This amazing guest post was written by Jenni + Mimi, Registered Holistic Nutritionists and founders of The Naughty Nutritionists! They’re passionate about helping you incorporate delicious foods into your lifestyle without dieting. You can take their free Diet Review Quiz here that examines your current diet and gives you realistic strategies to help turn that ‘diet’ into the lifestyle that works for you.
If you have tuned into this post our guess is that you have experienced a psoriasis flare up… you might even be having one right now. You may have tried conventional treatment methods, but you are aware of the harmful side effects, and you thought you would dip into a more natural way to handle the flare ups and calm your skin.
You would think that in this day and age we would have one simple solution for psoriasis, but the fact remains that we still don’t understand everything about how the condition develops, what causes it or if there is a definite cure. We do however know that there are diet, lifestyle and plant-based topical treatments that can have tremendous results in comforting the skin and decreasing major flare ups.
Us Naughty Nutritionists have dug deep into current scientific evidence to share the best natural treatment methods available today.
But First, What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, auto-immune inflammatory disease where the skin cells multiply much faster than normal, causing the skin cells underneath to reach the surface of the skin layers and die.
Because so many cells are dying at once, it causes a red, raised layer of plaques covered by white scales. Psoriasis often occurs on the knees, elbows and scalp and depending on the severity of the condition the symptoms can range from:
- Cracking and bleeding skin
- Pitting fingernails and toenails that can detach from the nail bed
- Scales or crust on the scalp.
During the flare-up stages, psoriasis symptoms are full blown, and they may clear up for periods of time.
Scientists are just beginning to uncover some genes that increase an individual’s predisposition to psoriasis. Those genes are present in at least 10 percent of the general population of which about two to three percent will develop the disease.
Furthermore, anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of people who have psoriasis will also experience psoriatic arthritis, causing swelling and pain in the joints .
There are a variety of other underlying factors that can cause and trigger psoriasis including:
- Emotional stress
- Streptococcal infection
- Incomplete protein digestion
- Diminished liver function
- High saturated fat diet
- Inflammation is at the core of this condition.
Eczema is sometimes confused with psoriasis. It’s also an inflammatory rash characterized by itching and redness caused by allergies, irritating chemicals, medications or environmental conditions. In the case of eczema, skin cells undergo the normal production process, and the condition is not auto-immune.
Conventional Treatment Methods
Conventional treatment methods for psoriasis fall into three main categories:
- Topical creams and ointments
- Prescription medications
- Light therapy.
1. Topical Treatments
From the topical treatments, corticosteroids creams are some of the most popular, but they cause thinning of the skin. And since cortisone is a stress hormone it mobilizes fat and lean body mass to produce glucose which can destabilize normal blood glucose levels. 
2. Prescription Medications
They help to reduce inflammation and slow the growth of the skin cells. However, since they generally target the suppression or alteration of the immune system pathways or reduce skin cell production, they can have some serious side effects such as:
- Hair loss
- Weakened immune system
- High blood pressure
- Kidney problems
- Liver damage 
Not to mention that as soon as you stop taking them, symptoms return.
3. Light Therapy
Another conventional option is light therapy which uses natural and artificial ultraviolet light (UV) light to kill the overactive white blood cells responsible for the rapid skin growth. It is effective; however, it does increase the risk of skin cancers .
With so many side effects, many people have turned to natural ways to manage psoriasis. While there is no one established method that works for everyone, there are certain diet and lifestyle factors that have provided great relief to many.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Since chronic inflammation is at the root of this condition then reducing inflammation is extremely important for people with psoriasis.
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Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation (that is why they are also so important for people with heart disease), and they also help build a strong immune system. In people with psoriasis, it is extremely important to keep a balanced ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of around 2:1.
The SAD diet, unfortunately, relies on too many Omega 6 fats from highly processed oils like soybean and corn present in most processed foods and this ratio is disturbed to 20:1 or even 30:1.
Best sources of Omega 3 are wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Other healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and other nuts and seeds are also important.
Avoid Trans Fats, Hydrogenated Oils, Refined Sugar, Fried and Processed Foods
This is important for all of us, and especially for anyone with psoriasis. These foods are pro-inflammatory, they put a strain on your body organs especially the liver and deter detoxification pathways which are key in healing psoriasis.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
If are a frequent or heavy drinker, you may notice that your symptoms coincide with psoriasis breakouts. This is because alcohol suppresses the immune system, so try to reduce it to the occasional glass or even eliminate it for a period and monitor how your feel.
Caffeine affects some people, so it would be wise to limit your intake to no more than 1-2 servings a day. Choose Fairtrade and organic coffee that is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Fiber helps to keep your digestion healthy by keeping you regular. This ensures that you are eliminating wastes efficiently and your natural detox is in check. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils as well as whole grains.
Probiotics are your new best friend for pretty much anything as having the right gut bacteria helps to reduce inflammation and boost immunity. If you are intolerant to dairy products like yogurt or kefir, then aim for cultured vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.
Give this delicious Golden Kefir Recipe a try!
Enjoy a Variety of Fruits and Veggies
Antioxidants present in fruits are vegetables crucial to an anti-inflammatory diet. Load up on berries, sweet potatoes, carrots, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy) and greens (spinach, kale, arugula). You can also find a list of our favorite everyday superfoods right here.
While there is no scientific evidence to support eliminating nightshades vegetables (white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers), some people report great improvements when they remove them from their diet, especially if they also have psoriatic arthritis .
Eat Vitamin-D Rich Foods
Vitamin D is proven to help with psoriasis and is found in wild salmon, mackerel, fortified dairy and nondairy milk and cheeses, and eggs .
A note on red meat and dairy: A diet high in red meat and dairy is pro-inflammatory and can aggravate psoriasis, so reducing red meat and dairy consumption is crucial. Opting for lean cuts and pasture raised/grass-fed beef is also important as we now know that it contains a higher Omega 3 to 6 ratio .
2. Gluten Free Diet
Should you go gluten-free? We don’t have a clear-cut answer on this one, however about around 25 percent of people with psoriasis may also be sensitive to gluten .
Scientists are still researching the genetic and inflammatory pathways, and they believe that there might be some common ground between celiac disease and psoriasis. Gluten free diets have provided relief to many, so it’s worth exploring or eliminating it for 3-4 weeks and observing how you feel.
Stress is a known trigger for psoriasis flare-ups. Find ways that you enjoy to manage stress whether it’s yoga, meditation, walking, dancing, journaling or singing.
Household and Personal Care Products
This is one thing that is often overlooked, however, products such as soaps, skin creams, household cleaners, and laundry detergents have many chemicals that can be irritating not only for people with psoriasis but anyone. Look for natural skincare and household products.
Get Some Sunshine
Getting 15 minutes of the sunshine per day can help clear psoriasis symptoms and will also help with natural Vitamin D synthesis. Just make sure always to protect yourself from a sunburn.
Installing a water softener or filter may be beneficial. Also, don’t shower with very hot water that may irritate your skin further.
Natural Supplements & Topical Treatments
Vitamin D Ointments typically change the way cells grow by slowing growth and helping calm inflammation. Treatments have been proven effective in the treatment of psoriasis. However, some people may experience side effects such as skin irritation or burning .
Aloe Vera is one of the most effective topical treatments for psoriasis without the negative side effects. In one double-blind placebo controlled study, a topical Aloe Vera extract 0.5% greatly outperformed the placebo as an effective treatment for psoriasis .
Avocado Cream: Early research is showing promising results for using a proprietary cream containing avocado oil and B12.
Dead Sea Climatotherapy: There is inspiring evidence that Dead Sea climatotherapy can improve psoriasis and even help some people get into remission . A great reason to take some time and relax too.
Oregon Grape: Several studies have shown that that topical application of Oregon grape improves mild to moderate psoriasis with little side effects. It works by inhibiting the inflammatory response naturally by slowing down the skin cell production .
Tea Tree Oil can help to reduce inflammation and prevent infections .
Selenium: Evidence is still conflicting on supplementation; however, some studies have shown that selenium-containing shampoos may help improve dandruff.
Some other herbs and supplements that are currently being researched for psoriasis with some promising results include Bishop’s weed, Chondroitin sulfate, and Khella.
Herbs that are known to exacerbate psoriasis include Arctium Lappa, Echinacea, and Inula.
Supplements to Consider:
- Omega 3 supplements are anti-inflammatory.
- Probiotics to help with healthy gut flora.
- B-complex helps with energy production and the stress response.
- Vitamin A and Zinc help with skin cell regeneration and faster healing. These are best obtained through foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, red peppers, cashews, pumpkin seeds and beans.
As we have seen, psoriasis is a very perplexing issue to manage. The medical and science community is hoping that there may finally be some answers once all the specific genetic factors are identified.
Regardless of the outcomes, we already know that a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as natural treatments, are key in managing psoriasis and reducing flare-ups.
We are not Medical Doctors, and none of the content is intended to provide medical advice, diagnose, treat or cure any diseases.
Please consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider if you have any questions regarding your condition, and check with your doctor before adding any foods, supplements or other natural remedies to your regimen.
Some foods, herbs, and supplements may have serious interactions with prescription medications so always check with your doctor.
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