5 Natural Remedies and Dietary Changes for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a noncontagious, chronic skin disease that produces plaques of thickened, scaly skin. The dry flakes of silvery-white skin scales result from the excessively rapid proliferation of skin cells. Psoriasis is fundamentally an immune system problem. The proliferation of skin cells is triggered by inflammatory chemicals produced by specialized white blood cells called T-cells. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.
The exact cause remains unknown. A combination of elements, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors, are involved. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. Defects in the immune system and the control of inflammation are thought to play major roles. Certain medications like beta-blockers have been linked to psoriasis. Despite research over the past 30 years, the master switch that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.
Plaque psoriasis signs and symptoms appear as red or pink small scaly bumps that merge into plaques of raised skin. Plaque psoriasis classically affects skin over the elbows, knees, and scalp and is often itchy. Although any area may be involved, plaque psoriasis tends to be more common at sites of friction, scratching, or abrasion. Sometimes pulling off one of these small dry white flakes of skin causes a tiny blood spot on the skin. This is a special diagnostic sign in psoriasis called the Auspitz sign.
Fingernails and toenails often exhibit small pits (pinpoint depressions) and/or larger yellowish-brown separations of the nail from the nail bed at the fingertip called distal onycholysis. Nail psoriasis may be confused with and incorrectly diagnosed as a fungal nail infection.
Guttate psoriasis symptoms and signs include bumps or small plaques (½ inch or less) of red itchy, scaling skin that may appear explosively, affecting large parts of the skin surface simultaneously, after a sore throat.
In inverse psoriasis, genital lesions, especially in the groin and on the head of the penis, are common. Psoriasis in moist areas like the navel or the area between the buttocks (intergluteal folds) may look like flat red plaques without much scaling. This may be confused with other skin conditions like fungal infections, yeast infections, allergic rashes, or bacterial infections.
Symptoms and signs of pustular psoriasis include at rapid onset of groups of small bumps filled with pus on the torso. Patients are often systemically ill and may have a fever.
Erythrodermic psoriasis appears as extensive areas of red skin often involving the entire skin surface. Patients may often feel chilled.
Scalp psoriasis may look like severe dandruff with dry flakes and red areas of skin. It can be difficult to differentiate between scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis when only the scalp is involved. However, the treatment is often very similar for both conditions.
Dietary Changes for Psoriasis
Foods Might Help to Improve Psoriasis
1. Fruits and Vegetables
- Fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, apples, oranges and cherries
- Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens and others
- Hearty vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados and squash
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils and chickpeas
2. Nuts and Grain
3. Lean Meat and Fish
Foods to Avoid
2. Junk Food
3. Acidic Triggers
4. Dairy Products
5. Foods that contain Gluten
6. Ketchups and Moyonese
7. Nightshade plants like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc.
1. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Probiotic foods: Raw, cultured dairy (like kefir, amasai, yogurt) plus cultured vegetable support digestion, reduce inflammation and boost immunity.
- High-fiber foods: Fiber is found in just about all plant foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouted legumes and seeds/nuts.
- Wild-caught fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines and halibut are examples of fish high anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats
- Foods high in zinc: Zinc is critical for keeping skin healthy. Good sources include pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, seeds and legumes.
- Foods high in vitamin D and vitamin A: Brightly colored veggies and fruit are your best source of vitamin A, including leafy greens, berries and broccoli
On the other hand, foods that can aggravate psoriasis symptoms and contribute to autoimmune reactions include:
Common allergens: Conventional dairy products and gluten can both cause sensitive or food allergies within the digestive tract that trigger inflammation. Many people with psoriasis have difficulty digesting A1 casein, a protein found in most cows milk. Instead, look for cultured goats milk products (like kefir or yogurt) or cows milk that is labelled as exclusively A2 casein. Instead of consuming foods with gluten (all those made with wheat, barley, rye), try ancient grains that are gluten-free like oats, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa.
Factory-farmed meats: These tend to be lower in nutrients and higher in omega-6 fats, which can raise inflammation.
Hydrogenated oils and fried foods: Found in most packaged or fast foods, these foods may be difficult to digest for people with psoriasis and are very high in omega-6s, which most people already get way too much of.
2. Use Natural Herbs and Supplements
The top natural remedies for psoriasis include:
- Hydrochloric acid : helps with protein digestion and decreases psoriasis flare-ups
- Omega-3 fish oil : lowers inflammation
- Vitamin D3 : low levels of vitamin D and vitamin D deficiency are associated with psoriasis
- Milk thistle : helps promote liver detoxification and reduces cellular growth
- Probiotics : lower autoimmune reactions and improve digestion by increasing good bacteria and crowding out bad bacteria
- Adaptogen herbs and vitamin B12: help the body deal with the effects of stress
- Digestive enzymes: boost nutrient absorption and can help lower food sensitives
- Bone broth: provides many nutrients like collagen and glucosamine, which repair damaged skin, digestive tissues and joints
3. Vitamin D – Sunshine Daily Intake
Getting 20 minutes of sunshine daily, three to four days a week, can greatly improve psoriasis symptoms by raising vitamin D levels. Research shows that vitamin D changes the way cells grow and might help slow down skin cell production in people with psoriasis, which reduces plaque. This helps ease psoriasis symptoms like thick skin and scaling. Vitamin D also positively affects how the immune system functions and can lower autoimmune reactions or inflammation.
If you have sensitive psoriasis patches due to ending medication use or experiencing a flare-up, be very careful about sun exposure until you are healed in order to prevent burns. Wear SPF 30 or higher if you are prone to burns, and try to get sunlight when the sun is not at its strongest, which is usually between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Another option besides spending time in the sun is to use an indoor light box, although it is not known if this works as well to boost vitamin D levels.
4. Lower Stress
Both emotional and physical stress can cause psoriasis to develop or psoriasis symptoms to become worse. People with psoriasis who use relaxation techniques and make an effort to reduce stress usually notice improvements in symptoms, which makes sense considering psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are often aggravated by stress due to how the “fight or flight” response impacts the immune system, releasing higher levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines and contributing to hormonal imbalances.
Many studies have found that a high proportion of patients with high amounts of emotional stress experience some sort of disease or illness, which can then cause even more stress and trigger a vicious cycle. And as mentioned above, the vast majority of people with psoriasis report high amounts of stress prior to the outbreak of their symptoms. Stress relievers (like exercise, meditation, yoga and spending time outdoors) can help keep inflammation at bay and therefore psoriasis symptoms under control.
5. Moisture and Use Soothing Essential Oils
Psoriasis symptoms are usually at their worst when skin is very dry and inflamed. Moisturizing the skin and using natural anti-inflammatory oils can ease symptoms like redness, scaling and pain. Depending on where itchiness and flaking occur, moisture can be increased by using natural shampoos, lotions, gels, foams, creams and more greasy ointments. Keep skin moisturized by applying thick creams or oils, such as virgin coconut oil or skin, raw shea butter or your own Homemade Body Butter Lotion.
Other options to help lock in moisture include petroleum jelly (Vaseline), almond oil or virgin olive oil. Try moisturizing after a warm shower (avoiding very hot water), but be careful not to add too much oil before exercising or during the warm months of the year since sweat mixed with thick creams can make your psoriasis symptoms worse. You can keep skin damp during the night by applying lotion, wrapping a bandage around the area and then gently washing away the lotion in the morning — just be careful to use natural products that are not drying.
Essential oils like lavender, frankincense, geranium and tea tree oil can also soothe inflamed skin and support the healing process, without the need for irritating prescription creams. First perform a small patch test to make sure you do not react badly to the oils. Use a very small amount, since essential oils are highly concentrated. Mix three drops of lavender oil and three drops of frankincense oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and rub onto the affected area one to three times daily.
Did You Know?
Can Psoriasis Turn into Cancer?
Psoriasis and cancer. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can cause scaling and inflammation. Researchers have found that psoriasis may increase your risk of developing certain cancers. If you have psoriasis, there are steps you can take to manage or reduce risk factors for cancer.