For people with psoriasis, suffering from painful symptoms like inflamed, flaking and red skin is not pleasant. The chronic skin condition is due to an overactive immune system that can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors. Many Western treatments include steroid creams and oral medications that come with a slew of unwanted side effects.
Below are alternative treatments that are safe and natural and can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis, leading you back to better health.
1. Herbal Remedies
● Aloe Vera: The gel from this cactus plant can be used generously on your skin to reduce redness and scaling caused by psoriasis. Aloe vera can be found in almost any grocery or health store.
● Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is thought to have antiseptic properties. It can sooth irritated skin or scalp and can be applied daily.
● Turmeric: Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Because of this, turmeric has been found to reduce psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flares. Turmeric can be found in pill form as well as powder form to be added to food.
● Dead Sea Salts: Soaking in a bath with Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts can remove scaly skin and reduce itching. It is recommended that you use warm water and stay in the tub for 15 minutes.
Mindfulness and meditation practices have been found to be effective in people suffering with chronic pain like psoriasis.
Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on the moment and ridding yourself of all external thoughts you may be having. This can lead to a state of relaxation and calmness, bringing balance to your body and mind.
Mindfulness, which is practiced in meditation, includes becoming completely aware of your body, externally and internally. This can be a seated meditation that is focused on awareness of mind, body and senses.
Not only is exercise important to maintain overall health and wellness, it is especially beneficial for people with psoriasis.
Because people with psoriasis have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, regular exercise can prove very helpful.
Many find it hard to exercise because of the chronic pain associated with psoriasis. Exercise programs in the water prove to be an effective alternative that is easier on the body and still allows you to build endurance and strength.
Other simple ways to fit more exercise into your day include short walks, taking the stairs and stretching.
Seeing a licensed massage therapist can help reduce symptoms and pain. Massage promotes the function of muscle and connective tissue and can increase relaxation and circulation in the body.
Acupuncture has been proven to be effective in minimizing chronic pain in patients. Acupuncture takes a holistic approach with the body and symptoms you may be experiencing. By returning the body to its natural flow, acupuncture can help reduce the intensity of symptoms of psoriasis.
● Soak a towel in cold milk and apply to affected area to relieve itching.
● Add ½ cup ground oatmeal into a warm bath.
● Rub the affected area with the inner side of a banana peel.
● Apply aloe vera gel to affected area.
● Cut several fresh willow branches into 3-inch stems and place in a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until water becomes black. Wash affected areas with the water three times daily.
● Slice 15 water chestnuts and soak in 3 oz. of rice vinegar crush and store in a sealed jar. Apply the paste to affected area and cover with gauze. Change daily.
With autumn approaching and the beginning of the yin cycle, the energy of plants is moving down into their roots, helping the body become aware of the energy of the season. This season is a time for the body to begin gathering energy for the colder months to come.
The lungs and large intestine are the organs associated with fall. The lungs are responsible for the circulation of Qi (the body’s natural flow and circulation), and are also very susceptible to cold and illness. For this reason, it is important to stay healthy and warm during the season. If the Qi circulation is weakened, muscles will not be able to warm the body properly.
Vegetables of autumn like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can help purify and protect your body against free radicals. These color-rich vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune system, especially as the cold and flu season rolls in. These vegetables can also strengthen your lungs and large intestine to fight illness.
Vegetables to cook with:
● winter squash
● turnip greens
Autumn weather becomes more yin, calling for warming dishes. Foods to cook that are in harmony with the season include more sour foods, as well as foods rich in protein and fats.
Sour/pungent foods to cook with:
● sourdough bread
● adzuki beans
● rosehip tea
● horseradishSome find it hard to let go of summer, with the longer days and warm air transitioning into the crisp and shorter days of fall. Acupuncture not only helps the body physically, but mentally as well. Fall is a great time to see an acupuncturist as your body and mind adapt to the changing of the season.
Give your acupuncturist a visit to prepare for the new season ahead and to stay in good health!
“Practical Chinese Medicine” Penelope Ody
A Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) doctor and a western medical doctor perceive the body somewhat differently. Each organ according to TCM has its own set of functions. Some overlap with the western functions, and some are entirely different.
One thing that is important to think about, is that when an acupuncturist talks about your organs, they are talking about them in terms of the way they were trained to make a diagnosis. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something biologically wrong. It means that according to the ways an acupuncturist was trained, that particular organ could be part of the overall pattern that is leading to specific symptoms and signs.
According to TCM, one of the main functions of the spleen is to transform and transport energy and fluids from food. When your spleen is healthy it sends excess fluid up to the lungs, where it will be vaporized and expelled.
The energy of the stomach is descending in nature so excess fluid and food waste will be sent downwards to the excretion organs. If stomach energies rebel, the energy moves upwards instead of downwards, causing nausea, vomiting and excess gas.
When the energy of the spleen is weak instead of ascending the Qi (or vital life source according to TCM) sinks downwards resulting in lethargy, excess dampness and phlegm - and in extreme cases, prolapse of organs.
Stress, overactive liver, illness and pregnancy are all potential causes for stomach Qi ascending.
Things like overthinking, excessive work habits, and even eating while working, are potential causes of spleen Qi sinking.
Stomach 36 - Zusanli
The stomach and spleen are also responsible for powering the muscles. So, to maintain physical strength, I will often use acupuncture point Stomach 36 in the treatment room!
It’s just below your knee. It’s known to treat digestive issues, it can support your immune health and even expel “pathogens” from the body. I had a teacher in acupuncture school who used to burn stomach 36, he would take moxa herb and actually burn and scar the acupuncture point Stomach 36 (ST-36) every winter so that the point is continuously activated, fighting off pathogens all through the cold and flu season. ST-36 is also great for fatigue.
Zusanli is the chinese name for this point, the translation means ‘leg three miles’. If you're running and you've run out of muscle power you can massage point ST-36 and get another three miles. This point is all around an amazing point for overall well being.
When you’re feeling tired and fatigued - even if you have brain fog, another acupuncture point Spleen 3 (SP-3). This point can be used in conjunction with ST-36.
An acupuncturists super-simple guide to keep your spleen strong
Avoid damp, sugary, greasy, cold foods. Eat warm, dry foods, herbs, warm drinks. You do not need to worry about this too much in the summertime, but always be mindful about warming the digestion and stoking the digestive fire. You don't want to dilute the digestive fire by adding too much yin, water, and too much dampness. Your digestion is the first point of generation of your physical chi, for your body, for your mind, for your life and for your dreams.
You may also have an imbalance of these acupuncture organ systems if you answer yest to any of hte questions below:
● Do you get sweet cravings?
● Have you got any food insensitivities?
● Do you get bloated after meals?
● Do you find it difficult to get up in the morning?
● Do you have physical or mental fatigue?
● Do you get loose stools?
If you have at least two or three of the above I would highly recommend the suggestions above - and a visit to your acupuncturist. Give us a call and we’ll see if we can strengthen that spleen of yours.
● Rots and ripens food
● Origin of fluids
● Produce blood from the energy of your food - lack of energy can be a sign that your spleen is out of balance.
● Controls the blood vessels, and it’s been thought to prevent hemorrhage and bruising - If you bruise easily it's a sign that your spleen is a little bit weak.
● Helps prevent your organs “upright”, and from prolapsing - prolase according to TCM is thought to stem from a spleen disturbance.
● Houses clear thinking - so if your spleen is out of balance, your thoughts may not be as clear and your thinking muddled.
● control of muscles - weak muscles and atrophy can be a reflection of an imbalance.
Balancing a busy schedule can be stressful, especially if there’s no time to relax and decompress. While burying yourself in work may seem normal, it can lead to burnout and unfulfillment. That’s why self care should be an important part of your daily routine, no matter how busy you are. Practicing self care doesn’t need to be time consuming or expensive, and there are simple ways to incorporate it into your daily routine. Here are a few ways to start.
An important part of self care is focusing on your needs, which means setting personal boundaries so you don’t overextend yourself. While work and other professional obligations are mandatory, what additional tasks take up your time? Are there unnecessary duties you can eliminate from your schedule? The answer is probably yes.
Although you might want to do everything, learn how to say no to certain social events, favors, and commitments. Think about your personal needs and what will make you feel best. Determine if these extra tasks will benefit you or give you satisfaction, and if not, kindly decline them to make more time for yourself. Setting social boundaries will free up your busy schedule and allow you to be more present for the events that really matter.
Something as simple as reducing the clutter around your home can do wonders for your mental health. The state of your home can reflect how you feel, so if your home or workspace is unorganized, you might feel the same way. Although your home might be messy because you’re too busy, getting organized doesn’t doesn’t need to be a huge hassle.
Organizing your space might mean making your bed each morning, putting away laundry, or simply picking up trash around the house. Tidying up your home a little bit each day can make the stress and clutter in your life seem more manageable and create a positive tone for the day. The visual representation of organization and cleanliness can also make you feel more accomplished and relieve additional stress.
Along with physically cleaning your space, organizing your thoughts can also be an effective way to destress and practice self care. Throughout the day, try to mentally check in with yourself to assess how you’re feeling. If you feel tired or burnt out, it’s probably time to take a break and decompress. Another way to organize your thoughts is to start journaling. Writing down your feelings, both positive and negative, can put things into perspective and allow you to self-reflect.
Exercise is known for reducing stress and boosting your mood which is why it’s one of the best ways to practice self care. Working out can also give you more energy, meaning it can help you be more productive with your busy schedule.
Although working out may seem time consuming, there are easy ways to incorporate physical activity into your schedule. Even if you only have 30 minutes to spare each day, you can take a quick walk to clear your mind and stretch your legs. However, if you prefer more traditional workouts, try going to fitness classes or doing home workouts.
Luckily, there are more ways than ever to stay active from home, and home workouts are much easier to incorporate into a hectic schedule since there’s no commute. If you don’t have a workout space, consider creating a home gym so you can choose what machines, weights, and equipment work best for your needs. Building a custom workout space also allows you to create a meditation or yoga area and include any other features that’ll help you make the most of your self care time. While this may seem like a large project, this space is an investment in you, your health, and your home. If you’re not sure where to start, research ways to utilize your home’s equity for financial assistance and examine areas of your home to renovate. Home equity loans are especially helpful for this type of upgrade as you can deduct the interest when used for home improvements and can use the money however you want.
Most people think they don’t have enough time for self care, but you just need to make time for it as you would any other priority in your life. Dedicate time for yourself each week and make it a commitment. Treat your self care time as you would a meeting or appointment and schedule it into your calendar to keep you organized and accountable.
Even if you only have 15 – 30 minutes each day, start there and work your way up. Remember, it’s better to practice self care everyday in short amounts rather than once in a while for an extended period of time. Doing something special for yourself frequently will help make self care a habit, similar to brushing your teeth each morning. Adding this time in gradually will also prevent your self care from feeling like a chore or another stressful task on your to-do list. Once you get used to doing this regularly, you can start including more time into your schedule.
When you get a headache what does it feel like? Is it dull, nagging, aching and lasts all day? Is it sharp, stabbing, throbbing and short-lived?
Where is your pain located? Does it feel like a tight headband going from your forehead to the back of your head? Maybe into your neck? Is it on one side? Behind your eyes? Do you feel it at your temples or near your jawline?
Do you feel better when you lie down in a dark room and recuperate? Does eating a snack or a meal help? Conversely, do you feel better when you get out and take a walk or does eating a greasy meal make your headache worse or even bring it on?
In Eastern Medicine, the answers to these questions help to define and diagnose the type of headache you experience based on pain, location and whether your headache is a manifestation of a deficient or excess state.
Excess vs Deficiency
Excess conditions tend to be more intense and acute while deficient conditions tend to be more dull, nagging and chronic. If your symptoms are better with rest, your headache is likely due to deficiency because you are easily depleted. If your symptoms are better with exercise or movement, your headaches are likely due to an excess state and you need to burn off energy.
In Eastern Medicine, when we diagnose a deficient state we tonify or nourish the imbalance, in an excess state we quell or calm the overactivity. We have several tools we use to bring the body back to balance. The main tools are acupuncture, nutrition and botanicals.
One of the best ways to get immediate relief from a headache is to find a qualified, licensed acupuncturist in your area and get acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is when tiny needles are inserted at specific locations that correspond to your pain. Many acupuncturists specialize in headaches and love treating them because acupuncture often provides on-the-spot relief and people leave the acupuncturist’s office headache-free. Regular acupuncture can also prevent headaches from occurring in the first place and many people end up getting regular treatments once or twice a month to keep their headaches completely away.
Eastern medicine has been treating headaches with nutritional recommendations for thousands of years. First, it is good to identify if you are more prone to a stress or tension headache if you have missed meals or are feeling hungry. This type of headache means there is a deficiency occurring and the body needs energy in order to nourish itself and prevent a headache.
Many people are busy at work or on their computer focusing for hours and they are not paying attention to their hunger. This is a sign of a deficient-type headache.
It is also possible to experience a headache after eating foods that do not agree with your constitution. For example, if your headache pain comes with brain fog or muzzy feeling in the head, it is best to avoid sugary or fried foods and aim for healthy options.
Acupuncturists are also trained in what foods are best for what type of headache you are experiencing and can counsel you on how to change your meals to prevent headaches.
Chinese Medicinals (Botanicals)
There are many formulas in the vast Chinese Medicinal Pharmacy that are used for headaches. A licensed acupuncturist has undergone many years of training in this pharmacopoeia and can prescribe a formula that will bring homeostasis to an excess or deficient constitution. These formulas are often individualized to each person’s constitution with great precision or there are common formulas used that are also very effective.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.