The Approach That Improved My Psoriasis … and My Life

Living with chronic inflammatory diseases like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can feel like a relentless wearing away of your shoreline. Over time, we can become emotionally eroded by physical demands and never-ending tide of treatments, triggers, and comorbid threats. Chronic inflammation can do damage beyond our skin and joints, affecting our eyes, hearts, waistlines, gastrointestinal tracts, and nervous systems.

The steady flow of new medications introduced over the last 20 years has been life-altering for people struggling with psoriatic disease. As with any treatment, there are risks and benefits to be weighed and no one therapeutic is a cure-all. Caring for our interconnected systems requires a multidimensional approach.  

I developed debilitating palmar-plantar psoriasis in my 20s, and in the decades that followed, waded through just about every treatment option available, including oral and topical steroids, retinoids, immunosuppressants, UV light treatments, and biologics. In time, I settled on a suitable cocktail and began to enjoy relatively clear skin and less pain for days, weeks, and even years at a stretch.

During those years, I also lived a stressful, sedentary, and decidedly sedated lifestyle and developed the full bouquet of comorbidities along the way, from obesityhypertension, and irritable bowel syndrome to endometriosisanxiety, and depression. Some of which, like my psoriasis, were managed pharmaceutically. All of which, like my psoriasis, were exacerbated by a rainbow of unhealthy coping mechanisms like comfort eating and drinking, smoking, and overworking.

Resilient as we are, our bodies have a breaking point, and mine came in the form of a perforated ulcer as a result of chronic gastritis. I had been bleeding internally for days and ignoring the signs. It was a terrifying experience, and it launched the first day of my fantastic voyage to wellness.

In my ongoing quest to restore physical and emotional health, I am still awakening to the wisdom of integrative medicine, embracing both conventional and alternative therapies to encourage and support my body’s natural healing abilities. I am learning new ways to take care of myself and supplement regular checkups, preventative screenings, and necessary prescriptions with simple, yet powerful, nutritional and mind-body interventions that I believe saved my life.

Food as Medicine

Fresh, whole food is a privilege and should be treated as such. For me that means eating the most nutritious, least artificial food I can, as consistently as I can. I also limit or avoid known triggers that cause inflammation like refined sugar and carbs, fried foods, and alcohol. I fuel my body with lots of anti-inflammatory delights like berries, broccoli, and avocados. In the past 3 years, and with the help of WW, I taught myself how to eat well, released 145 pounds, and said goodbye to blood pressure and ulcer medications and steroids.  

Awareness as a Way of Life

Bringing awareness and presence to my daily tasks through mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breathwork has had a profound impact on my physical and mental well-being. Mindfulness helps relieve stress, reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure, ease gastrointestinal bothers, and makes my body more resilient to the inflammation inherent with psoriatic disease. My humble journey began with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness and continues in earnest with each new day, each new moment, and each new breath.

Emotional Healing as a Bridge to Physical Well-being     

I have also toiled to uncover and release layers of suppressed grief, trauma, and negative emotions that fueled my unhealthy behavior and kept me stuck in a painful cycle of dis-ease. In addition to traditional psychotherapy, through a trusted circle of guides and coaches, I embrace alternative modalities like reiki healing and tension and trauma releasing exercises (TRE) to help regulate my nervous system, reduce anxiety, and promote emotional and physical healing.

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