By Michael A. Smith, MDThe CDC estimates that 150,000 people a year are diagnosed with psoriasis. Characterized by red, scaly skin eruptions, psoriasis can actually signal more than just cosmetic issues. As a matter of fact, it’s now linked to many age-related diseases that plague Americans, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Truth is, the verdict is still out — the cause of psoriasis still remains largely a mystery. However, it's likely that the interplay between genes and triggers may explain the story. Many researchers believe that psoriasis develops when something mistakenly triggers the immune system. With psoriatic arthritis — psoriasis that affects the joints — both genetics and environmental factors are suspected to play a role.
Dr. Colby Evans, a psoriasis expert from Texas, says, “We now know that psoriasis is an abnormality or malfunction of the immune system. And, specifically, we know that T cells, a type of white blood cell, are at the root of it. They are overgrowing and attacking the area of skin where the psoriasis is located. When you biopsy psoriasis and look at it with a microscope, you'll see many T cells underneath the plaque."
For this reason, gaining control over the disease through targeted immune modulation may be the best route. We’ll describe one way that this can be accomplished below.
Sweet Whey Extract Targets the Underlying CauseWhen cheese manufacturers make hard cheeses, like cheddar and Swiss, they use higher amounts of rennet — a digestive enzyme that breaks down milk protein. This produces a low acid (less sour) solution containing a type of whey protein, called sweet whey.
Clinical studies show that sweet whey extracts provide dramatic relief for people with mild to moderate psoriasis. Scientists first identified the benefits of whey extract in an open-label study in 2005, where adults with chronic, stable psoriasis consumed sweet whey extract for two months.
More than 60% of the study subjects experienced improvements from 10–81% on a standard psoriasis survey about the extent and severity of their psoriasis.1
These findings were confirmed in a larger, double-blind study the following year. Patients who supplemented with whey extract for two months improved on their scores from the Physician Global Assessment for Psoriasis, a standardized and well-accepted survey characterizing psoriasis severity.2
While the mechanism of action behind sweet whey extract is not fully understood, it’s believed that it targets the underlying cause of psoriasis — T-cell hyperactivity, as it’s been shown to prevent the activation of pro-inflammatory T-helper cells in the skin. This reduces skin cell destruction, and diminishes the formation and appearance of psoriatic plaques.3,4
Soothing Psoriasis NaturallyIt’s pretty clear that sweet whey extract, when used alone or in combination with conventional medical treatments, provides clinically significant relief for people with mild to moderate psoriasis.
Since it directly targets the underlying cause — hyperactive T-cells — it works to modulate your immune system at the route of the problem. For this reason, it’s probably the best natural option to pursue if you’re suffering from psoriasis yourself.
Do you have psoriasis? Have any natural remedies helped you? Please let us know what has (or hasn’t) worked for you in the comments below.
- J Cutan Med Surg. 2005 Dec;9(6):271-5.
- J Cutan Med Surg. 2006 Sep;10(5):241-8.
- Altern Med Rev. 2008 Jun;13(2):145-52.
- J Mol Med. 2003 Aug;81(8):471-80.
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