What is Psoriasis?
Are you the one who remains frustrated and irritated with that dark red scaly patches, that often feel sore and itchy on your skin? Are you looking for some therapies or medicines other than conventional medicine that can actually help you overcome your psoriatic condition?
Psoriasis can be a distressing situation, that not only affects your quality of life but also affects your life personally socially and professionally.it is one of chronic skin conditions that generally arises from overactive immune system, due to stress, anxiety, depression and conditions like dysthymia genetic inheritance, lifestyle habits like alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, sedentary lifestyle, certain food habits, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and use of certain medications like corticosteroids.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that is characterized by itchy, scaly skin cells. The specific cause of psoriasis is unknown; however, a growing body of evidence suggests that the immune system may be a culprit when it’s chronically stimulated, causing an overproduction of cytokines, which keeps an inflammatory environment. According to another study published in the journal International Immunology, scientists have found more evidence that a cytokine known as IL-17A is particularly crucial in the pathogenesis of psoriasis.
Normally your body will produce new skin cells and discard old ones every 30 days or so. With psoriasis, your immune system is in overdrive, resulting in skin inflammation, causing skin cell turnover to occur much faster than normal. Instead of taking a month for skin cells to turnover, new cells are pushed to the surface in just a few days. Because your body can not shed the old, dead cells as quickly, they accumulate and start to form thick, red, itchy, flaky, scaly patches known as plaques. Some folks report burning and stinging from the plaques.
Traditional medicine looks at psoriasis as a skin condition, but it’s important to know that it actually starts underneath the skin and is a chronic disease of the immune system (as are other autoimmune conditions). While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, there are a number of variables involved that when occuring together, result in the symptoms of psoriasis.
How does functional medicine view Psoriasis?
From a functional medicine perspective, the search for the reason behind immune system dysregulation starts in the gut. A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract. Therefore imbalances in our gut microbiome can have far reaching effects on our general health.
Psoriasis is associated with differences in the gut microbiome compared to the microbiomes of healthy people without psoriasis. These differences can adversely affect the immune system by triggering specific, inflammatory immune reactions. Interactions involving the gut microbiome and the immune system therefore suggest the composition of the microbiome represents a therapeutic target for handling psoriasis.
In addition to the composition of the microbiome and the role it plays in psoriasis, increased intestinal permeability is involved, and this connection has been understood for decades. In this scenario, inflammation in the gut causes the normally tight junctions between the cells of the intestinal walls to loosen. When this occurs, food particles and toxins from bacteria are allowed to inadvertently enter the blood stream. Once there, the body identifies them as an enemy, and mounts an immune response. As long as gut inflammation and subsequent leaky gut persist, the immune system will be stimulated, resulting in autoimmune conditions, like psoriasis.
What seems to happen with most autoimmune conditions is that there are numerous causes chronically stimulating the immune system during an extended time period in multiple ways. Because of this, the immune system goes into an overloaded, overwhelmed state and loses its ability to work.
The Functional medicine approach is to understand what causes the immune system to attack itself by examining the triggers which cause a malfunction in the immune system of a specific person. Only then can the attempt be made to successfully deal with these ailments.
Functional medicine focuses on the causes and not symptoms. Functional medicine is an individualized approach that functions based on an understanding of the dynamic way our genes interact with our environment. This approach becomes a fundamentally different way of solving medical problems, which decodes and identifies the origin of the illness that is causing disturbances in the biological system of the human body.
How does Functional Medicine help Psoriasis?
How does functional medicine help in Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis? Some effective points are mentioned below that can help fight psoriasis with ease.
1. Keep your skin moist and hydrated-
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that is characterized by the clinical appearance of characteristic red, raised, scaly skin lesions. The patches on the skin are due to the rapid and abnormal growth of the skin cells beneath the skin causing build-up dead skin cells to the point of scaling and peeling.
Keeping your skin hydrated in such conditions can help prevent itchiness and worsening of the skin lesions by reducing dryness. One can keep their skin moist and hydrated by drinking at least 2-3 liters of water every day. Applying a good moisturizer like aloe vera gel, coconut oil on their skin, because these are thick, heavy, and good at locking in moisture. Another way to keep your skin moist is to use a humidifier at your place which can help retain your skin moisture. A warm shower will also help soothe itchy spots and remove dry skin.
2. Reduce stress – Stress is a common trigger for flares or outbreaks of psoriasis. At the same time, a psoriasis flare is also involved to cause stress. Stress can cause increased levels of neuroendocrine hormones and autonomic neurotransmitters that in turn lead to various psychological, and psychosocial impact on a patient’s quality of life.
In order to prevent the outbreak of psoriasis, one needs to follow certain stress‐reduction strategies, which include biofeedback therapy, relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, exercise and self‐help approaches like walking, and going outside.
3. Eliminate inflammatory foods and gluten-containing food – Research has shown that consuming gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley, and rye can flare up psoriasis by giving rise to inflammatory processes. Similarly, inflammatory foods such as refined, omega-6 and inflammatory oils like corn oil, safflower oil may also flare up psoriasis. Eliminating such foods can help prevent psoriasis flare-ups
It is recommended for the psoriatic patients to consume a healthy diet which includes lots of fruits and veggies, especially berries, cherries, and green leafy vegetables. Antioxidant-rich herbs like thyme, turmeric (curcumin), sage, ginger, and cumin, can also fight oxidative stress in individuals suffering from psoriasis.
4. Go for healthy supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids- Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in abundance from fish oil and flax seeds are known to decrease the inflammatory mediators that are found in higher levels in psoriatic patients. Omega-3 fatty acids form leukotrienes and prostaglandins which oppose the inflammatory mediators, leading to a decrease in overall inflammation. Thus,omega 3 fatty acids from flax seeds and fish oil can prove to be effective as functional medicine in psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.
Vitamin D- Psoriasis is a condition that is characterized by excessive keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation. Vitamin D supplements may benefit inflammatory diseases like psoriasis by regulating the immune system through its effects on T-lymphocytes. It’s generally recommended to be taken as a topical preparation.
Vitamin B12 and Psoriasis- Hyperhomocystienemia occurs in patients with psoriasis due to lower levels of Folic acid and vitamin B12 plasma levels which in turn represents an independent risk factor for various cardiovascular diseases. Administration of folic acid and vitamin B12 as a supplement can be a preventive strategy to control psoriasis
Selenium- Selenium supplements possess antiproliferative and immune-modulating properties that have been hypothesized to regulate immune processes in the reticular dermis of psoriasis plaques. It protects from oxidative damage and death of skin cells induced by UV radiation, and hence it is recommended to be taken before going out in the sunlight.
Zinc/copper- Zn and Cu are important cofactors that play a pivotal role in many critical biological functions in skin disorders, like psoriasis. The zn/cu ratio must be maintained in order to regulate various physiological processes. It has been found that elevated Zn/Cu serum levels have a protective role against oxidative stress and maintains peroxidant -antioxidant balance in psoriasis-like condition.
5. Fix your gut- Maintaining a healthy gut may seem difficult, but have many positive effects in a plethora of diseases including psoriasis. It is reported that inflammation in the small intestine due to bad food habits or gluten-rich foods can increase intestinal permeability, and cause mucosal inflammation, hyperplasia and villous atrophy, all of which can aggravate the psoriasis skin condition. In such cases, probiotics in Psoriasis condition can help restore a healthy gut by maintaining a good balance of healthy gut bacteria.
Researchers believe that chronic inflammation caused by psoriasis can be prevented by consuming probiotics.
6. Detoxify your body – Environmental toxins like mercury, lead, perchlorate can activate the inflammatory mediators and aggravate psoriasis flakes by compromising your endocrine and immune system leading to autoimmunity. Taming off excess toxins via, detox pathways, creating a toxic-free environment is another functional medicine approach for psoriasis treatment.
Studies in Functional Medicine for Psoriasis
1. Clinical and biochemical effects of coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and selenium supplementation to psoriasis patients..
Fifty-eight patients diagnosed with psoriasis were included in the study. The subjects were previously treated with conventional protocols and randomly assigned to four groups.
Groups EP1 and PsA1 were supplemented with coenzyme Q10, vitamin E and selenium dissolved in soy lecithin for 30–35 d.
Groups EP2 and PsA2 were placebo group who received just soy lecithin.
Clinical conditions were assessed which included markers of oxidative stress like copper/zinc superoxide dismutase, superoxide production, and catalase activities in the circulating granulocytes, and plasma levels of nitrites/nitrates.
The results concluded that Supplementation with antioxidants coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and selenium resulted in significant improvement of clinical conditions and is feasible for the management of patients with severe forms of psoriasis.
2. EFFECTIVENESS OF PROBiotics APPLICATION IN COMPLEX TREATMENT OF PSORIASIS..
60 patients with exacerbation of psoriasis with concomitant bowel dysbiosis were investigated for the clinical effectiveness of the use of the Enteroseermin probiotic. The patients included in the study were administered with probiotic drug Enterozermin, and 1 bottle of suspension 2-3 times a day for 14 days.
Depending on the start of admission, the patient’s probiotic treatment was divided into two groups.
Group I patients – received probiotic drug 3 times a day for 14 days
Group II, patients used the Enterorozermine probiotic 2 times a day.
Parameters like PASI prevalence and severity index,peeling, hyperemia and infiltration of the papules, were calculated in patients before and after the course of treatment.
The results showed that the use of the Enterorozermine probiotic in complex therapy of psoriasis has a positive effect on the dynamics of the disease. Patients noted improvement of the general condition, decrease in the intensity of inflammation of the affected areas of the skin, reduction of flaking and itching. Faster regression of clinical manifestations of psoriasis is observed in group I patients when compared to group II.
Psoriasis is a complex skin condition that requires multi-modal management. Conventional therapies do not offer such management due to which people are opting for functional medicine treatment which treats a patient condition by determining the cause rather than just treating the symptoms. Functional medicine is a combination of dietary modifications, strengthening exercises, nutraceutical, naturopathy, and other integrative therapies that can help in controlling psoriatic skin conditions.