As a pharmacist, I frequently get questions from patients suffering from psoriasis about what they can do to improve their condition. Since August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month, I thought it would be a great time to share some of these tips.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation leading to the formation of red, scaly patches on the body that bleed and itch. It is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting as many as 7.5 million people. Approximately 30% of people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, a number of nutritional supplements and dietary changes can help reduce the severity of the symptoms, greatly improving overall quality of life. These include:
Fish Oil: Omega 3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in fish, have many anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and also have a positive impact on the body’s immune system. To get these anti-inflammatory benefits, it is recommended to get around 3000mg a day of EPA and DHA, the two active components. This equals about 4 capsules of Metagenic’s OmegaGenics EPA:DHA 720 Capsules.
Vitamin D: Psoriasis increases the rate at which skin cells grow, and Vitamin D has been shown to slow this growth. Vitamin D may also help counteract the body’s response to inflammation associated psoriasis. Try increasing your blood levels of Vitamin D in the range of 30-60ng/ml. For most people, this may require 2000-4000IU daily. Since D3 is as much as 3 times more potent than D2, be sure to take a supplement containing this form, such as Protocol For Life’s High Potency Vitamin D3.
Probiotics: Probiotics are the good bacteria found throughout the body. While most think of their health benefits being localized to the gut, they have effects against non-gut inflammation and have a positive impact on the immune system as well. Studies have shown decreased inflammatory markers in psoriasis patients taking probiotics. Be sure to get a high potency probiotic containing several strains of bacteria, such as Metagenics UltraFlora Spectrum.
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, many individuals have benefitted from following an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce their symptoms. Avoid foods such as fatty red meats, dairy products, processed foods and refined sugars, and instead focus on foods that reduce inflammation, such as fish, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Gluten Free Diet: Research shows that up to 25 percent of psoriasis sufferers have a sensitivity to the wheat protein gluten, and that celiac disease (a condition caused by intolerance to gluten) and psoriasis share many common genetic and inflammatory pathways. While there are not conclusive studies showing a gluten free diet helps psoriasis sufferers, many patients have experienced an improvement in symptoms.
In addition to the above, our pharmacists frequently compound many different prescription combinations for psoriasis, including steroids, zinc pyrithione, Vitamin B12, Salicylic Acid and Tacrolimus, among others. Give us a call and see if we can help you.