Simple Practices to Deal With Psoraisis

Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease,  There are several patterns of psoriasis, and the herbal and dietary strategy is different for each.  Psoriasis in Chinese medicine is categorized into Wind Cold (with pale red lesions covered with thick white scales and minimal itching), Blood Heat (with red macules or papules that proliferate rapidly with heaped up scales, and may itch intensely,) Blood Dryness (with occasional moist pale red lesions covered with tightly adhering scales,) Blood Stasis (with chronic dark lesions covered by thick hard and sticky scales), Damp heat (with dark red uneven macules covered by greasy thick crust-like scales and weeping), Fire Toxin (with pustular lesions that spread and coalesce covered with fine loose scales and itching, burning or pain) or Liver and Kidney Deficiency (with pale red lesions, thin grayish scales, a tooth-marked tongue and lower back pain.)

  • Clean up your diet. While there is no single diet that is right for all individuals, none of us need sugar, trans fats or processed foods.  Look for foods that come without labels-  foods your great-grandmother would recognize as food. Eat real food, mostly vegetables and not too much.
    • People with Wind Cold, Blood Dryness and Liver/Kidney deficiency will benefit from warming foods and herbs like cinnamon and ginger.  Organic liver may help improve the blood and stop itching.
    • People with Blood Heat, Damp heat, and Fire Toxin patterns need cooling diets, high in vegetables, avoiding warming spices.  Avoid fried foods and excess fatty meats.
    • People with Blood Stasis and Blood Dryness need moistening foods with circulatory stimulation.  Foods should contain water and fat, and pungent spices may help with movement. Okra, coconut, fruits help.  Foods with a deep red or green color or green superfoods also help build blood which is necessary to move it.   
  • Gluten sensitivity is often a factor in psoriasis.  Some individuals with psoriasis have been shown to have marginally higher incidence of anti-gliadin antibodies than others.  Tests are often not effective until damage is severe.  Try an elimination diet for 2 months, however the elimination must be strict as gluten is like glue and sticks around for a long time on your intestinal villi.
  • Insulin resistance and overweight make psoriasis worse by increasing inflammation.  Low carb diets, minerals and fish oil, and exercise help.
  • While some people respond to reducing nightshades like tomato, eggplant and potato, it does not work for everyone.  Any allergens may increase inflammation.

From my experience, the foods that seem to cause the most inflammation and aggravate symptoms appear to be:

  • Caffeine (especially in hot patterns)
  • Alcohol  (especially in hot patterns)
  • Sugar
  • White flour
  • Refined carbs
  • Soda
  • Red wine (- red wine may help for blood stasis patterns.)
  • MSG
  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Artificial sweeteners

The foods that seem to help decrease inflammation and promote healing are:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA
  • Monounsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts)
  • Lean proteins such as fish and grass-fed animals.  Non-farmed salmon.
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially those high in quercetin, (apple and red onion skins).
  • Adequate water.
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale, contain sulfur which the body needs to make its own antioxidants like glutathione which may also promote healing.
  • Turmeric, ginger, and garlic

  • Take bitters before meals to enhance digestion and reduce inflammation.  Bitter tastes cue the body to produce bile, to digest fats properly, to move food through the gut (where serotonin is made) and prevents waste metabolites from being reabsorbed.
  • Take fish oil, sufficient to get 1000 mg DHA which is several capsules.  This makes your cell membranes more permeable to insulin and reduces inflammation.
  • Vitamin D is usually inadequate. Without a blood test you can take up to 10,000 iu per day of Vitamin D3, which is a natural prohormone, unless you have scleroderma, lymphoma or abnormal calcium metabolism.
  • Magnesium has dropped by at least a third since the 70s in the food supply  Take 800 mg in the more absorbable forms of Magnesium citrate, magnesium orotate, CALM drink or ionic magnesium.  Trace minerals are important.  Use ionic minerals, sea salt, stinging nettles, kale, collards and sea vegetables. 
  • Sleep 8 hours a night and reduce your stress levels.  Stress, as you may have observed, makes psoriasis worse.  In the 1920s the average American slept 9 hours a night, but today we allow artificial light and activities to distract us from sleep.  Lack of sleep leads to high cortisol, stress and obesity.  Sleeping in a dark room or with a blindfold has been shown to be more beneficial.
  • Exercise regularly.  Interval training is the most time-effective form of exercise, where intense bursts of exercise for a few minutes are interspersed with moderate aerobic activity.  Strength training is important to build muscle mass.  Stretching helps the body recover.  Intentional exercise like qi gong or yoga uses the mind and spirit to grow the body.  All of this reduces inflammation, weight and insulin resistance, which is reflected in your skin.
  • Have a genuine spiritual practice that allows you to get deep into your source.  Meditation, prayer, yoga ,qi gong and acupuncture focus you deeply inward.
  • Be comfortable in your own skin. Stress and self image play a strong part in our skin conditions.  Don’t see yourself as unworthy or in a negative light.  You are worthwhile and can feel comfortable in your own skin.
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