Natural Ways to Treat Psoriasis

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States. Millions of people are afflicted with the condition and seek methods of treatment. All-natural therapies can be used in replacement of or in conjunction with medical treatments.

The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that 125 million people across the globe -- 2 to 3 percent of the total population -- suffer from psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease in which skin cells replicate at a rapid rate as new skin cells are produced much faster than is normal. However, old skin cells slough off at a normal rate, resulting in a build-up of cells on the skin surface. This leads to red, raised scaly patches which are itchy and sore.

Psoriasis often appears between the ages of 15 and 25 but can develop at any age. Of the people who experience psoriasis, 10 to 30 percent may also experience psoriatic arthritis.

The red, scaly patches of psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but generally occur on the face, scalp, elbows, and knees. The National Psoriasis Foundation defines mild psoriasis as affecting less than 3 percent of the body; 3 to 10 percent is considered moderate; more than 10 percent is considered severe. The severity of psoriasis is also measured by how psoriasis affects a person's quality of life.

Some of the common treatments for psoriasis include topical steroid creams and lotions for the scalp. Prescription pills taken orally can slow down the autoimmune response. Individuals looking for more natural treatments can consider the following options:

* Zinc: Deficiencies in zinc have been linked to autoimmune problems. Taking a zinc supplement may help.

* Essential fatty acids: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are thought to have many positive effects on the body, including reducing heart attack risk and improving mental function. Some studies indicate that individuals deficient in essential fatty acids may find this contributes to psoriasis. Essential fatty acids are found in supplements, and through oily fish, flaxseed, hemp, soya oil, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and dark green leafy walnuts.

* Sunlight: There is evidence that exposure to short bursts of sunlight (not enough to induce sunburn) can help alleviate psoriasis. UVB rays penetrate the skin and slow down the rapid production of skin cells.

* Salt water: Swimming in the ocean can be therapeutic for psoriasis as well. Combined with moderate sunbathing, salt water can be quite effective.

* Vitamin D: Treatments for osteoporosis, including supplementation with prescription-strength vitamin D, have proven effective at clearing up psoriasis. Natural forms of vitamin D, including milk and other dairy products, may be able to help, too.

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