By Dr. ASK, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath
Psoriasis is a skin disease that can appear in a variety of forms. There are typically five types of psoriasis. The most common form of the disease presented in 80% of patients is called “plaque” psoriasis, scientifically known as psoriasis vulgaris (vulgaris means common). It is characterized by raised red lesions covered by white scales, which is typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. Other forms of psoriasis are Guttate, which is characterized by small white lesions; Postular, which presents itself as weeping lesions and intense scaling; Inverse, which involves intense inflammation; and Erythrodermic, which causes intense shedding and redness. Occasionally, patients will have more than one type of psoriasis.
Although no one really knows what causes psoriasis, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder with a genetic component, which manifests in the skin and/or around the joints. According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 7.5 million people are afflicted by this disorder. It can be limited to a few lesions or it can involve large portions of the skin. Normal skin cells typically fall off within 28 to 30 days to mature and fall off the body’s surface. In a patient with psoriasis instead of cells maturing and falling off, they build up and form lesions.
It is a frustrating disorder since there really isn’t a test to diagnose nor is there any traditional medical cure. A medical doctor usually bases a diagnosis on a physical examination. You cannot take a blood test or any other test to give a specific diagnosis. Most traditional medical doctors try many different cures, both topically and orally to get results. In many cases this does not work and is very frustrating for the patient. Since psoriasis is unpredictable, the treatment can be extremely challenging and frustrating for both doctor and patient. It is also very frustrating when you the patient are told you must live with this disease forever. What could be more depressing?
No one knows what triggers psoriasis. Scientific thoughts are stress, injury to the skin, infections related to drugs. This is called Koebner response. Stress can often cause psoriasis and further exacerbate it over time. Vaccinations, sunburns or even scratches can trigger Koebner response. Other triggers can be diet or allergies. Many people experience itching associated with psoriasis. This happens when certain chemicals stimulate nerve fibers on the outer layer of the skin. “Itch messages” are then sent to the brain in the same pathways in the nervous system that carries pain messages. Many people suffer depression, anxiety, anger and embarrassment. I cannot imagine anyone who would not experience these symptoms with a chronic disease.
Unfortunately, traditional medicine and most of the information presented by medical doctors say it is a lifelong condition that you must be treated forever since there is no cure. I do not believe this to be a condition you must suffer for a lifetime. I have experienced full recovery in my patients who are motivated. I use liquid herbal extracts and other supplements in high dosages usually requiring a three-month treatment program.
I do not believe any disease is one you have to put up with or learn to live with. My psoriasis patients typically receive the first level of difference in 7-10 days, and it takes a few months to be fully resolved. If a patient is motivated, you can fully recover. It is not a lifelong disorder that you have to live with.
Dr. ASK, N.D., Ph.D., is a naturopath and a microbiologist. His office is in Santa Monica, California. He can be contacted for questions and appointments at