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Nutrition & Healing - Psoriasis

By Dr. Jonathan V. Wright

If you have psoriasis, you know how stubborn and resistant to treatment it can be. Fortunately, there are many nutritional and natural therapies which can produce major improvement or even elimination of psoriasis. These therapies include sunlight exposure, diet changes, identification and elimination of food allergy and sensitivity, identification and treatment of inefficient digestion, vitamin and essential fatty acid supplementation, treatment with natural metabolites, and a promising herbal remedy.

"Mainstream" medical treatment of psoriasis very frequently includes recommendations for light exposure, also. However, much of the time artificial sources of ultraviolet light, specifically "UV-B", are recommended along with the fight-activated drug psoralen. Other "mainstream" medical treatments include topical applications of potent synthetic versions of cortisone, coal and pine tar preparations, and anthralin. On the horizon in "mainstream" treatment is a naturally occurring topically applied metabolite of vitamin D.

Years ago, it was observed that low-protein diets often resulted in overall improvement in psoriasis. If your psoriasis is stubborn, you might try a vegetarian or almost-vegetarian diet for several months. I've observed that vegetarian diet programs for psoriasis work best when combined with fish oil supplements, a specific natural treatment you'll hear about shortly.

Nearly everyone I've worked with who has psoriasis also has food allergies and sensitivities. Elimination of food sensitivities usually results in psoriasis improvement, from a minor to a major degree. Since routine 'scratch' type skin tests are unreliable for food allergies, you might want to contact the American Academy of Environmental Medicine at 913-642-6062 or the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172 for a referral to a doctor skilled and knowledgeable in the identification and treatment of food allergies and sensitivities. You might also want to read the brief on Allergy Testing for further information.

Inefficient digestion is another problem common to people with psoriasis. Most often, digestive inefficiency is due to underproduction of hydrochloric acid and pepsin by the stomach. Treatment of this problem results in improved digestion of food, particularly protein. Like food allergy elimination, digestive improvement is another non-specific treatment which frequently results in psoriasis improvement from a minor to a major degree. To find a health care professional near you who does precise, well-researched stomach function testing, usually called "gastric analysis by radiotelemetry" or "Heidelberg capsule testing" you might call 800-241-7517.

Many people with psoriasis have found that fish oil supplementation reduces the severity and extent of psoriasis. This treatment appears to be more effective for individuals following low-protein, low-fat diets. I usually recommend 2 tablespoons of fish oil, twice daily. Whenever fish oil or other sources of essential fatty acids are taken, it's also necessary to take vitamin E. With this amount of fish oil, I recommend 800 units of vitamin E daily.

1.25 dihydrozyvitamin D [one-twenty-five-dye-hi-droxy vitamin D] is a naturally-occurring metabolite of vita in d that can be very effective for mose cases of psoriasis. Though it can be taken orally, it's usually applied topically, and is unfortunately somewhat expensive. At present, topical preparations are available only on prescription through compounding pharmacists. Although any licensed physician can prescribe, you may need to contact a member of ACAM. I'll give you the telephone number at the end of this brief.

Fumarate, also called fumaric acid, is another naturally occurring metabolite frequently useful against psoriasis. A few people I've worked with have had entire clearing of psoriasis; many have had major help. However, unwanted effects of fumarate capsules or tablets can occur, including flushing, low blood sugar episodes, diarrhea, abnormal liver and kidney function tests, and lowered while blood cell counts. Because of these possibilities, it's best not to take fumarate tablets or capsules unless you're working with a health care professional skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural therapies. However, topical fumarate preparations aren't associated with the unwanted effects you've heard, and can also reduce the severity and extent of psoriasis. Topical fumarate preparations are sometimes available at natural food stores.

In a minority of individuals, Vitamin B12 and folic acid have been very helpful. They're definitely worth though, since no toxicity or unwanted effects have been reported. The quantities needed are fairly large: folic acid, 50 milligrams two or three times daily, and vitamin B12, 1000 to 3000 micrograms daily, usually given by self-injection. Vitamin B12 and folate should be taken over the same period of time, and can take two to three months to show results. Both require prescriptions, which can usually be obtained from doctors knowledgeable and skilled in nutritional medicine.

In psoriasis, cells divide at a much more rapid rate than usual. This abnormally rapid division is attributed to an abnormal ratio of two cell growth regulating factors. Forskolin, a naturally occurring remedy derived from an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, has been shown to normalize this ratio. As no toxic effects have been reported from Forskolin, it appears to be a very promising herbal remedy for psoriasis. Forskolin has just started to become available in natural food stores in 5 milligram tablets and capsules. Two to three daily should be tried. It's too soon for me to tell you whether or not Forskolin will be helpful for many individuals with psoriasis.

Whenever individual nutrients are taken, it's always wisest to take a general multiple vitamin and mineral supplement too.

Because of differences in age, sex, metabolism or potential allergy, these diet and supplement therapies may not be suitable for you. Consult a health care professional skilled in nutritional and natural therapies. To locate one near you, you might call the American College of Advancement in Medicine at 800-532-3688 or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at 206-323-7610.


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