By Ariana Estelle-Symons, Ph.D., Copyright 1996
From the Kombucha Konnection Newsletter, November 1996
Not just an advertising slogan - we've all heard it... "if you suffer from the heartbreak of psoriasis - try our product". Often, heartbreak does indeed accompany psoriasis. In it's more severe forms, the person affected by it is often confined to home & hearth - like it or not. If they go to a restaurant - other patrons will move away from them, terrified of 'catching' it. Likewise in the grocery store, the mall, the theater, health club, on a bus, train , plane, the workplace, even the Church or Synagogue. Children that suffer from psoriasis can tell you all about the heartbreak when their schoolmates and friends shun them, tease them, call them awful names and generally treat them like lepers.
Psoriasis knows no boundaries - it attacks from birth to old age. Geography has nothing to do with it, neither do gender, race, economic or social status.
(From the National Psoriasis Foundation)
Statement on the Non contagious Nature of Psoriasis
(Gerald G. Krueger, M.D.,
Professor of Dermatology
University of Utah Medical School
Chairman, National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Advisory Board)
Psoriasis is a non curable skin disorder that has been estimated to affect two to four percent of the nation's population. The disorder produces recurrent skin lesions that may be limited to a few spots, such as in the scalp, or may involve 80-90 percent of the body surface. Although the skin surface may be unsightly, skin with psoriasis should not be regarded as an infection or an open wound.
Psoriasis, which tends to be inherited, is never contagious. The cause of psoriasis is unknown and there is no known cure.
The skin lesions of psoriasis are in part a result of an excessive rapid growth and turnover of epidermal (skin) cells. In skin areas affected by psoriasis, cells race toward development four times faster than they should. Instead of maturing and being shed almost invisibly at the skin surface, the cells accumulate. They form silvery layers and flake off. The skin beneath is red and inflamed.
An individual with psoriasis poses no threat to the health or safety of others. There is no medical reason that a person with psoriasis should be denied the use of swimming pools, health clubs, or dressing rooms. Since 1992 the American with Disabilities Act has prohibited discrimination in public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a non contagious skin disorder that most commonly appears as inflamed swollen skin lesions covered with silvery white scale. This most common type of psoriasis is called plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis comes in many different variations and degrees of severity. Different types of psoriasis display characteristics such as pus like blisters (pustular psoriasis), severe sloughing of the skin (erthrodermic psoriasis), drop like dots (guttate psoriasis) and smooth inflamed legions (inverse psoriasis).
What Causes Psoriasis?
No one knows what causes psoriasis, though it is generally accepted that it has a genetic component, and a recent study has established that it is an auto immune skin disorder. Scientists believe that a person is born genetically predisposed to psoriasis. One in three people report a family history of psoriasis, but there is no pattern of inheritance. There are many cases in which children with no apparent family history of the disease will develop psoriasis.
Whether a person actually develops psoriasis may depend on something 'triggering' its appearance. Examples of 'trigger factors' include systemic infections such as strep throat, injury to the skin (the Koebner phenomenon), vaccinations, certain medications, and intra muscular injections or oral steroid medications. Once something triggers a person's genetic tendency to develop psoriasis, it is thought that in turn, the immune system triggers the excessive skin cell reproduction.
Once it begins, there are only remissions and relapses of varying degrees of intensity. There is no known cure, only possible control over severity. This disease reacts. It has triggers which can cause the body to go from a very mild case to a severe case within days. There are also other factors, such as sunlight, which help decrease the severity.
It can be a mildly annoying problem or can destroy the self esteem and life of the victim. Although it is non contagious, it is an ugly disease that can alienate co-workers and acquaintances.
Arthritis can also stem from psoriasis, attacking the joint spaces, giving the psoriasis victim another disease process to deal with.
Living With Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be very painful, but the pain is more than skin deep. The emotions suffer as well. It presents people with physical limitations, disfiguration, and its tedious, daily care always demands too much time. Embarrassment, frustration, fear, and depression are common. In extreme cases, a loss of self esteem results in a complete withdrawal from society.
Various kinds of temporary relief are available, and they work with varying degrees of success. Treatments and medications are often time consuming and very expensive. In the following pages are reports from people who have found relief from this insidious condition by drinking Kombucha Tea. Also, we've listed a few of the alternative treatments that people have tried - some of them quite bizarre.
There is a Naturopathic theory that the development of psoriasis may be due to abnormal protein digestion. The contributing factors could be:
Furthermore, some studies show that by strengthening the digestive metabolism, the condition (psoriasis) could be controlled. (Voorhees and Duell, 1975;Robbins and Cotran,1979;Procter et al.,1979;J.invest. Dermat.,1983)
Some Naturopathic practitioners believe that adherence to the following dietary regime could bring notable benefit. Natural 'alternative' treatments have a fundamental purpose of encouraging the body's processes of metabolism. Botanical alternatives work with the mechanisms of waste and nutrition, promoting the excretion of cellular wastes and enhancing the uptake of cellular nutrition. As the 'vital force' is restored, new healthier tissues replace old devitalized tissues and body functions are normalized.
Foods to favor:
Basmati rice (white), mung beans, chick peas, asparagus, carrots, beets, spinach, parsley, broccoli, collards, chard, dandelion greens, shiitake mushrooms, cilantro, basil, papaya, avocado, pearled barley, walnuts, millet, cucumber, figs, raisins, burdock.
Foods to avoid:
High protein diets, high saturated fats, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B3 therapy, fried foods, oily foods, spicy foods, processed foods, coffee, black teas, alcohol, red meats, tomatoes, pastries, cheese, eggs, citrus, refined sugar, chocolate, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.
Some other alternatives that have produced beneficial results:
43 year old/chef/psoriasis 11/96
Since I'm not the only person (with psoriasis) in the food business, you have my permission to print this letter in your newsletter. I'd rather you did not use my name - this is still a relatively small town.
As I told you on the phone, I've been cursed with this bloody disease/condition since I was in my late 20's. Don't know what caused it - guess I'll never know. Just all of a sudden, there it was! At first, it was something I could handle. My family practitioner gave me some steroid creams and for the few patches I had, it worked okay. It was not even noticeable to most people unless I went without a shirt. For a few years it seemed to disappear. I opened my restaurant (proudly) 2 years ago and my setup is the type where the patrons can watch me 'do my chef thing' if they wish. In fact, I get really dramatic with the big chef hat, black and white chef pants and starched coat - I do it up, big time. About 6 months after our opening, the psoriasis came back with a vengeance! Concentrated on my hands and feet. Well, not only does a chef use his hands - he/she) stands for an ungodly amount of hours each day. I went to a specialist and she put me on oral methotrexate for a period of 3 months, which helped for a time. Then it hit me again. Not only was it disgusting to look at - but terribly painful, my feet were so involved, and the pain so severe that at times I just wanted to chuck it all, sit down and cry like a baby. Then, there were my patrons, my customers. The majority of them did not understand that psoriasis is NOT contagious. I lost business, I lost money, my self esteem was going down the toilet and I was miserable. Had to bring in two additional people to do my job (the theatrics) while I supervised. During this period, my doctor attempted to beat this thing with the typical treatments topical tars, salicylic acid and steroids. Even did the photo therapy and etretinate. The photo therapy really did the most to relieve the symptoms. Then I started drinking Kombucha Tea - and using it topically. In the beginning I drank a goodly amount of this precious potion (24 ounces a day). I've been drinking it now for 9 months, and I'm convinced that Kombucha is responsible for my healing. Perhaps it works in conjunction with some of the other treatments, but on their own - they really didn't clear up the condition. I'm down to about 12 ounces a day now, plus topical application. I'm back doing my 'chef thing' and my hands look great. My feet are still bothering me, but are improved by, I'd say 75%.
Tell people not to give up or give in. What's the worst thing that can occur?? They drink a delicious beverage that will solve their problems with constipation (as it did for me). Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if you want to print it, perhaps it will help someone with my type of psoriasis.
My 16 year old (psoriasis) 11/96
My 16 year old daughter has been plagued with psoriasis since puberty (after a severe strep infection). We had tried all the 'cures' the medical profession had to offer, including coal tar, topical steroids and ultraviolet B photo therapy. The poor kid was so miserable, not just from the psoriasis, but the treatment she received at school was horrible (and not just from the students). It had gotten to the point that she begged us to allow her to drop out of school, as she felt she just couldn't face the staring, the name calling, and the rejection of her peers. As you know, I've been drinking Kombucha for about 6 months (for my arthritis & ulcer), and after you told me that some people have experienced some remission of their psoriasis problems, I finally persuaded her to give it a fair trial. I told her that if she didn't see any results in 1 month, that I'd never ask her to drink it again. Now. 80% of her body was affected by this disease - that's a lot to deal with. Even the photo therapy only cleared up about 40% of it, and that, up till now has been the most positive results we'd seen. After about 10 days of drinking Kombucha (4 oz. 3 times a day), it began to clear and we saw healthy skin again. Now, after 2 months, she's drinking a total of 8 oz every day and she puts about 2 cups in a bath every night (I can hardly make enough just for her). I'm so happy to report to you that she's looking like a 'normal' kid again. She still has some stubborn places (elbow, knee & groin creases), but they aren't as painful as they were before. This poor girl that had no friends to speak of - went to the 'homecoming dance' at her school two weeks ago wearing a dress that showed a lot of skin. She was so proud! Thanks for all your good advice and for being such a cheerleader for us. We are doing as you suggested and brewing her KT for drinking in green tea only. Thanks again. You have my permission to publish this letter (but don't use her name). Love, Vicky.
If the naturopathic theory is valid, regarding incomplete or abnormal digestion, then it comes as no surprise that Kombucha drinkers report various levels of improvement in their psoriasis symptoms. In the survey we did earlier this year, out of 404 respondents, 81% report relief from chronic constipation, and 27% reported relief from other digestive problems. Could the reason for psoriasis symptoms relief be as simple as better digestion from drinking KT? This is not an attempt to oversimplify or to diminish the very painful and aggravating symptoms of psoriasis - but it's something to ponder. Look at the thousands of arthritis sufferers that respond favorably to KT. Arthritis is also an auto immune disorder.
I recently read a report about a young man (a psoriasis victim of 20+ years) who traveled a great distance to spend two weeks at a particular 'spa' - renowned for it's 'healing water'. For two weeks, he drank it, he soaked in it, and when it was time to return to this home, his symptoms were nearly gone. Upon his departure he took a few bottle of this 'healing water' with him, as no treatment he had tried had ever given him this kind of relief. He had it tested and was told that the water was very acidic. Hmmmmmm - our Kombucha Tea is very acidic with a pH of 3 or lower! It's worth a try, and a heck of a lot cheaper than two weeks at a pricey spa.
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