Psoriasis, a common skin disorder, occurs when skin cells replicate too quickly. The skin produces new cells at about ten times its normal rate, but also it continues to slough off old ones at its usual, slower pace. With nowhere else to go, the new cells pile up under the surface, creating patches of red, swollen skin covered with silvery or whitish scales. Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but it most often surfaces on the scalp, the knees, the elbows, the buttocks, and the backs of the wrists. The rash usually doesn’t itch, but if you scratch, it may bleed. Psoriasis comes and goes in cycles and leaves no scars, although the area may be thick and dry even in times of remission. The nails may also be affected and may develop stipples and pitted areas.
Occasionally, in a condition known as pustular psoriasis, blisters will rise on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. Psoriasis has also been linked to inﬂam- matory arthritis of the ﬁngers and the toes.
Psoriasis can cause a type of arthritis that resembles rheumatoid arthritis in some individuals. The nails are affected in 30 to 50 percent of people with psoriasis, result- ing in a pitting, a discoloration, and a thickening of the nails’ plates.
The exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown, but the prevailing theory connects the high rate of cell replication to a genetic ﬂaw. This theory is backed up by the large number of cases that run in families. As with most genetic disorders, however, it’s also likely that people simply inherit a predisposition to psoriasis. Lifestyle choices play an important part in determining the severity and the frequency of the condition or whether you’ll even experience it at all. A poor diet, for example, often worsens this condition. The identiﬁcation and the treatment of food allergies is the key for some individuals. The digestive tract is a focal point for many people with psoriasis. Poor digestion, especially incomplete protein digestion, leads to the creation of toxins known as polyamines, which contribute to excessive skin proliferation. Also, the over- growth of Candida albicans and various bacteria by-products is thought to worsen this condition. Along with the overgrowth of these microbes is often an imbalance or a deﬁciency of friendly ﬂora, the good bacteria that help detoxify the body. Liver func- tion is of critical importance, as it is the body’s main ﬁltering system. Optimizing liver function with sound nutrition and nutritional supplements can be helpful.
We have also found a connection between psoriasis and a low intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Finally, stress, ﬂuctuating hormones, sunburn, and other environ- mental factors can also contribute to ﬂare-ups.
• Red, inﬂamed patches of skin, cov- ered with silvery or white scales
• Thick, dry skin in times of remission
• Dull, distorted nails
• Blisters on the palms of the hands
or the soles of the feet (in cases of
• A poor diet, especially one that’s low in ﬁber and EFAs
• Difﬁculty digesting protein
• Overgrowth of Candida albicans and other microbes
• Poor liver function
• Hormonal changes
• Illness or infection
• Certain medications
As with all skin disorders, psoriasis is best treated by encouraging the body to elim-
inate toxins through the bowels and the urinary tract, rather than through the skin.
Get your protein from ﬁsh and vegetarian sources like tofu and beans. These foods are much easier to digest than animal proteins are.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for psoriasis:
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis—blood
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal Toxic metals—urine or hair
Increase your intake of ﬁber. Eat fresh, whole foods and include whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, or beans at every meal.
Essential fatty acids reduce inﬂammation and have been shown to greatly improve psoriasis. Cold-water ﬁsh like mackerel and salmon are excellent sources of EFAs, and so are both ﬂaxseeds and ﬂaxseed oil. (Flaxseeds are also a concentrated source of the ﬁber you need. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons daily, along with 10 ounces of water.) Many psoriasis sufferers are deﬁcient in zinc and vitamin A. Eat pumpkin seeds
for zinc; for vitamin A, eat orange, yellow, or green vegetables.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours to improve digestion, ﬂush away toxins, and reduce inﬂammation.
Food to Avoid
Avoid red meat, poultry, and milk. People with psoriasis often have difﬁculty digest- ing protein, and these foods are the hardest on your intestines. In addition, both red meat and milk contain arachidonic acid, which aggravates inﬂammation.
Do not eat other foods that are difﬁcult to digest. Fatty, fried, and junk foods all fall into this category, as do products that are high in reﬁned sugar.
Alcohol causes inﬂammation and triggers psoriasis in many people. Drink only in moderation and monitor your intake; if alcohol leads to a ﬂare-up, you should stop drinking altogether.
In some people, psoriasis is brought on by allergic reactions to food. Read the Food Allergies section, and follow the elimination diet there. If a certain food triggers an episode of psoriasis or makes an existing one worse, remove it from your diet. Gluten, cow’s milk, sugar, and citrus fruits are common offenders.
Make sure to avoid caffeine.
A detoxiﬁcation program will reduce toxic waste and return your digestive system to a more efﬁcient working order. You may discover that detoxiﬁcation, especially fast- ing, brings on an episode of psoriasis or makes an existing ﬂare-up worse, but that’s because you’re shedding toxins at an increased rate. Once your body system is clean again, you may ﬁnd a dramatic improvement in your skin.
Fast on juices for two to three days. Green drinks and detoxifying herbal teas are good choices for extra cleansing power.
In a double-blind study, researchers examined the effect of people with pso- riasis supplement- ing 10 grams of ﬁsh oil daily for eight weeks versus the results in another group taking a placebo. The ﬁsh oil group had a sig- niﬁcant lessening of itching, redness, and scaling.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Psoriasis
Super Prescription #1 Hydrochloric acid
Take 1 to 3 capsules with each meal. Reduce if a warm or burning sensation occurs. It improves protein digestion.
Super Prescription #2 Fish oil
Take 10 grams daily of a high-quality ﬁsh oil. Fish oil contains a substance known as EPA that has anti-inﬂammatory effects.
Super Prescription #3 Sarsaparilla
Take 500 mg or 4 ml three times daily. This herb reduces the effects of bacterial toxins that aggravate psoriasis.
Super Prescription #4 Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Take 250 mg three times daily of an 80 to 85 percent silymarin extract. Milk this- tle improves liver detoxiﬁcation and reduces cellular proliferation.
Super Prescription #5 Vitamin B12
Get a 1 cc injection from your doctor daily for ten days and then twice weekly. Some patients notice an improvement in their psoriasis after six weeks of treat- ments. Sublingual B12 may also be helpful, at 400 to 800 mcg daily.
Super Prescription #6 Super green food supplement
Take an organic super green food, such as chlorella or spirulina, or a mixture of super green foods, each day. Take as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #7 Digestive enzymes
Take 1 to 2 capsules of a full-spectrum enzyme product with each meal. Enzymes help you to digest food more efﬁciently.
Flaxseed oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inﬂammation of the skin. Take
1 to 2 tablespoons daily.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) extract improves liver detoxiﬁcation. Take 800 mg twice daily.
A probiotic supplement provides friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus aci- dophilus and biﬁdus, which are important for detoxiﬁcation and skin health. Take a product containing at least 4 billion active organisms daily.
Gentian root (Gentiana lutea) improves overall digestive function. Take 300 mg or 10 to 20 drops ﬁve to ﬁfteen minutes before meals.
A high-potency multivitamin provides a base of nutrients for skin health. Take as directed on the container.
Drink a quarter cup of aloe vera juice for its cooling, anti-inﬂammatory effect, or apply aloe vera gel directly to the affected area.
Arsenicum Album is for psoriasis characterized by dry, scaly, itching, and burning skin. Symptoms are better with warm applications. People who require this remedy are usually restless and anxious.
Calcarea Carbonica is recommended when there are dry, scaly plaques that often crack open. People who are helped by this remedy are usually overweight and chilly and have clammy hands and feet. They crave sweets, dairy products, and eggs. They have a sensation of being overwhelmed, anxious, and easily fatigued.
Graphites is for psoriasis that has lesions that ooze, often in a yellow-brown color. Lesions mainly occur on the backs of the hands and the ears, on the head and the scalp, and on the genitalia. Symptoms are usually worse at night.
Mercurius Solubilis may beneﬁt people who seem introverted and formal but are very intense internally, with strong emotions and impulses. They tend to have swollen lymph nodes and moist or greasy-looking skin and are very sensitive to changes in temperature. The areas affected by psoriasis may become infected easily.
Mezereum is for a person who has ﬁne, white, scaly plaques that cover large areas. The skin may itch intensely and crust easily and feels better with cold applications.
Petroleum is a remedy for psoriasis characterized by extreme dryness of the skin all over the body. People who beneﬁt from this remedy usually have very dry skin in general. Itching will be worse at night and from getting warm in bed. Symptoms are much worse in the winter and in cold, dry weather.
Rhus Toxicodendron is for psoriasis characterized by dry, red, chapped, raw skin that itches intensely. Symptoms are better from hot applications or baths. The person is restless and often has a craving for cold milk.
Sepia is one of the most common homeopathic remedies for psoriasis. There is a thickening of the skin, with circular eruptions and dryness. This remedy is recom- mended for women with a hormonal imbalance. They feel chilly and irritable.
Staphysagria is for persistent psoriasis that erupts after suppressed grief or emo- tions. The scalp is most commonly affected.
Sulphur is a good choice for intense itching and burning and inﬂamed eruptions that are worse from warmth and bathing. The lesions are often moist and oozing. It is also commonly used for psoriatic arthritis.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• Work Stomach 36 to strengthen your digestive tract.
• For psoriasis related to stress, use Bladder 10.
• If hormonal changes trigger your psoriasis, use Triple Warmer.
The thyroid, which controls the rate of skin-cell replacement, is the most impor- tant area of the foot to work.
Work the kidneys and the liver to purify the blood.
For hormone regulation, stimulate the endocrine glands.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is a good long-term therapy for psoriasis, as it promotes detoxiﬁcation.
Lavender oil reduces inﬂammation and relieves stress. Add a few drops to a lotion or a cream, and rub it gently into the affected areas of skin, while breathing deeply to inhale the scent.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
If stress brings on your psoriasis, you may actually be lucky: People with stress- induced psoriasis have a much greater chance of controlling their condition than do people with other triggers. Any stress-reduction technique will help; choose one you are comfortable with.
Bach Flower Remedies
If psoriasis makes you feel ashamed, Crab Apple will help you feel clean again.
Gorse is for people who’ve given up hope of ﬁnding a cure.
If you tend to be indecisive and doubt your own judgment, use Cirato.
• Many people ﬁnd that mild sunlight greatly improves psoriasis. Try taking a walk in the morning sun; the exercise will reduce stress and improve your digestion.
• If you have patches of psoriasis on your scalp, do not use a blow dryer. Let your hair dry naturally instead.
• Your doctor may prescribe a topical agent for psoriasis. Although these drugs improve the condition temporarily, the problem will return when you stop
using them. It’s better to rely on measures that address the root of the problem.
• Sometimes other medications can trigger psoriasis. If you’re taking non- steroidal anti-inﬂammatories, lithium, chloroquine, or beta-blockers, talk to your doctor about possible substitutions.
• See the Candidiasis section. Treatment of underlying candida problems can be helpful.
• We have seen low thyroid function be an aggravator of this condition. See the Hypothyroidism section for more information. In addition, the use of synthetic hormone replacement in menopausal women may be an irritant to the skin. See the Menopause section for natural ways to balance your hormones.