Q: I suffer with psoriasis on the soles of my feet. They dry, crack, bleed and itch. I have tried multiple creams and ointments. Was given a drug that inhibits cell growth & thickening, but had adverse effects (could not go out in the sun, nausea, dizziness). I know there is no cure, but do you have suggestions?
A: Psoriasis is an immune modulated chronic skin condition that can present in a variety of ways and affects about 2% of the population. The rash usually occurs on the knee, elbow, feet, face or scalp. Generally, the rash in psoriasis is a raised skin patch that is flaky or scaly with burning and itching.
There are at least five different types of psoriasis, and each can present unlike the others. As is the case with most skin conditions, psoriasis can be quite difficult to treat effectively. Often, it takes a considerable amount of time, patience and effort to be able to get this condition under control, although it can be managed.
In naturopathic medicine, the treatment for psoriasis is undertaken in a variety of ways.
Most treatments start with an overall analysis of the digestive system and, specifically, the liver.
The skin is the largest elimination organ, and can often show symptoms if the other elimination systems are not working optimally. The liver is a vital part of detoxification in the body and must be supported in any skin condition.
There are several wonderful formulas that have been shown to assist the liver in detoxification as well as increase the liver function. There is a particularly helpful formula called Livit-2 made by the Ayurvedic company, Ayush. As well, milk thistle extract can be beneficial in aiding the liver to perform adequately.
Food allergies are often a component of the psoriasis picture.
Either a food allergy test or elimination diet should be done if there are any consistent food connections with flare-ups, or digestive complaints, such as gas, bloating, reflux, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain. (For example, preliminary studies indicate some people with psoriasis could be sensitive to gluten – may have antibodies to gliadin, a component of wheat and other ‘grasses’.)
Any known food allergens should be avoided to reduce the amount of inflammation in the body.
Digestive support is useful in the form of enzymes.
These should be taken daily. Again, there is an ayurvedic formula - Triphala - that assists the overall digestive system and can be beneficial in psoriasis.
Here are some general tips for diet and nutrition:
• Eliminate foods that cause an allergic response or to which there is a sensitivity.
• Avoid sugar and salt.
• Avoid foods that contain purine, i.e., meat and other high protein foods.
• Eat fish and poultry.
• Increase fiber in the diet, either by foods (whole grains, bran, fruit, vegetables, etc.) or supplements. A low-fiber diet and psoriasis have been associated with toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.
• Avoid cAMP stimulators such as biotin, ginseng, and Vitamin C .
• Avoid cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors such as aspirin and NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil, etc.).
• Eat lots of garlic (inhibits lipoxygenase).
• Don't drink any alcohol (wine only if you must).
Here is a general list of other supplements that may be recommended to psoriasis patients:
• Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., fish oil, krill oil, flaxseed oil, seem to reduce the amount of inflammation due to psoriasis)
• Fumaric acid (Required in every cell of the body. Like vitamin D, fumaric acid is produced naturally in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Some believe psoriasis is caused by impairment of fumaric acid production in the skin.)
• Quercetin (natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory, part of the coloring found in the skins of apples and red onions).
As always, it is essential to consult with your doctor and other members of your professional healthcare team for assistance in making any decisions or changes regarding the management of this condition.
- Dr. Kristi Wrightson, ND, MS, RD
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is general and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.