Psoriasis is one of the most stubborn skin diseases. It is a chronic disease characterised by thick, red, silvery, scaled patches of skin. This disease affects both sexes equally and usually first appears at the age ranging from 15 to 30 years, although it may appear at any age. It is, however, rare in infancy and old age. Psoriasis is not contagious.
Generally, the skin of the person suffering from psoriasis appears red and irritated and may be covered with bright silvery scales. Sometimes there is also a little itching. Areas usually involved are elbows, knees, the skin behind the ears, trunk and scalp. The disease may also affect the underarm and genital areas. The lesions vary in size from minute papules only just visible, to sheets covering large parts of the body. Quite often, they are discs from 1.5 cm. to several centimeters in size. The lesions of psoriasis are always dry and rarely become infected.
The modern medical system has not been able to establish the exact cause of psoriasis. Recent studies have shown that psoriasis involves an abnormality in the mechanism in which the skin grows and replaces itself. This abnormality is related to the metabolism of amino-acids, the protein chemicals which are nature’s basic building blocks for the reproduction of cell tissues. Heredity also plays a role in the development of psoriasis as it tends to occur in families. About 30 per cent of the patients have a family history of the disease. The factors that aggravate and precipitate the outbreak of psoriasis are injury to the skin in the form of cuts, burns, minor abrasions, changes in the seasons, physical and emotional stress, infections and use of certain medicines for the treatment of other diseases.
Since psoriasis is a metabolic disease, a cleansing juice fast for about seven days is always desirable in the beginning of the treatment. Carrots, beats, cucumbers and grapes may be used for juices. Juices of citrus fruits should be avoided. The warm water enema should be used daily to cleanse the bowels during the fast. After the juice fast, the patient should adopt the diet of three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and (iii) fruits, with emphasis on raw seeds and nuts, especially seasame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and plenty of organically grown raw vegetables and fruits.
All animal fats, including milk, butter and eggs should be avoided. Refined or processed foods and foods containing hydrogenated fats or white sugar, all condiments, tea and coffee, should also be avoided. After noticeable improvement, goat’s milk, yogurt and home made cottage cheese may be added to the diet. Juice fasts may be repeated after four weeks on diet. Vitamin E therapy has been found effective in the treatment of psoriasis. The patient should use this vitamin in therapeutic doses from 200 to 800 I.U. a day. It will help reduce itching and scabs. Lecithin is considered a remarkable remedy for psoriasis. The patient may take six to nine lecithin capsules a day - two or three capsules before or after each meal. In the form of granules, it may be taken four tablespoonfuls daily for two months. It may thereafter be reduced to two tablespoonfuls. Too frequent baths should be avoided. Soap should not be used. Regular sea water baths and application of sea water externally over the affected parts once a day are beneficial.
The hot Epsom salts bath has proved valuable in psoriasis. Three full baths should be taken weekly until the trouble begins to subside. The number of baths thereafter may be reduced to two weekly and finally to one. The affected areas should also be bathed twice in hot water containing Epsom salt. After the bath a little olive oil may be applied. The skin should be kept absolutely clean by daily dry friction or sponge.
In many cases, psoriasis responds well to sunlight. The affected parts should be frequently exposed to the sun. The daily use of a sunlamp or ultra-violet light are also beneficial. Cabbage leaves have been successfully used in the form of compresses in the treatment of psoriasis. The thickest and greenest outer leaves are most effective for use as compresses. They should be thoroughly washed in warm water and dried with a towel. The leaves should be made flat, soft and smooth by rolling them with a rolling pin after removing the thick veins. They should be warmed and then applied smoothly to the affected part in an overlapping manner. A pad of soft wooden cloth should be put over it. The whole compress should then be secured with an elastic bandage.
The use of mud packs in the treatment of psoriasis has also been found highly beneficial. The packs are made by mixing the clay with a little water and applying to the affected areas. After the clay has dried, it is removed and fresh pack applied. Mud packs are eliminative in their action. They absorb and remove the toxins from the deceased areas. The patient should undertake plenty of regular exercise in fresh air, especially exposing the affected parts, and deep breathing exercises. He should avoid all nervous tension and should have adequate rest.