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Health Protocols

Psoriasis

Introduction

Psoriasis is a systemic inflammatory disorder that generally comprises excessive production of skin cells leading to patches of thick, scaly, inflamed, often itchy skin. The systemic inflammation underlying psoriasis can also manifest as psoriatic arthritis , a potentially severe arthritic joint condition. About 7.4 million US adults aged 20 or older have psoriasis (Rachakonda 2014; Mayo Clinic 2015; Sen 2014; Parisi 2013; Schalock 2014; Bowcock 2005; Traub 2007; Kurd 2010; Pirro 2015; Elsevier BV 2015).

Psoriasis can be both physically and psychologically debilitating. Those with psoriasis have a markedly increased risk of developing other major inflammatory disorders, particularly cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and stroke (Ni 2014; McDonald 2012; Tobin 2011; Yeung 2013; Benson 2015). The emotional burden of severe psoriasis, historically termed the “heartbreak of psoriasis,” can increase the risk of psychological disorders (Parisi 2013; Schalock 2014; Kurd 2010).

The inflammatory link between psoriasis and systemic health is underscored by reduced lifespan among those afflicted with this disease: moderate-to-severe psoriasis patients have a 5-year diminished life expectancy. This reduced lifespan is largely attributable to increased cardiovascular disease (Ryan 2015; Ni 2014; Reich 2012; Grozdev 2014), so it is crucial that people with psoriasis also review Life Extension’s protocols on cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation.

Conventional psoriasis therapy has considerable limitations including variable treatment response and serious side effects such as potential liver toxicity, as well as increased risk of cancer and infection due to immunosuppressive drugs (Jani 2015; Garcia-Pérez 2013; Grozdev 2014; Lee 2012; Kamangar 2012; Stern 2012; Sivamani 2010).

Fortunately, a number of natural compounds such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, pycnogenol, and peony extract may confer benefits for psoriasis patients, protect against adverse effects of some psoriasis treatments, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases often associated with psoriasis (Millsop 2014; Balbas 2011; Kamangar 2013; Gulati 2015; Wang, Zhang 2014).

A healthful eating pattern—such as the Mediterranean diet—can also help reduce the severity of psoriasis. Weight loss in obese patients can reduce systemic inflammation associated with psoriasis and lead to clinical improvement. Sun exposure and topical moisturizers can help as well (Heier 2011; UMMC 2014a; Barrea 2015; Bhatia 2014; Upala 2015; Millsop 2014).

This protocol will examine the underappreciated link between psoriasis and other serious inflammatory conditions, most notably cardiovascular disease. The causes and triggers of psoriasis, its conventional treatments, and exciting new therapies will be reviewed. Dietary and lifestyle factors along with state-of-the-art natural compounds targeting both the skin manifestations and systemic inflammation of psoriasis will be discussed as well.