fats will reduce these pro-inflammatory fats, and individuals with psoriasis have been found to be deficient in omega 3. Quercitin, vitamin E, garlic, onions, omega 3 fats and minimising sources of arachadonic acid in the diet may all help reduce the inflammation and the psoriasis.
Treating liver problems in individuals with psoriasis has been found to be of great benefit. Alcohol consumption may significantly worsen psoriasis. It increases absorption of toxins from the gut and reduces the liver's capacity to detoxify them. Milk thistle has been found to be of value in the treatment of the liver and psoriasis.
Food allergies, the common one being gluten, may be important for some patients with psoriasis. Allergy testing can be very useful in this.
Decreased levels of certain nutrients, or an increased need, can result in psoriasis. Nutrients include vitamin A, zinc, chromium selenium, glutathione, vitamin E and Vitamin D.
Ultraviolet light has also been found to be very useful in treating psoriasis.
Foods to avoid:
- Avoid sugar and white refined carbohydrates as they feed bad bacteria in the gut and can increase toxins absorbed from the gut.
- Minimise saturated fat from dairy produce and fatty cuts of red meat since they contain the pro-inflammatory fat arachadonic acid that has been associated with psoriasis.
- Minimise alcohol as it increases the absorption of toxins from the gut and reduces the liver's ability to detoxify toxins.
Foods to increase:
- Increase intake of sources of fibre including all vegetables and fruit, lentils, beans and gluten-free grains.
- Ensure you eat sources of oily fish which contains the anti-inflammatory omega 3, three times per week. Oily fish includes salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and tuna.
- Other non-fish sources of omega 3 are flax oil, hemp oil and walnuts.
- Eat pumpkin seeds, linseeds and sunflower seeds as these contain a range of anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids and zinc, which supports good skin health.
- Try more gluten free grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, tapioca, corn and quinoa.
- Try alternatives to milk including unsweetened soy milk, oat milk and rice milk.
- Figs, prunes, kiwi and papaya are all very good for the skin.
- Use rosemary, caynenne pepper and turmeric in your cooking as they contain anti-inflammatory properties.
- Make plenty of vegetable juices including raw beetroot, artichoke, carrots and apples with a base of celery and cucumber as these will help cleanse the liver.
Ensure you chew your food thoroughly and sit down at each meal where possible as this will improve your digestion and absorption of protein.
Sunbathing is also helpful for psoriasis because it increases levels of vitamin D. However, avoid getting sunburned as this can increase the risk of skin cancer.
Consider ultra violet light therapy for three minutes three times per week using 295-305nm.
Ensure you manage your stress levels: moderate exercise, yoga, tai chi, meditation and all good forms of relaxation.
Alex Howard is author of "WHY ME? My Journey from M.E. to Health and Happiness" and founder of The Optimum Health Clinic, an award winning clinic specialising in M.E./C.F.S./Fibromyalgia based in Harley Street Clinic, London, UK. The clinic has treated over 5,000 patients with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia in over twenty-five countries around the world, and is currently running a two year clinical trial in conjunction with two top universities. A free information pack, including a 75 documentary about the clinic and its work, can be ordered from www.FreedomFromME.co.uk