Jerry G. Scott
Medical science is on the verge of declaring psoriasis to be strictly the result of an immune system malfunction. This is information that has been known for some time, actually, but the conservative nature of medical science has kept it out of the mainstream until recently. While the news is exciting because the cause is being uncovered, the direction this is all taking is not. The direction is toward a number of new drugs called biologics that interfere with the immune systems functioning and create further risks in the process.
First a little background. The small intestine has the dual function of being a digestive/absorptive organ as well as a barrier to keep out toxic compounds and macromolecules. Either one of these functions may be disrupted by various mechanisms, resulting in problems with 'leakage' into the bloodstream. When this happens, it is called intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. The intestine contains numerous bacteria with toxic properties. These include certain bacteria and bacterial antigens capable of inducing antibodies, as well as food antigens that can produce immune system reactions. Also, studies have shown that Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) disrupt the intestinal barrier function and cause increased permeability, or Leaky Gut Syndrome. This is relevant for those people with arthritis who are taking NSAIDs because the increased permeability may be a factor in their disease process.
What does all this mean? It means that large food particles as well as other unwanted things pass through your intestinal walls and create havoc (immune responses etc.) It also means that organs like your kidneys, liver, and skin are working overtime to compensate for this imbalance. It means that you are immune-compromised, and it means that it is highly likely that you have a bacterial imbalance in your gut, some of which is getting inside the body where it doesnt belong. Absorption of these normally-excluded substances increases accordingly. This results in distribution in the blood of invasive macromolecules, which results in inflammation. Increased permeability of the mucosal barrier in the gut allows for excessive absorption of bacteria, food antigens, and large molecules. When this breaks down, antigens are allowed to enter the system in excessive amounts, which leads to an immune system response in individuals with psoriasis. This response involves specific white blood cells called T-cells, which travel to the site of the psoriasis and populate it, causing rapid proliferation of the skin cells and inflammation. At first it was thought that T-cells themselves were responsible for psoriasis, but it turns out that it is this over activity acting as a catalyst for the production of skin cells.
This is where things take a turn for the worse, because instead of working with the immune system, the thrust of modern medicine and their backers is to develop new drugs to knock out the T-cell function of the immune system, thereby allowing excessive skin cell growth to settle down. As effective as this may be in the short run, it comes with cautions, namely the reduction in efficiency of the immune system. T-cells are in the front lines of defence for the body. It would appear to make more sense to stop the process that produces T-cell proliferation. Healing the lining of the intestinal walls so that antigens are no longer allowed to pass through the walls into the bloodstream can do this. In this way the immune system will no longer have a reason to go into overdrive, when antigens are no longer present. New drugs will only serve to do what drugs have always done, which is to suppress symptoms. In the case of the new biologics, it is suppression of the immune system. The root cause will remain as long as the lining of the intestine is allowed to deteriorate. There is another way to deal with the whole matter.
About the Author
The author is a nutritionist who founded The Psoriasis Connection (PCI) in 1998 and has just published the book 'Psoriasis the Real Way Out'. PCI's information can be seen at www.psoriasisUSA.com.
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