Five Important Habits to Fend Against Psoriasis
Lifestyle habits that may help fight psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition in which the exact etiology is unknown. Many natural modalities have shown efficacy in the treatment of psoriasis and can be implemented in daily life to promote overall health, conceivably fending off such conditions.
1) Get Outdoors
Much of modern society in developed nations is dependent upon spending multiple hours a day indoors, void of the natural radiation generated by the sun. Phototherapy is often used in a clinical setting to treat psoriasis, commonly using a narrow banded emission of ultraviolet radiation. Patients suffering from psoriasis have reduced levels of Vitamin D, a modulatory hormone that regulates the body’s immune system. Ultraviolet light has been proven to increase serum levels of Vitamin D.[2,3] Multiple studies have produced promising results demonstrating a reduction in psoriasis with exposure to ultraviolet light,[4,5] and supports a focus on the benefit of regular light exposure in moderation. However, extended periods in sunlight can lead to harmful effects such as sunburn, photoaging, and cancer.[6,7]
Many physical processes can be altered by thoughts and emotions. Practicing mindfulness is considered a therapeutic intervention that aids in bridging the gap between the mind and body. One well-known example, meditation, has demonstrated it’s immunological effects and could very well prove beneficial in the prevention of chronic diseases of the immune system including psoriasis. Decreases in inflammatory cytokines, increases in T helper cell activity, and reduction in telomerase degradation have been observed with the clinical inclusion of mindfulness practices.
3) Consume Daily Sources of Healthy Fats
Unsaturated fats present in certain meats, eggs, and plants compete with highly inflammatory sources of saturated fat. Sources of healthy unsaturated fats come from fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring. Plant sources include walnuts, hemp, flaxseed, and leafy green vegetables. Another fatty acid present in plant sources is known as alpha lipoic acid, which the body converts to ‘resolvins.’ Resolvins are potent anti-inflammatory molecules that, just as the name suggests, resolve inflammatory disease.
4) Take Salt Baths
Research has suggested that psoriasis is tied to an imbalance of the skin’s natural flora of microorganisms. Balneotherapy, a treatment most notably associated with bathing in natural hot springs, has been used clinically to ameliorate psoriasis. Naturally occurring mineral salts in combination with the relaxing properties of bathing might aid in controlling chronic inflammatory skin conditions. Regular at-home use of warm mineral salt baths might prove beneficial in maintaining healthy microbiological inhabitance of the skin, preventing pathological overgrowth and subsequent inflammatory dysregulation.[13,14]
5) Maintain Good Hygiene
Hygiene isn’t often considered by the public when addressing the cause of chronic conditions such as psoriasis, but maintaining hygienic practices is critical. In the naturopathic field, psoriasis is considered a superficial manifestation of underlying systemic imbalance. Gastrointestinal and hepatic disease is correlated with the development of psoriasis. Hygiene is not limited to cleanliness; it encompasses healthy sleeping habits and much more. Intestinal health begins with mindful eating and chewing food thoroughly while at rest with little distractions. Good hygiene continues with the elimination of inflammatory foods as well as the incorporation of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut and fermented yogurt. Liver health can be supported by introducing foods rich in antioxidants and discontinuing drugs, alcohol, and tobacco abuse.[15,16]
The appearance of our skin reflects much of what we do each day. Viewed as a window into the body, the skin can reveal a great deal about our daily activities. Incorporating these practices can generate positive systemic health outcomes for many who implement them. Altering one’s habits is often a challenge, but help is available for those who look for it. Consult your doctor before adopting any of these routines, and be sure to search for available resources in your area that may aid you in any endeavor.
- Talbott W, Duffy N. Complementary and alternative medicine for psoriasis: what the dermatologist needs to know. Am J Clin Dermatol.2015;16(3):147-165; PMID: 25904522 Link to research.
- Hewison M. Vitamin D and immune function: an overview. Proc Nutr Soc.2012;71(1):50-61; PMID: 21849106 Link to research.
- Millsop JW, Bhatia BK, Debbaneh M, et al. Diet and psoriasis, part III: role of nutritional supplements. J Am Acad Dermatol.2014;71(3):561-569; PMID: 24780177 Link to research.
- Foerster J, Boswell K, West J, et al. Narrowband UVB treatment is highly effective and causes a strong reduction in the use of steroid and other creams in psoriasis patients in clinical practice. PLoS One.2017;12(8):e0181813; PMID: 28771503 Link to research.
- Mysliwiec H, Kiluk P, Mysliwiec P, et al. Influence of narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy on serum tumour necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) in patients with psoriasis. Clin Exp Dermatol.2017;42(7):786-790; PMID: 28748592 Link to research.
- D'Orazio J, Jarrett S, Amaro-Ortiz A, et al. UV radiation and the skin. Int J Mol Sci.2013;14(6):12222-12248; PMID: 23749111 Link to research.
- Polefka TG, Meyer TA, Agin PP, et al. Effects of solar radiation on the skin. J Cosmet Dermatol.2012;11(2):134-143; PMID: 22672278 Link to research.
- Kabat-Zinn J, Wheeler E, Light T, et al. Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and photochemotherapy (PUVA). Psychosom Med.1998;60(5):625-632; PMID: 9773769 Link to research.
- Black DS, Slavich GM. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci.2016;1373(1):13-24; PMID: 26799456 Link to research.
- Collier PM, Payne CR. The dietary effect of oily fish consumption on psoriasis. Br J Dermatol.1996;135(5):858; PMID: 8977696 Link to research.
- De Caterina R. n-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med.2011;364(25):2439-2450; PMID: 21696310 Link to research.
- Proksch E, Nissen HP, Bremgartner M, et al. Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin. Int J Dermatol.2005;44(2):151-157; PMID: 15689218 Link to research.
- Martin R, Henley JB, Sarrazin P, et al. Skin Microbiome in Patients With Psoriasis Before and After Balneotherapy at the Thermal Care Center of La Roche-Posay. J Drugs Dermatol.2015;14(12):1400-1405; PMID: 26659932 Link to research.
- Baros DN, Gajanin VS, Gajanin RB, et al. Comparative analysis of success of psoriasis treatment with standard therapeutic modalities and balneotherapy. Med Pregl.2014;67(5-6):154-160; PMID: 25033574 Link to research.
- Gisondi P, Del Giglio M, Cozzi A, et al. Psoriasis, the liver, and the gastrointestinal tract. Dermatol Ther.2010;23(2):155-159; PMID: 20415823 Link to research.
- Pietrzak D, Pietrzak A, Krasowska D, et al. Digestive system in psoriasis: an update. Arch Dermatol Res.2017;10.1007/s00403-017-1775-7PMID: 28905102 Link to research.