Your Colon And Psoriasis Share A Relationship
Did you know that you are much more likely to have problems with your skin and be inclined towards immune dysfunction like psoriasis, if your colon (large intestine) is not functioning well?
I have noticed that many patients with psoriasis have constipation, sluggish bowels or poor elimination habits in general. Poor functioning bowels and colon impaction has been noted to be one of the primary reasons for a breakdown of the intestinal walls, as well as compromised colonic cell growth. Let’s take a closer look at the colon, it is important that you gain a better understanding of the critical role that this organ plays, not only when it comes to keeping your body nice and clean on the inside, but in the prevention of nearly all chronic diseases, including psoriasis.
The colon is perhaps the most important of all elimination organs when it comes to psoriasis. As you can see from the illustration above, it is divided into four parts: the ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colon. There are various diseases affecting the colon, such as ulcerative colitis, and sometimes we may find physical abnormalities affecting the colon, although these occur rarely. What is more common however are certain abnormal conditions affecting this organ which are often (but certainly not always) under control of the patient, such as the formation of bowel pockets (diverticuli), a ballooned sigmoid colon, the formation of strictures as well as the formation of a prolapsed bowel.
There are many potential signs and symptoms of a problematic colon, and it is therefore most important for you to know the symptoms of a colon that is not functioning optimally. I have listed the most common signs here for your convenience, and if you recognize any of these then I can highly recommend you take action. You may be familiar with some of these signs and symptoms, others perhaps not, but if you have psoriasis and can relate to any symptoms in this list then you are well advised to improve the health of your large intestine.
- Regular dull headache
- Having to go to the bathroom recurrently to pass small motions
- Regular gas
- Dull occasional pain in lower abdominal area, especially the left side
- Dehydration, not drinking much or any water
- Halitosis (bad breath, sometimes even fecal smelling breath)
- Tired or exhausted (especially on waking in the morning)
- Dull joint pain
- Skin disorder (any, especially psoriasis and dermatitis)
- Nausea and/or vomiting regularly
- Defecating long after eating (more than 12 hours)
- Not defecating daily
- Ineffectual urging to defecate
The following illustrations come from Dr. Bernard Jensen’s book entitled Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management. (1981., 6th Edition., Published by Bernard Jensen., Escondido, CA.)
- Normal healthy colon. Avoid constipation by having plenty of unprocessed natural foods in your diet, including fruits and vegetables. Follow the dietary recommendations as outlined in the Psoriasis Diet, and you will discover that you will need to reduce the amount of sweet fruits in your diet but most vegetables are OK. It is important to keep those bowels moving every single day if you want a normal healthy colon. Try the linseed/sunflower and almond mix I have suggested in the Psoriasis Diet, add this powder to smoothies, vegetables, soups, cereals and even fruit salads. Other good sources of dietary fiber to keep that bowel healthy are oat bran and brown rice.
- Ballooned sigmoid colon. Bad toilet habits are more common than you think when it comes to psoriasis. I often find it quite interesting what one person’s definition a of “normal” bowel habit is when compared to another person’s definition. Some people (and their doctors, much to my amazement) even believe that passing motions every four to five days is perfectly acceptable. And I suppose it is perfectly acceptable to place your household garbage out on the street for collection once per month as well? A ballooned sigmoid colon is the result most often due to ignoring the signal to empty the bowels, or from a bad case of continual constipation. I’ve had some psoriasis patients tell me that they “don’t like going to the bathroom” that much, and “hold off” if they can. Once you make it a habit of going daily, better still, twice daily, you will find not only an improvement in overall digestive and bowel health, but in your skin health as well. Patients who commonly have a ballooned sigmoid are taxi drivers, airline pilots and truck drivers and its not hard to see why. They sit for hours at a time and find it hard to get to the bathroom regularly. Get up and move around, walking, eating the right kinds of foods and never ignoring the urge to defecate are three key points of avoiding a balloned sigmoid.
- Ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an auto-immune condition just like psoriasis, but in this instance it is an inflammatory condition that affects the large bowel and not the skin. I have seen ulcerative colitis in those with psoriasis as well. Colitis patients will do particularly well on my three-stage Psoriasis Diet, and I encourage them to be especially careful with what they eat. They will also need to be aware of any triggers that may affect a bowel flare-up, as these can be most uncomfortable involving the discharge of mucous and blood. These triggers are quite similar as the psoriasis triggers. Stress commonly underpins a colitis flare-up (and also commonly a psoriasis flare-up), and the information in my psoriasis booklets about stress, immunity and adrenal fatigue is especially relevant information in this regard. With colitis, make sure your iron (blood) levels and vitamin B12 levels are regularly checked.
- Diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is a condition also known as having bowel pockets, and an inflammation or infection of these bowel pockets is called diverticulitis.Many people have these little bowel pockets, especially as they age, which tend to occur as small pouches that bulge outwards of the colon through weak spots. This will often occur as a result of pressure placed on the colon due to a sluggish bowel or constipation occurring over a period of several years. The likelihood increases with age, and many psoriasis patients I see have these bowel pockets to some degree by the time they are 60 or 70 years of age. Most people with diverticulosis do not have any discomfort or symptoms. However, symptoms may include mild cramps, bloating, and constipation. Other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) cause similar problems, so these symptoms do not always mean a person has diverticulosis. You should visit your doctor if you have these symptoms, especially if they are recurring. The most common symptom of diverticulitis is abdominal pain, and the most common sign is tenderness around the left side of the lower abdomen. If diverticulitis infection is the cause, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping, and constipation may occur as well. The severity of symptoms depends on the extent of the infection and complications.
- Stricture. During healing from an intestinal infection, scar tissue may form in the wall of the colon. Any scar that encircles the colon is called a colon stricture. The colon may narrow gradually as the stricture ages and tightens, eventually causing a blocked colon. One of the most common causes of a blocked colon, apart from chronic constipation, is tumor formation, which may occur when colon cancer develops.
- Spasm. Bowel spasms are muscular contractions of the intestines. These involuntary spasms may occasionally occur without any warning due to a variety of reasons and can last for either very short or extended periods of time. Bowel spasms can be quite painful when they do occur, and commonly occur as a symptom of a disorder of the colon such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome or a bowel infection involving bacteria or parasites. Occasionally, bowel spasms may be experienced by healthy people with a completely normal digestive system, and in such instances I would expect that stress plays a role. I have noticed that some kinds of foods can exacerbate bowel spasms, but more commonly would expect that nervousness, stress and anxiety underpin painful spasms of the bowel in healthy people, because they cause autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction. You can read a lot more about the ANS in my writings on psoriasis, stress, immunity and adrenal fatigue.
- Prolapsed Bowel. A prolapsed bowel occurs more commonly than you may think, it is when the large intestine sags because the ligaments and muscles which hold the rectum inside the body become weak for one of several reasons, allowing the lower part of the bowel (generally most always the rectum) to prolapse through the anus). A prolapsed bowel is often called a prolapsed rectum and occurs because of excessive straining due to constipation, a difficult pregnancy or delivery, aging and can even be caused due to heavy weightlifting. If the condition is particularly bad, a surgeon can rectify it by repairing the damaged colon. The symptoms of a prolapsed bowel include pain when beginning a bowel motion, a protrusion of the rectum or part of the bowel when straining or blood tinged-stool when passing a motion. I have seen a few patient over the years who have suffered from this condition, and in each case they required surgery to rectify the problem. What you can do to prevent a prolapsed bowel from occurring is to take proper care of your digestive system. This is a condition you can prevent, for example, by adding more fiber (more vegetables as well as LSA mix – see the Psoriasis Diet book) to your diet, which will result in easier eliminations. Adequate water is also important o make it easier to eliminate. The less strain involved in passing a motion, the less strain you place on the muscles and ligaments holding the bowel in place.
- Prolapsed bowel with pressure on the lower organs. What some people with constipation may not be aware of is the possibility of developing a prolapsed bowel, and in some of the more extreme cases the prolapse can even affect surrounding organs. The pressure from can even put a strain on the surrounding or organs underlying the large intestine. An untreated prolapse may lead to prostrate troubles or bladder issues. A fallen colon can even cause the uterus to tilt or prolapse through the vagina. A woman may experience increased pain during her menstrual cycles as well as potential difficulty conceiving, because the colon has moved to block the fallopian tubes. I have seen one case involving a fifty-five year old woman who had transferred pain from a prolapsed colon causing severe back pain.