Skin Problems and Solutions

What You Should Know About Psoriasis
About 1 in 50 people suffer from this distressing condition, which appears as itchy dry red patches, covered with silvery scales. Scratching the patches causes them to crack and become very sore. Overactive T-cells in the immune system set off an inflammatory process that makes skin cells multiply 1,000 times faster than normal.
No one is certain about exactly what causes psoriasis, but there is a genetic link and stress aggravates the condition. As with eczema, poor liver function is a suspect, as is leaky gut syndrome (where toxins in the gut weaken the gut wall and pass into the bloodstream).
Smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day is strongly linked to the development of psoriasis in adults, particularly women; other causal factors are excess alcohol consumption, high dairy intake, obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism.
Natural prescription
A good liver cleanser helps to eliminate toxins from the bloodstream that could potentially inflame the skin.
Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy outer skin cells and prevent the silver scales.
Vitamin D in its biologically active form (D3) has been shown to be deficient in people with psoriasis, so for this (and other reasons) it makes sense to supplement diet with this important vitamin. EFA deficiency (Essential Fatty Acids), which results in pro-inflammatory compounds in the bloodstream, is common among psoriatics, so an EFA supplement is vital.
EFAs also help skin health in general. Several studies have shown that fish oil, which contains an EFA called eicosapentanoic acid (somewhat confusingly referred to as EPA), helps alleviate psoriasis in some.
Those with inflammatory skin conditions are often deficient in zinc; it also helps the immune system, as well as encouraging the production of anti-inflammatory compounds in the bloodstream. (Take as zinc picolinate.)
A protein extract made from bovine whey (marketed as Lactoferrin), which has immune regulating and anti-inflammatory effects, has been shown to be helpful in mild to moderate psoriasis.
As with eczema, a combination of herbs including red clover can help clear toxins.
Emollients are essential to help mend the skin barrier and reduce the scaliness and itchiness. Ceramide-containing emollients such as CeraVe, Mimyx, and Aveeno Eczema Care have shown benefits for psoriasis sufferers. (Ceramides are lipids, or fats, that retain water, regulate cells and repair the skin's barrier; psoriatics have a deficiency of these.)
Topical treatments with plant derivatives are proving effective: these include Calendula officinalis aka marigold (see box right), Aloe vera, Berberis aquifolium (Oregon Grape) capsaicin (from chilli peppers) and curcumin (a compound derived from the spice turmeric).
Natural balms may also help specific patches of irritation, but be wary of essential oils as they can irritate.
Many customers say that Liz Earle Superskin moisturizer is very helpful for this condition and for mild eczema too.

* Follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid fats and sugars, wheat and dairy products, and reduce alcohol consumption.
* Try Dr Stuart's Skin Purify Tea with red clover, nettles and lemon balm, to cleanse body and soothe skin.
* Swedish bitters, an old herbal remedy which stimulates the digestion, is recommended by natural health experts.
* Reduce stress, or, if that's impossible, at least take steps to manage it. * Stop smoking: this is vital.
* Sunshine, exercise and sea bathing have been shown to be beneficial. (But patients must take care not to overdo the exposure to UV light.)
* Baths: always bath in cool/warm water, not hot; to loosen scabs, mix in one cup of oatmeal. Also try bathing in Dead Sea Salts, which achieved significant relief in 47 out of 50 patients in a study – maximum improvement came from soaking in lkg salts, for three baths weekly, over six weeks.
Complementary and alternative therapies
* Individualized homeopathic treatment has been shown to lead to a good response in some patients with chronic skin disease.
* Dead Sea therapy: the minerals in this inland sea have been proven to help patients with psoriasis and the related arthritic condition.
* UVB phototherapy: as with natural sunshine, this light treatment helps persuade cells to slow down and behave more like normal skin; it is effective, but, like sunshine, must be treated with care and should be administered by trained hospital staff.
* PUVA: this light treatment uses UVA light with a plant derivative called a psoralen, which makes the skin more sensitive to light. Like UVB phototherapy, it is a hospital treatment.
* Psychotherapy: emotional upsets are strongly linked to skin flare-ups, particularly in those with psoriasis. Good results have been shown with psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, relaxation techniques and biofeedback.
skin problems
Marigold (Calendula)

The bright orange petals of the pot or English marigold (but not the African marigold or Tagetes) have a long history as an excellent remedy for inflamed and angry skin. The compounds identified in Calendula extracts include triterpenoids (including faradiol, glycosides and sapsonins) and herbalists say that these have antiseptic and healing properties which help to prevent the spread of infection and speed up the rate of repair. Research is under way at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, into the use of a novel marigold compound (christened Vanl 0-4) as a treatment for the scaly plaques of psoriasis, which are notoriously difficult to treat. (Strathclyde Institute of Drug Research has also discovered that certain chemicals in marigold could help heart patients.) 
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