Natural Treatments for Psoriasis
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
PSORIASIS IS A COMMON SKIN CONDITION that affects more than 6 million Americans, possibly the result of several factors, including heredity, lifestyle, and diet. It is a symptom of a faulty skin cell regeneration mechanism. Normal skin cells take up to a month to mature, but in patients with psoriasis this process is shortened to 5 to 7 days, producing excessive skin cells that cause the skin to thicken in raised red areas with silvery scales. Psoriasis commonly appears on the elbows, knees, groin, and scalp. Lesions that ooze and ulcerate may appear, causing pain. Flaking and itching are common, and about 10 percent of chronic psoriasis patients develop arthritis as well. Stress, obesity, exposure to environmental toxins, skin infections, alcohol use, and certain drugs can worsen the condition. Western medicine relies on steroidal creams, tar cream with UV light treatment, antibiotics, and immunosuppressants for relief.
In Chinese medicine, diseases of the skin have a direct link to the lung-large intestine network, which also governs the immune system. When the lungs are weak and attacked by pathogenic wind or microbes, the skin doesn’t receive proper nourishment. Heat toxins in the blood can also manifest as skin disease. Psoriasis is best treated when the underlying conditions are addressed either by dispersing the wind or clearing the heat and toxins from the skin.
I’ve worked with dermatologists on some very stubborn cases of psoriasis. One case involved a man who had severe psoriasis for six years - the thick patches of his skin wouldn’t clear up with steroids and tar and UV light treatments. After a cleansing and detoxification program, I put him on a vegetarian diet with no animal products at all. I administered a full course of acupuncture and herbal therapy to cleanse his body of heat and toxins and to harmonize his immune system to lower inflammatory reaction. After about five months, his skin cleared up by about 95 percent. With proper dietary and lifestyle adjustments and regular treatments, many of my patients have experienced relief from their symptoms.
Here is a summary of my approach.
DIET FOR PSORIASIS
What you eat eventually ends up in your skin. People often eat without a second thought as to the content of their food. Many of our foods today contain chemical and artificial ingredients that can cause allergic reactions and irritate the immune system.
- Keep a diary of your meals, be more attentive to what you eat and your physical and emotional reactions, and soon you will discover whether you have allergic reactions to foods that contribute to your psoriasis. Avoiding these foods can significantly reduce flare-ups.
- Eat a wholesome diet with foods that nourish the skin. Favor broccoli, dandelion greens, mung beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, black beans, lima beans, pinto beans, seaweed, pearl barley, oats, adzuki beans, water chestnuts, winter squash, winter melon, watermelon, carrots, brewer’s yeast, olives, raspberries, papaya, pineapple, cherries, peaches, apples, pears, raisins, and grapes.
- Water is essential for cleansing the body. People who drink at least 80 ounces of water a day tend to have better bowel habits and develop fewer allergic reactions.
- Eliminate processed foods, foods containing artificial additives, bleached white flour, sugars, soft drinks, and spicy, deep-fried, and greasy foods.
- Eliminate all animal foods, including meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, and shellfish, as well as highly allergenic foods such as wheat, corn, tomatoes, eggplant, peanuts, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, citrus fruits, and some soy products.
HOME REMEDIES FOR PSORIASIS
- Soak in a sulfur bath or hot spring for 20 minutes regularly to help the skin heal, or if that isn’t possible, soak in a warm Epsom salt bath for 20 minutes nightly until skin improves.
- Peel and slice 15 water chestnuts and place in a nonmetallic pot with 1 cup of rice vinegar. Slowly simmer for 20 minutes to allow the chestnuts to absorb the vinegar. Remove from the heat and let cool, drain the excess vinegar, and mash the chestnuts into a paste. Seal in a jar to store. Apply this solution with a loofah sponge and lightly scrub to thin out the thick patches of skin once a day.
- Boil 1 cup each of pearl barley and mung beans with 8 cups of water and drink 3 cups of the water every day. You should also eat the solids.
- Detoxify: some people benefit from a one-week cleansing diet based on our Tao of Wellness Cleansing and Detoxification Program, which includes fresh vegetables juice and broths, herbal therapy, body brushing, Tui Na lymphatic massage, acupuncture, cupping, far infrared sauna, and mind-body exercises.
DAILY VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR PSORIASIS
- GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid; 450 milligrams) taken daily can help regulate inflammatory response. Evening primrose oil and borage oil are good sources of GLA.
- Omega-3 fatty acids (1,000 milligrams EPA; 800 milligrams DHA) from fish and flaxseeds are also helpful.
- Vitamins B12 (200 micrograms), folate (400 micrograms), vitamin E (800 IU), zinc (50 milligrams), selenium (100 micrograms), and quercetin (500 milligrams) taken before meals help treat psoriasis.
- Taking probiotics (3 to 5 billion organisms) can help remove toxic substances and regulate immune response.
HERBAL THERAPY FOR PSORIASIS
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
- Burdock, red clover, licorice, chamomile, and calendula can help support skin health.
- Our Exquisite Skin Chinese herbal formula helps support healthy skin function and reduce itching. It contains siler, caltrop, schizonepetae, astragalus, peony, dong quai, Fo-Ti, rhubarb, licorice, and other Chinese herbs.
- Milk thistle stops the breakdown of substances that contribute to psoriasis and protects the liver. Other herbs helpful for treating psoriasis include yellow dock and sarsaparilla.
- For topical relief from itching, mix 10 drops of Tonic Oil (containing wintergreen, eucalyptus, menthol, and other herbs) with fresh aloe vera gel and apply liberally and frequently.
CLEANSING EXERCISE FOR PSORIASIS
Stress and anxiety can make psoriasis worse and possibly trigger outbreaks. I recommend that you include stress reduction exercises in your regular workout routine. Tai chi and qi gong are great for reducing stress and calming the emotions. 
The General Cleansing Qi Gong exercise that follows can help with circulation and promote the opening of the pores. Do this exercise indoors and not too vigorously.
Sit comfortably or lie down on your back. Slow your respiration to deep, abdominal breathing.
Say the word “calm” in your mind with every exhalation. You’ll be visualizing the relaxation of a body part and releasing tension with every exhalation. Trace the following 3 pathways outlined below.
- Start at the top of your head. Inhale, and then exhale and visualize your scalp muscles relaxing. Say “calm” in your mind. Repeat this, saying the word with each body part as you move down through your face, throat, chest, abdomen, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet. When you’ve relaxed your feet, visualize all the tension in your body leaving through your toes in the form of dark smoke.
- Next, start at the temple region of your head. This pathway focuses on the sides and upper extremities. Inhale, and then exhale while visualizing your temple muscles relaxing. Say the word “calm” in your mind. Repeat this, saying the word with each body part as you move down through your jaw, the sides of your neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands. Once you’ve relaxed your hands, visualize all the tension leaving your body through your fingertips in the form of dark smoke.
- The final pathway begins at the back of your head. This pathway relaxes the back of your body. Repeat the breathing visualization- word routine, as above, as you go from the back of your neck to your upper back, middle back, lower back, back of thighs, calves, and heels. Then focus on the acupoint Bubbling Spring (KID-1), on the soles of your feet, for 1 minute.
Practice this exercise for at least 15 minutes twice a day.
SELF-ACUPRESSURE FOR PSORIASIS
- Locate the acupoint Wind Pond (GB-20), in the natural indentation at the base of your skull on either side of your neck. Press and lift up toward the base of your skull with your thumbs and lean your head back. Use the weight of your head against your thumbs for a steady pressure. Hold for 5 minutes, breathing deeply and slowly.
- Find the acupoint Valley of Harmony (LI-4), in the web between your right thumb and index finger. Apply steady pressure with your left thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the left hand.
PSORIASIS: WHAT TO AVOID
- Exposure to temperature changes, cold or hot water, and detergents.
- Exposure to excess sunlight with strong UVA rays, as it can trigger psoriasis. (Small amounts of sun are helpful.)
- Dehydration and constipation, and keep your skin moist.
- Caffeine , nicotine, and Alcohol, which are irritants that can worsen psoriasis.
- Stress, anxiety, and emotional upsets, which can initiate flare-ups of psoriasis.
- Behrendt, M. 1998. Reduction of psoriasis in a patient under network spinal analysis care: a case report. J. Vertebr. Sublux. Res. 2(4):196-200.
- Blumenthal, M., ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine, 1998, 169-70.
- Cummings, S., and D. Ullman. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. 3rd ed. New York: Putnam, 1997, 227, 319-20, 345-46.
- Ergil, K.V. Medicines from the Earth: Protocols for Botanical Healing. Harvard, MA: Gaia Herbal Research Institute, 1996, 207-11.
- Gruenwald, J., T. Brendler, and C. Jaenicke, et al., eds. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 903-04, 1114, 1157.
- Jonas, W.B., and J. Jacobs. Healing with Homeopathy: The Doctors' Guide. New York: Warner,1996, 263-65.
- Ni, M. Self Healing Qi Gong Video. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1992.
- Ni, M., and C. McNease. The Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1987.
- Syed, T.A., et al. 1996. Management of psoriasis with aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: a placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Trap. Med. Int. Health 1:505-09.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Read Secrets of Self-Healing: Harness Nature's Power to Heal Common Ailments ...
By Maoshing Ni