In a previous post I made about a psoriasis experiment I’ve been doing for quite awhile now (over 8 months), I said I would post if/when the results were apparent and positive and that is where I am in the experiment now.
I’ve had psoriasis for many, many years and have tried well over a hundred different natural remedies and combinations in the quest to control or put it into remission, but that solution has been quite elusive for decades. I even tried Ted’s remedies for psoriasis to no avail, but those are mostly aimed at fungus as the possible cause of psoriasis and that obviously is not the case for everybody.
I have gone from minimal to mild to moderate to severe and very severe when I started having erythrodermic psoriasis(EP) flares, one of which almost killed me.
EP is serious business and hospitalization is usually a given because the body wide coverage of peeling skin, swelling, inflammation, loss of thermal control and disrupted skin barrier function as well as elevated transepidermal water loss put tremendous strain on the heart, body and circulation.
On that particular flare-up that I had, it required systemic steroids and methotrexate to regain some semblance of control, but never complete clearing or remission. I was 90% covered at my worst. It was about impossible to find a spot on my body that wasn’t covered with EP! You basically look like you have been burned buy fire.
No matter how bad my psoriasis was through the decades and even though I had read about EP extensively, nothing prepared me for how bad it really is when you actually have it! The faces that people make when they see you like that, pretty much lets you know how bad it is!
I’ve had people see me when I was really bad and they would start to cry and look away. Psoriasis is a vicious cycle that feeds on itself and it can be a difficult cycle to break and reverse, but I think that is what these three supplements have done for me.
The chronic inflammation and radical damage that exists side by side with psoriasis can create and or feed other health issues as illustrated in more recent studies. Heart disease is such an example as increased heart disease is the norm for people living with psoriasis. The more severe the psoriasis, the greater the chance for increased heart disease……..as if the disease isn’t bad enough by itself!
Here is a recent abstract that illustrates this point clearly:
Arch Dermatol Res. 2017 Apr;309(3):225-228. doi: 10.1007/s00403-016-1712-1. Epub 2017 Feb 17.
Psoriasis and cardiovascular events: updating the evidence.
Raaby L1, Ahlehoff O2, de Thurah A3,4.
So far, systematic reviews have suggested an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in psoriatic patients, though some results have been conflicting. The aim of this study was to update the current level of evidence through a systematic search in MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Central Register databases. In total, 13 high-quality observational studies estimating the incidence of CVD were included. Patients with mild psoriasis had an increased risk of stroke [Hazard ratio (HR) = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.0-1.19] and myocardial infarction (MI) (HR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.06-1.35), but not cardiovascular death. The risks of both stroke (HR = 1.38, 95% CI: 1.20-1.60), MI (HR = 1.70, 95% CI: 1.18-2.43) and cardiovascular death (HR = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.13-1.67) were increased in patients with severe psoriasis. In conclusion, this updated meta-analysis confirmed that patients with psoriasis have an increased risk of CVD, especially those with severe psoriasis.
I believe that psoriasis is a symptom of different causes and this would partly explain why some people can clear their psoriasis with a treatment that does not work for every case of psoriasis. If you happen to find a combination of supplements that clears you, that is great, but it is highly unlikely that that combination will work for everyone, so you are left to try different remedy combinations until you find one that works for you and that is where I am right now. The methotrexate stopped working or stopped working well enough to keep me stable and my plaques started to grow and spread again so I delved back into looking for a new combination that might be helpful for controlling my psoriasis. At one point, a combination of high dose vitamin D, high dose fish oil, zinc gluconate, selenium, regular sun exposure, a high quality combination glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM/Boron/Boswellia Extract was able to get me about 90% clear, but those results were fairly short lived. At about a year and a half of regular supplementing with that combination, the plaques started to slowly return until almost all benefit was gone. This prompted more reading and searching for a new combination of supplements to try and get control over the psoriasis again.
Many people say they have cleared themselves completely for long periods of time using such things as diet, green shakes/smoothies, probitoics, prebiotics, synbiotics, anti-fungals, skin barrier enhancers, borage oil, going gluten free, bleach baths, cold showers, vitamin D, zinc, hundreds of topicals, ACV internally/topically , combinations of supplements, antibiotics, selenium, vitamin e, tanning beds & sun exposure or uvb or uva exposure, high dose fish oil, borax, topical magnesium chloride, B vitamins, NAG, white vinegar, biotin, certain teas, hemp oil, Dead Sea visits or dead sea baths, sauna use, antivirals, exercise, alkalizing, acupuncture, homeopathy, going vegan, LED light exposure, meditation, cilantro, going dairy free, evening primrose oil, herbs, chiropractic, black seed oil, colloidal silver, colloidal gold, different types of honey or honey related products, coconut oil, aloe vera, baking soda, berberine, ALA, antibacterials, curcumin/turmeric, hydrogen peroxide, NAC, TCM, chlorophyll, essential oils and this is just the tip of the psoriasis supplement/alternative conglomeration. The fact that so many very different remedies work to clear psoriasis and yet do not work for everyone is one of the main reasons that I think that psoriasis symptoms can have different causes. If you take some type of anti-fungal and are able to clear your psoriasis, then it seems likely that fungus may be the cause of your psoriasis symptoms. If you take some type of antibiotic and it clears your psoriasis, then perhaps it is a type of bacterial infection that is the cause of your psoriasis. If going to a gluten free diet clears your psoriasis, then maybe gluten is what is causing your psoriasis symptoms.
Having tried so many different supplements through the decades, it becomes much harder to find new supplements that show potential to help control psoriasis symptoms and so I do reading on the subject. In that effort, two supplements that I’ve tried in the past at lower doses and not together, seemed to suggest potential benefit for alleviating psoriasis if taken at the right dose and often enough.
PSORIASIS PROTOCOL REMEDIES
A list of all ingredients in my protocol with links to Amazon can be found below towards the end of the article.
1. EGCG FOR PSORIASIS
Those two supplements are EGCG from green tea and pine bark extract. I based this combination on the following studies and abstracts which suggest that the multiple pathways, enzymes and proteins that these two supplements affect, may have a positive impact on psoriasis symptoms. Since one single cause for psoriasis has not been discovered, it leaves people with psoriasis, who want to avoid the available prescription meds with their potential harsh side effects, no choice , but to self experiment or try new supplements that studies suggest may be helpful.
This first study shows that EGCG impacts multiple pathways which are associated with psoriasis.
This next study shows that EGCG has antiangiogenic effects that help reduce the excess angiogenesis activity associated with all stages of psoriasis that helps fuel the increased proliferation of skin cells.
The following abstract suggests that EGCG impacts multiple pathways related to psoriasis progression.
In a similar manner, Pine Bark Extract (PBE) has also shown itself to affect many pathways, enzymes and proteins including multiple inflammatory mediators associated with psoriasis. The following two abstracts discuss how PBE may impact psoriasis. It should be noted that these two studies used Pycnogenol, a patented form of PBE that is derived from the Pinus Pinaster tree and this patented version comes at a steep price differential compared to other non-patented forms of PBE from other trees. In my experiment, I did not use the patented form. From reading about Pycnogenol, I have not, as yet, found any studies to show whether Pycnogenol is any better than other forms of PBE. Mainly what I found were contradictory anecdotal reports where people had stated that they had used both and either found Pycnogenol to be better or did not find it to be better, so the answer to that question remains unanswered for me, but this form of PBE that I used did have an impact on my psoriasis or at least the combination of the PBE + EGCG did.
It is worth noting that the above studies do not cover every possible way that these supplements can potentially help alleviate psoriasis symptoms. For that point of view, I had to read many other studies about these supplements that did not involve psoriasis directly, but clearly showed that the supplement would likely affect other aspects also associated with psoriasis.
The product I use, NOW Pine Bark Extract 240 mg, contains 240 mg of PBE from Pinus Massoniana (min. 90% proanthocyanidins) and EGCG (50%) 100 mg. I take 3 capsules with breakfast and 3 capsules with lunch and never at night because I wasn’t sure if it would keep me awake at night. I went up to 9 capsules per day to try and see how much I could tolerate without problems. At 9 capsules total per day, I encountered no problems. The only problem I ran into was if I took the PBE without food, as then my stomach felt uncomfortable for about an hour. I always take it with food now and no problems.
These PBE/EGCG capsules started showing benefit within the first two weeks, but the improvement slowed considerably after three months and I decided that I would need to add something else to the mix in order for improvement to continue. It has been my experience that many supplements I’ve tried for psoriasis, will work initially for one to three weeks and then the benefit will start to diminish until there is no longer a benefit. In this case, the fact that the benefit was still there at three months, although diminished, made me think that this combination is a good starting point to build from for trying to control my psoriasis, so I started looking for another supplement to add to the Now Pine Bark Extract.
2. XYLITOL FOR PSORIASIS
My reading allowed me to find Xylitol (X), the popular sugar substitute that is readily available and in my opinion, the best sugar substitute going, that really tastes like sugar to me! Sugar is very pro-inflammatory, while X is much less inflammatory. Sugar can cause insulin to spike which is quite inflammatory while X is digested slowly lessening the potential for insulin spikes significantly. X has a glycemic index of 7 compared to sugar at 60~70. Sugar can be food for yeast, but X is not. X has other potential health benefits not directly related to psoriasis and is now on my list of favorite supplements. I plan to do a post that discusses the many potential benefits of X. I had not previously used X, but I certainly will from now on!
Again, I found no studies or reports that used X for psoriasis, but I found other studies which suggested that X may have an impact on psoriasis through at least 4 of its known actions. It turns out that X acts as a prebiotic in the gut and imo, the beneficial health effects of prebiotics are very underestimated! One of the main things that X seems to do is interact with certain gut bacteria and produce small chain fatty acids (SCFA) and one of these SCFA could potentially be effective regarding psoriasis. The SCFA of importance in psoriasis would be Butyrate, which can potently lower inflammatory levels in the gut as well as remote areas of the body, not just the gut.
Secondly, X is able to improve the gut bacteria balance. X appears to be more effective at producing butyrate over other SCFA. Thirdly and also of importance is that the increased butyrate production from X, acts as a Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor and this fact is very important when it comes to psoriasis, because this is another way of reducing proliferation and inflammation, two major components of the vicious cycle of psoriasis! The fourth way which xylitol can work against psoriasis is because it is an angiogenesis inhibitor and excess angiogenesis is a hallmark of psoriasis. Angiogenesis acts to feed the hyperproliferation of the skin cells so supplements that have antiangiogenic activity are useful for cancer and psoriasis. Here is a link to a study which illustrates the antiangiogenic potential of X.
This information and more regarding X led me to choose it as an add on supplement to the PBE. By contrast, two common prebiotics that are used in some probiotics are called FOS and GOS, but these two prebiotics can potentially lessen butyrate producing bacteria in the gut, but X, on the other hand, can lead to increased butyrate production.
As with PBE, I started to notice further improvement in my psoriasis within the first two weeks of X intake. This is what I use at 15 grams minimum per day and 25 grams maximum per day. By comparison, a 12 ounce can of coke contains 39 grams of sugar. I have a scoop that measures 5 grams per scoop (verified with a digital scale) and I put 3 of these scoops into a 500 ml bottle of water and shake until dissolved. I drink this during the day and away from meals and especially other sweets. I take another half bottle of this before bed. Some people can experience gas or diarrhea if they take too much X, too soon and this can happen with many other prebiotics. If this occurs, a dose reduction may be required until the body adjusts to it.
3. TOPICAL INDIGO LOTION FOR PSORIASIS
The last supplement I started using is one that I have always wanted to try for at least 20 years when I first read about it, but somehow never did, mainly because it has been fairly hard to find or poorly described on the sites that sell it, until recently. It is referred to by several names, but many studies just refer to it as Indigo Naturalis (IN).
IN is commonly used as a dye, but has shown itself to be quite useful when topically applied for psoriasis. One major problem with IN is the fact that as a dye, it can stain things. In my experience, not anywhere near as bad as topical curcumin, which is in a class by itself when it comes to staining things, but still, it can stain.
As with the supplements above, I started to notice further improvement in my psoriasis within two weeks of starting to apply the IN topically. This is the product I use, but it should be noted that the powder they sent me has a different name than what their web page showed. The page shows the product name as, Polygonum Tinctorium, but the label on the bag they sent says, Indigofera tinctoria / Indigo Pigment. The powder is medium blue/gray in color just as on the Amazon page and can appear much darker when added to the Cetaphil Lotion or oil. I have seen other “indigo” powders that appear to be a medium olive green color, but I am not sure if these are effective also. When I reorder, I will order from the same company to try and get the same product as my first order. Most companies selling these indigo powders advertise them as a dye or pigment.
There are currently 29 listings that come up when you search PubMed for “psoriasis indigo naturalis” and results seem to be positive in the majority of these studies of topically applied IN. It seems like with the newer studies, a new method of action is discovered with each additional study now that they have pretty much proven that it works for psoriasis. Overall, a fairly impressive response by a topical for a disease that is generally thought to be systemic.
I mix this powder with Cetaphil lotion until it is a very dark blue/gray in color and apply directly to the affected skin and rub in well. A half level measuring teaspoon per ounce of lotion is adequate and the batches I made that were weaker still seem to work fine. Stronger did not seem to be any more effective and it was more likely to stain.
I add sweet orange essential oil for several reasons. One, the orange oil has transdermal enhancement qualities and 2, the oil itself seems to help blend the IN and thirdly, the orange oil helps mask the smell of the powder in lotion mix, which is not very strong, but it does have an odor that I would prefer not to smell like. I apply after showering before bed. I put on an old t-shirt and old pajama bottoms to help prevent staining anything or I apply it very lightly so when rubbed in, the color is hardly noticeable and staining is less likely then.
One study used a combination of Vaseline, microcrystaline wax and olive oil as the base they added the IN powder to. Cetaphil was just my way of simplifying the process.
Add the powder until the lotion is a darker blue/gray color. I have heard there is an IN product that is a white cream, but I haven’t found it yet. In any case, the cream I made is working nicely and the amount of powder in the package I bought should last for years, assuming of course that I still need to use it!
The IN lotion seems to be working similarly to how topical steroids did when I first got psoriasis……effectively, albeit slower than the steroid creams and ointments, but now those topical steroids have almost no effect at all. One very important advantage of IN over topical steroids is that IN does not thin the skin and can be used in sensitive areas such as the face, where steroids should not be used.
One thing that is confusing to me about the studies for IN/psoriasis is that with so many studies showing positive results when used for psoriasis, why hasn’t a larger American or international company started to sell a ready made topical cream or ointment at a more reasonable price. There are small companies that sell a product like that, but the cost is incredibly high for what is in it and the amount of product you get. Here is a link to those 29 studies.
Watch Earth Clinic’s video on how to make the indigo powder ointment along with a few tips.
LIST PSORIASIS PROTOCOL INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED
- Now brand Pine Bark Extract 240 MG with EGCG
- Xylitol from Birch Bark
- Indigo Powder
- Cetaphil Lotion
- Sweet Orange Essential Oil (optional)
To briefly recap,
(1) I use Now brand Pine Bark Extract 240 MG with EGCG in it @ 6 capsules total per day,
(2) Xylitol (from birch bark) at 15 to 25 grams/day and
(3) Indigo powder mixed in Cetaphil Lotion until dark blue/gray @ 1/2 level measuring teaspoon per ounce of Cetaphil lotion. Adding sweet orange oil is optional. The orange oil’s only purpose is to try and offset the odor of the blue powder in the lotion, so it is just a matter of adding drops to suit the individual making it, as far as smell goes. So add drops to your personal taste. Whatever orange oil you add can have a penetrant enhancing effect.
PSORIASIS PROTOCOL TIP
While each of these products has shown benefit within two weeks of starting to use it, had I known that they would all be as beneficial for psoriasis as they are for me, I would have started them all at the same time or at least sooner for the second two and I suspect the results would have happened at a much, much quicker pace because after adding all three at the same time, the changes are coming much faster.
Two things that people often fail to mention when talking about how they treat their psoriasis is how long they have had their psoriasis and how severe it is. Psoriasis that is of long duration (decades) or is severe is often times very difficult to treat and when it is of long duration AND severe, the degree of difficulty in treating it becomes even greater. I qualify for both the “long duration” as well as high degree of severity or at least I used to qualify for the “high degree of severity” rating and I think this fact speaks volumes about the potency of this supplement combination. When somebody reports that a single supplement or herb cleared their psoriasis, chances are they were not severe or of long duration, whereas when somebody else reports that that same herb or supplement did nothing for their psoriasis, it may be because they have severe psoriasis, psoriasis of long duration or both among other potential reasons. Details are important when trying to workout a treatment plan for any disease, but psoriasis can be quite challenging in this respect. One thing that is clear, after taking all three supplements together, the rate of improvement is pretty incredible, with positive changes noticed almost every other day or every third day! The last time I was this clear was over 10 years ago, so to say I am elated would be an understatement! This three supplement plan has also allowed me to discontinue steroids and methotrexate while continuing to improve without them!
This three supplement combo is what has worked/is working very well for me, to get over 95% clear with no new lesions or plaques for weeks now, but you should get your doctors approval and supervision before trying any alternative remedies as anyone can be allergic to almost anything or these supplements may not be compatible with your current medications you are taking and it will be more than a little helpful for your doctor to be able to help you if you have any complications related to what you are taking. I was going to wait until I was 100% clear before posting this, but knowing all too well the feelings that people with psoriasis have and go through, I wanted to post this to let people with psoriasis know that there is alternative hope for what can some times seem like a hopeless situation!
Another thing I would like to mention is that, although I gathered this combination of supplements with the specific intent of trying to treat my psoriasis, it is clear, after reading studies about these supplements that other disease states may have similar issues of runaway inflammation, high levels of oxidizing radicals and gut dysfunction as main components and as such may be susceptible to a similar combination of supplements.
Finally, I want to mention a couple of things about this psoriasis regimen. One is that I have not changed my diet during this experiment. I have not eliminated or restricted any food group or type. I don’t eat super healthy at all, so that seems like it may be an important point. Two, I had found that whenever I drank alcohol, mostly beer, but worse with stronger alcohol, my psoriasis always got worse within a day or two. Now I seem to be able to drink alcohol without a problem. Lastly, a while back, I got what I recognized as the beginning of a new plaque. These plaques start out as a small red spot that gets a little larger everyday and then ultimately turns into a flakey plaque that continues to grow in size and thickness. Normally, nothing can reverse these red spots for at least a week or two. Even topical steroids had no effect on these spots until they would start to flake, but topical steroids had stopped working for me long ago. In any case, on this particular spot, I applied the indigoferra tinctoria lotion I made as soon as I noticed the spot and it started to diminish the next day. I am currently about 98% plaque free and the few small spots that are left, continue to diminish. I’ve cut my pine bark extract/ egcg supplement dose in half, so now only 3 capsules of it per day instead of 6. I’m taking the same amount of xylitol and applying the lotion 2 to 3 times per day.
I don’t know how long this will last, but for now it is great!
November 4, 2017 Update
I am now about 99% clear of psoriatic plaques. I have one spot left that is about half the size of a penny on my lower back. For some reason it is a tough one to get rid of, but on the positive side it is no longer bright red, thick, itchy or hyperproliferative! It is pink and almost completely flat.
I am currently working on a new experiment that has pre-empted other experiments I had planned to do first. I am testing a remedy that I made for post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) which should be very popular as this is a common skin health problem with poor treatments available from the medical establishment as well as the alternative treatment sector. If you go on line and look for natural products for treatment of any type of hyperpigmentation, you will quickly realize that these are some very expensive products that come in relatively small containers. The reason that this experiment pre-empted my other experiments is because I found that some of my worst psoriasis areas cleared, but left much PIH in its place…….a very common problem for many people with or without psoriasis. So far my results appear to be positive at this very early stage in the experiment. I’m using easily obtained ingredients (5) that are not expensive. This blend is easy to make and very user friendly! If it continues to work as good and as fast as it has so far, it will be a blessing for anyone with hyperpigmentation issues and unlike many prescription anti-hyperpigmentation prescription meds, it is highly unlikely to worsen the condition as many people who have used the prescription meds have learned can happen. Many of the prescription acids that are used for this purpose can be quite inflammatory and can result in rapid increases in hyperpigmented skin areas……just the opposite of what they are supposed to do and doctors almost never mention this to their patients that they prescribe them for until after the problem appears. Other treatments that are designed for a more youthful appearance can also cause hyperpigmentation issues. Laser treatments and abrasive facial treatments are two common examples that come to mind.
If you happen to have a good dermatologist, ask them how common hyperpigmentation issues are for their patients or patients in general and that will be a clue about how popular an effective remedy might be.
Write to Art Solbrig here.
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