No one knows exactly what psoriasis is. It isn’t an infection or an allergic reaction, nor is it contagious. But somehow it disrupts the growth-replacement cycle of skin cells.
Cells develop in the inner layers of skin and migrate to the outer layer, where they flake off. Normally, this entire process lasts about a month. But in psoriasis, it lasts only a few days. The cells can’t shed fast enough, so they start to build up on the surface of the skin. Eventually, they form gray, white, or silvery lesions-creating the scaly-looking skin characteristic of psoriasis. The affected skin thickens, and it may turn red and develop cracks.
Psoriasis can erupt just about anywhere on the body, but it most often occurs on the scalp, chest, back, elbows, knuckles, and knees. If you have a mild case, the patches may hardly be noticeable. The worst cases produce unsightly patches almost everywhere.
Psoriasis can also affect fingernails and toenails, making them appear pitted and discolored. It can even cause significant joint pain, a condition known as psoratic arthritis.
While the experts continue to debate what triggers psoriasis, you’re probably more interested in what get rid of psoriasis. That’s understandable, since at its worst, psoriasis can be as embarrassing as it is frustrating. By combining mainstream and alternative therapies in a blended approach to treatment, you stand the best chance of experiencing significant relief.
Meditation For Psoriasis
Stop stress from affecting your skin. “There’s no question in my mind that many cases of psoriasis are stress-related,” says Alan P. Brauer, M.D. “But it’s not as though psoriasis patches show up the day after some stressful event. Rather, they tend to develop after an extended period of stress, which is why people don’t necessarily make the connection.”
Psoriasis can also contribute to stress. If lesions occur in highly visible places, people become concerned about their appearance, which contributes to tension and anxiety.
To short-circuit stress and prevent psoriasis flare-ups, try practicing meditation. In one study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, people with psoriasis who combined meditation and light therapy (discussed a bit later in the article) saw their skin heal about twice as fast as people who used light therapy alone.
Many experts have developed audio-tapes, which will help guide you through meditation exercises.
Chinese Medicine For Psoriasis
Let your Blood flow. In Chinese medicine, psoriasis is viewed as a condition brought on by the stagnation of Blood, explains Efrem Korngold, O.M.D., L.Ac. Among the herbs a Chinese medicine doctor may prescribe are zedoria (similar to ginger), turmeric, red peony, dang gui (Chinese angelica), and sarsaparilla. Other herbs-including dittany, sophora, and tribulus-may be prescribed to relieve any psoriasis-related itching.
Needle it. In his practice, Dr. Korngold also uses acupuncture as a psoriasis treatment. If you prefer to use acupressure, apply steady, penetrating pressure to each of the following points for 3 minutes.
- Large Intestine, located on the outer end of your elbow crease on the thumb side
- Large Intestine, located on the back of your hand where the bones of your thumb and index finger meet
- Spleen, located on your inner thigh, four finger-widths above your kneecap and just under your thighbone
- Liver, situated on top of your foot in the webbing between your big toe and second toe
Seek out others with psoriasis. Discussing your psoriasis experience with people who know exactly what you’re going through can help ease the distress and embarrassment associated with the condition. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers support group meetings from coast to coast. To locate the support group nearest you, write to the foundation at 6600 S.W 92nd Street, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97223-7195.
Remember to moisturize. Applying a moisturizing lotion can help relieve a mild case of psoriasis, especially one that’s associated with dry skin or low humidity.
Soak up sunshine. Sunbathing has become unfashionable in recent years, largely because people fear developing skin cancer. But for those with psoriasis, exposure to sunlight can have significant therapeutic benefits, says Eugene Farber, M.D., professor of dermatology at Stanford University and president of the Psoriasis Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. Psoriasis patches tend to go away in summer, when the sun’s rays are strongest. For treatment indoors, use a sun lamp. Either way, ask your doctor how long you can safely stay in the sun or under a sun lamp unprotected.
Shun spirits. At the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, researchers evaluated the drinking habits of 144 men with psoriasis and 285 men without the condition. The researchers determined that the men with psoriasis consumed twice as much alcohol on a daily basis as the men who were psoriasis-free1.5 ounces compared with 0.75 ounce. Other studies have shown unusually high rates of psoriasis among people who abuse alcohol. So if you have psoriasis, your best bet is to avoid alcoholic beverages, says Melvyn Werback, M.D., assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine and author of Nutritional Influences on Illness.
Discover Calendula. For psoriasis, Calendula is often the homeopathic medicine of choice, according to homeopath Dana Ullman. But before trying Calendula on your own, consult a homeopath. Another medicine may work better for your individual symptoms.