Podcast 073: Herbs for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune inflammatory skin problem. Problems like this are complex, because they don’t hinge on a single genetic anomaly or chemical imbalance in the body. This makes them difficult for conventional medicine to solve, but holistic healing methods are exactly what’s needed here! We can work through multiple interventions, including diet changes and herbs for psoriasis, to reduce inflammation and restore healthy skin.
In this podcast we talk first about major contributing factors to psoriasis (and inflammatory skin conditions like it, such as eczema). Then we discuss some simple supplements, diet additions, and eliminations that can make a big difference in your overall inflammatory burden. Reducing this means your skin doesn’t get so irritated! Finally we talk about herbs you can work with, topically on the skin as well as internally, to reduce inflammation, move lymph, and relieve the itching too.
If you’d like to learn how to work with herbs to take care of yourself & your family, try out our Herbal Medicine for Beginners course! It’s a quick, inexpensive way to meet 35 of the most important medicinal herbs. We share all our favorite ways to work with them, so you’ll be preparing your own home remedies in no time. Our zero-risk return policy means you can try it out with no pressure, and if you decide it’s not for you, we’ll give you a refund. Easy!
Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
Hi, I’m Katja.
And I’m Ryn.
We’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.
And on the Internet everywhere. Thanks to the power of podcasts. Yeah. This episode we’re going to talk about psoriasis, which is a pretty troublesome scaling problem.
I mean it can vary of course, but lots of people have to deal with this and we would like to help you. Lots of people
But before we started on that, we just need to say we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.
The ideas we discussed on our podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or Federal Authority licenses herbalists in the United States where we live. And so these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everyone’s body is different. So the things we’re talking about might or might not apply directly to you, but they will give you some information to think about and to research further.
We want to remind you that good health is your own personal responsibility. So the final decision and considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by your physician is always yours.
Yeah. Okay. And let’s get to our, our shout outs for the week too.
Yeah. We have a few shout outs today. First to two of our new monthly supporters, Tanya and Charles. Thank you guys so much.
Thank you. Yeah. We want to give stuff to our supporters.
We like to do that.
We like to send you gifts every week, right in your inbox. We make a new video for you that we only send out to our podcasts supporters. And right now we are in the midst of a month of videos dedicated to improving the quality of your sleep and helping with sleep problems.
Yeah. Yeah. We’ve got all kinds of good ideas.
I think this next week’s one is going to be some thoughts around the connections between movement and sleep.
Yeah. Yeah. So that’ll be really fun. We’ve done a bunch of different things so far and we would be happy to take requests from our supporters too. But we want to make sure that every week you have a fun video just for you that will give you some tips that are easy to work on right now to make your health better, make your life better, make your day a little easier to get through.
Yeah. And when you sign up to be a supporting member for the podcast and for really all of our efforts, you get instant access to all the videos we’ve already made and just start receiving the new ones every week.
Yeah. And that money that our supporters contribute goes towards not just keeping the podcast on the air, but also to things like scholarships for single moms of color, a scholarship that we’ve provided right now to a young blind man who is doing some amazing work in his community. And also our program for incarcerated students and a lot of other cool stuff that you can see described on our webpage, commonwealthherbs.com/supporters.
Yeah. So check it out.
Hey, we have some other shout outs.
We do indeed.
One to Sylvia who got inspired to pursue herbalism as a career after listening to 30 episodes of our podcast in one week.
Wow that’s a record.
Yeah. We love that this country needs more herbalists and we’re super excited to hear that Sylvia wants to be one of them. And also she left us a lovely review on iTunes. Thank you.
And also Justkitten also left us a lovely review and we really appreciate it because the reviews that you leave help other listeners find the podcast because of secret algorithm magic that, I dunno,
I choose to believe that this is not just a kitten, but rather a kitten who embodies justice.
I love that.
Things will be all right.We choose that.
Okay. We also have a shout out to Cassandra who loves the pod and was excited to bring her dad to free clinic to show him that there’s more to herbalism. Then he thought that was really great. It was nice to meet you. And I hope that what we sent y’all home with was helpful and possibly even tasty.
Amanda sent in a request for a show on pcos, which seems like a great idea. Thank you.
Yup. And a Tasha from Devin in the UK also is interested in herbs to support the endocrine system. So I think there’s a bit of a theme coming around here.
Yeah I think so too.
Those issues come up a lot.
Renz in the Netherlands was asking about some substitutes for the rooted and ready blend that we talked about in the last podcast. Last week’s podcast.
Good Heavens. That feels like so long ago.
Just a week ago.
I know. And that was because some of those herbs aren’t available in the EU, because they regulate certain herbs that.
I think it was the Sassafras also even yellow dock, you can’t get in the EU, which is sort of, you know, surprising. But it does make me remember my gratitude for our relative lack of regulation here in the states. Even though on one hand it can cause some, some sort of cumbersome ness or some difficulties because we have to be careful that we are not entering that space that can be seen as practicing medicine. And it’s important too to be careful around that. I also feel grateful that we are not cut off any of our plants. That for the most part we can, we have access to our herbal plants in this country.
Yes. Especially in Massachusetts.
All right. So we also want to give a shout out and some thanks to everybody on Instagram and Facebook who sent in suggestions for us. We have a ton of new ideas.
Yes, thank you.
And we hope not to leave anybody out. So yeah, we’re going to stack them in. There’s always the weeks where we get seized by the need to expound upon a particular event or another.
Yeah when we’re really inspired about something,
You know, that’ll happen, but don’t worry we’re keeping the list of suggestions.
Yeah we really appreciated it. Well, let’s jump in on psoriasis, which was one of those suggestions. It came from a few different people and like you said, this is something that lots and lots of people deal with. And I think that one of the first things I want to say here is that psoriasis is really challenging. It’s not just challenging to live with but it’s also challenging to work with because it is a situation that has built up over time and literally a lot of people with psoriasis can see that buildup right on their skin because they get these plaques, these sort of toughened thickened layers. And that you know, that’s physiological, but also maybe a little bit metaphorical about, about the way that I’m trying to support your health in this situation is going to be that there’sit’s not always a super quick fix.
If you are a person who is in that place where you’ve got those thick, deep plaques. Then this is going to be something that takes a little while and, and some consistency to work on. So I want to be clear about that from the beginning. I don’t want to be like, oh, this is easy. But on the other hand, it’s not complicated. It just requires consistency. Like that’s the part that’s hard is that when it’s that bad, when it’s that progressed then that the consistency aspect is the most important earlier in the, in the progression, then it, then the results happen faster. But just to, just to sort of start out from the beginning saying this is one that’s going to, you can see the tenacity of the, of the tissue state in the, in that buildup. And so you have to match that with your own tenacity of wanting to work on it. But the cool thing is that all of the stuff that we talk about in terms of supporting your body through psoriasis is also stuff that’s going to support your body in so many awesome ways that it’s worth being consistent with, not just to try to make improvement with the psoriasis, but also it’s going to make improvement in lots of other areas that maybe you didn’t even realize needed improvement.
Yeah. Well, so, right. Yeah. So, first of all, setting expectations like that that’s really helpful and good and useful for, you know, making people not get too frustrated or not give up too easily and that kind of thing, but then also you were coming around to there on the other side, the idea that there are a lot of aspects of this that are, you know, the intervention you want to make to make a change there is going to be good for you anyway, which I’m thinking of as a connection to the idea that this is not like here’s a one problem in your system and we’re going to flip that switch and then it’s going to be fixed up and then you’re all set. This isn’t a problem that really happens in that way. So talking a little bit about what we know about psoriasis or some ways to, to understand what kind of a problem we’ve got here can be helpful.
What Psoriasis Is
We can say that it’s an autoimmune situation that the body or the immune system or some components of the immune system are attacking the skin or inflaming the skin. And so we can also describe this as an inflammatory problem. And you know, this leads to the skin being irritated or agitated, even overstimulated and now it starts over-producing in the skin cells and then they build up and like you say, you know, they can build up into these plaques over time. So knowing that it’s not an immune problem, knowing that it’s an inflammatory problem, those two adjectives give us a lot of information about what we would like to do. What we want to analyze in terms of the person’s holistic health, their. Total way of being around and how that may have contributed to what’s going on for them. And also how we can step back from it. So when we say that something is an autoimmune problem that lets us know that there’s a miscommunication or some signaling errors inside the system,
I think that’s such a really beautiful way to say it. Actually. A lot of times when people have autoimmune conditions, I will hear them describe it as my immune system is attacking me or my body is attacking me. Even, and I feel a little bit like, I feel a lot of sympathy and understanding also as a person with an autoimmune condition, I feel a lot of like solidarity and that kind of statement on one hand.
Right. And I mean, I’ll say thing, I’ll say it that way sometimes. I think I even said earlier, you know, the immune system’s attacking the skin and then, especially in the case of this and really with a lot of autoimmune inflammatory problems, it’s not quite exactly it. Like, it’s not like you’re you know, your pacman white blood cells are like marching up to the skin and like eating away at the tissue. No. It’s more like, oh, your immune systems,inflammatory repertoire has been activated over here and the turn it off signals aren’t getting through somehow. And so there’s a, there’s an uncontrolled fire.
Yeah. And the, and so I think it’s just really lovely to talk about that in terms of miscommunication or misinterpretation also because it’s true. But also,
You know, we like,
But also because if I believe that my immune system is attacking me, I’ve then I’m trapped.
Plus your going to also say, hey, we’re better like dampen that immune system now.
Better get rid of that trader.
Right. But instead if they’re like, there’s not a lot I can do if my immune system is attacking me, I am being attacked. But if there’s a misunderstanding or a miscommunication between parts of my body, well that’s something that like the word misunderstanding or misinterpretation or miscommunication may sound anthropomorphic like in some ways, but it’s not actually like we have some power to influence the way that our body communicates simply by changing our own behaviors that stimulate certain communication patterns within our body. So I feel like to describe it that way is not only accurate, but also way more empowering.
Yeah. It’s funny because if we, I’m just thinking if we excerpted like the last 10 seconds of, of your comment, there would sound really woo like way, way out there. Like, yeah, we just need to harmonize the residents.
Between my organs and my cells.
That’s not actually what I mean. Let me give an example,
And it’s interesting because this is one of those examples where the language swings all the way back around and something that, you know, you’re thinking of psycho neuro Immuno endocrinology over there.
And it’s the closest approximate metaphor that our language will hold right now for us to describe what’s going on.
How Diet can Affect the Body
So a quick example, and we’ll talk more about this in a little bit, but a quick example is that I can change the way that my body interprets inflammatory signals and also identifies inflammatory targets by changing how much sugar I consume.
Because sugar is something that is going to like amplify all of those inflammation communication signals in the body. And so it’s actually not like it’s a very chemical thing that I’m talking about here. It isn’t woo, even though you’re right, it totally does kind of sound that way. But no, I’m really talking about chemistry and physiology and anyway, giving up sugar isn’t super easy, but it’s something that I have the power to do,
Instead of like just, Oh my body’s attacking me I, there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t know. I wouldn’t know what to do about it if I tried, you know?
Right. Yeah. And we can look at that. You can look at the sugar. It’s like an accelerant on fires that already exist.
That’s a great way of saying it.
Yeah. But we can also look at it as one more thing that your body has to cope with right now. And that’s where the, some of the trouble with sugar comes from is that your body can’t just leave it all hanging around because it will be a fire, an accelerant. And your body recognizes that and says, all right, we need to keep some around in the bloodstream and some in the tissues, but we can’t just have this everywhere we go,
No we need to Goldielocks zone.
I’m going to store it in the safe places, right. And do something with it. So that’s where a lot of the trouble comes from. And in that regard, we can look at this in the same way as a lot of other stressors.
The Stressor Bucket
Things that could be good, but maybe we have too much of them or too many all at once. I’m not in the right context or something and they become a problem. And that brings us to the idea of the stressor bucket, which is one of the metaphors we often will use when we’re talking to people who are dealing with a problem like this because problems like this, they emerge over a long period of time. But then even once you have it, and I put up my like scare quotes around there, I have my psoriasis, I carry it around with me everywhere. Okay. Once you have it, then you also have variations from day to day and through the year. And some of those are predictable. Like it tends to get worse in winter and we can talk about why. But also there are going to be days that are really bad in days that are not quite so bad.
And maybe it doesn’t seem like it makes sense to you when you’re just here’s like, I don’t know, it’s bad today, you know, but we, there’s a lot we can do actually to look at, well, why is it bad today? And we can track so much of that back to stress. Not just, you know, your boss was in a bad mood today, but, the stress of I drank a lot last night at a party or I ate a bunch of junk food or sugar or whatever last time or I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Or any of those things can really be a huge factor here. You know, and when we were talking about the sugar, I want to kind of show a little pathway where that crosses over into the stress world because the more sugar that you consume
Or simple refined carbohydrates also
The more insulin that your body needs to create to deal with it. And insulin is a hormone. And the, so what we’re doing when we consume a lot of sugar is we are throwing the balance of insulin, sort of a skew. We are really raising the levels of insulin, which is good. It’s good that our body is able to do it, but it’s higher than what the body really kind of wants those ratios to be at. And if insulin, I like to say the insulin is the most important hormone and I think maybe somebody else might make a case that some other hormone is most important, especially if you have some hormonal dysregulation, you might have an opinion about which hormone is most important. But my reasoning behind insulin being the most important is that if it’s wrong, you die like pretty quickly. It doesn’t take long for.
It’s a strong argument though.
Dysregulated insulin levels to lead to death.
So I think it’s the most important for that reason. But so if I’m mentally in my mind, if I orient my list of hormones with insulin at the top well or at the bottom we can have the foundation, you know, whatever. And suddenly that one is out of whack and it is, it’s really much higher than what the body expects it to be at. Then it just stands to reason that all the other hormones are also going to be, you know, if you imagine like the sliders, like when you’re editing a photograph and like making it lighter or darker or whatever and those little sliders and it affects all of the levels where we slide it. So and since, so you might be like, why are we talking so much about hormones for stress? Because all of our stresses mediated through hormones, through hormone activity. And so right off the bat we are already in the stress mediation. Even before we talk about an inflammation accelerant or any of those things, we’re already in the realm of stress mitigation because when we change our hormonal cascade, then the, our ability to respond to stress is going to be different. Of course, also the body responds to higher levels of insulin with higher levels of cortisol. And you know, all those other things change too
And all those other hormonal cascades come out from that. But you know, this also gets us back to that idea that the stressor bucket, like the concept here is that the more of these you have to deal with well you’ve only got so much room in your body.
Yeah. There’s only so much she can take.
Kind of like when you’re trying to carry stuff from your car into the house and you have like one too many things and you’re like, no, I can make it and then.
I’m just going to juggle it.
Yeah. But then it doesn’t, and you drop the package of blueberries and it pops open and the blueberries go everywhere.
Oh, what a sad story.
Yeah. It’s exactly like that.
Stress and the Environment
So yeah, so the things that go into your stressor bucket, they’re going to be having different pathways of their own for how they end up leading to, you know, more inflammation or less resilience. But there are going to play out through those kinds of networks. Right. So we kind of sketched out one for sugar there. There are certainly others that we could talk about with that substance. But then also other kinds of stressors can also contribute to the sort of underlying an pro inflammatory state and bring it back to the subjects that can make your psoriasis worse. So psychological stress is very well known to exacerbate these things. I think that one is tough too because it’s like a vicious circle. You get caught in, so like you get more stressed out and then your skin feels worse than this,
Then you feel more stressed about your skin.
About your skin and then that goes in the bucket too. And Yeah. So that’s,
I think that one also is pretty good because that one, often people can see. Like if they’ve had a really stressful week at work and they’ve worked way too many hours and whatever, and then they have a psoriasis flare up, that’s one that like, they may not see the connection between the way that they’re eating or how much sleep they got or you might see that. But a lot of people are like tuned in to seeing, I had a super stressful week at work and now having a Psoriasis flare up.
Yeah, yeah. I mean even in some cases infections can, can worsen psoriasis.
Yep. I mean that’s just two. That’s more work for the body to do.
Yeah. Yeah. For your body to cope with. And there’s a long list of pharmaceuticals that can worsen psoriasis. So we won’t dive into that aspect today, but just know that it is a known associates let’s say. And again, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that that drug is irritating my skin directly or that drug is given the auto-immunity. There are drugs capable of doing that, but in in this context, what we’re saying more is there’s a lot of drugs that are associated with worsening the state that leads to psoriasis or worsening the condition once its already present.
So be aware of that.
If you take pharmaceuticals and you’re thinking, whoa, really, can you give me a list? A simple way to handle that is to just Google the drug names that you’re taking and psoriasis and then find, look at the information that you get back and take that to your doctor. And say, Hey, I found that I am taking this drug and I found on the Internet that it can worsen psoriasis and I would like more information about that. Or you can take it to your pharmacist as well. And I’d like more information about that. And if your doctor or your pharmacist confirms that yes, in fact that is one that has that side effect, they may be able to recommend a different one for you. If you just speak up and advocate for yourself and say, Oh hey, this seems to be making my situation worse. Is there something else we can try? Often there is so make sure to speak up and if your doctor isn’t into the idea, then also check with your pharmacist because often they have an idea and then they can communicate with your doctor. Anyway, advocate, advocacy, self advocacy. It’s important is what I’m trying to say.
Yeah. So you know, overload or overflow of your stressor bucket is one of the major things that’s going to be worsening or aggravating psoriasis. But there are some others dryness in general tends to make it worse and that’s both dryness in the environment. But also, and even more more portably I suppose, dryness in your body. So looking at this from a constitutional medicine perspective or a traditional medicine idea, we would say that dryness can show up in lots of different ways, but psoriasis is a skin imbalance that tends to be on that dry side rather than too much fluid stuck in the skin or stuck in the underlayers or anything like this. This is a problem of dry skin that’s very irritated and kind of sticking to itself. So yeah, that’s going to be relevant when we start choosing some of our interventions, including foods that are more oily and moistening and hydrating. And then herbs to help to restore the fluid balance and fluid movement in the body.
And then connects it to that, or at least we tend to connect it to that. Is wintertime is another thing that can worsen psoriasis for lots and lots of people. We kind of did there because you know, here where we live,a lot of the heating systems are really drying to the air. But that’s probably not unique really. I’m trying to think. Moist hot systems. I don’t know.
Well I actually wonder if this is, you know, a very regional thing that maybe in the south where it’s hot,maybe psoriasis gets better in the winter because people might spend more time outdoors in the sun in the like, even though it’s the winter sun, right? Like in the summer they’re indoors all the time with air conditioning. And so that might, I might,
Might be their dry season.
I wonder if that could be their dry season. Yeah,
I mean, and it’s like we have to be, when we say their dry season, we’re not thinking about in this moment for this problem, we’re not thinking about what’s going on outside, but on the environment that the people actually spend time in.
Right. So here in New England, we all have really dry houses because all the heating systems dry everything out in the winter. Plus it’s winter. So we’re indoors. And even if we weren’t indoors, even if we were outdoors and not wearing tons of layers of clothing because it’s cold we’re so far north that the sun exposure is not promoting vitamin D production anyway. So you’re not getting the, the, the therapeutic aspects of sun exposure, although vitamin D is not the only therapeutic aspect, but you’re not getting all of the different wavelengths from the sun in the winter in New England, but further south in the country, they may be getting better.
So beginning. Yeah, it makes sense. So I don’t know, this is just interesting to me is one of those places where I like we do want to be aware of our environment and its effects on people and their constitution. But I have to always remind people like, I mean the one they actually live in and if you do spend all your time outside and you have a cold, moist environment to live in, okay. That’s one thing. But anyway we need to be clear on that part. Yeah. All right. Well. So with the winter time, like you say, it’s not just the dryness, it’s like dependent on, or like that’s part of what comes, but then it’s the light exposure.
Yeah that’s a big one.
It’s such a big deal.
Vitamins and Foods
Yeah. I mean, even when I was a kid, I had pretty bad eczema when I was a kid and you know, like it just got better in the summer. Well, I lived in Texas, I lived outside in the summer when I was a kid. I mean, you know, like mom kicked us out when we were, you know, after breakfast and go out and play, we played outside all day, come home when you’re hungry. And so my skin was always way better in the summer and it was just like, we didn’t talk about, oh, you’re getting vitamin D and like all that stuff. We didn’t talk about that, my family, but everyone was like, oh, it’s summer, it’ll get better, you know?
Yeah. Right. So, yeah. So with the sunlight exposure, right, it is, it is part about vitamin D production and you know, for that aspect you can supplement. We generally if somebody comes in and, and they’re coping with psoriasis and they’re here in this part of the country with us, then we’re going to be advising them to start a vitamin D supplement. If they don’t have one already, could be 5,000 IU, could be 10,000. Sometimes there’s a case to go even higher than that.
Yeah, it just depends on your physiology. It depends on actually how much you weigh is one factor or how much fat you carry on your body. Because vitamin D is fat sequestered, which means that if you carry more fat on your body, then a lot of that vitamin D will get stored in the fat cells and won’t really be available to your body. It’s very easy to talk to your physician about your vitamin D levels and that can also help you figure out what inappropriate dose is for you. There’s a test that’s available that is not expensive. And if you have insurance, then it’s probably covered by your insurance,that will show your vitamin D serum levels and then you can work out what your doctor thinks is an appropriate dose of that. But we’ve, we’ve often seen, you know, people feel like between five and 10,000 is helpful.
Yeah. And these are very safe doses for a very wide range of body types and weights and everything. So I feel pretty comfortable with that as a generalized recommendation there.
And then you can always just test sort of every three months or so to make sure that you’re staying in the right ranges.
Yeah. So that’s part of what you get from sunlight exposure. There’s more to it than that. There has been, I mean, it’s a very standard part of treatment for psoriasis,to have phototherapy. So exposing people to certain lightwave lengths for certain amounts of time. And you know, you can do that in that formal way, but if you have access to the sun, then probably employ it there. Yeah, yeah. Get some sun exposure. Now this is going to be more effective, r more potent anyway when, te sun is high or above or when it’s summertime, tan it is in the winter. But still some sun exposure everyday is good. If nothing else, you’ll be outside.
Yeah. And we don’t mean like, I mean obviously don’t get a sunburn. Yeah. But also don’t use sunscreen. This is like you, you want to be out in the real sun and actually soaking that up maybe only for 10 or 15 minutes. You don’t have to be out there for hours and hours.
But, but get some actual sun on your actual skin, you know. Not
And specifically, right on the places where there are the, the psoriasis lesions. Yeah. Yeah. Right on there. Okay. So I guess thinking about Vitamin d makes me want to think about fat soluble vitamins and nutrients and things like essential fatty acids,and really about fats in general in their place, in interventions for this. So we could start with the kind of specific type of fat that seems most helpful here, which would be essential fatty acids of the Omega3, ategory. And especially the ones that are sourced from animal foods called epa and dha. These are types of Omega three fatty acid. And these are going to be finding from like your, you know, wild caught fish oils and you know, in a healthy wild salmon. And also in like sardines and herring in small fatty fishes like that, those are the best places. The easiest places in the cheapest places, in the case of sardines and herring to get a lot of EPA and DHA Omega3s.
Yeah. Now a lot of people don’t really like fish very much, but one thing and in a lot of people might be like, sorry,
Did I name all fish options, I think I did.
There are other ways.
There are other ways, but I wanted to just add this in because a lot of people will be like, sardines, forget it. There I am not doing that. And I feel you on that. So one of my favorite ways is actually tuna salad. Tuna even though fish is a little bit challenging for me, I didn’t really grow up in a family that ate fish. And I grew up inland so that wasn’t really a part of our sort of local culture. But we did have canned tuna fish salad pretty regularly in my family. And these days, thre several different brands of low mercury high omega-3 profile, the EPA, DHA, BP free canned tuna fish brands.
My favorite is one.
We want only the right acronyms.
We don’t want any of those scary acronyms.
Yeah. My favorite is wild planet. But Henry and Lisa’s is good and there are a couple of other ones also. And I have found, I have tried every fish oil supplement out there and I have to tell you that a can of tuna fish with some avocado oil mayonnaise and like chopped up apples. That improves for me, I mean I can feel the improvement in every marker that Omega3s supposed to improve. I feel it from a can of tuna and I have never really gotten that same feeling from official oil supplement. I just so you know, plus fish oil supplements are expensive, but yeah, but if you are getting a can of tuna than it’s lunch, you know,
Or a can of sardines that what if we chop up the sardines like you make your potato salad thing.
I have tried that. I did. It’s not the same. I just need to learn to do it. It’s not the same.
Alright. So yeah, that’s a great thing to do. And like you say, that’s food and when you’re eating those foods that provide a lot of healthy fats and Omega3s and everything, then you are during that time not eating things that have the Omega6 fats in them. And you know, remember when we’re talking about essential fatty acids like this and their benefits, at’s always something that we have to look at in the context of the broader diet. Because if you’re a Omega3 intake is good, but your Omega6 intake is still really, really high. Then the Omega3s aren’t helping you out as much as they could do if we brought that Omega6 and take down a bit. And the biggest intervention for that is what we call the oil change, where we’re avoiding the seed oils or the industrial seed oils like soy oil, corn oil,
Canola oil. Yeah. They’re doing some selective breeding changes to canola over the years to try to like shift its Omega three to six ratio, but it’s still kind of a. Ways off.
You guys can’t see. But I’ve got my skeptical face on.
She’s pretty squinty about it.
But yeah, corn, soy, canola, cotton seed, these kind of oils, they’re high in Omega six. They’re easily oxidized. There’s lots of reasons to avoid them that go beyond the Omega three to Omega six balance thing.
Just really pro-inflammatory.
Yeah. And it’s a big problem, especially for your skin because you have a fatty layer there and that’s where a lot of those things are being incorporated. And when we say they’re pro-inflammatory, we mean that they’re more likely to burst into fire. And you’re here with your inflammatory skin problem, like you don’t want to use those as your building blocks.
Nope. Right. Not really burst into fire. It’s, I don’t think you can.
Do not mix nitroglycerin into the concrete.
I don’t know if this metaphor works, but at like on a chemistry level,
I don’t think I followed that one.
Because you’re going to be using, you’re going to use the fats in yourselves, right?
So you don’t want them to be made of things that want to to be pro inflammatory and burst into flame and cause problems.
There’s no actual flame happening here. You guys do you get that right?
Right. You know how a spontaneous combustion has been debated for years and years and years. Well, it turns out that it’s really just a problem of consuming too many soy oil
Okay. You guys, he’s totally kidding. But.
You can’t tell this as my, this is my joking voice. This doesn’t sound different from my other voice.
Okay. But, so let’s say for real though, the canola, the cotton seed, the corn oil, the soybean oil, they just, they promote the pathways of inflammation in the body. And what we’re trying to do is, I mean, we don’t want to kill all inflammation. Inflammation serves a purpose and it is important, but we don’t want there to be more than what you need. We want the Goldilocks amount of inflammation. So one way that we can control that as like holistic in a holistic health way, ithat we can not ingest things that stimulate inflammation. And so that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to avoid those. Those industrial seed oils are a big stimulation for inflammatory processes.
Definitely. And then the other big one, it’s going to be your food intolerances.
Yeah. So and in this case,we can say that probably even more strongly than any of the other potential food allergens. Gluten is our, like suspect number one. Put them on the posters, tape them up all over the neighborhood, you know? But yeah, it’s a really big problem. And don’t stop at Gluten though, right? This is a problem that we sometimes run into,is like this is the one food intolerance to rule them all.
But people vary and because of the variety of ways in which a food intolerance can play out, the variety of levels at which it can be impacting your body and your health. There’s tons of possibility for any of the common food allergens, whether it’s gluten or dairy or soy or corn or eggs or nightshades or whatever it is for you to be the major contributor to psoriasis.
Because again, they are stimulating inflammation and when you eat something that is not food for you, your body responds to that with an inflammatory process. So if you keep doing it, then you are continuing to stimulate that inflammatory process. So the more inflammation we can remove from the system, the more resources we free up in the body to deal with whatever’s going on with your psoriasis. And then ultimately to also let the psoriasis just stop. Because part of the psoriasis itself is it’s tie in to all this runaway inflammation through the auto immune pathways. So, so the first step here is don’t stimulate inflammation as much as possible, and then you have more resources to deal with the psoriasis until ultimately the psoriasis also can be gone because you no longer are stimulating that state.
Yeah. Alright. So we’re going to do, a food allergy assessments. We’re going to do some elimination periods. We’re going to see what’s going on with this. And once we figure out what it is, it’s causing that or that is connected there, then we’re going to eliminate it. We’re going to get it out of the body. We’re not going to eat that anymore. Because psoriasis takes a while to work on or to see changes, this is a place where longer periods of the elimination are going to be more often required in most cases when we’re doing an allergen elimination to determine whether it’s a problem for somebody, we’re going to eliminate it for at least four weeks, right? One month. But if psoriasis is the primary or even the only presenting symptom here, then we’re probably going to want to stick with elimination for at least three months, maybe six before we start judging whether it was effective or not.
Now don’t be discouraged because for most people in that first month, there’s already some data coming back. You’re already seeing like it’s not like your psoriasis is gone or anything like that, but you’re already seeing like, hey, I’m not getting flare ups as often. Hey, this isn’t quite as bad as it was before. Like there’s some, there’s some improvement to sort of motivate you to keep going. It’s not like you won’t see anything at all for the first three or six months. It’s just that, that don’t think that the, at the end of one month with something like psoriasis, don’t think that the results that you get at the end of one month as the end of the story. Just because this one is, it’s tenacious, you gotta work a little longer at it.
There can be continual improvements still along the way before and after pictures can be really helpful. Or like, you know, every couple of weeks you take some pictures and see what’s going on and compare them. Yeah. Keeping a journal is a really great idea. You know, how bad is it today on a scale of one to a million? Maybe it doesn’t need to be quite that granular, but you know, it depends on how you like your data.
Sleep and Herbs
Yeah. Okay. Cool. Those are some things we’re going to do on the way of food. Let’s see. Yeah. So let’s, let’s start thinking a little bit about working specific herbs into the way into the work here.
Yeah. So like all those things. Oh wait, you didn’t mention sleep well, you should get some, that’s.
That’s the sleep story.
That’s the sleep. So you should get some, you should make sure to get some, you should get some sleep.
You should get some movement.
There some reasons we’ll come to in a moment.
We’ll connect them to the herbs.
Yeah. Those two things are really important, but all of that food stuff, all of the stuff we’ve said so far, and I guess vitamin D counts as food stuff. These are all about cooling off the inflammation in the body and looking at the actions that you’re taking in your daily life right now that might be making the situation worse. So by simply saying, well, Gee, I wonder if this is something that might be making the situation worse and if I change it, could I make it better? That kind of experimentation is something that you have totally available to you. And even if you’re taking pharmaceuticals, that kind of experimentation is safe. It’s safe to fiddle with your food to see if you can lower your inflammatory load. Yeah, it’s not like that’s going to screw up. You know, there’s no herb drug interaction that you have to worry about there.
Yeah. It will be on safe ground. Okay. So we’re going to work with herbs in a few different ways. We’re going to both be applying some things topically, right directly onto the, the spots. But we’re also going to have some internal applications for our plants as we go through here. And there are a couple of categories we’re going to kind of highlight here that are specific, like most specific and that we turn to most frequently when we’re helping somebody work with this problem. But I just want to circle back around to the idea we were talking about at the beginning about the stressor bucket and all the different ways that that can manifest and the different systems that can influence. And so recognizing that for one individual, we may need to look at some other areas as well. We may not just say, all right, this is good for your skin, or this is good for your inflammatory balance in the body, but also, wow, you really need something to help you to calm down and to relax and to feel more centered and secure. And that’s still important. That’s still like a critical part of the protocol. So we don’t write those things off. We just recognize that that may be more individualized.
Right, right. But like, we’re not gonna, you know, if somebody has anxiousness or if somebody has whatever kind of stress feelings they’re having, that also plays into the inflammatory response. It plays into your cortisol levels. And so we don’t want to leave that unaddressed. We want to make sure that we can help people feel more comfortable emotionally as well as feeling more comfortable physiologically.
Yeah, totally. Okay. So with that said if we were to just look and say what would be the most direct kind of herbal intervention we could make here? It would be, let’s try to put something right onto the psoriasis spots that is going to make them feel better. It’s going to make them heal faster, is going to turn down the inflammation in there. It’s going to stabilize things a bit. So again, remember that these tend to be a, a problem of dryness. That the, the spots are the legions. They tend to have, have dryness as the primary quality that they’ve got. So that drives us toward herbs that are demulcent or, an emollient is a word we use when it’s kind of like a demulcent applied topically.
Yeah. So there’s a few different ways to come at this. One that we’re very excited about. Is seaweeds.
Oh my goodness.
Seaweeds are so great.
Yes. So if you have always had a secret mermaid fantasy and you have psoriasis, then you’re in luck. This is perfect for you.
Yeah. Seaweed wraps are not just for like a fancy spa somewhere.
No, no. You can do them anywhere. And all you need to do is get some seaweed and we recommend Atlantic hold fast.com. That’s our friend Micah who harvests way far up north in Maine and he is just an amazing person and very environmentally and ecologically conscious and just fantastic. So just get yourself a bunch of seaweed. I am a big fan of unprocessed Nori, but frankly any of them will work. And Kelp might be your best bet if your plaques are large, simply because the kelp is, it’s big. It’s like when you rehydrate it, it’s a nice big piece of seaweed that you can like put on your whole forearm or your whole whatever. But so get yourself some, some seaweed rehydrate it just a little, you don’t need to like boil it or anything like that. Just put it in a shallow dish with just enough water to let it soak all in and it only needs like, I don’t know, 10 or 15 minutes in the water and then literally just lay it over the parts of you that have psoriasis and then watch a movie or something.
Yeah, yeah. You know, lay it on there and maybe wrap it up with some gauze or a towel or whatever you got and just let it, let it ooze into pretty much,
Yeah, it let us most if it’s cold then like if it’s winter or whatever, then get a hot water bottle and put, put the on you and then put like a towel over it and then lay that part on the hot water bottle so that it isn’t like a cold, wet thing freeze that’s making you freezing. It’s instead a wet thing that has a hot water bottle behind it, so you’re not actually freezing. Yeah, it can be more pleasant.
Yeah. So seaweeds here. They’re going to help for a bunch of reasons. They are very hydrating and moistening and they’re going to help to bring moisture into that tissue and soften things up. They have a number of different mechanisms by which they reduce inflammation especially on direct contact like this. So that’s really great. They can encourage the growth of healthy tissue underneath. They can encourage the activity of some of your aspects of immunity that are like clearing away some crowd. In the area and helping to circulate that and move that along. This kind of local hydration can make sure that the lymphatic fluid under the skin there keeps moving and doesn’t get too stuck. Again, with dry, with being dried out and that, that could slow down and, and get kind of stagnant there. So we wouldn’t want that. Oh, yeah. And especially if you have red seaweeds that can also help if there have been any opportunistic infections,
Which is super common.
Could be bacterial, viral, fungal, any of a whole, you know, number of different possibilities there. But the seaweeds can also help with infection management.
Yeah, they really can. And that is a, that’s a thing that happens for almost everybody. And this is true for Eczema as well. Actually, we maybe should have said at the very beginning that like all of this stuff would be helpful for Eczema as well, because again, it isn’t like this is our cure for psoriasis or cure for Eczema. It is, this is how we’re going to help the body rebuild itself out of the place where it has this thing occurring. And so that same round of rebuilding, you know, it’s a lot of the same conditions that we want to support whether we’re talking about psoriasis or we’re talking about Eczema. So anyway, in either one of those states because the skin, the barrier of the skin is compromised. That is a place where you’re super prone to just like extra bonus infections that might be very low level, so you might not identify it as a separate infection, but that redness that you see often as an indication of that. So, yeah. And the other thing with Seaweed is that it’s just, it’s food. It’s just nourishment for all those cells. So even though the psoriasis plaque cells, the ones at the top, they’re already dead and they’re just sort of hanging on or whatever. But still you’re nourishing the stuff underneath so that those cells can be the strongest, healthiest cells they can be.
Yeah. Great. Okay. There’s another topical application that you’ve had a lot of success with.
Yes, yes. Licorice root, which I just absolutely love. Over the years I have worked with it in many different ways. I have infused in oil and massage it in. I have made it into salve. I’ve made it into lotion and these days, my favorite way to work with it is as a very strong decoction. And the reason that that’s my favorite way to work with it is because you know, a lot of times you’ve got psoriasis, here you also need to be wearing clothing. And so if you have some oily ointment or something like that on those on that area of your skin, it’s going to get on your clothes and make a mess. And so lately I’ve just been really into the idea of compresses with a, with a strong decoction. And again, just like when you get home from work, then just have a seat, enjoy a nice movie, enjoy a nice audio book.
Just give yourself a little time to relax and put a nice warm compress of very strong licorice root decoction licorice root, you know, tea basically on your psoriasis spot. And Try to do that several times a day. And you only need to do it for like five or 10 minutes. But if you can do that three or four times a day, that’s pretty awesome. And you can even do it, you know, while you’re eating your dinner or while you’re working on your computer or whatever else. But licorice root in any form, in any preparation is very, very effective. I just lately have been really enjoying the water more simply because it doesn’t get on your clothes. It’s not messy.
So why is licorice so helpful here? So this is a strong anti-inflammatory herbs. It has a lot of interactions with cortisol,and derivative metabolism in the body. And that’s particularly useful in these cases where there, where there are these, these issues like psoriasis and longstanding longterm, nflammatory problem. There’s a lot of cortisol activity in that area. Licorice helps it to be more effective and more efficient at doing what it needs to do and then getting out of the way. So that’s pretty fantastic. The effects of licorice, topical applications are sometimes, reall surprising, really impressive. Yeah. It’s an extremely potent agent for these kinds of things. So.
Yeah, I definitely recommend giving it a try.
Okay. Now some other herbs we may work with topically, we may also take them internally.
These would be considered lymphatic herbs. And some of these lymphatics are also going to be demulcent or emollients in their way or warming or hydrating in their way. So let’s start highlighting those because they would be probably the most appropriate, in any form of application for folks with psoriasis. So, irst we can begin with violet. A violet is an inexpensive and also just easy to find plants, at least again here where we are in Boston. So let us display our bio regional horizons here for you. Violets are Pretty common.
It does grow in lots of places though.
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, so violet it’s nice. It’s moistening, it’s soothing, it’s what you’d expect. It’s anti-inflammatory, it’s going to rehydrate the tissue and the skin and everything like that. And it’s just very soothing and this is one that you can make a topical application of, but you can also drink a whole lot of violet infusions,
Or you can even put it in your food. Violet leaves make a great saled, I can make violence.
You can eat violet saled.
The leaves make a great alternative to lettuce,
The leaves and the flowers.
Yeah. Yeah. But you don’t have to have the flowers. Yeah. A lot of people think that like they can only work with the flowers, but the flowers are only there for a minute. You, the leaves are awesome. You totally can work with the leaves. And the lovely part about violet is that you get those leaves all year long. There’s some of the first ones up in the spring. They go all summer and they’re some of the last leaves to die in the fall. So that’s pretty exciting. You can work with the leaves topically also,just as a like a poultice. Or you can, if you are preserving them for the winter, you can run a bunch of leaves through the blender and then freeze them in ice cube trays. And that can be really lovely as well. But Violet actually, ifuses into oil very in a very lovely way and that is a very effective way to work with it.
When you are infusing violet leaves into oil, it doesn’t need to be the fresh leaves. I don’t think I would ever do this with dried violet, but the problem is that they have a lot of moisture, so it is very easy for that oil to mold. And so I have a, I never make that oil by just putting the leaves in the jar and putting the oil in and leave and get out to mastery. Instead what I do is I take the leaves and I put them in like a pot or a pan or a baking dish that can go into the oven and I cover them with enough olive oil just to cover the leaves over and then I put them in the oven at the lowest setting that it goes. And on my oven that’s 180 and I leave it in there for, you know, two or three days.
I don’t leave the oven turned on that entire time. I just turn it on for like maybe an hour and then turn it off and then like a few hours later I’ll come out, come back and turn it on for a little while. I just want the temperature inside the oven to be warm. It doesn’t have to be 180 degrees all of the time, but one of the big important things here is that you are not going to put a lid on the container that you put into the oven. And the reason is because this way the water content from the violet can evaporate. So what you end up with is just the oil without the problematic water content in there and it’s much less likely to mold when you make it this way.
Yeah, really good. Yeah. And you can take that violet oil and just take a little bit of it and rub that right into the skin where you need it.
You can mix it with rosewater and make a really lovely lotion. That would be my favorite thing to do.
Or also to mix it with rosewater and just a smidge of pine salve. Pine resin salve.
Because the Pine Resin Salve would help deal with any co-infections, because of its antimicrobial activity. Plus, it’ll smell really lovely and the rosewater will smell really lovely and the violet will smell really lovely and it’ll make a really great lotion that now actually I want, I need to go make something immediately.
Okay. Good luck. I’ll stay here and I’ll tell them that chickweed is another really nice moistening lymphatic herbs that would be really worth considering folks dealing with psoriasis. Again, internal topical. Any way to go at it. This is one that it’s nice to think about this time of year, there could be a lot of it around you soon. And if so lucky you because you could take and you could eat that chickweed and your violet leaf salad. You can also get some other spring Greens and that’s a really good thing going on. You can tell I’m really kind of craving that. That happened to keep my eye out for.
You’re ready for salad is what you’re saying.
Clean spots to gather from. Yeah. But yeah, some chickweed eat it. Also you could take it a bunch. You could, mash it up real good and make a poultice and apply that directly onto, were the psoriasis is and it’ll be soothing. It’ll be cooling, it’ll relieve the inflammation. And you know what we haven’t mentioned even once yet so far, and it’s completely ridiculous is the itching.
There’s this itching you guys,
Yeah. Both Violet and Chickweed are going to be lovely for that aspect.
People are out there like, yeah, we know,
We know about the itching.
Yeah. Violet, Chickweed, the seaweed application, the licorice application, all of these things, they’re going to help with that pretty rapidly. So if nothing else, then you could feel, a bit of relief for a while there. Yeah, really, really good stuff with the Chickweed there,
You know, Chickeweed and Violet also would go into a very nice tincture. Like that would be something that is supporting internally overall lymphatic health. And the reason that we care so much about lymphatic health, like sort of systemically here, is that it’s just what keeps all of the trash in your body flowing out instead of getting mucked up in places. And as you are dealing with areas of inflammation, it’s your lymphatic system that cleans out any debris from that inflammatory state. So it’s just really important. It’s not like, Oh, you know, your lymphatic system is the cure to psoriasis. It’s not like that at all. It’s that in order to make sure that everything in your body is functioning properly so that we can clear out what we need to clear out, we need to make sure that your lymphatic system is strong and healthy. And Violet and Chickweed are two really nice plants to do that.
There’s lots of other lymphatics. You know, when I think of Chickweed, I tend to think of Cleavers next just because the two kind of came together in my herbal education.
Oh, they come out in the spring together too.
Yeah. We find them growing together. They make sense together. But there’s your classic lymphatics like Red Clover and Calendula and Self-Heal.
That would make a lovely tea.
Sure. Yeah. But we just want to support lymphatic movement and the herbs are one way to do that. Remember, the other way to do that is to move around. Move your body, get a good walk, get some stretching going on, get those fluids moving. And herbs plus movement, really good.
You guys, you know, I wrecked my back a few weeks ago and part of how I did it was because I wasn’t moving my body enough and the reason I wasn’t moving my body enough was because I have so much work to do. There’s no time to go for a walk. And then I wrecked my back and it was really awful. And now I’ve been going to the chiropractor like three times a week and it takes so much time. And too, today I got up this morning and I was like, we can’t do the podcast yet because I have to go for a walk. And he’s like, oh, good a walk. And I was like, no, I don’t want to go for a walk. I have too much to do. And then I was like, no, I don’t have time not to go for a walk actually, because when I don’t do it, then my body is very sad and things in my body don’t work right. So you don’t have time not to go for a walk. That is your new motto. Just say it again. Say it with me now. Ready? I don’t have time not to go for a walk. Yes. Okay. Now go for a walk. You can just pause us while you get your shoes on and then we’ll come with you.
I hope some of you are walking around while you listen to our podcast. That’s a good way.
Yeah, but if you’re not walking right now, then just pause us, grab a pair of shoes and run out there.
We’ll be here when you get back. Yeah.
Well No, take us with you.
Oh yeah, we can go with you.
Yeah, we’ll go with you.
All right, good.
Yeah. We’ll keep you company.
You know, just one thought on some of the last herbs we named there. Some of them can be, can be drying. There are some of the lymphatics that are even even more drying in nature. Just watch out for too much constitutional dryness as you go to work with these plants. But if you’re balancing it out and maybe you’ve got some other demulcent moistening herbs in your mix and you’re making sure to get those good fats, you know.
Yeah, just through the day, it doesn’t all have to be at the same time. You know, you can have your lymphatic stimulants, which okay. They do tend to be drying. But you can have those for awhile, and then like later in the afternoon you can have some cold infusion of Linden. Oh, that would be really nice. And help you deal with your stress and stuff.
Yep, help with the calm, help with the rest and digest state and all that.
And then later you can put like a seaweed wrap on and so you’re getting moisture from different areas. And then when you have your meal you can make sure that it has enough fat in it.
Your meal of Sardines.
Okay. Or it could just be a lot of ghee, or you can have pork chops from pasture raised pork with the tasty fat right on the edge.
Right. Because we were going to say the other ways to get the good fats. Right. So again, like the overall thing here, and why we keep weaving back and forth between why stress matters and how flowers can help you to feel unstressed. And why food matters and why we can work with herbs to help that to go smoothly and everything is because we’re targeting at resolving these underlying imbalances. Right? We’re not saying here is the thing to fix the psoriasis. We’re saying something has gone wrong. These are the suspects. Let’s try some changes that make sense based on that. And then see if the terrain changes.
Yeah. Or in other words, if we look at this current state on your body as an indication that some stuff in your body is not being properly supported, what happens if we start properly supporting the way that your body works? The idea is that hopefully the negative effects that we’re seeing will go away. And in most cases they do. They either go away or in the case of psoriasis, maybe they’re not going to go completely away. Maybe you’re always going to have a little bit that you struggle with or like if it’s a really stressful time, it’s a problem. But that it will reduce drastically, that it will no longer be a problem in your everyday life. And that’s pretty good. I mean, no body is perfect, right? Like you’re never going to completely get rid of whatever. You’re born into a fixer upper and you fix it up until you can’t fix it up anymore and then you die. But it’s just, you know, not everything is going to be perfect. But when we look at the things in our bodies and say, well, wait a minute, I understand how my body works. I understand some physiology here. And if I’m seeing like the results of misfunction in the body or dysfunction in the body and I start to change some things about what I’m doing so that the processes of anti-inflammation or inflammation regulation, I guess is better grammar function better than, hey, look, my body is healthier. This is great.
It seems pretty great to me. Yeah.
Well I hope that seems pretty great to you too. If you have been dealing with this kind of thing yourself, and you find some of these suggestions helpful, we would love to hear back about it. And if you have an even better idea than any of these ones, then we would love to hear that too. Because we just hope to hear from you guys. So feel free to reach out to us and through all the usual channels. And please spread the word about the podcast. We really appreciate your ratings and your reviews. They help others find us. You probably hear that on every single podcast you listen to, but it remains true you guys. So we do appreciate it.
We love it when you tell your friends, and we love it when you share pictures of where you listened to the podcast on social media with the hashtag Holistic Herbalism Podcast. Yes. I love to see, remember the time that that we got a picture of the kangaroo? It’s my favorite one.
Yeah. It’s a high bar, but I think you guys can get there.
Yeah. Although we just had a student from New Zealand sign up today in the herbalism 101 course, and maybe she’ll send us a picture of a sheep.
I was thinking Ents, but a sheep would be pretty cool.
Also would be excellent.
Yeah. Cool. All right, well, we’ll see what happens next week. And until then, we hope you have lots of herby goodness in your lives.
See you then.
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