Psoriasis, which is thought to affect up to 3% of people in the UK, is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the body. There are often visible signs of the inflammation typically developing in patches or plaques of red, scaly skin appearing on elbows, knees, lower back, or scalp.
This inflammation occurs because overactivity in the immune system speeds up skin cell growth, with the shed calls piling up on the surface of the skin. These plaques can itch, burn or sting, and some people feel embarrassed about showing their skin, impacting their self-confidence. Symptoms often start between ages 15 and 25, but can start at any age. Men, women, and children of all skin colours can get psoriasis, and the severity of the condition can fluctuate over time, with flare-ups sometimes triggered by stress, smoking, scratched or sunburnt skin, hormonal changes and alcohol.
Psoriasis may be a lifelong condition for some people, and GPs may suggest treatments, often starting by prescribing topical (directly on to the skin) treatments based on Vitamin D, steroids, strong moisturisers called emollients, and other anti-inflammatory compounds.
For many people, seeking help from a medical herbalist for their psoriasis can lead to significant improvements, even when other treatments haven’t worked. A herbalist will explore your full medical history, discussing whether you find certain factors (such as diet, alcohol intake, stress or trauma) can make the condition worse. They will look at lifestyle changes that might help, including;
- Faulty fat metabolism can often impact psoriasis, which is why boosting your intake of omega 3 and Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) fatty acids can be helpful. Sesame seeds and sesame oil, rich in oleic acids can also be very beneficial. Many people find the food such as carrots, kale, chard, squashes and watercress, rich in beta carotene and provitamin A make a real difference.
- You may also talk about foods which some people find it useful to avoid, such as spicy foods, fatty and greasy foods and citrus fruits.
- You may look at ways of adapting your lifestyle to increase your exposure to sunlight, and how to do this in a way that protects your skin from the other risks sunlight can pose.
- Where appropriate you might work with your herbalist to explore ways to mitigate the condition by moderating your alcohol intake or smoking, and you might take the time to talk about your emotional wellbeing and the causes of any stress, and how you could work together to address this.
Your herbalist will then be able to create a unique herbal prescription, made up of herbs to address issues such as immunological response and inflammatory activity, as well as to support you emotionally and manage any stress or anxiety you might be experiencing. They may also provide a soothing cream to aid healing, stop itching and prevent infection.
Feel better – see a herbalist.
Please visit the Psoriasis Association to find out more about the condition