Can a vegetarian diet help treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by itchy bumps, plaques, and/or discoloration over much of the skin. In some cases of psoriasis, the skin can look normal yet still be itchy. In fact, “psoriasis” is a Greek word which roughly means “itchy condition”.

As with so many other diseases, the ultimate cause is not known, but genetics appears to play an important role. Environment and diet also appear to play a role in many cases. It is generally a lifelong condition, and while there is no cure, there are many treatment options available. For some reason, it is associated with an increased risk for stroke. While it is not an auto-immune disease to my understanding, it seems the symptoms of psoriasis are due to the immune system mistaking skin cells for pathogens, and attacking it. It is not contagious.

Diet seems to play a role in the disease, to the extent that altering one’s diet may alleviate symptoms in some but not all cases. Which leads me to the question if a vegetarian diet can help treat psoriasis.

According to the University of Hannover, in Germany, in Diet and psoriasis: experimental data and clinical evidence:

Psoriasis is considered as a T-cell-mediated inflammatory skin disease which is characterized by hyperproliferation and poor differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes. While susceptibility to psoriasis is inherited, the disease is influenced by environmental factors such as infections and stress. Diet has been suggested to play a role in the aetiology and pathogenesis of psoriasis. Fasting periods, low-energy diets and vegetarian diets improved psoriasis symptoms in some studies, and diets rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil also showed beneficial effects. All these diets modify the polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism and influence the eicosanoid profile, so that inflammatory processes are suppressed. Some patients with psoriasis show an elevated sensitivity to gluten. In patients with IgA and/or IgG antigliadin antibodies the symptoms have been shown to improve on a gluten-free diet. The active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3), exhibits antiproliferative and immunoregulatory effects via the vitamin D receptor, and thus is successfully used in the topical treatment of psoriasis. In this review, dietary factors which play a role in psoriasis are assessed and their potential benefit is evaluated. Furthermore, the risk of drug-nutrient interactions in psoriasis therapy is discussed.

So it seems that a vegetarian diet may help some psoriasis sufferers, and going gluten-free also seemed to help some people as well. Vitamin D in its active form may help too.

The main thing to do if you have psoriasis or any skin condition is to seek medical help. Don’t use a vegetarian or vegan or gluten-free diet to cure yourself. Going vegetarian though may help lower what appears to be an increased risk for stroke in psoriasis patients.

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