Natural Alternatives for Psoriasis, Part 2
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 10, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Yesterday we looked at psoriasis and some herbs that have traditionally been used to help manage this troubling condition. (If you missed that post–and the enlightening discussion thread that followed!—scroll down the Wall a little, to ‘Natural Alternatives for Psoriasis: Part 1.’)
Two of the most beneficial herbs for psoriasis are Coleus and Sarsaparilla (Smilax). Other supportive “blood cleansing” herbs include Yellow Dock, Cleavers, Red Clover, and Blue Flagl, which exert their action through the liver and lymphatic channels, primarily.
Is Their a Gut Connection?
Oftentimes skin conditions can be directly correlated with the health of the gut. For example, if “leaky gut syndrome” is present, large macromolecules of undigested protein can get into the bloodstream and evoke an immune-type of reaction. This can exacerbate inflammation occurring elsewhere in the body (e.g., psoriatic lesions on the skin). Leaky gut may arise from chronic food sensitivities and allergies, candida (yeast) overgrowth, or other chronic intestinal inflammation. In some cases of psoriasis, there has been an association with infection of a particular bacteria, Yersinia enterocolitica.
Maintaining intestinal health is therefore key to managing any skin condition (actually, most any health condition!).
Topical Relief for Psoriasis:
Neem Oil is one of the best topical therapies available for psoriasis. Neem has been called the “Village Pharmacy” for its usefulness in treating a wide variety of ailments, especially skin conditions. Extracts from the “Sacred Tree,” as Neem is also known, have been used in Ayurveda, the ancient healing tradition of India, for over 5000 years.
Adding essentials oils to Neem oil will provide extra healing support. Essential oils of Helichrysum (aka Everlasting, Immortelle), Yarrow, Lavender, and German Chamomile are all exceptionally soothing, anti-inflammatory, and regenerative. To 1 ounce of Neem oil, add 1-2 drops of each of the above essential oils, or a combination thereof.
Other great suggestions from some of our fans included Plantain Oil, Shea Butter, and yogurt (applied to lesions).
Supplements for Psoriasis:
1. Omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish oils (EPA & DHA)
2. Omega-6 essential fatty acid, GLA, from Borage seed oil
3. Vitamin D: good idea to supplement with, given its increasingly prominent role in overall good health, and its seeming deficiency in many individuals
4. Vitamin A: a small supplemental amount may be of particular benefit in skin conditions. Do not exceed 2000 IU/day (from all sources) if you are pregnant.
5. Zinc – 30-50 mg/day chelated form
6. Probiotic therapy: to maintain healthy, balanced intestinal flora; important for immune system function; production and absorption of certain nutrients & vitamins; ridding excess estrogen from system; checking overgrowth of yeast or bacteria
7. Leaky Gut: If ‘leaky gut’ is suspected, Glutamine, NAC (n-acetyl cysteine), and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated Licorice extract) supplements can help to repair the intestinal tract lining and regulate mucous membrane function.
Phototherapy has been used with much success for decades. Approximately 80% of people with psoriasis show improvement from exposure to sunshine; a very specific and narrow UV band (311-313 nm) is used in phototherapy sessions.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan