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Natural Therapies - Psoriasis

A photo of a man with a bowl of food

Sabina Jennings is a medical herbalist and iridologist, specialising in the treatment of skin conditions using natural medicine. She practices at her natural skin clinic in Bandon, Co Cork and Dublin where she sees patients with eczema, psoriasis, acne, seborrheic dermatitis and rosacea

A young man in his early 20s came to see me in my clinic. Fynn* literally skipped into the consultation room, full of joy and seemingly bubbling with life. Slightly overweight, blue eyed and with a fair Celtic complexion, Fynn had suffered with psoriasis since the age of 15. Whilst on a recent visit to Australia, his psoriasis had almost disappeared, but on his return to Ireland it flared. He had enjoyed good health with no infections for the past six months and had no other medical condition.

His diet mainly consisted of high amounts of gluten- and sugar-based products, a large consumption of intensively-farmed chicken washed down with a well-known caffeine-based fizzy drink. For the body to thrive the ‘fuel’ consumed has to be balanced and nutritious.

My suggested dietary changes consisted of omega 3-rich foods in the form of fish, nuts and seeds, copious amounts of brightly coloured vegetables, organic chicken and turkey, some lamb and pulses such as lentils, beans, chickpeas and so on. His kitchen spice rack would be filled with digestive-supportive spices and herbs such as turmeric, garlic, black cumin seeds, fennel, ginger and fresh herbs like basil, coriander and parsley. A gluten-free diet would be introduced for the time being with sugar to be avoided at all cost.

A formulated herbal tea blend of marshmallow root and leaves, plantain, marigold and nettle leaf was given to help counteract the potential damage that the high level of gluten and sugar might have imposed on Fynn’s digestive tract. No other medication was given during the first visit, as I wanted to monitor the effect the dietary changes and the herbal tea had over the next four weeks.

‘Please stop the itching’ is one of the first things a psoriatic patients asks. Fynn was no exception, as he struggled to contain his scratching and general discomfort during the consultation. Fortunately, health food shops stock highly researched, formulated skincare products that comfort and calm inflamed skin and help to stop that itch. They contain plant extracts such as sea buckthorn, liquorice, marshmallow, marigold and mint. Not only do these plants address the itch, they ‘feed the skin’ with nourishing ingredients. Sea buckthorn for instance, contains an enriched source of vitamin C, E and A. It has amino acids, dietary minerals and polyphenols together with omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids.

Fynn was given his shopping list of recommended skincare products. If his pocket stretched further, he was to ditch all bathroom bodycare products that contained unwanted chemicals and restock with products that were completely natural and/or organic.

However, towards the end of the consultation I couldn’t help feeling there was something Fynn wasn’t telling me. I was convinced it concerned his environment – a crucial element in all medical conditions and often dismissed.

Four weeks later, he bounced back into the clinic, but this time his posture had an aura of self-confidence. He had lost weight, had a new hair style, new clothes and just beamed from ear to ear. He discovered a new love in his life – cooking, which made him very popular with his friends. He confided that he dreaded returning from Australia. He had a dead-end job and felt his life would never open up to new possibilities. Emotional influences that come from our environment such as our jobs, relationships and our habitat can have an enormous effect on our health.

Fynn’s skin condition and general health had greatly improved in four weeks, although he would need more consultations. What was so encouraging was that Fynn was able to take greater responsibility for his health and his life.

* Not his real name

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Medical herbalism
Medical herbalists have studied for many years, often to third and fourth level education, and are trained in Western orthodox medical diagnosis. Herbalists use plant-based medicines in the form of the whole plant or the flowers, roots, bark, buds, stems or fruit as each part of the plant may have a different medicinal action.

Herbal medicine can be prescribed in many forms. These include herbal teas and decoctions, the latter being teas using the bark, berries and roots. Other preparations include tinctures which are extracts of the plant extracted with alcohol, vegetable glycerine or vinegar. Syrups are often used in cases of respiratory disorders and powders of dried plants are given in the form of capsules. Oils extracted from the plant, called essential olis, are diluted in a carrier oil and applied topically. Essential oils can also be used in steam inhalations or in creams and lotions. With all herbal medicine dosage is dependent on many factors such as patient’s condition, their age and so on.

Check out and for registered herbalists in Ireland.

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