Quack Cures for Psoriasis

By: Sharon Bell

Because of his or her appearance, the person with psoriasis may be tempted to try a number of questionable cures. While most of these quack remedies are probably harmless (except to your wallet), some of them are dangerous and should be avoided.

A few may appear to work mainly because psoriasis is characterized by flare-ups and remissions. So a quack cure might be credited with helping a patient when, in fact, the disease may have long periods of inactivity.

The psoriatic patient must bear in mind that there is no known cure for the disease, but that doesn't mean he is helpless. Many effective therapies are available so consult your physician or dermatologist regarding treatment options to find one that works for you. In the meantime, stay away from people who promise to cure psoriasis with the following:

Nutrition - like other people, the psoriatic patient must follow the golden rule of good nutrition. The patient must eat a variety of foods everyday. No special food or diet will clear up the scales that characterize the disease but that hasn't stopped enterprising salesmen from pushing their phony diets.

"Diets low in calories, proteins, tryptophan, and taurine are apparently of no benefit, though they have been advocated for more than 60 years," according to Kurt Butler and Dr. Lynn Rayner of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, in The Best Medicine.

In 1976, French researchers, who believed that psoriasis may be an allergic condition, suggested a gluten-free diet to help patients. They advised psoriatics to avoid wheat, rye, barley, and oats. However, the role of gluten sensitivity in psoriasis has not been established. If you're one of those contemplating a dietary change for psoriasis, forget it! Stick to a normal diet instead unless your doctor says so.

Herbs - various herbs have been promoted as cures for psoriasis. The problem with herbal concoctions sold in health food stores is that they aren't potent enough to do any good. Others are marketed for dubious purposes. One of these is comfrey.

The roots and leaves of the comfrey plant (Symphytum officinale) have been used as a folk remedy for thousands of years. Its healing property supposedly comes from allantoin which is used in treating wounds. Herbalists claim that allantoin also works for psoriasis and they recommend soaking the affected area in a strong solution.

But this is unlikely since allantoin stimulates cell growth which could make matters worse for psoriatics. Besides, most of the "evidence" related to this matter is anecdotal; there are no hard studies to support comfrey's use in psoriasis.

While the external use of comfrey is safe, don't make the mistake of taking it internally. This herb may contain small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can cause liver cancer.

"An herbal tea manufacturer recently issued a nationwide recall of its comfrey tea because of a poison found in the mixture. Comfrey is widely used in herbal preparations and teas. It contains a dangerous group of chemicals which can cause liver damage. Although an occasional cup of comfrey tea is not harmful, frequent consumption as a tea or home remedy may cause buildup of the dangerous substances in the body leading to long range damage," revealed Annette Natow and JoAnn Heslin in Megadoses: Vitamins as Drugs.

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