Plaque Psoriasis (Psoriasis Vulgaris) is the most common type of psoriasis, demonstrated in about 80% of psoriasis sufferers. Psoriasis vulgaris appears as dry, slightly raised, red patches, known as plaques, covered with a layer of silvery white scale. They may to start as small bumps that grow together and are typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back.
If you have plaque psoriasis, you may also experience changes to your toenails and fingernails-in fact, this occurs in about half of people with psoriasis. Changes to be aware of include: pitting, thickening, discoloration, and loosening of the nail from the nail bed.
Psoriasis is a common skin disorder affecting between 2 – 4 % of the population. The average age onset for this disorder is between 27 and 28 years of age. Current thinking as to some of the most likely causes of this disorder can be summarised in the following four points:
1) Incomplete Digestion of Proteins
Incomplete digestion of proteins can result in the formation of what is known as polyamines. Polyamines inhibit formation of cyclic AMP, an enzyme responsible for controlling the rate of cell proliferation. Hence the skin of psoriasis sufferers sheds at a far greater rate than that of non sufferers.
The formation of these polyamines can also lead to bowel toxemia, which is where proteins that have not been fully digested, enter the bowel and start to putrefy. This in turn will put pressure on liver detoxification pathways. It is always important to support the liver of psoriasis sufferers, particularly where there is a lot of flatulence with foul-smelling odour, 1-2 hours following a meal. This can be a sign of digestive difficulties with regards to proteins.
Supporting the liver naturally
Edible plants belonging to the cruciferous family, such as broccoli and cauliflower are beneficial in helping support liver detoxification pathways. The inclusion of these and other vegetables on a daily basis will go a long way towards helping support the liver naturally. Making soups and salads as well as raw vegetable juicing all represent ways of including vegetables in the diet on a daily basis.
For severe psoriasis sufferers the avoidance of meat and meat products as well as the inclusion of a liver tonic such as Milk thistle should be considered. This, however, should only be done under supervision of a medical practitioner or nutritional therapist.
2) Low Glutathione Peroxidase
Glutathione peroxidise is an antioxidant which is generally low in psoriasis sufferers. Levels of this antioxidant can be normalised by introducing more of the mineral selenium into the diet. Some of the most abundantly rich sources of selenium include the following foods:
- Brazil nuts
- Fish (particularly, tuna, mackerel, cod)
- Most seafood (particularly oysters)
Studies carried out by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that as much as two Brazil nuts daily was enough to raise plasma levels of selenium by 64% and plasma levels of Glutathione Peroxidase by 8%.
Although some people may benefit from taking a supplement this should always be carried out under strict supervision of either a medical practitioner or a nutritional therapist as too much Selenium can cause toxicity.
Seasonal factors are also implicated in levels of Glutathione Peroxidise, with a positive correlation between sunlight and higher levels of this enzyme. So being outdoors as much as possible will benefit levels of GP.
3) Low Serum Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin in the presence of sunlight. Many psoriatic sufferers report an improvement in their lesions following exposure to sun. In as much as is safely possible, the skin of psoriasis sufferers should be exposed on a regular basis to sunlight in order to help improve the appearance of the lesions.
The inclusion of foods containing high levels of vitamin D may also be of benefit: salmon, shrimp, cod and eggs.
39% of psoriatic sufferers report onset of symptoms within one month of a specific stressful event. Most sufferers also tend to note a direct correlation between a worsening of their plaques in the form of inflammation when they are stressed.
In conjunction with diet, finding ways of dealing with stress will be important in the outcome of how psoriasis develops.
- Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb. Thomson CD, Chisholm A, McLachlan SK, Campbell JM. Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.