I was sitting with a teller doing my banking today when she asked me what type of practice I have. I told her “naturopathic”. She briefly pulled up her shirt sleeve and flashed some reddish, disturbed skin. “Can you do anything for psoriasis?” she laughingly joked. “Actually,” I replied, “have you ever considered…” and off I went! It turns out, although catapulted into the world of doctor after doctor, no one had broached the subject of food sensitivities with her. She inspired me to write about my experience with psoriasis.
To begin, I don’t have it but I have treated it. It can be an easy condition to put into remission and then there are extremely complicated cases that I have seen that, unless under the most strict circumstances (aggressive dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and supplement regiments), they refuse to budge.
I mentioned food sensitivities so I will start there. Psoriasis is a skin disorder, yes, but is it characteristically an autoimmune disorder and therefore is highly affected by the state of our immune system. Picture an immune system in a body of a person who has many food sensitivities. As the immune cells are constantly secreting chemical messengers (cytokines) to enact battle after battle against food (or, as the immune system sees it: “foreign antigens”), these cytokines are also upregulating the rate at which our skin cells grow. This leads to red and white scaly patches of bothersome, flaking skin. Discovering and removing food sensitivities is an extremely important first step in starting to treat psoriasis.
Gut dysbiosis, which I have written about in numerous other blog posts, will also contribute to skin issues. I have seen a strong correlation between candida overgrowth and pathogenic strains in the intestines associated with skin rashes such as eczema and psoriasis. Sensitive stool testing with a parasitology panel go a long way in determining exactly what is inappropriately growing in the digestive tract! As a side-note, a parasite cleanse is beneficial for everyone and I recommend my patients do one every year whether or not they have travelled to exotic countries or experience gastrointestinal complaints. Keeping the gut interior in proper health is key to maintaining a disease-free body. Fermented foods such as saukraut, miso, kefir and kim chi, along with probiotics, help to shift the ecology of the gut into a favorable place for friendly bacteria to grow.
The immune system, when out of balance and over-reactive, can be nicely modulated by using supplements such as vitamin D and fish oils. Fish oils, of which the DHA and EPA are of utmost importance, balance inflammation in the body and are beneficial in any autoimmune process.
With psoriasis, a high-potency multivitamin and mineral complex will help fill in any gaps in our daily required nutrients. For example, many of us are low in zinc (a common sign is white flecks or marks on the fingernails) and in a deficient state of zinc we are unable to produce proper hydrochloric acid levels in our stomachs. These acid levels ensure minerals can be fully absorbed from the food we eat and maintain the proper acidic pH balance in our digestive tract to inhibit the overgrowth of intestinal dysbiosis. You can see how a diet low in zinc can perpetuate the dysbiosis that contributes to psoriasis and other diseases.
As I left the teller, I thought about letting her know that she had inspired a blog post in me. I contemplated grabbing her card and emailing her a link to it, but I thought I had already done enough, simply planting a seed. If and when she was ready to pursue natural therapies and make lifestyle changes to treat her skin disorder, she’ll readily find many helpful sites available and local naturopathic practitioners to help her on her healing journey.
Solving Psoriasis – another naturopathic doctor’s perspective
Psoriasis – dietary, lifestyle, and natural remedy tips from “Ask a Naturopath”
Foundational Support – Natural News tackles psoriasis