How Psoriasis affects your quality of life
When one compares the quality of life in psoriasis to that in other medical conditions it becomes clear that the reduction in quality of life that these patients experience is comparable to the reduction in quality of life with other medical illnesses. Psoriasis is a multifaceted disorder,a multigenic phenomenon in which certain infectious, pharmaceutical, and recreational (alcohol,cigarettes) agents may play an important role as triggers. On the physical dimensions of health-related quality of life, psoriasis has less impact than congestive heart failure, but greater impact than hypertension, diabetes, post-myocardial infarction and depression. However, on the mental dimensions of health-related quality of life, psoriasis was considered worse than all these conditions except depression.
Psoriasis, Patients & Stress
Eighty percent of patients with psoriasis report that stress makes their psoriasis worse and most feel that their psoriasis itself is a very significant stressor. Specific aspects of the disease that are particularly bothersome to patients include itching, appearance, scaling, and their inability to control the psoriasis. In clinical practice, many patients will not continue to apply a medication for the 8-12 weeks necessary to see the full benefit of treatment and will also immediately discontinue use of a drug if they experience irritation from the product. Half of all patients do not adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by their doctors.
Psoriasis – chronic but not incurable
Psoriasis is still considered to be a chronic and incurable skin condition and conventional medical treatment relies on a combination of controlled ultraviolet light exposure (sometimes after ingestion of sensitising chemicals called psoralens), lotions containing tar derivatives, and steroid creams to alleviate the condition. Oral steroids and even cytotoxic drugs are also sometimes used in severe cases.
But long-term use of these treatments can produce serious side effects ranging from advanced osteoporosis, high blood pressure ( from corticosteroids) to liver and kidney abnormalities (methotrexate) and hair loss, severe gingivitis necessitating tooth extraction and fetal malformation (retinoids).
It is therefore encouraging to find that dermatologists have recently discovered that a new natural plant-based topical applications that can effectively alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis in over eighty per cent of psoriasis sufferers within just twelve weeks.
Mahonia aquifolium – the miracle plant extract for Psoriasis
Out of a host of ‘natural’ treatments – one stands head and shoulders above the rest – A randomised, placebo controlled clinical trial was established to investigate the efficacy and safety of Mahonia aquifolium bark extract in psoriasis patients. From autumn 1990 to spring 1992, 82 patients, of all severity gradings, were recruited from 22 family physicians. The patients were instructed to apply two types of ointment (verum/placebo), one to the left side of their body and the other to the right side. After an average treatment period of four weeks, the treatment success was assessed on a three-level ordinal rating scale. The patients’ reported significant improvements. Adverse reactions (e.g. Itching, burning sensation) occurred in four of the patients. The researchers stated that “Mahonia seems to alleviate symptoms especially in moderately severe cases”, and concluded that “Mahonia aquifolium bark extract as a potential and safe therapy of moderately severe cases of psoriasis vulgaris”.
Mahonia aquifolium – the breakthrough plant-based treatment for Psoriasis
Mahonia aquifolium (also known as Oregon Grape Root)is a very special plant that is listed as an homeopathic preparation in the German Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia. It is known to have very potent healing alkaloids that are anti-fungal, anti-becterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative (i.e. they inhibit rapid skin cell growth). Mahonia aquifolum has been used by traditional Medical Herbalists to help treat a wide variety of health problems, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that researchers began to investigate the impact that the extract of Mahonia aquifolium could have on Psoriasis. Once they began to study the mahonia aquifolium extract, they knew that they were on to a major breakthrough.
The first study was an open, prospective multi centre trial in 89 dermatological practices throughout Germany, 433 patients with subacute and chronic forms of psoriasis were treated with Mahonia aquifolium ointment for up to a period of one year. 375 of the patients continued with the treatment for a year as planned or dropped out of the study early because they had experienced a complete clearance of their skin.
According to an overall evaluation by the participating dermatologists, symptoms improved or disappeared in 81.1% of the patients which was confirmed by the patients’ own subjective evaluation of the efficacy of the treatment.
The tolerability of Mahonia aquifolium ointment was evaluated as good or very good by 82.4% of patients. The treatment was also seen to produce a significant improvement in the quality of life, which was used as a subjective parameter throughout the study.
A detailed appraisal of the results found that while, at the start of the study, 30.1% of patients had significant or severe symptoms, after the first 12 weeks of treatment, only 5.6% of the patients fell within this category.
The researchers concluded that Mahonia aquifolium ointment is a well-tolerated topical preparation which offers a valuable alternative to conventional treatments and they went on to recommend that this new plant-based ointment should find a place in the available treatments for psoriasis sufferers.
Anti-fungal effects on Psoriasis
Psoriasis lesions grow much like a fungus and many dermatologists believe that the condition may be triggered or augmented in some cases by some sort of fungus. Researchers in Britis Columbia analysed over 100 plant extracts for anti-fungal activity and their results revealed that only nine had significant anti-fungal agents. Of those nine, Mahonia aquifolium was found to be one of most potent anti-fungal plant extracts and this may well be a factor that explains why Mahonia aquifolium seems to help so many Psoriasis sufferers.
These findings sparked a number of other clinical studies investigating the potential of mahonia aquifolium to help Psoriasis sufferers. All published studies reported not just statistically significant improvements noticed by both the dermatologists and the patients, but they also revealed that fact that this simple plant extract may be as effective or more effective in the treatment of Psoriasis than most of the conventional treatments with the added benefit of having no significant adverse side effects.
Mahonia aquifolium is without doubt the best news for Psoriasis sufefrers in the last thirty years. It offers a proven, safe alternative treatment to the plethora of conventional treatments (including corticosteroids) and is not associated to any significant adverse side effects. In studies, a very small percentage of patients (less than 2%) stopped using the treatment due to increased itching sensations but these may be the result of what is known as a ‘rebound’ phenomenon of discontinued use of suppressive medical treatments rather than the mahonia aquifolium itself.