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What We Know About Psoriasis
Healthy Steps: Psoriasis—First Steps
Healthy Steps: Psoriasis—Full Program
Psoriasis Prevention
From Dr. Deborah's Desk

If you suffer from psoriasis, you know how devastating this inflammatory skin condition can be. You may have tried various over-the-counter treatments and prescription medications, only to find that the scaly skin patches characteristic of psoriasis recur despite your best efforts. Although psoriasis seems mysterious, understanding and addressing its underlying causes can help you break the cycle of inflammation and flareups. And although there is not yet a cure for psoriasis, simple natural remedies can alleviate your discomfort.

Telltale symptoms of psoriasis include raised red patches covered by a silvery, scaly layer. These inflamed areas may be itchy, tight, sore, or painful. The most common areas for patches to occur are around the elbows, knees, back, or scalp. Rarer forms of psoriasis produce blisters on the hands and feet or smaller patches all over the body. Psoriasis can even affect the nails.

Although scientists know the psoriasis problem lies within the immune system, they are still trying to figure out the root cause. Because approximately one-third of sufferers have a family history of tpsoriasis, a genetic element is likely involved. Dietary and lifestyle factors have also been associated with the development and severity of psoriasis.

Over one-third of people with psoriasis experience their first symptoms before the age of 16. Outbreaks tend to come and go, sometimes with no apparent reason. Those unfamiliar with the condition sometimes mistakenly believe it's contagious, which can understandably cause discomfort in social situations.

Because psoriasis represents a high level of toxicity in the body, it is one of the most complicated and yet also most important conditions to treat with a nutritional and lifestyle approach.

What We Know About Psoriasis

A chronic auto-immune disease, psoriasis causes excessive growth and inadequate turnover of skin cells. Plaque psoriasis forms reddish raised patches with a thick overlayer of flaking white skin. Severity ranges from a single patch to practically the entire surface of the skin. Fingernails and toenails may be affected, and some psoriatic patients also suffer from psoriatic arthritis.

It's a simple case of mistaken identity: Your immune system accidentally attacks some of your skin cells as if they were bacteria or viruses. Specifically, it's the T-cells in your bloodstream that have become confused. As a result, the targeted skin cells face an early death, and new cells are produced to replace them, causing the natural cycle of skin cell production to go into overdrive. Consequently, the dead cells pile up on your skin, creating the characteristic scaly psoriasis patches.

Genetics, stress, and gastrointestinal function can all play a role in psoriasis flareups. Sometimes specific causes trigger an outbreak. For example, guttate psoriasis-characterized by small patches all over the body-often follows a streptococcal infection.

My approach to psoriasis addresses the underlying issues of inflammation, toxicity, and disturbed immune response through dietary and lifestyle modifications that support, rather than suppress, the body's healing wisdom. In contrast, conventional treatments for psoriasis are designed to suppress the autoimmune process that causes the proliferation of skin cells and to remove the existing scales, which are merely superficial signs of the disorder.

In reality, you may never see noticeable improvement after applying conventional products such as creams or ointments. There are problems with every commonly prescribed treatment for psoriasis, ranging from skin irritation and damage to an increased risk of skin cancer. Steroid creams are frequently recommended, but they can cause thinning of the skin and rebound psoriasis. If psoriasis does not respond to topical treatments, the next line of attack in conventional medicine is an arsenal of prescription drugs-all of which are highly toxic and contribute to the liver's burden of detoxification.

Psoriasis is a complicated condition, and there's no quick fix. By addressing the underlying causes through proper nutrition and lifestyle choices, however, you can bring your body into balance and prevent psoriasis outbreaks. It's important to understand that psoriasis is a symptom, and that by paying attention to your body and making appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle, you will not only alleviate inflammation and the resulting scaly psoriasis patches, but you'll also be improving your overall health.

Healthy Steps: Psoriasis—First Steps

For the greatest psoriasis improvement with the fewest steps, do the following:

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
  • To boost your zinc intake, eat oysters twice monthly as well as consuming plenty of egg yolks, herring, lamb, liver, and sunflower seeds.
  • Stop eating foods likely to be inflammatory: stop grains, dairy, and legumes for one month. Re-introduce them one at a time, very slowly. You will probably need to stay off gluten.
  • Folate as Thorne Research Folacal. Take 1-2 capsules daily with 3 capsules of The Synergy Company Pure Radiance Vitamin C. (If you have a high homocysteine level on blood tests, you might benefit from Folate as Thorne Research 5-MTHF 1 mg. Take 1 daily.)
  • Avoid bathing in chlorinated water and keep soap usage for spot cleaning.
  • Barleans Omega 3 Swirls provide a delicious form of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Naturally soothing to the skin.
  • Calendula ointment. A natural anti-inflammatory cream excellent for soothing psoriasis (available through my office or many places online).

Healthy Steps: Psoriasis—Full Program

A comprehensive psoriasis treatment program involves many areas in which action steps can be taken, gradually or all at once. Start by following our basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle guidelines, with the following modifications:

Foods to Enjoy

  • Pasture-raised meats and poultry (with skin). Meat is a good source of vitamin B12, zinc and vitamin A which aid in the formation of healthy skin.
  • Fats. Research shows that foods containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for psoriasis. Eat cold-water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines three times a week. In addition, include other healthful fats such as organic butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil, and olive oil into your diet.
  • Vegetables. Vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is crucial for healthy skin. Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage supply your body with folic acid, which has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. Eat with melted butter or coconut oil to enhance absorption
  • Flax Seed Oil. 1/2 tsp in salads mixed with olive oil to taste. Keep refrigerated as flax oil turns rancid easily.
  • Zinc-rich foods. Zinc is often deficient in people with psoriasis. Eating oysters twice a month provides an excellent source of zinc. Egg yolks, herring, lamb, liver, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds are also rich in zinc.
  • Celtic sea salt. Use this natural mineral-rich salt in place of processed salt in cooking. It’s loaded with magnesium and other minerals that promote healthy skin.
  • Pure water. As with all skin conditions, one of the easiest and best things you can do is to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Herbal teas are also be beneficial.

Foods to Avoid

  • Stop eating foods likely to be inflammatory: stop grains, dairy, and legumes for one month. Re-introduce them one at a time, very slowly. You will probably need to stay off gluten.
  • Sugar in all its forms, as an inflammatory agent. Additionally, candida (yeast) infection can be found in many people with psoriasis. If you have a history of antibiotics, recurrent vaginitis, or birth control pills, the Candida Diet plan may also be helpful to you.
  • Any known allergens or irritants. Use an elimination diet or allergy testing to discover food allergies or irritants.
  • Alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to trigger outbreaks and worsen symptoms.
  • Gluten. We recommend avoiding all foods containing gluten (primarily wheat, barley, rye, oats, and beer) for three months. If you notice an improvement in your skin after this period, continue with a gluten-free diet.



  • Sunlight. Spend time in warm, sunny, and humid climates if possible. Try to get 20 minutes of sunlight each day.
  • Ultraviolet therapy. Using an ultraviolet lamp is a standard treatment for psoriasis. Studies show that narrow band UVB light is particularly beneficial.
  • Liver detoxification. A liver detoxification treatment repeated once or twice a year can improve the liver's ability to remove inflammatory toxins that can stimulate psoriasis breakouts.

Things to Avoid

Many people with psoriasis find that paying close attention to their environment reduces the frequency and intensity of psoriasis symptoms.Soap. Both bathing and laundry soaps can irritate skin. Avoid soaping skin (except for spot cleaning).

  • Cleaning chemicals. Like soaps, these agents can seriously aggravate skin and worsen psoriasis.
  • Perfumes. Ingredients in many perfumed products can exacerbate psoriasis.
  • Animal dander. Skin and hair debris from animals is a common allergen and may trigger outbreaks.
  • Metals. Contact with metals, especially nickel in jewelry, can cause rashes and worsen psoriasis symptoms.
  • Smoking. Recent studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis and intensify symptoms.
  • Skin care products. Avoid all skin care products containing artificial chemicals. Check our section on skin care products and our top recommendations for organic and non toxic care
  • Excessive drying and chlorine. I recommend the Rainshow'r CQ-1000-NH Dechlorinating Shower Filter and the Rainshow'r Series 3000 Crystal Ball for the Bath. Avoid skin irritating scrubs and always moisturize after bathing. Adding bentonite clay to bathwater can be helpful.
  • Drugs. Many drugs make psoriasis symptoms worse. These include antihypertensive ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers; chloroquine and other anti-malarial medications; progesterone; indomethacin and other anti-inflammatories; interferon; lipid-lowering drugs; some antibiotics; and lithium. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives to drugs you suspect may be adding to the problem.
  • Cold, dry weather. Winter is the worst time of year for those with psoriasis. Avoid going outdoors in harsh weather and protect your skin properly when you do.

Topical Skin Care

  • Calendula Ointment. A natural anti-inflammatory cream excellent for soothing psoriasis.
  • Castor oil. Massage hands and feet with castor oil mixed with calendula extract and wrap in plastic bags overnight to soften and heal skin.
  • Organic Shea Butter. Apply shea butter to soften cracked skin.

Homeopathic Treatment

I believes that psoriasis is a condition that should be treated by an experienced professional homeopath.

Psoriasis Prevention

To help your body heal from psoriasis, you must take a comprehensive approach to reducing inflammation, enhancing detoxification, and moderating immune function. Cultivating balance through a healthy diet and lifestyle encourages skin to maintain a normal cycle of growth and repair while minimizing the frequency of psoriasis flareups.

To prevent these flareups, reduce your exposure to environmental chemicals and avoid bathing or showering in chlorinated water. Use only pure, natural skin care and household cleaning products. Because psoriasis tends to worsen when your skin is dry, avoid using soap except where absolutely necessary for hygiene. Always follow bathing or showering with a thick, rich moisturizing lotion to protect your skin and seal in beneficial moisture. If you live in a cold or dry climate, a humidifier will maintain moisture in the air and benefit your skin.

Always treat your skin gently. Because psoriasis can be triggered by trauma to the skin, take special care to avoid injuries such as shaving cuts, insect bites, or tattoos.

Sun exposure is especially beneficial for psoriasis because ultraviolet rays slow the abnormal growth of skin cells. Sun exposure also provides natural vitamin D, which is essential for skin health. Spend about 20 minutes in the sun every day, exposing as much of your body as possible to the healing rays. Avoid getting sunburned, however, which can worsen psoriasis. If sun exposure isn't possible, consider purchasing a UVB lamp.

Being generally healthy and stress-free will help you prevent psoriasis flareups. To reduce stress, find ways of relaxing that work for you. These may include yoga, meditation, or listening to classical music.

From Dr. Deborah's Desk

I have learned a lot about psoriasis from my patients. One young man in particular taught me about the agony of total body psoriasis: he was an athletic and active young man who now spent most of his time alone with his skin covered. Even the rock climbing wall at his gym emptied out if he climbed in his usual climbing gear. He also taught me about the miracles of dietary changes, particularly in otherwise young and healthy people. One month on a Paleo Diet and his psoriasis was 90% relieved. I raised the subject of re-introducing foods, but he was clear, "Changing my diet was so much easier than living with those rashes. I'll stay with this one for a while!"


This information is provided for educational purposes only, and any individual diagnosis or treatment should be determined by you and your doctor. See Additional Information.

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