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Intro to Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin condition and is estimated to currently affect roughly 8 million Americans according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Worldwide the estimate is that 125 million people are afflicted with the disease. However, these numbers are generally considered to underestimate the disease as many psoriasis sufferers hide their disease.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin condition that causes rapid skin cell reproduction resulting in the thickening, flaking, scaling of the skin. The dry flakes and skin scales are a result of this rapid build up of skin cells. Psoriatic skin is replaced every 2-3 days opposed to non-sufferers whose skin replaces itself about once every 30 days. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.

There are 6 types of skin psoriasis and various forms of psoriatic arthritis which are characterized below:

Common Vulgaris: This type of psoriasis is characterized by small, plaque spots that are raised on the skin. They are quite noticeable and are often picked at by sufferers.

Guttate: This type of psoriasis is characterized by small, red dots on small to large areas of the skin. The spots are usually very red but usually do not flake.

Flexural: This type of psoriasis is usually found in the armpits and groin area and is characterized by itchy, inflamed, red skin but does not have scaling.

Pustular: This is a rare form of psoriasis characterized by lesions that ooze with pus. It is commonly found on the hands and the heels.

Erythrodermic: This type of psoriasis usually covers a majority to all of the body. The sufferers skin can be red from head to toe. Additionally, the itching, scaling and flaking of this condition can be almost unbearable.

Exfoliative: This is generally considered the worst form of psoriasis as the entire skin is inflamed, scaling and flaking. This severe, and rare, form of psoriasis can take the life of the sufferer within 24 months of becoming widespread on the body.

Psoriatic Arthritis: Physicians recognize a number of different forms of psoriatic arthritis. Most people develop psoriatic arthritis between ages 35–45. In some patients, the arthritic symptoms will affect the small joints at the ends of the fingers and toes. In others, symptoms will affect joints on one side of the body but not on the other. In addition, there are patients whose larger joints on both sides of the body simultaneously become affected. Some people with psoriatic arthritis experience arthritis symptoms in the back and spine. In many patients, symptoms of psoriasis precede the arthritis symptoms; a clue to possible joint disease is pitting and other changes in the fingernails.

The exact cause of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis remains unknown. There may be a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. The immune system is thought to play a major role. Today, through the National Psoriasis Foundation, the Victor Henschel Bio Bank is providing opportunities for the leading research scientists in the world to study psoriasis blood samples for free.

Symptoms range from mild psoriasis (small scaling and red skin patches) to very severe psoriasis where virtually the entire body is fully covered with flaking, scaling and red skin.

Psoriasis is considered a non-curable, long-term chronic skin condition. It has a variable course, periodically improving and worsening. It is common for psoriasis to clear for months at a time and then suddenly return. Sunlight and the ocean are known to help sufferers. Popular destinations for psoriasis sufferers include the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and the Dead Sea in Israel. Additionally, Thalassotherapy and Balneotherapy spas are gaining in popularity among European psoriasis sufferers.

Sufferers with moderate to severe psoriasis can suffer from social embarrassment, stress, emotional distress, and other personal issues because of the appearance of their skin.

Psoriatic Arthritis is associated with joint problems and occurs in about 30% of  psoriasis sufferers. The diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is typically made by a physician examination, medical history, and relevant family history.

In some cases, joint pains maybe the only sign of the disorder with completely clear skin. Sufferers may have inflammation of any joints (arthritis), although the joints of the hands, knees, and ankles tend to be most commonly affected. Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory, destructive form of arthritis and is treated with medications to stop the disease progression.

Due to the chronic nature of psoriasis, it is important that sufferers learn as much as they can about the disease and figure out a way to manage their symptoms. There is no blanket diet or management system that works for everyone. One of the many reasons Adam Grossman founded The Seaweed Bath Co. was to create a way for psoriasis sufferers to bring new alternative healing treatment to the mass market. However, external healing products are only half of the solution. Diet plays a major role.

Diet’s effect on Psoriasis and Eczema

Based upon common dietary knowledge, if your body chemistry is too acidic, you should eat more alkaline foods. You can test your acid/alkaline balance by using simple litmus paper.  If your urine is under +7, you may be too acidic. Each psoriasis sufferer is different and therefore each person’s skin will react differently to a change in diet. It may be helpful for you.

When food is metabolized by the body the end products are either acidic or alkaline. Acids are compounds of elements, which give away hydrogen ions, alkaline are compounds of elements which attract hydrogen ions. The body needs both acids and alkalines for its metabolism but we have more difficulty getting rid of acids than alkalines. It is therefore easy for an accumulation of excess acids to occur which can cause us to get rheumatism or skin problems such as psoriasis. To avoid this, some dieticians recommend aiming for a diet which is 70% alkaline and 30% acid.

The following table of alkaline / acidity was developed by the Ragnar Berg of Sweden in the 1930's.

ALKALINE (+)

 

ACID (-)

 

Cucumber

+31

Rice with husks

-51

Dried Figs

+28

Bran

-39

Raisins

+16

Whole Wheat

-38

Dried Rose Hips

+15

Oat Flakes

-30

Tomatoes

+14

Eggs

-23

Lettuce

+14

Rye Bread

-22

Mandarin oranges

+12

Meat of all kinds

-10 to -19

Celery

+11

Fish of all kinds

-10 to -19

Oranges

+10

Whole Rye

-17

Carrots

+10

Cheese

-17

Lemons

+10

Cottage Cheese

-17

Leeks

+9

Peanuts

-15

Endive

+9

Asparagus

-14

Spinach

+9

Corn

-14

Gooseberries

+9

Rice, polished

-11

Chives

+8

Wheat Bread

-11

Buckwheat

+8

Soya Beans

-10

Millet

+8

Rye Crispbread

-9

Grapes, Dried Dates

+7

Brussel Sprouts

-9

Bananas

+7

Wheat Flour

-8

Potatoes, peeled

+7

Brown Beans

-8

Blackberries

+7

Butter

-6

Plums

+6

Yellow Peas

-4

Cabbages

+5

Green Beans

-4

Apricots

+5

Margarine

-4

Peaches

+5

Artichokes

-4

Blueberries

+4

Almonds, Hazel

-1

Black Currants

+4

 

 

Milk

+4

 

 

Apples, Pears, Cherries

+3

 

 

Onions

+3

 

 

Strawberries

+2

 

 

The more -, the more acidic the food is.           
The more +, the more alkaline. 0 is balanced

Any severe change in diet should be done in consultation with a registered dietician or physician.  If you experience any health problems from a change in diet, contact a physician immediately.