Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Sep 2009

Soothing Psoriasis and Stress-Related Skin Conditions

While there is no cure for psoriasis, recent studies show that nutraceutical products can dramatically ease the suffering of those inflicted with this debilitating condition. In particular, bioactive sweet whey extract can reduce the size and severity of skin lesions and greatly improve cosmetic appearance.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021. Written By Robert Haas, MS.

Soothing Psoriasis and Stress-Related Skin Conditions

Since drug companies are not going to educate doctors about effective natural treatments for psoriasis1-3, patients continue to suffer side effects from toxic medications.4

The drug Raptiva® was approved by the FDA to treat psoriasis. It was recently withdrawn due to potentially fatal brain infections. While there is no absolute cure for psoriasis, recent studies show that nutraceutical products containing bioactive sweet whey extract (BSWE), when used alone or in combination with conventional medical treatments, provide clinically significant relief for people suffering from mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the disease. The clinical efficacy of using BSWE is related to the presence of growth factors, active peptides, and immunoglobulins that block skin inflammation at the molecular level.5

In this article, you will learn how BSWE can prevent and mitigate “the heartbreak of psoriasis” by reducing the size and severity of skin lesions and greatly improving their cosmetic appearance. In addition, you’ll learn about other nutraceuticals and botanical extracts that work synergistically with BSWE to moderate the underlying biochemical causes of psoriasis and other inflammatory and stress-related skin conditions.

Who Gets Psoriasis?

On average, over 150,000 people are diagnosed with psoriasis every year. The disease causes red, scaly skin eruptions—primarily on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, and buttocks—and social embarrassment to its victims. The unsightly cosmetic changes of psoriasis are deceptive; although many people regard psoriasis as a skin disease, it is actually an immune process run amok that can trigger other diseases, including cardiovascular disease,6 hypertension, and diabetes.7

Who Gets Psoriasis?

Family history has been shown to predict psoriasis occurrence. When both parents are affected by psoriasis, siblings have a 3-to-6-fold higher risk of getting the disease.8 While genetics plays an important role in the genesis of psoriasis, research shows that such environmental factors as alcoholism, HIV infection, smoking, and UV light also play a role in the pathophysiology of this disease.9 As if we needed another reason to get thin and stay thin, a recently published large prospective study found that increased adiposity and weight gain are strong risk factors for psoriasis in women.10

Psoriasis often strikes when people are young. Grammy Award-winning recording artist LeAnn Rimes was first diagnosed with psoriasis at age two. Throughout her childhood, her condition worsened to the extent that, at one point, psoriatic plaques covered more than 80% of her body. As in LeAnn’s case, people will live with the disease for a lifetime; long-term treatment safety is, therefore, paramount.

Bioactive Sweet Whey Extract (BSWE): A Nutraceutical That Acts as a Cosmeceutical

Faced with the known risks associated with UV light treatments and systemic drugs used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases, doctors and patients would like to find an ideal compromise between risk and relief. This is where nutraceuticals that contain BSWE can play an important role. Regrettably, mainstream US doctors remain unaware of BSWE, a proprietary, purified, non-GMO whey protein isolate that has been validated in clinical trials for mild-to-moderate psoriasis. BSWE is manufactured using a patented process that concentrates this extract at 60 times the amount found in whey; therefore, consuming ordinary whey protein powder will be entirely ineffective at treating psoriasis.

BSWE safely quiets the overactive immune response in psoriasis by reducing the pro-inflammatory effects of certain immune system cells.5,11 The safety advantages of BSWE over UV-light treatments and systemic drug treatments for psoriasis cannot be overstated. This makes BSWE a valuable new treatment for the 90% of psoriasis patients who suffer from mild to moderate forms of the disease—comprising an incredible 2% of the US population.

Effective Psoriasis Relief

Clinical studies show that bioactive sweet whey extract provides dramatic relief for individuals suffering from mild-to-moderate psoriasis.5,11-13

Effective Psoriasis Relief

Scientists first identified whey extract’s benefits for psoriasis in an open-label study in 2005. Adults with chronic, stable plaque psoriasis affecting 2% or more of their body surface area consumed BSWE for two months. More than 60% of the study participants experienced improvements of 10-81% on a standardized score of the extent and severity of psoriasis.12

These findings were confirmed in a larger, double-blind study the following year. This clinical trial showed that patients who supplemented with BSWE for two months had improved Physician’s Global Assessment scores, compared with those who received placebo.13 A 2007 study further confirmed the efficacy of BSWE in relieving mild-to-moderate psoriasis, while demonstrating its outstanding safety profile.11

A study from 2008 uncovered even more evidence of how effectively BSWE fights psoriasis. In this double-blind clinical trial, adults with mild-to-moderate psoriasis received 800 mg of BSWE or placebo every day for two months. Individuals who consumed the whey extract experienced decreased itching sensations, improved quality of life, and decreased scores on a scale of disease area and severity. These findings are even more dramatic in light of the fact that participants originally suffered from psoriasis on 4-15% of their body surface area.5 Clearly, BSWE can dramatically improve the well being of individuals challenged with psoriasis.

Bioactive Sweet Whey’s Mode of Action

While the science behind BSWE’s mode of action isn’t nearly as well understood as its clinical effectiveness, facts are emerging that reveal how it successfully blocks the activation of proinflammatory helper T cells, which are lymphocytes (white blood cells) that play a central role in cell-mediated immunity.5,14

Upon activation, T lymphocytes release TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha), a key messenger in the inflammatory process that promotes deep skin cell (keratinocyte) proliferation. This hyperproliferative response decreases the time it takes for normal maturation of skin cells from 23 days to 3-5 days and produces the typical reddish and scaly plaques of psoriasis.15 Studies have shown that psoriasis patients produce an excess of TNF-alpha in their skin.16

What You Need to Know: Soothing Psoriasis
  • Psoriasis is an inherited inflammatory skin disease mediated by T cells and influenced by environmental factors, nutritional status, and stress. Plaque psoriasis is the commonest form of the disease.

  • Psoriasis is associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, lymphoma, depression, suicide, and possibly skin cancers.
  • Bioavailable sweet whey extract (BSWE) is clinically effective in relieving the symptoms and discomfort of mild-to-moderate psoriasis, which affects 2% of the US population.
  • BSWE quiets the overactive immune response in psoriasis by reducing the proinflammatory effects of certain immune system cells.
  • There is a well-defined ‘brain–skin connection’ in psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases. BSWE can benefit psoriasis and other stress-related skin problems; stress management may also relieve symptoms.
  • Ancillary nutraceuticals, including curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, and the botanical extract Pycnogenol®, can mitigate the inflammation and immune-cell activation that leads to psoriasis symptoms.

BSWE contains immunoglobulins, active peptides (e.g., IGF-1), and TGF-beta 2,5 a transforming growth factor that blocks the actions of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).17 This suggests that BSWE helps fight psoriasis in part by blocking the inflammatory cascade initiated by TNF-alpha.5,16,17

In doing so, BSWE provides a powerful yet safe treatment for the vast majority of psoriasis sufferers with mild-to-moderate forms of the disease.11

While BSWE is not a psoriasis cure-all, it is certainly at the top of the list of safe and effective non-prescription treatments that can be used alone or as an adjunct to standard medical therapies. As such, BSWE represents a true innovation in the treatment of psoriasis and other intractable stress-related skin problems. BSWE may be effective against other inflammatory skin conditions that share the same physiological response mechanisms as psoriasis, however more research is needed to determine its effectiveness in other diseases.11

Psoriasis and Other Inflammatory Skin Conditions Linked To Stress

When you feel good, you look good, but when you’re under stress, your skin is usually the first place to show it.

Psoriasis and Other Inflammatory Skin Conditions Linked To Stress

The interplay between stress and multiple biologic systems in our bodies can trigger the onset of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases, including acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, seborrheic eczema, chronic urticaria, alopecia areata, and pruritus (skin itching).18 Researchers use the term, “psychodermatologic disorder” to refer to skin conditions such as psoriasis that can be triggered or exacerbated by emotional stress.19

Scientists are seeking to learn more about the ‘brain–skin connection’ in psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases.20 They have discovered that stress management can benefit individuals with psoriasis. Patients who listened to a meditation tape while undergoing phototherapy (light therapy) for psoriasis improved four times faster than those who received phototherapy only, as judged by two independent dermatologists.21 Psychotherapy has been shown to be an important treatment adjunct for individuals with persistent unresolved psychosocial stress-related psoriasis.22

Ancillary Supplements That Fight Psoriasis

In addition to bioavailable sweet whey extract, other nutraceuticals that have been shown to be effective against psoriasis and inflammatory skin conditions include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA): Numerous studies confirm that the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), provide clinically significant anti-inflammatory effects in such multiple diseases as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. High intake of omega-3 fatty acids improves psoriasis symptoms by reducing the inflammatory response in skin and blood vessels.23,24 EPA has been shown to enhance the efficacy of conventional therapy for psoriasis.25
  • Curcumin: Recent studies have shown that curcumin, a yellow pigment derived from the curry spice turmeric, ameliorates a number of immune-related diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. Curcumin quiets inflammation in the skin by blocking the activation of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and inhibiting nuclear factor-kappa B signaling pathways in immune cells.26
  • Vitamin D3: The active form of vitamin D exhibits anti-proliferative and immunoregulatory effects and may be useful in the treatment of psoriasis.27 Studies show that the active form of vitamin D suppresses growth and stimulates the differentiation of keratinocytes, producing benefits for psoriatic lesions.28 In addition to oral supplementation, topical application of vitamin D3 has been shown to be beneficial in psoriasis because of its action in regulating keratinocyte proliferation and inflammation.29
  • Pycnogenol®: Pycnogenol®, a botanical extract of the French maritime pine bark, is undergoing preclinical investigation for its potential application in psoriasis sufferers. Since Pycnogenol® can modify the interaction of T cells with keratinocytes, scientists believe it may have therapeutic potential in patients with inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis.30,31


Studies show that innovative nutraceutical products that contain a bioactive form of sweet whey extract may offer a safe and effective solution for the 7-8 million adults in the United States seeking relief from psoriasis.


Bioactive sweet whey extract (BSWE), when used alone or in combination with conventional medical treatments, provides clinically significant relief for people suffering from mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis because it contains growth factors, active peptides, and immunoglobulins that block skin inflammation at the molecular level.

BSWE is a proprietary, purified, non-GMO whey protein isolate containing a high concentration of TGF-beta 2. Ordinary whey protein cannot produce the same outstanding clinical results as BSWE.

The interplay between stress and multiple biologic systems in our bodies can trigger the onset of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases. BSWE, along with stress management, psychotherapy, and conventional medical treatment may provide relief for those with intractable psoriasis.

Bioactive sweet whey extract may work in complement with other nutraceuticals such as omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, vitamin D, and Pycnogenol® to reduce the inflammation responsible for the symptoms of psoriasis.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-800-226-2370.

Psoriasis: A Conventional 3-Step Treatment Path

In patients for whom psoriasis covers no more than 10 to 20% of the skin, the course of medical treatment generally follows a predictable 3-step path:

  1. Doctors start by prescribing topical creams and ointments, many of which are available over the counter.
  2. Should those topical products fail to bring relief, doctors will prescribe phototherapy (exposure of affected areas to UV light). About 20% of all psoriasis patients will undergo phototherapy. Studies have shown that exposure to the sun or to artificial ultraviolet lights can cause symptoms to subside.32-34
  3. If phototherapy fails to control the disease,doctors will prescribe systemic or biologic medications, such as: methotrexate, cyclosporine, Amevive® (alefacept), Enbrel® (etanercept), Remicade® (infliximab), or Humira®(adalimumab). All of these drugs are laden with dangerous side effects.

1. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Nov;59(5):772-80.

2. N Engl J Med. 2007 Apr 26;356(17):1742-50.

3. N Engl J Med. 1992 Oct 15;327(16):1135-40.

4. JAMA. 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.

5. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Jun;13(2):145-52.

6. Dermatology. 2008;217(1):27-37.

7. Arch Dermatol. 2009 Apr;145(4):379-82.

8. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 Mar;44(3):433-8.

9. J Dermatol. 2009 Jun;36(6):328-34.

10. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Aug 13;167(15):1670-5.

11. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):943-51.

12. J Cutan Med Surg. 2005 Dec;9(6):271-5.

13. J Cutan Med Surg. 2006 Sep;10(5):241-8.

14. J Mol Med. 2003 Aug;81(8):471-80.


16. Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2006 Feb;133(2):174-80.

17. J Invest Dermatol. 1996 Feb;106(2):225-31.

18. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2006;13(5-6):347-56.

19. N Engl J Med. 2005 May 5;352(18):1899-912.

20. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2008 Nov;74(6):594-9.

21. Psychosom Med. 1998 Sep;60(5):625-32.

22. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(12):833-42.

23. An Bras Dermatol. 2009 Jan;84(1):90-2.

24. Clin Investig. 1993 Aug;71(8):634-43.

25. J Dermatol. 1998 Nov;25(11):703-5.

26. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:425-51.

27. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2009 Jan;134(1-2):35-8.

28. J Dermatol. 2003 Jun;30(6):429-37.

29. Eur J Dermatol. 1998 Jan;8(1):16-20.

30. Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Jan 15;28(2):219-27.

31. Phytother Res. 2001 Feb;15(1):76-8.

32. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Jun;60(6):1001-17.

33. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Oct;143(5):329-37.