Psoriasis is no joke. It is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that can cause psoriatic lesions on the elbows, knees, trunk, and scalp.
Unfortunately, stress and psoriasis seem to be closely linked.
Psoriasis patients often report that their condition worsens when under a lot of emotional stress. At the same time, psoriasis can also take an emotional toll because it’s such a stigmatizing visible condition. It’s a cruel cycle.
Inflammation is your body’s response to stress.
If you have a cut, scrape, or infection, your immune system goes on the defensive by sending the chemicals that cause inflammation to heal the wound.
If you have psoriasis, your immune system goes into overdrive.
The same is true for emotional stress.
Usually, when people without psoriasis feel stressed, their body reacts by releasing fight-or-flight stress hormones, like cortisol, epinephrine, and nor-epinephrine.
But, people dealing with psoriasis, for some unknown reason, don’t produce as much cortisol as a result of stress. They do, however, produce epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. As a matter of fact, psoriatic patients may produce more epinephrine and nor-epinephrine in response to stress than non-psoriatic patients. Lower cortisol levels, and higher epinephrine and nor-epinephrine, create a perfect environment for inflammation.
More inflammation means worse psoriasis flare-ups.
Unfortunately, because psoriasis is attached to such stigma, it can be cause stress of its own. Flare-ups are often mistaken by onlookers as something contagious. As a result, many patients feel self-conscious about their appearance and have felt discriminated against.
That’s not all! Managing the cost of medications can also be incredibly stressful. Even the anxiety caused by a new flare-up can exacerbate that flare-up even more. It’s crucial to treat psoriasis from a multidisciplinary perspective, looking not only at treating the inflammatory pathways involved in the condition with biologics and other clinical drugs but monitoring your mental health too.
Learning how to manage stress is an essential part of managing psoriasis. Find out what relieves your stress and do it, whether it be meditating, exercising, working in the garden, or taking a walk.
A study published in JAMA Dermatology in August 2018 focused on the relationship between diet and psoriasis. The researchers concluded that “adults with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis can supplement their standard medical therapies with dietary interventions to reduce disease severity.”
So, what are the foods and natural remedies known to fight psoriasis?
We’re glad you asked.
A Mediterranean-type diet, rich in healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, is known to help fight inflammation. It includes foods such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, fish like salmon and lake trout, some meat or dairy from grass-fed animals, and fresh vegetables and fruits low on the glycemic index, like berries.
Also, fish oil, vitamin D, milk thistle, aloe vera, Oregon grape, turmeric, and evening primrose oil have all been reported to help ease mild symptoms of psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
As of today, there is no cure for psoriasis, but it can be managed. A healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and protecting your mental health can all reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of flare-ups.
Dealing with psoriasis is all about prevention and lifestyle. Take care of yourself and you’ll have the best results possible.