Why Probiotics?

Probiotics are a very important dietary supplement for those with psoriasis. The moment you began passing through the birth canal during labor, your body began coming into contact with, and picking up, a host of beneficial bacterial microorganisms. These beneficial bacteria, which are absolutely essential to proper human function, entered your body through your mouth as you passed through the birth canal. From there, they rapidly made their way into your intestinal tract, where they established themselves in large colonies. As you might guess, mother’s milk contains just the right ingredients to nourish these friendly bacteria once they become established in your intestines. It was once thought that the human digestive system has about 400 to 500 different species of bacteria in the bowel, but recent research in America has found that there may be over 15,000 different species.

These bugs, some good, and some bad, make up the foundation of what you might call your “intestinal flora.” In short, these beneficial microorganisms, which begin invading your body during the birth process, soon become an integral part of your gastrointestinal ecology. Once established, they go to work performing or stimulating a number of important functions, including:

  • Enhancing the function of your entire gastrointestinal tract.
  • Protecting your body against pathogenic or harmful foreign invaders.
  • Maintaining the vital chemical balance of your entire digestive system.
  • Producing needed vitamins and hormones, and regulating their levels.
  • Performing a mind-boggling array of other essential tasks necessary to achieving and maintaining proper human growth, hormonal function and immune response.

Plaque psoriasis is often treated by medical doctors with different kinds of pharmaceutical medicines including creams, ointments and drugs but is generally far from successful, in fact, it is only treating the symptoms and many people with plaque psoriasis end up giving up on these kinds of conventional treatments, preferring to look for natural and drug-free ways of treating their skin problems. Other common medical treatments for chronic plaque psoriasis include phototherapy or systemic agents (strong drug treatments), and I’ve found that many psoriasis patients simply aren’t interested in going down this path.

When a person is affected with plaque psoriasis, their skin cells have an accelerated growth with lots of premature (not fully developed) skin cells coming to the surface, forming thick skin plaques.You can read a lot more here about psoriasis.

The itching, cracking of skins and pain may or may not be the cause or symptoms for plaque psoriasis. The plaque psoriasis is detected with their distinctive silver white emergence and the skin that is inflamed under has a reddish tinge. Moreover, the patient will feel a burning sensation when the plaques of affected skin area are touched with clothing.

Plaque psoriasis is also found to have hereditary links. On the other hand, it can also erupt when exposed to sunlight, excessive smoking, excessive alcohol intake and inherent immune conditions. This type of psoriasis can be severe, asymptomatic, mild and acute. The plaque psoriasis may recur again in a week’s time or a month or after a long period. Hence, adequate precaution and treatment is essential to prevent its recurrence.

Research scientists now assert that inadequate levels of beneficial intestinal microorganisms are directly associated with the following ill-health conditions:

    • chronic fatigue
    • rashes and other skin conditions like psoriasis
    • allergies
    • poor immune response to common illnesses
    • poor immune response to chronic degenerative disease
    • rapid onset of osteoporosis
    • frequent diarrhea
    • frequent intestinal gas
    • frequent constipation
    • chronic bladder infections
    • chronic vaginal infections
    • severe bruising problems
    • high cholesterol levels
    • vitamin B deficiencies
    • dairy product sensitivities
    • chronic anemia
    • candida infections
    • low sex hormones
    • breast enlargement in men
    • prostate trouble
    • increased menstrual complaints
    • intensified PMS symptoms
    • hormonal imbalances
    • chronic bad breath
    • and many other conditions

Fortunately, these conditions can often be prevented from occurring simply by supplementing your diet with food products that are rich in beneficial intestinal microorganisms. Ingesting probiotic foods such as organic cultured yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut can help maintain your body’s proper balance of vital gastrointestinal flora. Virtually all nutritionists today acknowledge that these particular food products should be ingested regularly for this very reason. For those not keen to eat these foods, many good quality probiotic supplements are available and are an excellent way to supplement your diet with beneficial organisms. Along with your daily multivitamin, consider regular supplementation with probiotics, you may be quite surprised at what a difference they can make to your health.

What Are Probiotics?

A probiotic is a microorganism introduced into the body for its beneficial qualities. There are many different types and strains of beneficial bacteria, and a good quality probiotic should contain some of the best strains that have proven to excel in repopulating the digestive system and discouraging the pathogenic bacteria from returning. Normally the intestinal wall is densely covered with over 500 hundred different species of microbes grouped essentially in three types:

  1. The Beneficial Bacteria. The good guys, you may have heard of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidus, these are but two of the many different bacteria which are beneficial and essential to our good health.
  2. The Commensals. These bacteria form a symbiotic relationship in which the entire bacterial population of the digestive system is benefited, but the other bacteria are neither benefited nor harmed. Commensals can go good or bad depending on the level of beneficial or pathogenic bacteria. I call these guys the “politicians” of the gut; they can swing either way depending on the majority in the gut.
  3. The Pathogenic Bacteria. These are the nasty guys; they can harm other bacteria but are kept in balance by the beneficial bacteria. When we take beneficial bacteria (probiotics) continually during candida treatment, the bad bacteria will find it more difficult to get a foothold on the intestinal wall and the commensals tend to swing more towards behaving themselves rather than misbehaving, and with a good anti-fungal supplement and probiotic, the pathogenic bacterial population will decline and a harmonious balance will be maintained once again in the intestinal tract.

Therefore we must first make some free space in the digestive system by not only taking an antimicrobial formula which will inhibit and control any potential bacterial, parasite problem or yeast infection, but also include in our diet specialized foods like which you can read about in the book called Psoriasis – Special Foods, Supplements and Herbs. With more space and a less hostile environment, the beneficial probiotic bacteria can more easily occupy the vacated spaces at the intestinal wall, and crowd out the yeasts and bad bacteria.

Why Should You Take Probiotics When You Have Psoriasis?

Try not to consider the probiotic supplement as a supplement, but rather as a beneficial food instead. That way you won’t think to yourself “Well, I’ll just take these pills for a few weeks, and when I feel better I’ll stop taking them”. Is that how you feel about beneficial foods like yogurt, garlic, sauerkraut and coconut too? We tend to view dietary supplements as just that, something to supplement our diet with for a short period of time and then to discontinue them. But probiotics are different in that they are beneficial bacteria that have spectacular effects on our health and their fragile populations are easily compromised due to the very way we eat and live. You will find that by taking them for a long period of time that your will miraculously appear to keep on improving in many different ways, and that’s because they are involved in so many different processes affecting your health.

It is therefore important to take a high quality probiotic supplement in addition to regularly consuming live yogurt and other fermented and cultured foods (see The Psoriasis Diet book) as part of the Psoriasis Program, that way you are guaranteed to continually re-populate your digestive system with these friendly bacteria. This “Body Ecology” concept as promoted by leading health experts such as Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions, New Trends Publishing Inc., 1999) and Donna Gates (The Body Ecology Diet, Body Ecology Publishing; 1996) becomes a very important consideration when you have psoriasis. If you are serious about a permanent resolution of your psoriasis, and I assume that’s why you are reading this website, then you will most certainly want to develop a life-long habit of encouraging the continual reproduction as well as growth of many species of the beneficial bacteria.

When Do You Take Probiotics?

Some experts say to always take probiotics away from foods while others say to always take probiotics with meals. So what do you do? Well, the most important thing to do is to, just take the pro-biotics. But because you are not taking the probiotic in isolation to other products, but you are taking the probiotic with a product that strongly inhibits and actively eradicates bad bacteria and yeasts (like an antimicrobial dietary supplement), then it does pay to separate them.

Some people believe that beneficial bacteria are degraded and destroyed in the stomach, and that nothing survives the stomach bypass because the “stomach acid kills all the beneficial bacteria”. A long time ago, people used to eat foods rich in lactic acid and loaded in beneficial bacteria and did not ever have to rely on taking pro-biotics. My grandmother used to make large quantities of sauerkraut in the fall that would be consumed all winter long. Do you think she paid any attention to when the sauerkraut was to be eaten? It was eaten as a side-serve along with foods like sausage, mash and gravy; sometimes it was eaten alone, sometimes with meat.

Take your probiotics with food, or away, in my opinion it makes little difference especially if you take them long-term and on an on-going basis. Like any dietary supplements, the hard part is just to remember to take them regularly every day and if you take a supplement long enough, you will get in into the system.

And for this reason I’m not that happy with the refrigerated kind of probiotics, and much prefer a “non-refrigeration” and dairy-free product. Are you going to remember to go to the refrigerator twice or three times a day to take your probiotic? Can you take the refrigerator with you on your journey?

The dosage of a probiotic is one capsule twice daily with meals. Take on an ongoing basis when you have psoriasis. How long? I recommend for at least 6 and sometimes for as long as 12 months continually, seven days a week.

Good advice is to introduce the probiotic about ten to fourteen days after you commence the Psoriasis Diet, no point taking this product during The Big Clean-Up (The Big Clean-Up is the first stage of the The Psoriasis Diet) you are trying to purge and clean the bowel out and will only be wasting your money and efforts. Give yourself a week or two on the diet and then commence with the probiotic. You will be able to read all about The Big Clean-Up and The Psoriasis Diet when you get your own personal copy of The Psoriasis Program.

Stay On The Probiotic, Especially When You Re-Introduce Carbohydrates

By taking the probiotic over a prolonged period of time, you can over time regenerate a healthy intestinal flora, especially if you understand the concept of a healthy balance in your life of work and play, exercise, relaxation, healthy foods, etc. However, if you don’t follow up your digestive rejuvenation with the probiotic, then as you are on the road to recovery and you slowly begin to ingest increasing amounts of carbohydrates (especially the refined ones, the sugars), then any potential yeast or bacterial overgrowth may quickly multiply. This often occurs when a patient I see starts to notice significant improvements in their psoriasis and then starts to eat bread again, drinks wine or beer and slowly slides back into the dietary behavioral patterns they originally had which aggravated their skin problems. All of a sudden they feel terrible and experience a re-occurrence or a nasty flare-up of their psoriasis.

However, with more serious and chronic psoriasis, it may take longer to really notice the benefits of a good quality probiotic. Therefore we need to be particularly careful vigilant and continue avoiding or minimizing drugs, alcohol, sweet foods and many different kinds of chemicals, and use a suitable diet as I have outlined in The Psoriasis Program. Sometimes it can take as long as a year or more of being vigilant if you have been quite unwell with psoriatic arthritis for example, but there comes a time when you will most certainly is able to return to your old self again, all in good time.

Don’t Be Quick To Stop Taking The Probiotics

Don’t be quick to stop taking the probiotics, these should be the last nutritional supplements you continue to take, and continue with them until you feel really well, and when all psoriasis symptoms abate then take them for at least a month or two longer. I have always found it beneficial and highly advisable to recommend probiotics regularly during prolonged psoriasis therapy, and especially for some time after completing the therapy. These are the psoriasis patients who stay better for longer.

Are You A Sensitive Psoriasis Patient?

For the sensitive patients, i.e.; those who react quite strongly to any kind of dietary supplement treatment, for once a day you may like to try to take the probiotic before consuming any carbohydrate foods or drinks. Alternatively, frequently consume lactic acid fermented foods like yoghurt and/or sauerkraut, miso soup, tempeh, quark, etc. If you are taking any treatment for candida, it is important after finishing any anti-microbial therapy continue to take the probiotics for one to two months with breakfast and with your dinner .You can take probiotics and an antifungal product at the same time, there is no evidence that they counter each other. The last four to eight weeks of probiotic treatment just take a dose with breakfast.

Even after what you and most probably your health-care professional deem as successful therapy, candida spores and dormant microbes like bacteria and various parasites may remain in your body and re-emerge when we you chronically stressed, just like the herpes virus. As your immune system gets stronger, you will eventually get over the these infections. Therefore, repeat the probiotic treatment whenever candida or gut infection-related symptoms re-appear. Remember – don’t be in a hurry to stop the probiotics, most psoriasis patients do in my experience and this is one of the key ways to fail with treating chronic psoriasis successfully. It can take many, many months to rebuild your digestive system, so please be a patient patient!

I have found that the “extremely sensitive” psoriasis patients with multiple allergies and multiple food intolerances generally should proceed very slowly indeed, good advice for them is remain on the Psoriasis Diet, use anti-inflammatory remedies, such as slippery elm powder before meals and ginger with meals, and introduce probiotics, lactic acid fermented food and anti-microbial products only very gradually over a four week period. They may not even be able in some cases be able to tolerate an antimicrobial product for a month when they start therapy, but eventually will. Either way, all dosages of supplements need to be very carefully and slowly increased over time.