Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin disorder characterized by round red patches and covered by thick, dry, silvery, adherent scales. The lesions are the result of excessive production of the skin cells and are most common on surfaces which receive repeated minor trauma (e.g., elbows and knees) and the scalp, ears, genitalia and perianal regions. Some individuals also develop arthritis (called psoriatic arthritis) in the fingers and toes.
Its prevalence in the U.S. is between 2-4% of the population, and it affects few blacks and is rare in Indians and blacks in tropical zones. Spontaneous remission is experienced by 29-39%.
Hyperproliferation of skin cells
The cell regeneration rate in psoriatic lesions is very high (1,000 times greater than in normal skin), exceeding the rate found in skin cancer. Even in uninvolved skin, the number of proliferating cells is up to 2-1/2 times greater than in non-psoriatics. This increased rate of cell proliferation is probably due to a genetic error in mitotic synthesis control, and any factor which stimulates cell proliferation will tend to aggravate the disease. Such factors include: local inflammation and trauma, candidiasis, intestinal toxemia, beta-blockers, aspirin, biotin, vitamin C, ginseng, botanicals containing inulin (such as Echinacea augustifolia, inula and Arctium lappa).
Intestinal toxemia appears to play a significant role in psoriasis. Inadequate intestinal absorption of amino acids, coupled with bacterial degradation in the colon produces putrescine as well as other toxic products. These toxic intestinal products (typically polyamines) are increased in psoriasis and promote excessive cell proliferation. Lowered skin and urinary levels of polyamines are associated with clinical improvement in psoriasis.
Signs & Symptoms
Sharply demarcated red patches or plaques covered with overlapping silvery scales
Itchiness, only if eruptive or occurs in body folds
Nail involvement results in characteristic "oil drop" stippling (tiny holes in the nails)
Possible arthritis in the small joints
Usually involves the scalp, extensor surfaces of extremities and sites of repeated trauma
There is typically family history involved (50% of cases)
Structure & Function:
Immune System Support
Essential Fatty Acids &
Hair, Skin and Nail Support
EPO 3-6 capsules, 3 times/day Folic Acid 400 mcg/d Garlic 3-6 capsules/day Proanthocyanidins* Quercetin 1/4 tsp. 4 times/day Rutin* Selenium 200 mcg/day Vitamin A 50,000 I.U./day Vitamin D* Vitamin E 400 I.U./day (natural tocopherols) Zinc 25 mg/day (picolinate)
* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.
The basic purpose of these nutritional supplements is to decrease the inflammatory process, decrease intestinal toxemia and normalize the excessive cell proliferative response.
Zinc is a known inhibitor of excessive cell proliferation, and seems particularly indicated due to the low serum zinc:copper ratio (due to both high serum copper and low serum zinc) seen in psoriatic patients. Vitamin A and its derivatives inhibit the production of toxic amines from the intestine.
An important inflammatory pathway in psoriasis is inhibited by glutathione peroxidase, a selenium-dependent, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant enzyme. Glutathione peroxidase (GP) levels are low in psoriatic patients, possibly due to such factors as alcohol abuse, malnutrition, and the excessive skin loss of the hyperproliferative disease. The depressed levels of GP normalize with oral selenium and vitamin E supplementation.
Naturally occurring substances, such as quercetin or rutin (the ubiquitous plant flavonoids) and garlic, have been shown to inhibit the inflammatory process.
Another example, which is quite new on the general market but is making quite an impact is: pycnogenol™.
The use of evening primrose oil will cause an increase in fatty acid dihomogammalinolenic acid, which cannot be converted to arachidonic acid (critical for the inflammatory processes found in psoriasis), while still allowing production of important noninflammatory prostaglandins. Eicosapentaenoic acid has similar effects.
Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.
Limit sugar and animal fats. Increase fiber and cold-water fish and if necessary, bring weight to normal levels.
Control of dietary oils is important, since free fatty acid levels (FFA) are abnormal in psoriatic serum, and the levels of inflammatory fatty acids, (i.e. arachidonic acid) can be limited through careful dietary selection.
In the involved skin, the cellular content of free arachidonic acid (AA) is 250 times greater than in uninvolved skin tissue. This elevation appears to be due to the presence in the plaques of a yet to be defined inhibitor of normal AA breakdown.
Trauma also induces the release of free AA and may account for the common clinical observation of plaques at the sites of repeated trauma. This is significant, since the increase in arachidonic acid stimulates the inflammatory pathways, thus promoting the proliferative process. The only significant source of arachidonic acid in humans is through the animal fats in the diet.
Low dietary fiber is associated with diverticular disease and increased levels of gram-negative rods in the bowel, both of which contribute to intestinal toxemia.
Psoriatic patients improved on a fasting and a vegetarian diet at a Swedish hospital where the effect of such diets on chronic inflammation disease was being studied. The improvement was probably due to decreased levels of arachidonic acid and endotoxins.
Patients have also benefited from a gluten free diet.
Long term treatment
1. Lycopodium Clavatum - 30C
2. Petroleum - 30C (especially for hands types)
3. Borax tinct. - 3 to 15C long term
Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.
X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency
Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.
Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.
Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.
Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.
Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.
Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.
Flax seed oil
Milk thistle (Silybum)
Momordica Charantia (bitter melon)
Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
Aloe vera gel has always been a favorite for skin problems, especially on acute areas. More palatable forms have become available to encourage its use internally, as well.
Cayenne is often useful against itching. It appears to inhibit the release of substance P from cutaneous sensory neurons.
Licorice Root (specifically glycyrrhetinic acid) acts like hydrocortisone, indeed, in some trials it proved superior! 93% reported benefit compared to 83% using cortisone. In combination, the licorice derivative potentiates the benefit of cortisone.
Many other topical applications are resorted to, including: Burdock, Calendula, Chamomile and Chickweed ointments.
German Chamomile flower is an approved herb by the German Commisssion E and a major phytomedicine on the German market, accounting for sales of over $8 million (1996). It is classified as a dermatological preparation.
Detoxification may be helpful, for which, Milk thistle (Silymarin) and Sarsaparilla are effective.
Milk thistle (Silybum) is often recommended, although therapy may take from 6 - 12 months.
Diuretics may also be resorted to as well, again for detoxification purposes. Cleavers and Figwort have been used.
The aqueous extract of the ripe fruit of Momardica charantia (balsam pear, bitter melon) inhibits rapid cell proliferation. The therapeutic protocol is only 3 weeks in this case.
An aqueous extract of Honduran sarsaparilla, sarsasaponn, has been found to be effective in psoriasis, particularly the more chronic, large plaque forming variety. This is apparently due to its ability to normalize lipid metabolism or its potential ability to bind endotoxins. Similar efficacy has been achieved with two Chinese varieties.
Flax seed oil is often recommended as an adjunctive therapy.
Evans, FQ: The rational use of glycyrrhetinic acid in dermatology. Br. J. Clin. Pract. 1958, 12:269-279.
Hikino, H. "Recent Research on Oriental Medicinal Plants." In Economic and Medicinal Plant Research. Edited by Wagner, H., Hikino, H., and Farnsworth, N.R. Vol. 1. London: Academic Press, 1985.
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Teelucksingh, S et al., Potentiation of hydrocortisone activity in skin by glycyrrhetinic acid. Lancet, 1990, 335:1,060-1,063.
Thurman, FM: The treatment of psoriasis with sarsaparilla compound. NEJM. 1942, 227:128-133.
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Aromatherapy - Essential Oils
Benzoin Essence, Bergamot Essence, Cajeput Essence, Calendula Essence, Geranium Essence, Juniper Essence, Lavender Essence, Tea Tree Essence, Thuja Essence.
Related Health ConditionsAbstracts
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