Have you already tried dozens of different creams, ointments and oils in the search for the best natural psoriasis treatment?
And you’re still searching?
Both natural and steroidal topical solutions only offer limited relief of the itchy, scaly and often painful patches of psoriasis on the skin, known as plaques.
And the reason for that is, psoriasis isn’t just skin deep. The dry red, white or sometimes silvery patches of skin are just one of the many symptoms of psoriasis, which is actually an autoimmune disorder and inflammatory condition.
At Melbourne Functional Medicine, our skin health expert Rebecca Hughes looks beyond the surface to find the answers you’ve been looking for, by identifying the underlying causes and contributing factors.
The result is a comprehensive functional medicine approach to psoriasis that provides personalised holistic solutions for long-lasting relief.
Psoriasis treatment: What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is often thought of as a skin disease, but it is actually an autoimmune condition. It occurs when overactivity of the immune system causes skin cells to multiply rapidly, creating raised, thickened, dry, red patches.
The inflammation associated with psoriasis may cause psoriatic arthritis in some people, leading to painful and inflamed joints.
It is estimated that 1.6 million Australians are living with psoriasis, and the condition affects 125 million people globally. Psoriasis occurs in males and females equally, with peak onset between 16 and 22 years of age.
There are five variations of psoriasis, including:
Plaque Psoriasis: The most common type, affecting up to 80 percent of people with psoriasis. It causes red, scaly plaques that can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly on the scalp, face, knees and elbows, abdomen or lower back. Psoriasis can also present on fingernails and toenails, which is often mistaken as fungus.
Inverse Psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis affects one-quarter of people living with psoriasis, and may appear as inflamed red skin, that is smooth rather than scaly. It often affects skin folds like underarms and the genitals.
Guttate Psoriasis: Appears as small, round, red spots, affecting around eight percent of people with psoriasis.
Pustular Psoriasis: Occurs as white pustules surrounded by inflamed, red skin, in three percent of people with psoriasis.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis: A rare but potentially life-threatening variation of psoriasis causing intense redness, itching, pain, dehydration and shedding of large sheets of skin.
Psoriasis treatment: Causes and contributing factors of psoriasis
Originally thought to be a skin disease, psoriasis is now understood to be an autoimmune disorder with strong links to gastrointestinal inflammation and dysbiosis of the microbiome.
Causation is yet to be fully elucidated, but studies have uncovered a strong relationship between psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Patterns have also been discovered among people with psoriasis experiencing intestinal permeability, altered immune homeostasis and an imbalance of short and medium chain fatty acid producing bacteria.
The overactivity of the immune system and T-cell stimulation is thought to be genetic, but there are also other influential factors like digestive imbalances, stress, environment and diet.
Those with an existing autoimmune condition are at greater risk of developing another autoimmune condition like psoriasis. Around 25% of people with an autoimmune condition tend to develop three or more autoimmune conditions, likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Guttate psoriasis, which presents as an abundance of small red scaly plaques on the trunk, often follows a streptococcal infection of the throat (strep throat).
Our skin health practitioner Rebecca Hughes can provide functional testing to determine the underlying cause and contributing factors of your psoriasis, to help tailor a treatment plan for you.
Conventional psoriasis treatment
Current conventional treatment of psoriasis is most likely to include topical treatments and systemic drugs such as methotrexate, cyclosporin, acitretin and ultraviolet B phototherapy.
A report by leading Australian dermatology specialists states these therapies ‘help most people with severe psoriasis’, but toxicity limits the dose and duration of treatment.
The side effects of these drugs are many and varied. Methotrexate often causes nausea, vomiting and increased liver enzymes, acitretin carries many side effects including elevated liver enzymes and blood lipids, renal impairment and teratogenicity, and cyclosporin is associated with high blood pressure and kidney failure.
Six reports have been made to the Adverse Drug Reactions Committee of serious consequences resulting from the use of methotrexate, a chemotherapy and immune suppressant drug, and three of these patients died from complications of bone marrow suppression.
Methotrexate and acitretin, an oral retinoid, also have proven significant adverse effects on the fetus, so pregnancy must be postponed for several years after stopping treatment.
The report also found psoriasis often recurs after stopping these therapies, and the rebound is usually more severe than before treatment, spreading to other areas of the body and erupting as new varieties of psoriasis.
Interestingly, the report makes no mention of gut health, microbiome or probiotics, and only two brief mentions of prioritising a low-glycemic diet.
Listen to our skin expert Rebecca Hughes talk about the functional medicine approach to skin health and natural treatments for psoriasis
A natural treatment for psoriasis: the functional medicine approach
Rebecca first uses a range of functional testing like microbiome analysis, heavy metal testing, inflammatory markers, and vitamin and mineral levels to determine the underlying cause of your condition.
A treatment plan will then be tailored just for you, which could include a combination of functional medicine approaches for psoriasis, including:
Restore healthy microbiome balance: Bacterial dysbiosis of the gastrointestinal tract is associated with chronic inflammatory skin disorders including psoriasis. Research has found probiotics have the potential to treat psoriasis and other skin disorders, by restoring beneficial bacteria in the microbiome.
Choose an anti-inflammatory diet: Conventional treatments overlook the significant therapeutic potential of nutrition, and a food's ability to have either a negative or beneficial impact on psoriasis. Inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates, sugar, dairy, processed foods and artificial ingredients may have potential to worsen psoriasis. A Mediterranean diet has been shown to help reduce psoriasis symptoms, with foods high in healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, fish, nuts and avocados, as well as fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. Rebecca will work with you to help you eliminate any foods that may be aggravating inflammation, while ensuring you have a diet rich in essential nutrients.
Top up with supplements: Healthy skin requires a delicate balance of nutrients and minerals, which can become depleted as a result of deficiencies, reduced digestive function, stress, sun damage, age, and microbiome imbalances. Sometimes the foods we eat simply aren’t enough to obtain all of the nutrients we need. Rebecca can assess individual nutrient levels and provide supplements to reduce psoriasis symptoms, such as essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin D and vitamin C, or gastric support to improve digestion and enzymatic activity.
Avoid toxins: People with psoriasis are often very sensitive to fragrances, in everything from perfume and skincare to washing powder, room spray and cleaning products. Artificial fragrances are not only aggravating on the skin, but can cause toxic buildup in the liver and blood. Other environmental toxins that can potentially trigger psoriasis flares include cosmetics, alcohol, smoke, fumes, heavy metals, plastic and dust.
Reduce stress: Stress creates an inflammatory response in the body, which can cause and trigger a range of skin eruptions including hives and eczema. Studies have found stress is a trigger for both the onset and exacerbation of psoriasis, and steps should be taken to reduce and manage stress levels. Your Melbourne Functional Medicine treatment protocol will include lifestyle and supplement support for healthy stress management.
Prioritise sleep: Research has found people with psoriasis experience poor sleep quality more often than those without the condition. This creates a frustrating cycle as sleep is critical for cellular repair and detoxification processes that support skin health, but the discomfort of psoriasis can make it difficult to sleep. If sleep is a concern for you, Rebecca can help you create a healthy sleep schedule, and have a more comfortable night’s rest.
Are you ready for a natural psoriasis treatment that works? Our unique model of care - functional medicine combined with health coaching - was designed with you in mind. Find out how here, then book a call with us today!
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