Written by: Arvie Florencio
For fifteen years, I’ve always been to the doctors and dermatologists to help with my psoriasis treatment. I was first diagnosed by a dermatologist of my skin condition and have been prescribed steroid ointments and creams since then. When my family and I immigrated to New Zealand, I went to a general practitioner doctor who would regularly prescribe - you guessed it - steroid ointments and creams as well. I remember asking my doctor if I should change anything in my diet or lifestyle and I remember him saying “No, there’s nothing you can do to treat it. You would just need to use these steroid ointments to prevent flare ups.” And from then on, I stopped asking questions about how to improve my skin condition. I would just even pick up my medication without even seeing my doctor. There are many moments that the psoriasis flare ups were uncontrollable and the itch was unbearable. But in my head, I just thought “Why bother if there’s no cure anyways?”
Using steroid ointments and creams made my skin thinner over the years. I easily get bruised or easily bleed. Dust and animal hair would trigger flare ups on my skin. And ever since I gave birth to my first child, my psoriasis condition has been much worse. I still only relied on steroid ointments because I refused to take methotrexate. I stopped going to the doctors or dermatologists about my skin because I’ll hear the same things. That there’s no cure. Just use the steroid ointments. Deep down, I know I was feeling hopeless but I just did not want to think about it. Again, “Why bother if there’s no cure anyways?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not mad at doctors and dermatologists. I know they’re just doing their job and prescribing me what they know best. Psoriasis really has no cure. I just came to a point where I was tired of hearing the same things and coming to a dead end.
As I was feeling hopeless about my situation, I started to think about alternatives. I thought that I’ve tried enough of the traditional route (for now, at least), why not try alternative medicine? I wanted to try this route and see if it would have any benefits for me before I dive in and take high risk drugs. I then started to search for naturopaths online and booked free consultations to understand how the process works and how much it would cost. And below are the pros and cons that I found since I started a program with a naturopath.
They look at your overall health improvement
Talking with a naturopath made me see how all the systems in my body are connected. My hormones, sleep cycle, menstruation cycles, bowel movement, stress levels, gut health, and all other bodily functions are all connected to my psoriasis condition. My naturopath helped me fix all the health other issues to help alleviate the flare ups I was having. It was not just hitting two birds with one stone, but rather hitting a flock of birds with one.
They prescribe vitamins and minerals that your body needs
Rather than prescribing medications filled with steroid or immune system suppressants, my naturopath prescribed vitamins and minerals that would help my body naturally heal. I took vitamins that would help lower my stress levels, improve my immune system, gut health, bowel health, and so many other things. I feel more energised throughout the day and my insides feel cleaner and healthier.
My psoriasis condition started becoming better
I have only been with my naturopath for two months but I am seeing so much progress with my psoriasis condition. I used to put Enstilar every night just to have some sort of relief from the flare ups. But now, I am able to get off from it and only apply it every other week or every other two weeks. I am still using it but hopefully some day, I would not depend on it at all. Areas where there were large patches of psoriasis healed. I still have to deal with scattered little dots of psoriasis but it has made my skin condition much more bearable than before. I can sleep throughout the night without waking up from the itch and pain of flare ups.
It helped me understand how to better care for my family’s health too
Being in the program for almost two months now, I started to see things differently on how it can all affect my health and my family’s health too. Understanding how food can help heal and fuel the body was really a huge mindset shift for me. I now plan our meals with fresh produce and whole organic food in mind. Limiting sugar intake does not feel like a punishment anymore. Exercising with my husband everyday always gets me excited each morning.
Consultations and prescriptions are costly
As with any other alternative medicine, this is not covered by the health care system subsidies. It can possibly be covered by insurance depending on your policy but usually, they have a maximum amount you can claim which is much smaller than the total amount you’d have to pay for the consultation and the prescriptions. They will usually put you in a program that can last for four to six months and so the consultations and prescriptions for the whole program can be costly to maintain.
You need to stick to the program to see the benefits
Changing habits are always hard and this is probably the hardest part for me since I started seeing a naturopath. Especially when I was placed in a detox diet for the first two weeks, I thought I couldn’t carry on. But I thought I needed to try and stick to this program because (1) it is expensive and I’ve already paid for the first part of the program; (2) I am desperate to find some relief from my psoriasis condition. I’m a huge coffee drinker and not being able to drink it, especially in the mornings, was really hard. I had headaches the first two days and I felt lethargic. But as I stuck to it, I slowly felt better and eventually felt I have more energy than before. It’s almost been two months since I started the program and it has helped me create new and better habits for my overall health and also for my family.
There is no promise that psoriasis will not come back
This program does not promise that I’ll have smooth flawless skin for the rest of my life. Psoriasis may come back and I can still experience flare ups time and time again. However, the whole experience has taught me so much about my overall health and what I can do to help my body heal naturally rather than fill myself with drugs and medications. It has given me some hope that there is light at the end of this tunnel. It may be a hard and tedious one, but I’ve got more tools in my bag to help me in this journey.
Overall, I would recommend seeing a naturopath, at least before you take medications that have high risks and can greatly affect your overall health. It’s not some ‘woo-woo’ treatment but a treatment that looks at treating other health issues you may have in connection to your skin condition. All the best on your journey!