Psoriasis: Natural Home Remedies

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin with red, itchy, scaly patches.

A bowl of red saffron spice among purple flowers

The experience of psoriasis is different for everyone and what helps one person may not help another.  What helps you today may not help you tomorrow.

If you can isolate the triggers that bring on an outbreak, you may be able to manage your symptoms by eliminating those triggers.

This condition is often associated with other health disorders, like inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression and psoriatic arthritis.

There are several kinds of psoriasis, each with its own unique characteristics.

SYMPTOMS

  • Bleeding
  • Dry, cracked patches
  • Whitish-silver scales
  • Itching and burning
  • Scaly patches of thickened skin
  • Swollen joints
  • Thickened, pitted fingernails and toenails

PREVALENCE

It is estimated that up to 3% of Americans suffer from psoriasis.

IS IT CONTAGIOUS?

Psoriasis is not contagious in any way at all.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

There is more than one type of psoriasis and the medical community recognizes no cure but they do recognize remission. They may offer creams and lotions or steroid shots. Some with large areas covered with psoriasis are treated with ultraviolet light treatments or internal medications. Because drugs are toxic, your doctor may put you on rotation with different kinds at different times.

SELF TREATMENT

Often, people can control their psoriasis with diet alone; usually by omitting some offending foods.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and inflammation. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods and fewer foods that are known to inflame. See the entry for Inflammation.

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID OR REDUCE

You might need to experiment with eliminating certain foods to determine if their absence is helpful. There are certain foods and substances that are common irritants for others with psoriasis.

  • Alcohol increases risk for getting psoriasis and may make symptoms significantly worse.
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Dairy
  • Fatty foods
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Gluten
  • Gluten and casein-containing foods, jointly
  • Nightshade foods
  • Smoking may exaggerate symptoms and may even contribute to the development of the problem.
  • Sugars other than the kind you get in fruits and vegetables

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Apple Cider Vinegar in water
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Milk Thistle
  • Red Ginseng
  • Saffron
  • Slippery Elm

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Aloe Vera
  • Burdock
  • Calendula
  • Chickweed
  • Gotu Kola
  • Licorice root
  • Milk Thistle
  • Oregon Grape
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Tea tree
  • Turmeric
  • Witch hazel

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, Tamanu), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own. You can add these to your favorite skin creams, shampoos, etc. You can put a few drops in a spray bottle with water and spritz your skin.  See the entry for Essential Oils

  • Angelica
  • Bergamot
  • Birch (white)
  • Borage seed
  • Carrot seed
  • Cajeput
  • Chamomile (roman)
  • Copaiba
  • Eucalyptus
  • Evening primrose
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Helichrysum
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Lavender spike
  • Neroli
  • Niaoul
  • Oregano
  • Palmarosa
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Rosewood
  • Sandalwood
  • Spanish sage
  • Spikenard
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Capsaicin cream/ointment
  • Chondroitin
  • Diatomaceous earth, food grade only and always
  • Glucosamine
  • Milk Thistle
  • MSM
  • Omega 3’s
  • Vitamin D

HYDRATION

Hydration is necessary for healthy skin. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½-1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

People who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of getting psoriasis, so make exercise part of a healthy lifestyle that brings your weight to normal. It may not eliminate your psoriasis but it may improve it. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

SLEEP

Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of disease-fighting antibodies. Lack of sleep can exacerbate your itching and pain.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stress is a powerful trigger for flare-ups. Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Add oats or salts (dead sea or epsom) to your bath water as a soother.
  • Apply a paste of Indian earth over the patches to keep them moist.
  • Aloe Vera gel applied to the skin
  • Avoid fragrances
  • Andiroba oil as a moisturizer
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, to relieve itching.  Apply full strength or diluted, depending on your reaction to it (it may sting).
  • Ask your doctor to check you out for candidiasis (yeast infection).
  • Baking soda mixed with water and sprayed on affected areas to relieve itching.
  • Bathe in the sea.
  • Capsaicin ointment or cream can be applied to reduce pain, rednes and scaling.  Be sure to keep this OUT of your eyes!
  • A cold pack to relieve itching
  • Coconut oil for a skin salve
  • Diatomaceous earth taken internally daily (food grade only of course)
  • Edible Clay applied as a paste (with water) to the affected area, or added to your bath
  • Get some sunshine every day. Try to expose any affected skin to sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day.
  • If some medications make your psoriasis worse, ask your doctor about replacements.
  • Keep a food log; you may be able to associate a certain food or beverage with outbreaks. It might be red wine or chocolate.
  • Mahonia Aquifolium (Oregon Grape) cream (10%) may be helpful to those with moderate psoriasis conditions.  Try this on a small, inconspicuous area first.  Some people report that it helps and others that it exacerbates the redness of their skin.
  • Remove all casein in your diet.  That means all dairy from any animal, along with all gluten and all foods from the nightshade family.
  • Soak in Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts and then moisturize.
  • Tea Tree Oil (but try just a little to find out if you are sensitive to it.  I know one sufferer who can taste it the minute he puts it on his skin.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in cold, dry winters.
  • UV Treatment under a doctor’s supervision.  Do not try using a tanning bed and treating yourself, which increases the risk of melanoma.  You might follow up treatment with a UVB light unit at home (prescription required).
  • Turmeric as a supplement.  Turmeric is a shrub related to ginger and used in foods such as curries. The curcumin in turmeric may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties.  High doses and long-term use may cause indigestion, nausea or diarrhea. Avoid using as a supplement if you have gallbladder disease.  Report supplementation to your healthcare provider.  At this writing, the University of Maryland Medical Center online recommends the following doses for adults (consult their website for cautions and interactions, i.e. not recommended for those on blood thinners):
    • Cut root: 1.5 to 3g per day
    • Dried, powdered root: 1-3 g per day
    • Standardized powder (curcumin) 400 to 600 mg, 3 times per day
    • Fluid extract (1:1) 30 to 90 drops/day
    • Tincture (1:2): 15 to 30 drops 4x/day

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

  • Infections – take them seriously as there is a correlation between infections and psoriasis outbreaks.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Avoidance of any “triggers”
  • Some, but not too much, sun exposure
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