I have a terrible case of psoriasis. My doctor is recommending I go on these powerful immune suppressing drugs that cause cancer, an overwhelming infection, and death. What can I do besides, take these medicines? Or he is recommending steroids, which I know are bad for me. Can I do anything else?
Well, here’s the good news. I have been practicing functional medicine for over 20 years and a doctor for 30. And for the first ten years, I saw this over and over again – the heartbreak of psoriasis. Scaling, itching, peeling, inflamed skin, leads to arthritis and joint pain as well for so many people. And there was nothing I could do. I gave them all these strong steroids, creams and lotions on. Now we’re using these TNF alpha blockers, which cost 30,000$ a year and is extremely risky regarding their ability to suppress the immune system. They can cause cancer and infections, and it’s not a great solution.
And then I discovered functional medicine and I started treating my patients for all sorts of other issues, for gut issues, for hormonal issues, for weight issues. And as I clean up their diet, as they began to sort of dig in, their skin problems will pass away. And I’d go, what happened here, what’s going on? And I started to learn about how all these other factors are driving skin issues like psoriasis.
In fact, a little girl came to my office; this was a pretty scary story. She had psoriasis all of her body from head-to-toe since she was six months old. She’d been on one of those powerful immune suppressing drugs before she came to see me, and it ended up in the hospital with an overwhelming infection from MRSA, which is a terrible superbug staff. And she had to be on IV antibiotics for a month. And she came in to see me, and she was four years old, and not had a day in her life without suffering pain and psoriasis. She had to go to the bathroom in my office when she was there, and girl would scream when she peed because all of her genitals were inflamed with psoriasis. That’s how bad it was.
So this poor little girl was suffering from so many severe symptoms, not just pain or skin but digestive issues. And to fix her, I had to repair the cause, which was her gut. So I took away the wrong stuff, put in the right stuff. I took away triggering foods like gluten, which is often linked to psoriasis. And I cleaned up the yeast; I gave her anti-fungal. And then I gave her some anti-inflammatory foods, and healing plant foods, and good quality fats; I gave her supplements, probiotics, and vitamin D, and vitamin A, and zinc,- all that helped the skin. And I thought, maybe she’d get better, I hope she gets better because she was the worst case I’ve ever seen. Two weeks later the father calls me up, and he says “Dr. Hyman, she’s completely clear”. Her skin completely cleared in two weeks on an elimination diet, giving her an antifungal, and giving her the right nutrients. That was incredible. That’s the power of using functional medicine.
But all psoriasis is not the same. For a large percentage of people it is gluten, but for others, it may be gut issues like yeast and yet others. It may be other things like mercury. So the three biggest things that I see in my patients that cause psoriasis are:
- Gluten sensitivity;
- Yeast overgrowth in the gut;
- Heavy metals like mercury.
All those trigger psoriases. So I look very carefully at those factors, while I remove those I also restore the body’s natural balance in health.
And I did this with a 56-year-old doctor came to see me, who had severe psoriatic arthritis, he couldn’t operate anymore, he was overweight, tired. He had all the other symptoms: skin problems, joint problems, digestive issues, canker, sores, constipation. You name it – he had it. And he was about to quit his job, and he loved his job as a surgeon. He was working in a Massachusetts hospital. And I said, “Why don’t we just fix your gut, we’ll put you on an elimination diet, we’ll get rid of parasites we found he had, we’ll give him the right nutrients to support his body.” And it was like a miracle. In six weeks he was off as any cancer drugs, TNF alpha blockers, steroids, anti-inflammatories, and he had no symptoms. Not only did his digestive symptoms go away but his skin cleared up, his joint pain gone, he lost a whole bunch of weight, and he was able to go back to surgery.
So that’s the power of functional medicine. And if you want to place a start, I would encourage you to start with the 10-day detox diet because it’s a powerful solution to get rid of the inflammatory foods, put in anti- inflammatory foods, and let your body heal. And it’s a great way to hit the reset button and turn your body to its original factory settings. Now, you may need more help, you may need mercury detox, you may need treatment for your gut, for yeast, and other therapies, but it’s a great place to start.