The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Report on psoriasis shows concern about a lack of awareness of health professionals. Based on the 2016 report, WHO points out that an insufficient number of health professionals causes a lack of specialist support to general practitioners, who are the frontline providers of health care. This lack of adequate training of general practitioners and other health-care providers results in a low awareness of psoriasis (WHO, 2015). The outcome for the unfortunate psoriasis patient is under-diagnosis and ineffective therapy.
For the seasoned psoriasis patient, the range of conventional treatment options available to us from our general practitioner or dermatologist are not only limited, but also expose us to long term toxic risk. Don’t get me started on smelling like roadworks, or clothing stains right where you don’t want them to be.
The WHO created a “Model List of Essential Medicines” in 2015, dedicating a section specifically to psoriasis, which includes a small number of topical and systemic treatments. The pharmaceutical psoriasis treatment options from this list shed light on how deep in the dark ages we still are:
Anti-inflammatory and antipruritic medicines
Betamethasone cream or ointment
Hydrocortisone cream or ointment
Medicines affecting skin differentiation and proliferation
Coal tar solution
Salicylic acid solution
Let’s talk more about toxicity from some of these synthetic psoriasis treatments. John Hopkins University recently conducted a review of 498 patients treated with high-dose methotrexate and revealed 29 drug-related deaths among these patients. Methotrexate, when used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis has been linked to at least 7 deaths in Australia since 2000 due to incorrect dosage. The Medical Journal of Australia found these deaths occurred because of incorrect or accidental over dosage of the drug (Cairns et al., 2015). Topical ointment and solutions also pose a risk as certain chemicals and can be absorbed through the skin.
The good news is that psoriasis won’t kills us, so let’s not allow the drugs to do so. Psoriasis may, however, break our budget. Annual conventional medical treatment costs for psoriasis in the United States are estimated to be somewhere between $1.6 and $3.2 billion.
The need exists for more effective treatment options with fewer side effects.
One such option is medical nutritional therapy. Although medical associations do not promote a single, specific diet for psoriasis, researchers have reported the effect on psoriasis of modifying various aspects of the diet. Strong scientific evidence exists that shows improvement in psoriasis for a gluten-free diet; some scientific evidence exists for a vegan diet, rice diet, and supplementation with fish oil and vitamin D; and weak scientific evidence exists for a low protein diet, fasting, and supplementation with evening primrose oil, taurine, and zinc sulfate.
So before you stock up on a complex batch of medications and supplements, let’s remember the first hint of good practice from Hippocrates, the father of medicine himself, “first do no harm”. This may mean a trip to a fresh produce market instead.
Love and clear skin
World Health Organisation (2015) World Health Organization. Available at: http://www.who.int/selection_medicines/committees/expert/20/EML_2015_FINAL_amended_AUG2015.pdf?ua=1,accessed17%2520October%25202015 (Accessed: 18 November 2016).
Cairns, R., Brown, J.A., Lynch, A.-M., Robinson, J., Wylie, C. and Buckley, N.A. (2015) Medical Journal of Australia. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2016/204/10/decade-australian-methotrexate-dosing-errors (Accessed: 10 November 2016).
Brown, PhD, RD; Michelle Hairfield, PhD; Douglas G. Richards, PhD; David L. McMillin, MA; Eric A. Mein, MD; Carl D. Nelson, DC, A C, 2004. Medical Nutrition Therapy as a Potential Complementary Treatment for Psoriasis – Five Case Reports. Case Report – Psoriasis, Volume 9, Number 3, 297-307.