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Psoriasis


One of the more recognisable skin conditions, characterised by red patches with a silvery, scaly overlay. The skin is typically dry and itchy. Although the exact pathophysiology is not well understood, it is generally believed to be an auto-immune condition that results in the skin over-producing cells, which in turn build up and cause the scales. In can present in different ways; see the image below, taken from creakyjoints.org:


Conventional treatments vary according to the presentation of the symptoms and include:

  • phototherapy, with or without the administration of a substance called psoralen to sensitize the skin - decreases inflammation and skin cell production

  • topical gels/oils/foams: vitamin D, coal tar, dithranol, corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors (applied directly to the area) - anti-inflammatory

  • systemic treatments: methotrexate, ciclosporin, acitretin etc. (medications taken by mouth to have an action throughout the body)

Different treatments may work better for certain individuals and some produce side-effects, although there are usually alternatives and generally treatment is successful.

Whatever the presentation, an approach using herbal medicine will aim to reduce the symptoms, as well as dealing with the underlying symptoms.


Topical treatments

A preparation with a lotion-like consistency would be better here, achieved by mixing creams with aromatic waters, tinctures and aloe vera gel. Certain herbs like frankincense, liquorice, rose and chickweed are 'cooling', and ideal to inflammatory states. See this video for information about a lotion I made for Apotheca shop and clinic in Kent.


Systemic treatments

An internal medicine could also be given in the form of capsules or a tea, which may aim to reduce inflammation, but also to help resolve an emotional or psychological tension that could be triggering or driving the physical symptoms. In holistic approaches, we see the mind, heart, and body as being in a very closely linked system, in which one affects the other. So, a particular emotional event or psychological state can be a driving force to a condition like psoriasis, even though it appears to be unrelated to these things. A herb like rose might be given to encourage more self-love and appreciation, or rhodiola for someone who takes too much on.

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