Hair, Skin, Nails : Psoriasis Awareness

By Michael T. Murray, ND

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects four percent of the U.S. population. Psoriasis is caused by a pileup of skin cells that have replicated too rapidly. It appears that rather than a disorder of the skin, psoriasis is primarily a condition that owes its origins to defects in the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. The primary factor appears to be an increase in cell signaling via compounds secreted by white blood cells on skin cells.

When you read the various announcements on National Psoriasis Month on conventional medical websites, do not be surprised to see the false claims that there is no cure for psoriasis and that the cause is largely unknown or that there is no mention of the link between diet and psoriasis. Everything in the conventional medical approach to psoriasis focuses on the use of drug therapy to suppress symptoms.

The effective treatment of any health condition involves addressing the underlying disease process -- not suppressing the symptoms. In psoriasis, current medical treatments do not focus on correcting the problem -- that is why the medical community says there is no cure. But, if you focus on correcting the key underlying defects by addressing the "leaky gut" seen in most patients, reducing inflammation with diet and natural products, and improving digestion, a cure is definitely possible.


The first step is a therapeutic fast or elimination diet, followed by careful reintroduction of individual foods to detect those that trigger symptoms. Although many foods can cause a reaction, the most common are wheat, corn, dairy products, beef, foods in the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers), pork, citrus, oats, eggs, coffee, peanuts, cane sugar, and soy.

After all allergens have been isolated, a vegetarian or Mediterranean-style diet rich in organic whole foods, vegetables, cold-water fish (salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies), olive oil, and berries and low in sugar, meat, refined carbohydrates and animal fats is indicated.

Nutritional Supplements

A high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula is a good start. Key individual nutrients include vitamins C, E, D, B vitamins, selenium, and chromium.

Several studies have demonstrated that supplementing the diet with 3,000 mg EPA and DHA results in significant improvement in psoriasis. Detailed studies support a number of beneficial effects of EPA and DHA in psoriasis, including a reduction in the production of inflammatory compounds that stimulate skin cell proliferation.

Topical Treatments

Vitamin D, aloe vera, capsaicin, and curcumin creams show promise when applied topically. Apply to affected areas two to three times per day. Try different treatments to see which one works best.

The scaliness and hardness of psoriasis skin may also benefit from the use of emollients (skin-softening agents) such as cerimides. These compounds can help improve the skin's water-holding capacity, and it has been shown that cerimides are decreased in psoriatic skin. Cerimide-containing emollients have shown benefit in psoriasis and may improve skin barrier function and decrease water loss.

Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and the author of more than 30 bestselling books, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. He is a graduate and former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents, of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.

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