We have discussed numerous times in our blog about the importance of diet and dietary supplements for psoriasis healing. It would not be wrong to say that diet and dietary supplements are two most important weapons to manage the demon of psoriasis. Well, personally, I am not angry with my psoriasis anymore and we have become sort of buddies actually. But, I would be lying if I say that I don’t wish for a psoriasis free skin any further. My own desire for a more cleaner skin and a better life is the driving force behind this blog.
A single real life story, where a person improves his/ her condition in a holistic way, is more powerful than tens of articles where I keep on reinforcing the idea that why and how you can heal your psoriasis with natural means without using any steroidal pills or injections.
Today, while browsing a discussion forum, I came across a discussion thread initiated by Anshu Bansal, a 31 years old independent working woman from India. She got psoriasis around one year back and it has been a roller coaster ride since then where her happiness would depend on her skin condition. Sometimes, skin would improve and sometimes, it would flare like anything.
I have always been of the opinion that psoriasis is more daunting an experience for women than men for obvious reasons. Certainly, the personality traits like physical appearance and looks value more to a woman than man. In my own family, I remember how my elder sister would start crying to see those occasional pimples on her face and she would see the dermatologist the same day at any cost. On the other hand, I was almost 80% covered with psoriasis lesions for more than 3 years and my mother would need to push me so many times to make sure that I do something about them. I had been to 5 different doctors for psoriasis treatment- 2 dermatologists, 2 ayurveda guys and a homeopath expert- all these efforts were initiated by my parents. I was a sort of stupid health ignorant, career oriented guy who decided to postpone working on my health just to achieve the “so called” career goals. I am not trying to be critical about career objectives, but, a healthy mind-body balance should be the foremost priority of any individual.
Anyways, let’s get back to today’s real life healing story.
It was good of Anshu to seek medical attention at the early stage of her psoriasis development. The dermatologist was an honest guy- he didn’t linger on with fake promises and told her readily that the medical science doesn’t have a cure for her skin disorder. He prescribed some pills, a coal tar shampoo, an ointment (protar) and a multivitamin dietary supplement. According to the doctor, this diagnosis would help clear the skin within a few weeks and then, she would need to repeat the diagnosis whenever she got psoriasis again. Also, the doctor warned him against overdosing the pills as they may impair her liver. It was not an encouraging scenario for Anshu, but, at least he told the truth. She opted out of that treatment soon and started looking for other options. Ayurveda, an alternative system of medicine, is quite popular in India as well. She fixed an appointment with a local renowned Ayurveda doctor and got to know about the Ayurvedic understanding of Psoriasis. According to Ayurveda, psoriasis is a skin disorder caused by the vitiation of vata and kapha dosha. The increased level of body toxins enters the lymphatic system and blood stream to trigger an autoimmune reaction and cause psoriasis.
According to Ayurveda, there are three vital life energies (also known as dosha) – vata, pitta and kapha. Every individual is born with these three dosha in a unique proportion. For optimum health and wellness, this balance should be maintained. If any one or two dosha goes out of balance, it would result in illness and disease.
That Ayurveda doctor advised her Panchkarma to get rid of the body toxins to restore the dosha balance and regulate the immune system. It was a three weeks treatment, 3 to 4 hours a day. Her psoriasis improved significantly. Although it was a lengthy, a bit complex process- the results were overwhelming for her. Everything looked so rosy- some hardship for 20 days and psoriasis is gone forever. Wow!
Panchkarma is an Ayurveda based intense body detox process which involves rapid elimination of body toxins through the conventional modes of elimination- the intestines (bowel movements), the urinary tract (urination) and the sweat glands (sweating).
After the completion of panchkarma, doctor prescribed her few liquid oral medicines for maintenance.
But, her dream run didn’t last for long and psoriasis returned back after 4 months with more intensity. It was so unexpected and frustrating. That Ayurveda guy advised her to wait for some time and then undergo one more session of panchkarma. But, she was not up for it. Certainly, she lost her enthusiasm and now, it was the turn for homeopathy. Anshu hasn’t mentioned much about her experience with homeopathy, but, it didn’t prove a success either.
Numerous treatment attempts with little success- escalation in stress and anxiety was evident. Psoriasis intruded various body parts- knees, elbows, back and limbs.
Diet and Dietary supplements for Psoriasis
Then, she started reading about psoriasis and its treatments over the Internet. Here, she learnt about the lifelong nature of psoriasis and discovered that elimination diet and relevant dietary supplements do offer some help with nothing to lose. There was a lot of buzz about Pagano diet protocol.
She thought of giving it a serious try for next few months. Being a working professional staying away from the family, it was difficult to follow all the rules of pagano diet religiously, still she tried to be as close as possible. She compensated the diet violations by consuming all the below dietary supplements on a daily basis:
- Probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) – After eliminating culprit foods from your diet, you have to strengthen the digestive system to make sure that it properly digest the food and doesn’t leave too much undigested food in the system. Also, we have to neutralize the yeast (Candida) and other pathogens (disease causing bacteria) that might have grown in excess due to fermentation and rotting of undigested food from a long time. For that, probiotics are crucial. In our gut, there are trillions of microorganisms- around 70-75% are healthy ones (probiotics) and remaining are yeast and other pathogenic ones. The probiotics not only combat the aggression of the negative microorganisms, but, it plays a vital role in break down of foodstuffs which are hard to process as well. The overall effect of probiotics helps to strengthen the intestinal barrier effect to treat leaky gut and regulate the immune system. Anshu consumed probiotic capsules- 50 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per day for initial 3 months. Now, she has reduced it to 25 billion CFUs per day.
- Fish oil (omega 3 fats) – 2000 mg Fish oil capsules per day. Consuming omega 3 fatty acids are to reduce chronic inflammatory responses in the body is research approved. It is a widely suggested dietary supplement for autoimmune disorders including psoriasis.
- Vitamin D– 2000 IU per day of vitamin D in capsule form for a period of three months.
- Vitamin B12– The common list of vitamin B12 rich foods includes meat (mainly liver and kidney), fish, egg and milk products. Being a vegetarian, she was sort of sure that she is deficient in vitamin B12. Also, she read somewhere about the relation of vitamin B12 deficiency and skin disorders. So, she does consume vitamin B12 supplements. The dosage has not been specified.
- Glutamine– It is a gym supplement. But, it is widely accepted as a supplement to repair leaky gut to treat psoriasis and other gut related disorders. Her dosage is 2o grams a day- consumed before the meals.
Apart from the elimination diet and dietary supplements, she practices pranayam for 30 minutes a day to manage psoriasis.
All these efforts doesn’t guarantee the cure of psoriasis. She understands it very well, but, definitely, her condition is well under control without using any steroidal pills or medications.
What we have learnt
First of all, let us take a moment to thank Anshu for her kindness and compassion to share her experience on the Internet. You know, it needs a lot of courage and efforts to share someone’s own struggle with others. May god bless her with good health and wisdom.
Now, let us quickly review the article to derive some take-home message.
- Among the various things that didn’t help her, panchkarma may be a surprise for many people. Actually, the whole concept of Ayurvedic treatment of psoriasis relies on panchkarma. Also, as accepted by Anshu, panchkarma does help in most of the cases. So, how can it become “useless” afterwards. Actually, it is not! Panchkarma is very much an excellent way of flushing off the body toxins in a safe manner. But, the reality is- panchkarma is just the beginning; it is not the whole treatment itself. By eliminating toxins, it readies your body to respond well to subsequent dietary changes and supplements. After panchkarma, it is crucial to strengthen the inner body metabolism and the digestive system so that the body wastes doesn’t pile up anymore in the gut. A lot of people on our Facebook group has confessed that panchkarma treatment brings tremendous improvement in their skin condition, but, the improvement fades away gradually and they return back to the earlier stage. It’s frustrating, truly so. Such a roller coaster ride can really make a person even more stressed than before because one more treatment option has proved to be useless. So, the ideal strategy is- if you have decided to undergo the panchkarma treatment, then make a resolution to strictly follow the diet, lifestyle and other guidelines afterwards for long term results. Otherwise, it may prove a waste of money and time.
- Pagano diet is awesome. We highly recommend going through the brief summary of pagano diet and then buying a copy of the book Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative written by John Pagano.
- Her list of dietary supplements includes fish oil, probiotics, glutamine, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Except vitamin B12 (that’s a surprise entry), our recommendations for other supplements is below:
- Use of vitamin B12 supplements is an interesting idea. Very few resources over the Internet mention vitamin B12 as a required supplement for psoriasis healing. Vitamin B1 is one of the B-complex vitamins- produces energy, makes red blood cells, protects DNA and plays a vital role in optimum brain functioning. The human body can’t synthesize it by itself, hence, we need to rely on external food sources and dietary supplements to meet the daily requirements.
Just 2.4 mcg- it seems too little. So, what is the big deal. There should not be any problem in getting this much of vitamin B12 from the food. Well, this vitamin is poorly absorbed by the body- a big amount is destroyed during the process of digestion. For instance, a table of 500 mcg of vitamin B12 would only provide 10 mcg (2%) after digestion. People with psoriasis already have a compromised gut and sluggish digestive health. Hence, there are high chances that a poorly absorbed nutrient like vitamin B12 would fall below the optimum level and supplementing would be required. Moreover, the scenario gets further worsened for vegetarian people because most of the vitamin B12 rich foods are animal products- meat, egg, fish and poultry.
Technically, I couldn’t find any research evidence to establish a relation between vitamin B12 deficiency and psoriasis. A case study published in the British Medical Journal, Dec 1962 couldn’t establish any relation between vitamin B12 deficiency and Psoriasis. Well, I am sure that we need to dig in deeper into this subject to find a concrete conclusion. As of now, I think a daily dosage of 500 mcg wouldn’t be a bad idea. To be on the safer side, get tested for vitamin B12 deficiency first and then decide the dosage.
- She talked about pranayam- yoga techniques involving deep, controlled breathing. Swami Ramdev, a renowned yoga guru in India has talked extensively about the benefits of pranayam for psoriasis. In my opinion, a daily schedule of 45 min pranayam would be enough- 15 min deep breathing, 15 min kapalbhati and 15 min anulom vilom pranayam. You can learn all these pranayams from Youtube.
Image credit- britishskinfoundation (dot) org (dot) uk