How Does a Naturopath Treat Psoriasis?

  • Tara Andresen

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Psoriasis is an inherited skin disorder characterized by chronic inflammation and thickening of multiple skin layers. Typically the condition appears in early adulthood. The genetic etiology remains uncertain but there is a genetic link. In addition to genetics, defects in cell growth are also apparent as well as digestive factors, medication side effects and alcohol. Natural treatments for psoriasis focus on dietary factors as well as improvements in fatty acid metabolism and nutrient absorption. Herbal treatments are also often used to reduce plaque formation.

The dietary approach to psoriasis focuses on three fundamental goals: (1) eliminate aggravating foods; (2) incorporate foods that facilitate gastrointestinal and hepatic function; (3) maximize intake of nutrients that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and vulnerary effects.

One dietary component that can worsen psoriasis is gluten. Gluten can play a role in triggering psoriasis by stimulating the release of inflammatory cytokines. Typically, a 3 month trial of gluten elimination is required to determine whether it is a factor in psoriasis severity.

In addition to gluten removal, a Naturopath will assess a person’s insoluble and soluble fibre intake and make changes as needed to ensure that adequate levels are being ingested daily to facilitate gastrointestinal function. Fibre intake is important but equally important is consumption of omega 3 fatty acids found in cold water fish such as salmon, halibut and sardines.

While dietary changes are important, typically naturopathic treatment for psoriasis will include some nutrient supplementation. Supplementation objectives include reducing inflammation, facilitating wound healing and reducing tissue stress. Two of the more important nutrients that are effective for psoriasis include Vitamin D and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

Vitamin D downregulates inflammatory tissues factors and has positive effects on the immune system. It also helps to reduce excess skin cell growth. Vitamin D is prescribed orally as well as topically for psoriasis and has been shown to reduce the symptoms and severity of plaque psoriasis.

Omega 3 fatty acids are equally important in addressing psoriasis. Fish oil is the best absorbed source of omega 3 fatty acids and works to decrease psoriatic inflammation. Clinical trials have confirmed that fish oil supplementation significantly improves the surface area and severity of psoriatic plaques. Adequate dosing is important to see beneficial effects so it is recommended that those suffering from psoriasis consult with their Naturopath for individualized dosing recommendations.

To find out more about natural treatment options for psoriasis, book your appointment with Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.