Scope of Homoeopathic Treatment in Psoriasis
An overview of this inflammatory skin condition and its homeopathic treatment.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects two to three per cent of the population. It can appear at any age, but mostly between the ages of 11 and 60. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, belonging to a group of conditions where the immune system is overactive and attacks its own cells and tissues. Normally skin cells are formed at the bottom of the outer layer of our skin. The cells go through a cycle of change, moving upwards through the layers to the surface of the skin where they die and are shed within a period of three to four weeks. In psoriasis this process is speeded up and cells can go through this cycle within three to four days. This causes thickening of the skin and its characteristic scaly appearance. Psoriasis affects mainly the skin and nails, but in six per cent of cases it is accompanied by inflammation of joints, affecting mainly fingers, toes and the spine and is called psoriatic arthritis.
The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word psora, meaning itch, although in most cases the affected skin is not particularly itchy. But some patients do experience a lot of itching and sometimes the eruptions can be sore and painful, in particular when there are cracks present. Psoriasis can affect the whole body, including the scalp, but the face is often spared. There are different types. psoriasis vulgaris, plaque psoriasis, appears in big patches of thickened skin usually with white/silvery scales on the elbows and knees, but also other parts of the body. When one finds lots of small scaly spots and patches the condition is called psoriasis guttate. This form often affects children and is frequently triggered by streptococcal throat infections and often disappears by itself within a few weeks or months. Psoriasis pustulosa, usually presents with little yellow pustules and affects the palms of the hands and soles of feet.
In up to 50 per cent of psoriasis patients, nails can also be affected. One can see small indentures in the nails or circular discolorations under the nails. In more severe cases the nails can thicken and separate from the underlying nail bed.
The causes of psoriasis are still not entirely clear, although in 30 per cent of patients there is a family history of the condition. Certain factors can trigger the onset of the skin eruptions including streptococcal throat infections, particular medicines and injury to the skin, and emotional factors, such as stress or situations of trauma, shock and bereavement. Those trigger factors can be important for the homeopathic practitioner as it might indicate which remedy might be appropriate for that particular person.
Due to its appearance, psoriasis can profoundly affect an individual, as people unfamiliar with the condition might think it is contagious. The sufferer may also have to endure adverse comments from others about their appearance, which can affect his or her quality of life immensely.
From the homeopathic point of view we can approach treatment in different ways. We can treat the person as a whole and try to find a constitutional remedy with the aim of strengthening the organism generally. This means looking at not only the patient’s psoriasis symptoms, but also his or her general health and way of reacting to the environment, as well as what drives him or her on an emotional level. But homeopaths can also treat symptomatically, meaning treating the psoriasis symptoms specifically.
Overall we often have good results with the treatment of psoriasis.
Choice of homeopathic medicine
In choosing which homeopathic remedy to use, we consider various factors. It can be extremely helpful to know if something might have triggered the onset of symptoms. If the psoriasis has been triggered by bereavement, for instance, this might guide us to particular grief remedies, although a variety of other factors or symptoms need to be present too to give such a remedy
The location of the patches can be useful for the choice of medicine
Factors that aggravate or ameliorate a sufferer’s condition are important to know, especially if they are atypical for the condition, as this indicates an individual mode of expression particular to the affected person.