Each August, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) sponsors Psoriasis Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness, educating the public and dispelling myths about the disease. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that presents with a scaly skin rash that primarily affects the outsides of the elbows, knees, skin folds, and scalp/neck. The skin cells build up at an abnormal rate causing thickening and itching of the skin in certain areas. The rash can also be associated with diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
There are different forms of the rash: plaque psoriasis (most common form), pustular, inverse, guttate, and erythrodermic. Psoriasis is diagnosed by biopsy of the affected area. If not addressed, psoriasis can progress into psoriatic arthritis.
Causes can be associated with incomplete protein digestion, bowel toxemia, impaired liver function, excess fat consumption, nutritional deficiencies, and stress. Since the cause of the disease is multifactorial, the treatment options should be looked at from different angles. Environmental and genetic factors play a role in the onset and severity of symptoms. Naturopathic treatment looks more at gut health, immune system support, and to reduce inflammation.
Since 80% of your immune system lies in your gut, that is the first place to start looking for treatment. It is important to look at foods being eaten. Organic and non-GMO is essential as you can avoid putting pesticides and chemicals into your body. Limiting intake of sugar, meat, animal fats, and alcohol is also key. Increase in dietary fiber to aid in proper elimination is recommended. Elimination of gluten and reactive foods (foods we are sensitive or allergic to) aid in the progression and presentation of disease. Also, learning and utilizing the Nutritional Type (http://werejuvenate.com/nutritional-typing/) of the person can help the genetic factors involved in the individual’s makeup. Omega-3 fatty acids, like flax, chia, and coldwater fish, also aid in reducing inflammation in the body. Digestive enzymes can also be used to aid in protein digestion.
Decreased levels of vitamin A and zinc are common in patients with psoriasis. Chromium aids in the regulation of insulin since patients can be prone to diabetes. Liver supporting nutrients like milk thistle, glutathione and sufficient vitamin D levels are needed to optimize liver function.