Healthy Skin Part 2: What is Psoriasis?

June 05, 2019

"Worldwide, 125 million people are dealing with the effects of psoriasis, the painful autoimmune inflammatory skin disease that causes the body to increase production of skin cells."

Today, as part of her three-part series on inflammation and skin health, Dr. Nancy Lin, Phd, Holistic Nutritionist, is looking at an autoimmune skin condition called psoriasis. We will talk about what psoriasis is, share common signs and symptoms, and discuss what causes the condition and different outbreaks. Plus, Dr. Nancy will share some all-natural options to help treat and hopefully, prevent future psoriasis outbreaks, as well as a really effective natural moisturizing lotion Dr. Nancy designed to minimize the damaging effects of psoriasis.

Video Highlights:

  • 02:17: What is Psoriasis?
  • 05:41: Facts about Psoriasis
  • 07:01: Common Signs of Psoriasis
  • 10:51: Interesting Stats About Psoriasis
  • 13:23: Psoriasis as an Autoimmune Disease
  • 14:58: Development of Psoriasis
  • 17:08: Common Form of Psoriasis
  • 18:03: Signs and Symptoms
  • 21:25: Foods to Eliminate
  • 26:38: Combatting Psoriasis
  • 28:31: Natural Moisturizing Lotion
  • 31:34: Anti-Inflammatory Psoriasis Prevention Diet
  • 37:26: Psoriasis Preventing Smoothie
  • 44:38: Wrap-Up

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition that causes inflammation and scaling of the skin by causing the body to speed up the production of new skin cells. It produces new skin cells on specific parts of the body in days rather than the normal time, which is weeks.

The most common places that psoriasis can show up are:

  • Back of the scalp
  • Back of the elbows
  • Knees
  • Behind the ear (this is a really common area, and it is very painful)
  • Face, hands, feet, nails, genitals
  • Skin folds: Skin folds along the crease of the glutes, armpits, under the breasts.

So, as these new skin cells pile up on our skin, they create thick, scaly patches on specific parts of the body including, elbows, knees, hands, feet, scalp, and even face.

Facts About Psoriasis

  • Psoriasis is not contagious. So, if you accidentally touch someone who is experiencing a flare-up, you will not get it.
  • Psoriasis can run in families.
  • Flare-ups can happen more often when you are sick. When you are sick, your immune system is not functioning at maximum efficiency, so you are more vulnerable to psoriasis flare-ups.

Telltale Signs of Psoriasis

Fingernails

You can actually get psoriasis around the fingernails, and this can be a telltale sign that you have psoriasis. If your nails are red or inflamed, discolored, pitted, you can have an oil-drop kind of look and it can become crusty. If your nail is surrounded by crustiness or debris, and if it is flaking off, then you might have psoriasis and can show up in the nail.

Depression

Depression actually is one of the most common signs of psoriasis. If you're going through psoriasis, you actually could have depression as well. A lot of people in the medical industry think that this is because psoriasis is very visible. It’s very difficult to hide or cover up, especially if it's on the face, which can lead to insecurity and depression.

Interesting Stats About Psoriasis

  • Psoriasis has been around a long time, and people have employed various methods to treat it. Hippocrates used pine tar to treat psoriasis.
  • Ancient texts say that a concoction made of onion, sea salt, and urine was one of the first treatments for psoriasis. Today, fish oil, turmeric, and tea tree oil are very popular.
  • In 1872, German dermatologist Heinrich Koebner discovered that skin damaged by animal bites and tattoos had a high likelihood of developing psoriasis. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon. If you have little critters, or tattoos and other trauma to the skin, you may be more likely to develop psoriasis.
  • 8 million people are diagnosed in US every year with psoriasis.
  • According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 125 million people or roughly 3% of the people in the world living currently right now with psoriasis and that's diagnosed cases of psoriasis. The numbers are much higher if we consider the number of people who are actually living with undiagnosed cases of psoriasis, alright.
  • $135 billion spent annually on health care costs related to psoriasis. It's big business.

Psoriasis as an Autoimmune Disease

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. For example, if you have alopecia, that means your immune system is mistakenly registering hair follicles as foreign pathogens and attacking them to protect the body. With psoriasis, it's the same thing. Our immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells in a healthy person. However, in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis, it causes the immune system to mistake a part of your body as foreign. It releases white blood cells and proteins called antibodies that attack healthy cells. Specifically, in the case of psoriasis, we know the disease starts in the immune system and specifically involves your body's production of white blood cells known as T cells becoming overly active.

Development of Psoriasis

Psoriasis isn't just an annoying skin condition like a rash or pimple. It is a disease that is actually causing autoimmune reactions that then contribute to increased levels of chronic inflammation in other parts of the body like joints. Psoriasis, especially when unaddressed, can lead to a condition known as psoriatic arthritis — a serious condition that causes inflammation of joints and affects 30% of all psoriasis patients. It’s characterized by joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. These are the main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and they can affect any part of your body including your fingertips, and your spine. It can range from relatively mild to severe. Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis flares up, then it may subside for periods of remission only to return again. Unfortunately, no cure for psoriatic arthritis exists, so those with it should focus on controlling symptoms and preventing damage to the joints by reducing chronic inflammation.

Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis can be disabling. In fact, 40% of people with psoriatic arthritis reported their disease to be a large problem in everyday life.

Common Form of Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, and is caused by dry, raised, red skin lesions, or plaques that are covered with a silvery scale. The plaques might be itchy or painful and there may be few or there may be many. Psoriasis is most often found on the elbows, legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and the soles of the feet, however, it can also occur in other locations such as fingernails, toenails, or genitals, underneath the breasts and other skin creases, and even inside the mouth.

Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis signs and symptoms are different for everyone. Common signs and symptoms include red patches of skin, covered with thick, silvery scales, small scaly spots (most commonly seen in children), dry cracked skin that may bleed, itching, burning or soreness, or a thickened, pitted, or ridged nail.

Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots or dandruff-like scaling, to major eruptions that cover large areas of the body and typically go through cycles — flaring for a few weeks or a few months then subsiding for a little bit of time, or going into complete remission. It's also worth noting that people with untreated psoriasis have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, leaky gut syndrome, Crohn's disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Even though we know that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, doctors are still unsure about what exactly causes psoriasis to occur but there are many contributing factors that lead to psoriasis, including an overactive immune system, a poor diet, abnormal small intestine permeability (a condition we call leaky gut syndrome) difficulty digesting protein, stress, hormonal changes, genetics, and a vitamin D deficiency.

Foods to Eliminate

Chronic inflammation really creates a vicious cycle in the body. There are certain inflammatory foods and beverages that contribute to psoriasis flare-ups in a major, major way. Since psoriasis affects each person differently, each one of these foods will affect you to a different degree as well. You might be able to tolerate a little bit, or your body might be so sensitive that you need to eliminate it entirely from your diet. There are six particular foods that contribute to inflammation and psoriasis flare-ups that you might want to consider eliminating altogether:

Alcohol

Alcohol opens the blood vessels in the skin. When your blood vessels are dilated, white blood cells, including the T cells that are responsible for contributing to psoriasis, are able to sneak into the outer layers of your skin more easily. If you are really sensitive to the inflammatory effects of alcohol, even the occasional drink on a Saturday night might cause psoriasis symptoms to worsen

Processed foods

Processed foods are loaded with artificial preservatives, additives, salt, sugar, trans fats, and empty calories, all of which contribute to inflammation. They also contribute to obesity, which contributes to high blood pressure, diabetes, and a whole host of other health issues, including psoriasis.

Red meat

Red meat contains a polyunsaturated fat called arachidonic acid. This type of fat can worsen psoriasis symptoms because it can easily be converted into inflammatory compounds.

Dairy

Like red meat, dairy products also contain the natural inflammatory protein  casein. Cow's milk is one of the biggest contributors because it contains high amounts of casein which is linked to inflammation. Egg yolks are also high in this acid, so consider cutting those out from your diet.

Nightshade vegetables

Some people find that eating vegetables in the nightshade family, including peppers and white potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes, cause psoriasis to flare up. These nightshade vegetables contain solanine, a chemical compound that has been shown to trigger inflammation and joint pain in the body.

Gluten

Gluten causes tons of problems related to inflammation. It is nearly indigestible, which leads to leaky gut, and this causes inflammation throughout the body and is a major contributor to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Combatting Psoriasis

Here are some of the best all-natural ways to help combat psoriasis, prevent painful flare-ups and reduce your overall level of chronic inflammation.

Reduce your stress levels

Just take a pause and start calming down and being present. Stress is known to play one of the biggest roles in psoriasis. It's just one of the reasons we need to manage our stress better, and stress reduction is essential to naturally healing and preventing psoriasis. Exercising, deep breathing, going outside for a walk, using essential oils, spending time on a hobby that sparks your joy, and other things that you enjoym, is what you need to help reduce your stress levels.

Topical Salve

The next one is to apply a natural based, topical oil or salve. There are three natural topical remedies that have shown positive effects for treating psoriasis.

    • Oregon Grape 10% Cream
    • Avocado and vitamin B12 cream
    • Aloe cream

Natural Moisturizing Lotion

You can also make your own all-natural topical for treating and preventing psoriasis, and it's actually a great overall moisturizer too. You don't have to use it only on some flare-up areas. You can actually use it on all of your little rough spots.

Ingredients

  • Glass jar
  • 1/4 cup of avocado oil
  • 4 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 15 drops of your favorite essential oil

Put all of the ingredients together in the jar and stir. If it's not liquid at room temperature, you can definitely heat it up in a pan. YPut about a couple inches of water into a cast iron skillet, and then put the jar right in the middle and bring it to a melting point. When it sets, it will be solid. So, you can just store it in the jar, and put it on to the different areas.

Anti-Inflammatory Psoriasis Prevention Diet

Following an anti-inflammatory psoriasis prevention diet is crucial. Just like reducing stress, your diet is really, really important. This is especially true if you even suspect that you have a leaky gut, in which case partially digested protein and fat is seeping through your intestinal lining, making its way to your bloodstream and then causing massive amounts of inflammation, autoimmune responses, and allergic responses in the body. Left unaddressed, the resulting chronic inflammation can cause health issues including depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome in addition to the psoriasis.

The more you consume healing anti-inflammatory foods, the more improvement that you're going to see on the overall health of your skin from the inside-out. The two really go hand-in-hand.

Fortunately, Dr. Nancy’s anti-inflammatory diet plan checks all of the boxes for protecting you from the damaging effects of inflammation, and contains healthy amounts of foods that are known to fight inflammation and psoriasis flare-ups. This includes a healthy balance of omega-3 fatty acids from food sources like wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna. You also want to eat antioxidant and fiber-rich foods, including organic dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, organic berries and melon and citrus fruits.

There is a very strong connection between gut health, immune health, and skin health. Make sure that you eat your fermented veggies, kimchi, and drink kombucha. Also healthy fats including coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, are all great sources of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium and essential trace minerals including selenium, manganese, and copper.

Last, but certainly not least, don't forget herbs and spices. Often overlooked, herbs and spices such oregano, rosemary, garlic, basil, ginger, and turmeric, are a great part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Turmeric is loaded with antioxidants and proven inflammation fighting powerhouses, and oregano has 20 times more antioxidant power than many other herbs and four times more than blueberries.

Also, don’t forget to supplement with curcumin. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It's known for its potent health properties, as it relates to psoriasis and skin health. A 2012 scientific review specifically notes curcumin's ability to alter TNF cytokine expression, which are known to play an essential role in the start and continuation of psoriatic lesions. When it comes to curcumin, you need to have the right formula. You can't just buy any curcumin off the shelf or just eat the curcumin in its raw form. It needs to be formulated together with the right ingredients to unleash its healing potential. Smarter Curcumin is the most active form of curcumin available. Thousands of studies show that turmeric and curcumin have significant inflammation-fighting benefits for joint health, heart health, brain health, digestive health, immune health, healthy aging, vibrant skin.

Psoriasis Preventing Smoothie

This delicious smoothie is great for protecting against psoriasis flare-ups, and is loaded with powerful inflammation-fighting ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of green tea, at room temperature.
  • 1/2 of a medium avocado.
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (preferably ground)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp raw, local honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender. You can drink this awesome smoothie with or without ice.

Wrap-up

Worldwide, 125 million people are dealing with the effects of psoriasis, the painful autoimmune inflammatory skin disease that causes the body to increase production of skin cells.

Symptoms of psoriasis are a bit different for everyone, and include patches of skin covered with thick silvery scales; small scaly spots (which are most commonly seen in children); dry cracked skin that may bleed; itching, burning or soreness; thickened, pitted or ridged nails; and swollen and stiff joints. Like most autoimmune condition, psoriasis is often accompanied by chronic inflammation throughout the body. Other factors contributing to this condition, include an overactive immune system, poor diet, abnormal small intestine permeability (a condition known as leaky gut syndrome), difficulty digesting protein, emotional stress, depression, hormonal changes, and genetics.

While there is no known cure for psoriasis, we shared a number of tips and steps you can take to reduce and prevent the symptoms, including eliminating certain foods that contribute to inflammation from your diet. This includes alcohol, processed foods, dairy, red meat, and gluten. We also recommend that you reduce stress, and use an all-natural topical lotion that contains aloe or avocado oil, follow Dr. Nancy’s anti-inflammatory diet plan, and enjoy a delicious psoriasis-suppressing smoothie. And, don't forget to take your Curcumin.

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