Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin and occurs in approximately 2 to 2.6% of the US population. Psoriasis speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin.
Psoriasis can occur in different forms, each with its own symptoms. Although psoriasis is often considered as only a skin condition, it can also cause psoriatic arthritis.
Conventional medical treatment can be useful, but it does not always help or only gives a temporary result because it does not treat the cause of the disease. There are also many natural treatments to control psoriasis, and psoriasis diet is at the top of the list.
Why is psoriasis diet so important? Studies have shown that patients with psoriasis often have a weakened intestinal barrier, or a leaking bowel syndrome.
Therefore, the right diet for psoriasis can be very important. As the slogan of the National Psoriasis Foundation of America says, “Proper nutrition ensures a happy life.” I totally agree with them!
Psoriasis signs and symptoms are different for everyone. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Red patches of skin, usually covered with thick, silvery or white scales.
- Loose or damaged skin, which may be sensitive, itchy and painful.
- Dandruff on scalp.
- Split, pigmented skin that can cause bleeding and bruising.
- Discolouration of finger and toenails or formation of fungal nail infection.
- Detachment of the nail plate from the nail bad and pain or bleeding in this area.
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed.
- Itching, burning or soreness.
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails.
- Swollen and stiff joints.
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children).
- Many psoriasis patients also have emotional problems because they are ashamed of their skin and feel hopelesness.
Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas.
The rash that occurs as a result of psoriasis is most common on the:
- Lower back
- Palms of your hand
- Soles of your feet
But it can also occur elsewhere, such as finger and toenails, genitals, and mucous membranes of the mouth.
The cause of psoriasis isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought to be related to an immune system problem with T cells and other white blood cells, called neutrophils, in your body. In a typical body, white blood cells are deployed to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections. In the case of psoriasis, white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack the skin cells.
This mistaken attack causes the skin cell production process to go into overdrive. The sped-up skin cell production causes new skin cells to develop too quickly. They are pushed to the skin’s surface, where they pile up. The process becomes an ongoing cycle in which new skin cells move to the outermost layer of skin too quickly – in days rather than weeks. Skin cells build up in thick, scaly patches on the skin’s surface, continuing until treatment stops the cycle.
Just what causes T cells to malfunction in people with psoriasis isn’t entirely clear. Researchers believe both genetics and environmental factors play a role and many physicians have identified a number of psoriasis aggravating factors which include. Psoriasis typically starts or worsens because of a trigger that you may be able to identify and avoid.
Factors that may trigger psoriasis include:
- Poor diet
- Abnormal small bowel permeability
- Increase in the number of T cells in the blood, in the dermis and in the epidermis
- Problems with protein digestion
- Hormonal changes
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Disorders of liver function
- Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
- Injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, a bug bite, or a severe sunburn
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Certain medications — including lithium, which is prescribed for bipolar disorder, high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, antimalarial drugs, and iodides
Types of Psoriasis
There are several types of psoriasis. These include:
- Plaque psoriasis. This psoriasis type causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales. They can occur anywhere on your body (genitals and the soft tissue inside your mouth).
- Nail psoriasis. It can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. Infected nails might loosen and separate from the nail bed (onycholysis).
- Guttate psoriasis. This type primarily affects young adults and children. It’s marked by small, water-drop-shaped, scaling lesions on your trunk, arms, legs and scalp.
- Inverse psoriasis. This mainly affects the skin in the armpits, in the groin, under the breasts and around the genitals. Inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin that worsen with friction and sweating. Fungal infections may trigger this type of psoriasis.
- Pustular psoriasis. This form of psoriasis can occur in widespread patches or in smaller areas on your hands, feet or fingertips. The blisters may come and go frequently.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis. Erythrodermic psoriasis can cover your entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely.
- Psoriatic arthritis. In addition to inflamed, scaly skin, psoriatic arthritis causes swollen, painful joints that are typical of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint.
Common Psoriasis Treatment in Conventional Medicine
In conventional medicine, the physician will take into account the severity of the case, the psoriasis type and the size of the psoriasis when prescribing. If one method of treatment is not effective enough, gives side effects or does not work at all, it is often exchanged against another. All these medicines should be used only under a doctor’s supervision and only limited amounts to avoid side effects as they might be seriously worrying.
Side Effects of Some Psoriasis Medication:
- Dryness and irritation of the skin
- Folliculitis, a pimple-like rash affecting the hair follicles
- Burning, dryness, irritation, and thinning of the skin
- Increased risk of developing skin cancer
- Increased risk for birth defects
Topical Treatments for Psoriasis
Those treatments are rubbed directly into the affected skin to bring local relief without the system-wide side effects of medicines taken by mouth or a shot. Topical treatments for psoriasis include:
- Salicylic acid
- Steroid-based creams
- Calcitriol (Vectical) containing topical ointment
- Coal-tar ointments and shampoos
- Prescription retinoids
Oral and Injectiable Medications for Psoriasis
When other treatments fail, some doctors prescribe oral or injectable drugs to treat psoriasis. Some of these medications affect the immune system.
- Oral retinoids
- Biologics. They include adalimumab (Humira), brodalumab (Siliq) etanercept (Enbrel), guselkumab (Tremfya) ixekizumab (Taltz), secukinumab (Cosentyx), and ustekinumab (Stelara), apremilast (Otezla)
Phototherapy for Psoriasis
For persistent, difficult-to-treat cases of psoriasis, many doctors recommend light therapy. But even regular doses of sunlight (not enough to produce sunburn) can help psoriasis lesions in many people.
- PUVA (the drug psoralen combined with ultraviolet A, or UVA, light)
- Ultraviolet B light (UVB) light
- Narrow-band UVB therapy
Psoriasis Treatment – Natural Remedies, Home Therapies and Psoriasis Diet
1. Reduce stress
Stress is an important part of psoriasis, so balancing therapies, meditation and other stress relief methods are effective helpers. Studies have confirmed that those who mediated before light therapy had better results than those who received only light therapy.
There are many natural ways to relief stress and even depression, just pick your favorite and start today!
2. Exercise, drink plenty of water, take Dead Sea salt baths and moisturize your skin
It may sound too simple, but physical exercise and adequate water consumption are two simple and effective ways to support psoriasis treatment. When it comes to bathing, you should definitely not use too hot water, as it can dry your skin and deepen the inflammation.
Bath solutions, such as Dead Sea salts, oil, oilated oatmeal, or Epsom salts can help psoriasis by removing scales and easing itching. To try Dead Sea salts and other bath solutions, mix them in the bath as directed, then soak in the tub for about 15 minutes.
After bathing or showering, be sure to use a natural moisturizing cream – this increases the moisture in the skin, which has a calming and healing effect on the psoriasis.
3. Use natural topical medications
Three natural topical medicines have been shown to be effective in psoriasis. Mahogany cream (10%), avocado, vitamin B12 cream and algae cream (0.5%). Studies have confirmed the efficacy and good tolerability of Relaxa, a homeopathic cream containing mahogany extract, for mild to moderate psoriasis.
Preliminary studies suggest that a patented cream containing avocado oil and vitamin B12 can relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. Several studies have shown that 0.5% aloe extract cream gives better results than placebo and does not cause side effects.
4. Try homeopathic medicines and other alternative therapies
Homeopathy is also one of the natural therapies which is effective in alleviating psoriasis. Studies have shown that homeopathic treatment relieves the symptoms of psoriasis and improves overall quality of life. Some psoriasis can also benefit from needle therapy and Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine deals with psoriasis as a health disorder caused by blood stopping.
A Chinese medical practitioner may prescribe herbal remedies, such as turmeric, white turmeric (Rhizoma Zedoriae, similar to ginger) etc. Ayurvedic admirers can try panchakarma treatment, which includes herbal supplements and nutrition therapy to cleanse your body of toxins.
5. Take food supplements
When it comes to the treatment of psoriasis naturally, then undoubtedly the most important is to follow the psoriasis diet, but you may find help also from dietary supplements. There are five main supplements I recommend for internal psoriasis treatment.
- Hydrochloric acid (1-3 capsules per meal). Helps break down proteins and reduce psoriasis exacerbations.
- Fish Oil (1000-2000 grams per day). Fish oil is anti-inflammatory and can support psoriasis treatment.
- Vitamin D3 (4000 IU daily). Low levels of vitamin D may be associated with psoriasis.
- Milk thistle (250 mg three times a day). Milk thistle is also believed to help reduce inflammation and slow down excessive cell growth. Some research suggests that taking milk thistle can help control psoriasis.
- Probiotics (50 billion units per day). Probiotics improve digestion by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria and by eliminating harmful bacteria. Digestive disorders are related to psoriasis.
- Vitamin B12. Many of the B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B-12, are necessary to maintain healthy skin. One possible connection between vitamin B-12 and psoriasis could be that low levels of vitamin B-12 directly cause psoriasis. However, the currently available evidence does not support this theory.
6. Try essential oils
Essential oils soothe the inflamed skin and support the healing process.
- Tea Tree oil. Using tea tree oil for psoriasis prevents infection, lowers inflammation and also stimulates the immune system to support skin health. Research has confirmed the effect of the Tea Tree oil for psoriasis.
- Lavender oil. Soothing and anti-inflammatory, soothes the skin, stimulates the formation and healing of the new skin.
- Frankincense oil. An antiseptic, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory medication will relieve the discomfort.
- Myrrh oil. A great tool for rough, scaly and split psoriasis spots.
- Geranium oil. Geranium oil is an effective blood circulation stimulator and an anti-inflammatory agent. It also relieves stress.
- Coconut oil. This is not an essential oil, but it fits well with base oil. Essential oils must necessarily be diluted in base oil before being applied to problem areas. Coconut oil has a very delicate anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effect.
How to use Essential Oils? Just mix three drops of Lavender oil and three drops of Frankincense oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil and massage on your damaged skin. These essential oils can also be used successfully for anti-psoriasis aromatherapy or to be sprayed into the air as natural stress relievers.
7. Foods to avoid
The following foods are better left off in the diet of psoriasis. Some of the foods on the list are not useful to anyone. Others are perfectly suitable for most people, but are completely prohibited for those who suffer from psoriasis.
Whether you have psoriasis or not, processed food should be avoided for good health. On the other hand, the nutrient content of the processed food is low, while the content of harmful trans fats, fructose-rich corn syrup and other refined sugars is high. These foods also contain artificial ingredients such as preservatives, artificial flavorings and thickeners.
In addition to inducing addiction and overeating, processed foods produce large amounts of health problems such as insulin resistance, obesity and weight gain, allergic reactions, inflammation, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although citrus fruits are said to be beneficial to health, they are allergens for many of us. You should try to see if your skin condition improves when you leave citrus fruits out of your diet. This means giving up grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime for a while, and also the juices made of citruses.
Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers
Be sure to avoid eating those because they contain solanine, a chemical compound that can aggravate some psoriasis and cause pain.
Alcoholic beverages expand the blood vessels of the skin. As a result, white cells with T-cells associated with psoriasis are more easily released into the outer layers of the skin. A large number of T cells therefore attack normal skin cells, thereby inducing rapid renewal of skin cells characteristic of psoriasis.
Although the relationship between psoriasis and gluten has not yet been proven, some psoriasis have found that excluding gluten from the diet relieves the symptoms of psoriasis. Gluten, a protein found in cereals such as rye, wheat and barley, causes gluten allergy. According to the US National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), in response to the protein, the body begins to produce antigens that trigger the immune system response and trigger autoimmune disease.
8. Foods which you should eat only in moderation
If you’ve researched the list of prohibited and recommended foods for psoriasis, you’ve definitely noticed that the foods listed below are often banned. However, don’t let yourself be discouraged by the label of “bad food” assigned to them. In fact, they can even work well on moderate consumption.
Most experts recommend that psoriasis give up red meat because of its arachidonic acid (which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid). As a nutritionist, Chelsea Marie Warren, in an article published in Everyday Health, emphasizes: “This type of fatty acid can aggravate the symptoms of psoriasis, as they can easily be converted into inflammatory compounds.”If you want to add red meat to your food, it is important to choose the meat of animals that have been grown on the grass. These animals have not been given artificial feed or feed additives, and their meat contains essential nutrients such as vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids.
As with red meat, it is also recommended to avoid dairy products as they contain arachidonic acid and one more inflammatory protein – casein. However, dairy products have beneficial effects that should not be abandoned. In fact, some of these effects are important for the body. If you want to include dairy products in your food, make sure they are not pasteurized raw milk from farm animals.
9. Follow psoriasis diet
There are many home-made natural remedies that have scientifically proven anti-psoriasis effects. Since psoriasis is a problem with the immune system, everything that strengthens the immune system is also helpful in alleviating the symptoms of psoriasis. Certain foods may cause the psoriasis to exacerbate the disease, so discuss with your doctor about food allergy tests.
Nutrition is the foundation of good health and there is no other way to treat psoriasis. Nutrition is not only useful for already developed psoriasis, but it can also prevent psoriasis. When talking about natural therapy, the following foods are the best ones for regular consumption. I also recommend eating them for psoriatic arthritis.
The more you consume healing anti-inflammatory foods, the more your skin condition will improve.
Psoriasis Diet – How to Get Rid of Psoriasis Naturally
1. Probiotic foods
Consumption of high probiotic foods supports digestion, lowers inflammation and increases immunity. Prefer non-pasteurized, acidified organic milk products, such as kefir and yogurt, and acidified vegetables. There are a number of cases where probiotics have helped to get rid of uncontrollable psoriasis.
One patient was afflicted for ten years with psoriasis. When he started taking probiotics because of another illness, also the psoriasis was healed and did not come back again.
2. High Fiber Foods
Consumption of high-fiber foods keeps the digestive system operating, helps to prevent constipation and supports the natural detoxification processes. Fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds all contain high fibers.
3. Foods with high antioxidant content
The list of antioxidant-rich foods mostly matches the list of high fiber-rich foods; includes vegetables, fruits, herbs, beans and nuts. At the top of the list of antioxidants are wild blueberries, pecan nuts, coriander and beans.
The use of antioxidants is particularly important as psoriasis patients have a greater risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
4. Foods with high zinc content
5. Foods with high vitamin A content
Think of orange and yellow vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables. Adding them to your daily diet increases the dose of Vitamin A that is essential for your skin to heal. Good sources of vitamin A are cantaloupe, carrot, mango, tomato, different cabbages and watermelon.
6. Fish caught from nature
Salmon, mackerel, herring and sardine are excellent sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are essential for controlling psoriasis. The anti-psoriasis effect of vitamin D has been clinically proven. For psoriasis, fish should be the main source of protein instead of meat and traditional dairy products. Studies have shown that lower consumption of protein foods, especially meat and dairy products, can reduce the risk of exacerbation of psoriasis.
7. Raw milk products
8. Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices are anti-inflammatory and contain antioxidants. Curcumin, the active ingredient of the common turmeric, is famous for its strong healing effect. In a 2012 scientific article, the ability of a common turmeric to influence the expression of cytokine-associated tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is directly related to the development and persistence of psoriatic skin lesions, is specifically mentioned. This is probably why the turmeric helps to control the exacerbation of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. This spice can be safely added to foods because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a daily safety of 1.5-3.0 grams of turmeric. You can try also curcumin food supplements.
Aloe has a soothing effect on the body, both internally and externally, especially on the digestive system and skin.
Be sure to avoid processed food, simple sugars, alcohol, non-bulky dairy and meat products, hydrogenated fats and fried foods while on a psoriasis diet. Caffeine consumption should also be limited. The symptoms of some psoriasis are reduced by a gluten-free diet. In case of suspicion of gluten intolerance or any type of food allergy, testing or exclusion will help to determine what should be avoided in food.
Precautions for psoriasis
If you are taking a anti-psoriasis regimen, consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplements or other natural medicines. Your doctor should also be consulted before taking any supplement if you have any medical condition or if you are taking any medicine. Some supplements and herbs can interact with widely used prescription drugs, such as blood thinners and birth control pills.
During pregnancy or breast-feeding, you should consult your doctor before taking any conventional or natural anti-psoriasis medicine.
When using essential oils for psoriasis treatment, try the sample first on a small spot, and this oil will not suddenly cause allergies. Certainly, essential oils must be diluted beforehand in base oil, such as coconut oil.
If you have generally sensitive skin, be especially careful when using essential oils.
Written by Maria- Helena Loik