As any psoriasis sufferer will tell you, living with scaly, red, itchy skin is no fun. Prescription drugs for treating the condition can be expensive too. In these straitened times, those affected will undoubtedly be glad to hear about non-prescription, natural treatments.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterised by rapid skin-cell renewal. Skin is constantly in a state of renewal but usually this process takes about 28 days. In psoriasis, however, the rate at which your skin is replaced is increased to about three to four days. New skin cells accumulate on the surface of your skin, forming thick plaques of dry, red and often scaly skin. There is also a build-up of T-cells (a type of white blood cell) under your skin, which causes inflammation.
Psoriasis affects around one in 50 people and can begin at any age, although symptoms often don’t appear until adulthood. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis and areas most typically affected tend to include arms, legs, elbows, knees, scalp and behind the ears.
Everyone has their individual triggers, but most people with psoriasis are deficient in essential fats. Flax seed and hemp seed oil are excellent plant sources; try drizzling over salad or blending in to a fruit smoothie.
Low stomach-acid levels are common in those with psoriasis. Avoid citrus fruits and tomatoes, sugary foods and fizzy drinks, all of which can aggravate psoriasis in some people. A digestive enzyme supplement with betaine hydrochloride and lipase may help in this respect.
As far as herbal remedies are concerned, capsules of Oregon grape root (Berberis aquifolium) can be very effective in the treatment of psoriasis, with some people reporting a significant reduction in redness and dry skin after just three weeks.
Beneficial effects are mainly due to high levels of the alkaloid berberine, which lend it its antibiotic and anti-infective properties. Berberine is also known to support the liver, which is often under stress and in need of a helping hand in people with chronic skin conditions.
Topically, you may want to try Viridian Nutrition’s Organic Oregon Grape Balm. In addition to Oregon grape, this 100 per cent natural balm also contains soothing calendula and rosemary extract, both of which are excellent for sensitive skins.
James Geraghty is the managing director of the Molloy’s Lifestyle Pharmacy Group. He has a degree in biochemistry and pharmacy, as well as 15 years’ experience of the health industry. A huge believer in the importance of exercise and wellbeing, he regularly lectures to active retirement and special interest groups around the county.