Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by dry, scaly, raised, red plaque patches on the skin’s surface. These patches can be painful, itchy, and cause extreme discomfort. Unfortunately, over 5 million Americans live with psoriasis and suffer from this embarrassing and troublesome disease.
Psoriasis is a recurring condition that comes and goes in cycles. For those who live with psoriasis, they tend to experience flare-ups more often when their immune system is compromised or when going through a stressful time. Even though it affects your skin, the disease actually begins deep within your immune system.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder resulting from rapidly multiplying cells. This causes underlying cells to reach the skin’s surface and die off. But it’s happening so quickly in such large numbers, that it causes raised, red plaques covered with white scales over the skin’s surface. Psoriasis typically occurs on the scalp, elbows, and knees, and at times, may also spread to the torso, hands, and feet.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for psoriasis. But the good news is that there are many prescription and over-the-counter treatments, as well as natural and at-home remedies available that can help lessen its appearance and offer relief for its uncomfortable symptoms.
Types of Psoriasis
There are different forms of this disease. Plaque psoriasis is the most common and consists of scaly, red skin patches. Unlike other forms of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis can develop if someone wasn’t sick prior. Mild psoriasis has less severe symptoms and could be mistaken for eczema or dandruff. Severe psoriasis is the most painful and includes postular psoriasis (inflamed, puss-filled skin blisters) and guttate psoriasis (small, red skin bumps mostly seen in children and teens).
What Causes Psoriasis?
Just like other autoimmune disorders, many factors can contribute to psoriasis. These include genetics, high-stress levels, inflammation, poor diet, hormonal changes, vitamin D deficiency, and poor liver function. While doctors cannot pinpoint any direct causes of psoriasis, research has shown that these factors can increase your risk of developing the disease.
Treatments for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is usually treated by a doctor through prescription, or over-the-counter drugs are taken orally or injected, topical ointments, and phototherapy also referred to as light therapy.
For mild symptoms of psoriasis, several natural and herbal remedies can help and may eliminate the need for prescription drugs. While these methods won’t necessarily cure psoriasis, they’ve been shown to improve symptoms of the disease and help manage flare-ups significantly.
As a precaution, you should always talk with your doctor before starting any herbal remedy or supplement to help with your psoriasis, as some may have a negative interaction with other medications you’re currently taking. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have diabetes or high blood pressure, or mood disorders, there are some herbs you should not take.
That being said, if the above conditions don’t apply to you, then you can certainly give these treatments a try, with your doctor’s permission. Let’s go over the natural, at-home and small lifestyle changes which can help you see amazing improvements with your psoriasis in 30 days, and possibly even come off of your medications.
Dr. Henry’s Top 4 Natural Treatments for Psoriasis
No. 1 – Add These Foods to Your Diet
The majority of our body functions start in our gut, including our immune system. That’s why important to add foods that are high in specific nutrients which promote digestive health and prevent inflammation, which is caused by a leaky gut. Eating a diet that is rich in probiotics, soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, and zinc can all help low lower autoimmune reactions which lead to psoriasis. Let’s look at the specific nutrients and foods which can help.
Probiotics play a crucial role in our overall health. There are good bacteria and harmful bacteria in our bodies, specifically in our gut, and balancing out the good with the bad is key, which is precisely what probiotics do. As probiotics promote improved digestive function, they also offer a boost to the immune system and improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, which are all factors that contribute to psoriasis. Therefore, eating foods high in probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, miso, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi, or taking probiotic supplements, is essential for managing psoriasis outbreaks and symptoms.
Eating foods that are high in fiber helps your digestive function, eases inflammation and can help you lose weight, all of which can help with your psoriasis symptoms. Foods that contain a high amount of fiber and are also rich in nutrients and antioxidants include berries, spinach, flax seeds, beans, nuts, whole grains and sprouted legumes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient needed for managing psoriasis. Omega-3 fatty acids are also linked to boosting immunity, improving mood and skin health, and preventing depression. All of these benefits can help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include grass-fed beef, and wild-caught fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, anchovies, and sardines. Plant-based foods which are high in omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds and hemp seeds.
Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a critical nutrient for its skin healing benefits and antioxidant properties, which can reduce inflammation. Foods that are high in vitamin A include berries, leafy greens such as kale and spinach, and other veggies including broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a huge role in boosting immune health which can help with psoriasis. Unfortunately, there are very few food sources that contain a high amount of vitamin D. Natural sunlight is an excellent source for vitamin D, but many people are not able to spend a lot of time outdoors or may live in a place where sun exposure is limited. Therefore, if you have psoriasis, it’s recommended that you consume the few foods that contain vitamin D, including cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, fortified milk, and eggs.
Zinc, an essential mineral which boosts immunity and skin health, is also an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent, and it balances hormones. All of these benefits can help control psoriasis. Foods high in zinc include meats such as lamb, grass-fed beef, chicken, and turkey. Chickpeas, cashews and pumpkin seeds are also excellent zinc sources.
No. 2 – Remove Inflammation Causing Foods
Eating a gluten-free diet has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is what leads to psoriasis. Foods with gluten that should be avoided include cereal, pasta, bread, pizza, cakes, cookies and most processed foods. Other foods that can cause inflammation are sugar and artificial sweeteners, anything fried, saturated fats and processed meats.
No. 3 – Take Supplements
I recommend taking the following supplements on a daily basis. These supplements will enhance your dietary intake of these crucial nutrients, and offer added relief for psoriasis symptoms and protection against flare-ups. Remember to always check with your doctor first, to make sure these supplements won’t interfere with other medications you may be taking.
Look for a high-quality brand and take a daily dosage of 50 million IUs to lower autoimmune reactions. Probiotics balance gut bacteria and promote digestive health, by increasing the good bacteria and crowding out the harmful bacteria.
Fish Oil. You want a high-quality brand of fish oil that contains both EPA and DHA. Take a daily dosage of at least 1000 mg. Fish oil is known to help with chronic skin ailments, especially psoriasis.
Milk Thistle. Take 250 mg three times a day to help detoxify the liver. Psoriasis actually overburdens the liver, so milk thistle will help aid in cleansing the liver of harmful toxins and reduce the strain on the liver being caused by psoriasis.
Digestive Enzymes. Digestive enzymes play a crucial role in digestive health and your body’s absorption of nutrients. They help clean out the gut and reduce inflammation, thus lowering the risk of psoriasis flare-ups.
Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin. Many psoriasis patients have found that taking a turmeric supplement has helped minimize psoriasis breakouts. The daily dosage recommended by the FDA is 1.5 to 3.0 grams.
No. 4 – Use a Topical Treatment with Natural Ingredients
There are many natural topicals available that can help treat psoriasis and serve as a healing remedy for psoriasis symptoms, including itching, redness, and pain. The best part is that many of these can be easily found at your local pharmacy, drug store, supermarket, or ordered online without a doctor’s prescription. Topicals used to treat psoriasis come in many different forms. Let’s take a look at what they are and the specific benefits that each one offers for treating psoriasis.
Salicylic Acid. Salicylic acid acts as a peeling agent and causes the skin’s outer layer to shed, helping to soften and remove psoriasis scales.
Palm Oil/Vitamin E. Both palm oil and vitamin E help to moisturize the skin’s outer layers by creating a barrier, which also helps protect those areas from harmful UV rays.
Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil has powerful antiseptic qualities and has been used for hundreds of years to promote healthy skin. For psoriasis, it keeps skin replenished while removing dry, dead skin cells. Additionally, many people have found that using shampoos with tea tree oil helped relieve their scalp psoriasis.
Olive Oil. Olive oil can be applied directly to the areas affected by psoriasis, to help alleviate its uncomfortable symptoms. Olive oil locks in the skin’s moisture and is an excellent remedy for dry, scaly skin.
Aloe Vera. Look for aloe vera creams that contain 0.5% aloe and apply to the affected skin three times a day. Research has shown that aloe can help reduce skin redness and scaling caused by psoriasis.
As a natural skin soother, oats have been shown to offer relief for itchy skin, inflammation, and redness associated with psoriasis. Add oatmeal to your bath and soak up its incredible skin healing benefits.
Dead Sea and Epsom Salts. Using Dead Sea or Epsom salts in a warm bath and soaking in the tub for 15 minutes may help remove scales and relieve itching associated with psoriasis.
Apple Cider Vinegar. Organic apple cider vinegar can be applied to the scalp or other skin areas affected by psoriasis to help relieve itching. Because of the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar, it helps to dilute it first with water at a 1:2 ratio, to help prevent a burning sensation when it’s applied. Do not use on skin that is cracked or bleeding.
One over-the-counter topical I highly recommend for treating psoriasis is Dermasis, as it contains a combination of many of the natural ingredients listed above, including salicylic acid, vitamins E and A, and palm oil.
There may not be a cure for psoriasis, but the good news is that there are many natural treatments you can explore to reduce your psoriasis flare-ups and help relieve its embarrassing and painful symptoms. While these remedies may work for some people and not for others, there are still several methods you can try, with nothing to lose except the chance of reducing your psoriasis.