If you struggle with psoriasis, you might wonder what more you can do to get to the root of the problem. Have you tried prescription shampoos, creams, pills, and even injection therapy and they temporarily cleared your skin, only to experience a more intense flare when the medication stopped working? There is a new way of approaching psoriasis by addressing the root causes of the problem, not just the symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners view psoriasis as a systemic problem rather than an isolated skin problem. This approach seeks to uncover and address the dietary, nutritional, environmental, and lifestyle factors at the root of psoriasis. It also strives to treat psoriasis without the use of harsh or immunosuppressive drugs whenever possible.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes new skin cells to develop too quickly, creating thick, scaly patches called plaques. Some less common forms of psoriasis present as lesions, or a red, peeling rash all over the body. Psoriasis causes severe itching and burning sensations and often leads to cracked, bleeding skin. People with psoriasis may suffer mentally and emotionally due to the uncomfortable symptoms and unsightly plaques and sores that can make going out in public disheartening.
Functional doctors look for root causes that contribute to the inflammation and overactive immune system seen with psoriasis. Some of the most common factors include:
- Increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut
- Food sensitivities
- Poor digestion
- Imbalanced gut bacteria
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Environmental toxins
- Recent infections
- Chronic or acute stress
- Poor sleep
A functional medicine doctor will listen carefully to your health history and do the appropriate testing to determine which of the root causes listed above are most relevant to your situation.
Tools and Strategies
Once you have pinpointed your root causes, you can select the best tools to calm your immune system and tame inflammation. Here are some strategies that a functional medicine practitioner may recommend:
Reduce symptoms. Finding relief from the painful symptoms of psoriasis is just as crucial as addressing its root causes. Thankfully, there are some gentle, natural options available that can help.
- One study showed aloe vera in a .5% hydrophilic cream provided an 83.3% improvement in psoriasis symptoms.
- Curcumin used both internally and topically has been studied and found helpful for psoriasis.
- Oregon Grape used topically as a 10% cream is beneficial for some.
Remove food sensitivities. Cutting out gluten, dairy, and sugar is a great place to start. In severe cases, the AIP Diet may be suggested for 30-60 days or until symptoms improve.
Repair the gut. It is vital to repair the intestinal lining, optimize digestion, and rebalance the microbiome. Supplements that help restore and nourish the digestive tract include aloe, slippery elm, zinc, Omega 3 fatty acids, and probiotics. Helpful foods include fiber-rich vegetables, bone broth, turmeric, and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil.
Remove Infections and Toxins. It is vital to clear any underlying infections to tame inflammation and calm the immune system. It is equally crucial to remove as many toxins as possible from your body and environment. You may need to:
- Have mercury fillings replaced.
- Check for mold issues in your home.
- Switch to non-toxic personal care and cleaning products.
Replace nutrients. Nutrient depletions are common in people with psoriasis. Some of the most frequently seen are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B2
- Omega 3 fatty acids
Functional doctors may use testing along with your specific symptoms to determine which nutrients you need to supplement.
Reduce and manage stress. Stress plays a significant role in psoriasis. It often triggers symptoms and flare-ups and contributes to root causes like leaky gut and poor digestion. The symptoms of psoriasis are often stressful in and of themselves, creating a vicious cycle. Deep breathing exercises, guided meditation, EFT, acupuncture, and biofeedback are excellent options to help reduce and manage your stress levels.
If you are suffering from the pain and discomfort of psoriasis, don’t wait to reach out for help. Dr. Sisu can help you identify your root causes, create a personalized plan, and find lasting relief. Call today to schedule a consultation!