Your Colon and Psoriasis
Recent studies have suggested that the health of the intestine and colon greatly
affects psoriasis. "Leaky gut," also known as
dysbiosis or intestinal permeability, is often associated with
constipation, diarrhea, and
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These imbalances may not only
cause psoriasis to flare up, but also exacerbate a host of other autoimmune and
inflammatory conditions. One chiropractic physician and psoriasis specialist, Dr.
John Pagano, insists that psoriasis originates within the intestinal tract—and
so does its remedy!
A good place to begin healing from the inside out is by learning how your intestinal
tract works and to identify problems there that can affect the overall health of
the body. We hope to teach you what you need to know about leaky gut and Dr. Pagano's
concepts as they apply to psoriasis and skin health.
Basic digestive tract anatomy
Our digestive tract begins with the mouth and stomach, continues with the small
and large intestines, and ends with the colon. Good digestion begins with chewing
your food well before swallowing, and eating slowly. Stomach, or gastric, health
is very important as it begins the breakdown of food particles before they enter
You may think the intestines are simply
tubes for digested food to pass through, but in fact the intestinal tract and colon
have very specific and important jobs that greatly influence our health and skin
in many ways!
The small intestine averages 15-20 feet in length, and is divided into three sections:
the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The small intestine
digests and absorbs various nutrients from food as it passes over microscopic finger-like
projections(called villi) lining the intestine walls. Each section plays
a role in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals,
proteins, and carbohydrates. In addition to absorption of nutrients, the small intestine
(with the help of the pancreas) is responsible for manufacturing enzymes needed
to utilize the sugars, amino acids, fats, and minerals you absorb, as well as protecting
you from absorbing non-useful substances and toxins.
After food passes though the small intestine it enters the large intestine, where
remaining nutrients are absorbed, then passes through the colon where any remaining
water is reabsorbed before finally exiting the body as fecal matter. Healthy tissue
in both the small and large intestines is crucial for an ideal filtration system.
Intestines that are healthy allow useful particles into the system, while keeping
harmful toxins out. An individual with a healthy colon and intestinal tract should
have one to three soft and formed bowel movements daily!
Leading research indicates that one of the major contributors to psoriasis—some
believe the actual cause of psoriasis—is a condition called intestinal permeability
or leaky gut. With leaky gut, it is believed that the walls of the intestine become
thinned and inefficient at filtering. Large particles of waste material toxins enter
the circulation and eventually the bloodstream. These toxins flow through the body,
confusing and weakening the whole immune system and wreaking havoc with inflammatory
conditions such as psoriasis. Additionally, if the system is not eliminating toxins
properly through the intestinal tract, it will be forced to eliminate them via other
organs such as the skin, exacerbating numerous skin conditions like psoriasis. A
1985 study of patients suffering from eczema, psoriasis and other dermatological
conditions found that "passive permeability of the small intestine is normal
in the majority of patients with atopic eczema and psoriasis" (Hamilton, 1985).
Causes of leaky gut
Not only are gastrointestinal disorders uncomfortable, but they also affect the
body's ability to absorb and process nutrients, filter toxins and keep the body
well hydrated. Chronic constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
often lead to leaky gut, due to distention and thinning of the intestines over time.
These conditions appear epidemic in the United States. The Mayo Clinic estimates
that the numbers of Americans suffering from IBS, which includes constipation and
diarrhea, may be as high as one in five. With such high incidence of this condition,
you may wonder what Americans are doing wrong to be suffering in such high numbers.
Many researchers believe that the typical American diet, high-stress lifestyle,
and over-consumption of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs contribute
greatly to IBS.
When an individual fails to have regular daily bowel movements (one to three per
day), feces sit and putrefy in the colon, causing the pressure and discomfort commonly
known as constipation. Constipation can be much more serious than its obvious symptoms.
Numerous substances intended to be removed from our system may be reabsorbed with
a variety of consequences, as Elizabeth Lipski, PhD eloquently explains in her book,
Digestive Wellness. As stool stagnates in the intestines, toxins are often
reabsorbed into the system, causing increased inflammation in the body. The inflammation
can present in other places with results such as asthma, joint pain, and skin conditions
Constipation can be caused by a number of factors, the most common being lack of
adequate fiber in the diet. Not consuming enough water can also cause constipation,
as well as not listening to your body's signals to eliminate. The pattern of "holding
it in," a negative emotional pattern often learned in childhood, can linger
subconsciously into adulthood.
Diarrhea is characterized by loose, unformed and watery stools. It can occur frequently
or sporadically in reaction to certain foods or exposures. This condition is often
accompanied by dehydration as the colon is unable to absorb water from the stools
before they are eliminated. Extended bouts of diarrhea can lead to malnutrition
because the intestines are unable to extract and break down nutrients from what
passes through. Diarrhea can be caused by a host of problems, including stress,
poor diet, food allergies or sensitivities, and intestinal bacteria, parasites,
viruses or other pathogens. Common and often-missed celiac disease, a severe form
of wheat/gluten intolerance, also causes chronic diarrhea. Unfortunately, gluten
is hidden in many packaged foods and condiments! More widely known, lactose intolerance
is another digestive problem that is easier to identify and manage by simply avoiding
dairy or by supplementing with the digestive enzyme lactase. When the intestines
are constantly in overdrive with purging, the normal beneficial flora of the intestines
are also purged. When defenses of the intestinal lining are weakened, it likely
becomes inflamed and inefficient in its many critical functions.
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
IBS is an umbrella term used to denote the painful symptoms of fluctuating constipation
and diarrhea, though it does not really present an explanation or identify a root
cause of the problem.
Candida (also termed systemic
yeast or candidiasis) of the intestines is caused by an overgrowth of yeast colonies
in the intestine, and is common in those with constipation, diarrhea or IBS. Many
people have Candida and are unaware of it. Symptoms not only include physical
problems such as increased intestinal distress and fatigue, but also mood disorders
like depression and irritability. Candidiasis can also contribute to leaky gut and
a host of other inflammatory conditions, including psoriasis. Though the typical
Candida patient is female—often linked to use of oral contraceptives—it
can affect anyone from overuse of antibiotics or a high-sugar diet. If you suspect
that you suffer from Candida, consider seeing a holistic practitioner for
an evaluation, which may include a detailed survey or advanced stool testing. You
can also learn more about this condition by reading Digestive Wellness,
by Elizabeth Lipski.
Any one of the conditions mentioned above can cause great intestinal upset and increased
inflammation in the body. Unfortunately many patients suffer from more than one
of these conditions at a time, and some lead into each other in a cyclical pattern
of inflammation and suffering. Psoriasis sufferers are particularly vulnerable to
these intestinal maladies, and because of the internal inflammation are often plagued
with increased discomfort. Dr. Pagano believes not only in dietary adjustments,
but also consideration of chiropractic manipulations to indirectly improve the nervous
system's control of intestinal tract function.
Intestinal permeability (leaky gut) testing options
One method of determining whether you suffer from "intestinal permeability"
is a fairly simple test using two laxative-like substances, mannitol and
lactulose. Both substances are ingested, and after a certain amount of
time your healthcare provider tests your blood for amounts of each substance. If
blood levels are elevated to a certain degree, you have leaky gut. Your physician
may order a urine test instead of testing blood levels. You may attempt to request
such testing from your primary care physician or gastroenterologist, but the concept
of leaky gut or intestinal permeability is usually better understood by holistic
practitioners and often dismissed by conventional medicine.
Another method of testing for dysbiosis is through an advanced digestive stool analysis,
performed exclusively by a specialty laboratory such as Genovix Laboratories (formerly
Great Smokies Diagnostic Labs). This specialty testing needs to be arranged between
a healthcare provider and the lab, to obtain a collection kit for the patient—who
then collects and mails a stool specimen to the lab. The provider also needs to
be skilled in interpreting the results for an appropriate treatment plan. Oftentimes
the lab will offer educational assistance to providers new at this.
Steps you can take without testing
Dr. Pagano will most often suggest that patients simply begin their healing with
a detoxification program, with strict adherence to a psoriasis diet. This method
eliminates accrued toxins from the system and helps avoids further exposure to foods,
toxins or irritants that have confused the system. In time the intestines will heal
and repair themselves. After that, improved skin is expected.
In his book Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative, Dr. Pagano explains
In these types of diseases, therapy should begin with internal cleansing, regardless
of which disease it is. When the procedure is followed, the body can concentrate
its efforts on rebuilding more quickly than if it had to destroy the "enemy"—i.e.,
the accumulated toxins—before starting reconstruction. It follows, then, that
the more effective the internal cleansing, the quicker the disappearance of psoriasis.
Critics argue that Dr. Pagano's plan is too difficult to maintain over time. We
at DermaHarmony have created an efficient and user-friendly detoxification regimen
with our 21-day DermaDetox™ plan. When used in conjunction with the recommended
dietary changes, our Detox plan can start you down the road to recovery in a safe,
The DermaDetox steps for healing
DermaHarmony offers a 21-day plan containing a colon cleanse and a liver detox.
With gentle herbs and nutrients to help with elimination,
DermaDetox™ can assist you in promoting intestinal wellness.
While cleansing and detoxifying the system is an important step, it is also important
that you take time to examine your current diet. Are you eating enough fruits, vegetables,
and whole grains? Are you drinking at least eight glasses of water per day? Poor
diet is a major contributing factor in IBS and leaky gut, and in order to help prevent
recurrences you will need to avoid substances that are high in unhealthy fats, sugars,
and refined carbohydrates.
DermaHarmony offers an easy-to-follow "real world" dietary guide for psoriasis
sufferers. This helpful and user-friendly dietary guide was written by Deirdre Earls,
Registered Dietician, who shares her first-hand knowledge in using diet to heal
her own psoriasis! This guide is an excellent complement to the
DermaDetox™ 21-day program, and is offered in a variety of packages
offered by DermaHarmony.
In addition to detoxing your system and changing your diet, an exceptional nutritional
supplement such as DermaEssentials™
(daily packages with vitamins, minerals, probiotics and digestive enzymes) and DermaHarmony
D-3 (vitamin D supplementation) may also be beneficial. In many cases of intestinal
distress, vitamin and mineral levels can become severely depleted. Once your system
has started to heal and the intestinal walls become strong again, your body can
more readily absorb and process the vitamins and minerals it needs to continue the
healing process and reduce inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis. Most of us
need extra support, especially if combating an inflammatory condition like psoriasis!
Read more about liver detox and the role of
liver health in psoriasis and skin conditions. To learn more about how your diet
affects skin health, read our article, Radiant
Skin Begins with Your Diet.
You can try DermaHarmony products risk-free for 37 days. All orders come with a
full 37-day money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your purchase for
any reason, simply return the empty bottles for a full refund of the product price
(less shipping and handling), no questions asked. If you would like to speak with
one of our Digestive Health Specialists, call 1-800-827-3730.
How We Help
At DermaHarmony, our goals are to educate chronic skin care suffers about dermatology, share what contributes to health and wellness, and support our readers in any way we can. Our programs promote healthy skin with nutritional supplements, topical treatments and dietary guidance. Learn more about our programs or call us toll-free at 1-800-827-3730. Our Support Desk is open 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday.
Our skin assessment is designed to help us get a better understanding of your symptoms and to make diet and lifestyle recommendations for you. It is simple, free, takes just five minutes to complete. Take our skin assessment.
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Alkalanine Diet and Rosacea
Before beginning the DermaDetox™ program, we have some suggestions for how to make
the experience as beneficial and pleasant as possible. Our 21-day program is designed
to help systematically clean out the colon for 7 days, push the liver to unload
toxins for 7 days, then flush the colon of liver toxins again for 7 days.(continued...)
The Herxheimer Reaction
Occasionally when undergoing a detoxification process, an individual may experience
what is known as the "Herxheimer Reaction." This reaction occurs when the body detoxifies
too rapidly, especially in cases where the system is particularly toxic. Some people
may experience a number of symptoms while detoxing, including stomach upset, headaches,
fatigue, and general malaise.
Your Liver and Psoriasis
The liver is one of the hardest working organs in our bodies, yet people generally
don't give it much thought until it's not working correctly. You may already be
familiar with the adverse effect that alcohol can have on the liver, but did you
know that many foods common in our modern diets can also negatively impact its health?
Your Colon and Psoriasis
Recent studies have suggested that the health of the intestine and colon greatly
affects psoriasis. "Leaky gut," also known as dysbiosis or intestinal permeability,
is often associated with constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Your Colon and Psoriasis—Reference
Documents and Further Reading
Principal Authors: M. Smith, Nurse Practitioner
& K. Kastelein, Editor in Chief
Date of Publication: 07/15/2006
Article Last Updated: 06/07/2011