Article by Angela Haldane

Q. My father and I both suffer from psoriasis. We would love to be able to improve our skin.

A. Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease in which itchy, scaly red patches form on the elbows, forearms, knees, legs or scalp. The underlying cause of psoriasis is excessive skin cell growth – the cells pile up and cause lesions.

Some theories argue that it is due to incomplete protein digestion arising from low levels of stomach acid. It is also thought elevated homocysteine or copper levels, or excessive activity of phospholipase A2 in the skin may exacerbate psoriasis. Poor clearance of toxins and waste products, due to an under-functioning liver or kidneys can also contribute to psoriasis. Your doctor can order blood tests to determine these factors.

When gluten is removed from the diet of psoriasis patients, their condition generally improves, so it may be a factor. I would recommend an allergy test to determine the food intolerances (read more about this under the 'about' section of this website).

Stress, alcohol consumption, excessive dietary fats, aspirin and tobacco smoking have also all been associated with exacerbating psoriasis.

Combat stress with time management – plan some fun, and exercise. You can also try de-stressing herbal medicines such as the Stress Less formula available on this website, B complex vitamins and magnesium. Do the mineral assessment online (under the about section).

I would recommend a naturopathic consultation in which herbal medicine and a healthy lifestyle plan can be tailored to correct the factors exacerbating your psoriasis.