The cause and treatment of psoriasis, a very annoying and persistent skin affliction, continue to perplex physicians. What greatly helps one patient does little or nothing for the next.
This disease usually presents silvery scales overlying scattered red, rough patches of dermatitis. It may on occasion cover the whole body, but it is most commonly limited to the knees, elbows, and scalp. It tends to be chronic, with winter flare-ups and less trouble during the summer months. Psoriasis is rare in childhood. One study of 700 patients showed that 60-75% had psoriasis continuously for thirty years. Some individuals, however, have spontaneous remissions for periods of a year or more, or even for the remainder of their lifetime.
1. Fasting 1-2 days per week. Fasting increases the activity of the phagocytes.
2. Fat free, sugar free diet. Fat and lipids mobilized from body tissues tend to remove from the skin certain irritating substances. Many overweight patients report improvement in symptoms with weight loss.
3. A strictly vegetarian diet. A South Carolina physician reports that 150 of his patients improved markedly when they eliminated all cattle products (milk, butter, meat and by-products) from their diets.
4. Gluten free diet. Researchers in France have demonstrated that eliminating gluten containing foods (wheat, rye, barley, and oats) produced "remarkable improvements" in psoriasis patients with fewer acute episodes. one person, whose psoriasis completely cleared on the gluten free diet reintroduced gluten to his diet and three days later demonstrated a new crop of lesions.
5. Sunbaths. Take daily sunbaths, as much sun as can be tolerated without sun burning. Use no soaps, lotions, or ointments, prior to sun exposure. A daily bath in the Dead Sea, followed by a sunbath produced improvement in 96% of 1000 patients within one month. Bathing in seawater has often been reported helpful in psoriasis. A salt glow may benefit those who are not near the ocean. Do not rub so briskly that skin irritation results.
6. Scalp treatment. Because ultraviolet rays do not penetrate through hair, it is difficult to treat psoriasis of the scalp with sunlight. A daily olive oil massage, and hot towel turban, followed by a shampoo is the best treatment for psoriasis of the scalp. The massage and hot towel loosens the scales and makes them easier to shampoo out. Running a comb through the hair during shampooing will also aid in scale removal.
7. Avoid skin trauma. New psoriasis lesions may be produced, and mild lesions worsened by any trauma to the skin. Guard against chemical trauma from ointments, soaps, cosmetics, body sprays, etc. Physical trauma may be caused by abrasions, poorly fitting clothing, vaccinations, insect bites, sunburns, etc.
8. Oily applications. Some patients are benefited by the application of substances such as avocado oil or glycerin to soften the lesions.
9. Artificial fever treatments. Try fever treatments using hot water (110 degrees) in a bath tub until the oral temperature reaches 102 to 104 degrees (this may take 15 to 25 minutes in an adult), and by reducing the bath temperature five to seven degrees keep the mouth temperature at this level for 25 to 45 minutes depending on the comfort of the patient. Give about five treatments per week for three to four weeks to persons who are otherwise healthy. Be careful to keep the head cool during all heat applications.
10. Sleep under very warm blankets (some recommend electric) and wear the warmest long sleeve knit or flannel sleepwear you can tolerate. Try to keep the skin as warm as possible.
11. Keep the extremities warm. This will aid in equalizing blood circulation.
12. Zinc preparations have been useful in some patients. A shampoo called Denorex is sold over-the-counter; it contains pyrithione zinc. Similar preparations are available for topical use on the body. A pharmacist will be able to make recommendations for you.
13. The essential fatty acids, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids have been very useful. Fish oils have been used, but we much prefer the use of flaxseed oil, which is the highest plant source of the beneficial fatty acids. Use 1 tablespoonful orally twice a day. Some patients have found that massaging some of the flaxseed oil into the scaly lesions is also helpful.
14. A low stress life style. Emotional stress is sometimes associated with flare-ups. Since "exercise neutralizes stress," a regular program of outdoor exercise, one to two hours daily, will certainly prove beneficial. Train the mind to dwell on heavenly themes. Sing to inflate the lungs and elevate the spirits. Observe the miracles of natural things provided by a loving Creator to prevent brooding over troubles.
The majority of this content is taken from Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute, printed with permission by Wildwood Inn Health Retreat.