Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by well demarcated, red, scaly plaques and hyper-proliferation of the skin. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, however psoriasis is now considered to be a genetically programmed disease of dysregulated inflammation, which is triggered by environmental stimuli including infections, medications, physical and/or emotional stress.
The underlying mechanism in psoriasis involves an imbalance of cyclical adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a messenger molecule responsible for enhanced cell maturation and reduced replication; and cyclical guanidine monophosphate (cGMP), a messenger molecule responsible for increased cell proliferation. This imbalance of cAMP and cGMP leads to the excessive hyper-proliferation of epithelial cells seen in psoriasis.
At the cellular level, the disease process involves increased epidermal proliferation and incomplete differentiation of skin cells, dilation and ‘leakiness’ of dermal capillaries, and inflammatory and immune infiltrate of the epidermis. Recent evidence also suggests, psoriasis is an immune-mediated, organ-specific inflammatory disease, in which T lymphocytes trigger keratinocytes to proliferate and perpetuate the disease process. Psoriasis is now considered an autoimmune disease.
So what can you do if you have psoriasis?
→ Increase consumption of Essential Fatty Acids as they are anti-inflammatory and aid in regulating your immune system. Omega 3’s have been found to inhibit inflammation locally, while omega 6 fatty acids help hydrate the skin and prevent against epidermal water loss. Good sources of EFA’s include oily fish, avocado’s, nuts/seeds and their oils, spirulina, oats, green leafy vegetables and egg yolk.
→ Start supplementing with Cod Liver Oil which naturally contains vitamins A and D. Vitamin A plays an integral role in epithelial proliferation and keratinization of the skin. Vitamin D is potent immuno-regulatory nutrient and plays an important role in the development of self-tolerance.
→ Start supplementing with Echinacea as this herb is also a potent immune regulatory and plays an integral role in re-establishing self-tolerance in autoimmune conditions. Ensure you select a quality Echinacea supplementation by speaking with a qualified naturopath or herbalist as there are a number of inferior products on the market.
→ Increase your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods including garlic, ginger, turmeric and foods rich in EFA’s.
→ If you are on the prescribed medication Methotrexate, folic acid supplementation is essential!