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What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a widespread skin condition that causes lumpy and sometimes itchy skin. But what leads to it?

What causes psoriasis?

Causes and symptoms

Studies have shown that over 30% of psoriasis sufferers have a history of the condition in their family, as close as a first-degree relative. The symptoms can be triggered by drugs such as lithium, antimalarial medications and drugs used in the treatment of hypertension. According to Professor of Dermatology at The University of Melbourne, “the mechanism by which these agents trigger psoriasis is not yet understood.”

Despite some evidence of genetic predisposition, triggers are not universal and neither is there a strong argument for any particular cause. Even so there is a suggested immune component with triggers causing a flare up of the condition.

The naturopathic view is that a leaky bowel has allowed for toxins to cross through the membrane of the intestines, making their way in to the blood stream. This leaky bowel scenario is also the cause of many allergies, which for many people is the trigger for psoriasis. The typical allergens such as wheat, dairy, corn, oranges and gluten should always be considered and eliminated from the diet if need be. Ensuring a healthy bowel with regular and complete movements will help to keep toxins from the bowel reducing their exposure to the bloodstream. In this way a diet high in soluble fibre that includes fresh fruit, vegetables and legumes is very beneficial.

Treatment options

If a leaky bowel is suspected, a naturopathic treatment plan will aim to seal the broken membrane and restore integrity to the intestine wall. This is important to reduce further systemic implications and maintain overall health. With psoriasis, and leaky bowel in general, the intestinal flora is also imbalanced with an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albica often seen. A diet aimed at restoring balance to the intestinal flora, in favour of good bacteria will help to remove the candida and reduce the presentation of psoriasis.

This means removing all sugars and yeasts from the diet, including yellow cheese, mushrooms and vegemite. Probiotics will offer a therapeutic dose of good bacteria and are recommended at very least while treating the condition, if not ongoing.

Unconventional treatments

In a study of psoriasis patients, in 1998 by Jon Kabat-Zinn et al. found that patients who “listened to mindfulness audiotapes during individual light therapy sessions showed quicker clearing of their skin (average of 65 days) than did patients who received light therapy alone (average 97 days).” This proves light therapy is a promising treatment in the arsenal battling psoriasis.

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