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We examine the different types of psoriasis, identifying common causes and unique symptoms, helping us understand how the disease occurs as well as natural and herbal treatments. Therapy Approved by our Nutritional Therapists in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is said to affect around 2% of the population in the UK and is considered to be an autoimmune disease. It is a chronic skin condition that usually appears in those under 30[I].

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis is thought to be linked to the immune system and can be categorised as an autoimmune disease. In this condition, the body releases inflammatory chemicals to attack its own cells, mistaking them for foreign pathogens.

Psoriasis as an autoimmune disease

Various aspects of your life, such as your diet and stress levels, can affect your immune system.

Psoriasis is closely linked to the immune system which protects our body against infections and pathogens. When a virus enters our body, the immune system releases inflammatory chemicals and sends immune cells to the affected area to repair damage and destroy the virus. However, if the immune system becomes overactive, it can release too many inflammatory chemicals causing skin irritation and psoriasis symptoms.

In most cases, psoriasis outbreaks are caused by T-cells. T-cells identify potential antigens and produce cytokines that can increase inflammation. In psoriasis, T-cells attack healthy skin cells, triggering inflammation. The cause of T-cells attacking skin cells is still unclear, but it's believed that genetics may play a role in the behaviour of the immune system.

Psoriasis risks factors:

Genetics: Genes play a significant role in psoriasis development. Family history and certain genetic variations increase the risk. HLA genes are important for identifying foreign substances and variations increase the risk. Other genes involved in the immune system, skin cell growth, and inflammation are also linked to psoriasis. However, environmental factors may also contribute to its development[iii].

Age: Psoriasis can develop at any age, but it most commonly begins in early adulthood.

Stress: Stress can trigger or exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.

Infections: Bacterial or viral infections can trigger psoriasis or make symptoms worse.

Injury to the skin: Psoriasis can develop in areas of the skin that have been injured or traumatised.

Certain medications: Some medications, such as lithium and beta-blockers, have been known to trigger or worsen psoriasis.

Smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of psoriasis, as well as more severe symptoms.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing psoriasis and make symptoms worse [ii].

What are the signs and symptoms of psoriasis?

Psoriasis typically presents as red, raised patches of skin that are covered with silvery-white scales. These patches, or plaques, can be itchy and painful, and may occur anywhere on the body, although they most commonly appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back.

Other symptoms may include dry or cracked skin that may bleed, joint pain, and nail abnormalities. The severity of symptoms can vary widely between individuals, and some people may experience only mild symptoms while others may be severely affected.

It is worth considering that the severity of psoriasis symptoms can vary from person to person. There are also 10 known subtypes of psoriasis.

Psoriasis and diet:

Naturopathic approaches to psoriasis management often include dietary changes. Some naturopaths recommend a diet designed to reduce inflammation. They may also recommend avoiding certain foods that are believed to trigger or exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.

Beneficial foods for psoriasis:

If you have psoriasis, there are certain foods that may help manage your symptoms. These include fish, lean protein, or plant-based proteins such as tofu or tempeh, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables. Legumes like beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and olive oil are also recommended. While it's best to limit dairy intake, small amounts of low-fat dairy can be included in the diet. Whole grains are also an important part of a psoriasis-friendly diet. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you may be able to reduce inflammation and manage your psoriasis symptoms[iv].

Foods to Avoid With Psoriasis:

Alcohol: Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can result in long-term inflammation if you drink heavily or regularly. Additionally, alcohol can harm the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which can lead to inflammation in your colon and intestines[v].

Refined carbohydrates: highly processed carbohydrates (such as: white bread, white rice, pasta, pastries and some breakfast cereals) are often processed to remove the fibre and they usually have high sugar content, which can cause a quick spike in your blood sugar levels. Consuming refined carbohydrates can also increase the levels of advanced glycation end products in your blood, which can lead to inflammation[vi].

Inflammatory fats: Fried food, margarine, fast food, and many processed snacks contain fats that are known to cause inflammation in the body. These fats can increase the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in your blood, commonly known as "bad cholesterol." Research suggests that there may be a connection between excess body fat and the development or worsening of psoriasis symptoms[vii].

Allergens: Allergens such as gluten and dairy may trigger psoriasis in some people.

Gluten: Studies indicate that individuals with psoriasis have a higher incidence of celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains, triggers an immune response that attacks the tissues in the small intestine. People with celiac disease must avoid gluten completely, while some individuals without the disease have reported that reducing gluten in their diet reduces the severity of psoriasis flare-ups[viii].

Dairy: Dairy products have been linked to psoriasis in some psoriasis sufferers. Dairy contains a protein called casein, which has been reported to trigger an immune response that can cause inflammation in some people. However, the link between dairy and psoriasis is not clear-cut, and some individuals with psoriasis may not experience any negative effects from consuming dairy products. Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that can be found in red meat, dairy, and eggs. Previous research has indicated that by-products of arachidonic acid may contribute to the development of psoriatic lesions[ix].

Supplements and psoriasis:

Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with psoriasis.

Try: Bare Biology Life & Soul Omega 3 Maxi Capsules

Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the immune system and may help reduce inflammation in individuals with psoriasis.

Try: Viridian Liquid Vitamin D3

Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health. Some studies suggest that improving gut health may help reduce inflammation and improve psoriasis symptoms[x].

Try: Viridian Synerbio Procare

Saccharomyces boulardii is a type of probiotic yeast that has been studied for its potential health benefits, including its use in the management of various skin conditions, including psoriasis[xi].

Try: Cytoplan Saccharomyces boulardii

Turmeric: Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with psoriasis[xii].

Try: Natures Answer Turmeric

Oregon Grape: The active ingredients in Oregon grape are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may be beneficial for people with psoriasis[xiii].

Try: Viridian Oregon Grape Organic Balm

Chaga: Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) has been studied for its health benefits. There is some emerging evidence for the use of chana for the alleviation of psoriasis symptoms. A study involving mice with intestinal inflammation found that Chaga extract was administered to them, resulting in the suppression of TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha is a protein used by the immune system for cell signalling and is known to be a significant factor in causing psoriasis flare-ups[xiv].

Try: Myconutri Chaga Mushroom - Organic

Lifestyle and psoriasis:

Moisturisation is an important part of managing psoriasis, as it can help to alleviate symptoms such as dryness, itching, and scaling.

Try: Weleda Skin Food

Smoking: Smoking cessation is said to benefit psoriasis[xv].

Psoriasis: ways to calm the nervous system and relieve stress, as psoriasis is strongly linked to psychological stress[xvi].

Obesity: Obesity has been shown to be a risk factor for psoriasis, and weight loss has been associated with improvements in psoriasis symptoms[xvii].

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.