Why disable your immune system to clear up your skin?

Q: I don't like the idea of compromising my immune system to possibly find partial relief from my psoriasis. Are there any safe natural treatments available?

GR: When you're suffering from "The Heartbreak of Psoriasis," your painful, itchy skin irritations can become so inflamed that everything from getting dressed to even just moving around can be downright painful.

It's no wonder that so many of the seven million people suffering with psoriasis are desperate for SOMETHING to alleviate their symptoms and clear up those dry, red patches of skin.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease -- which basically means your immune system has turned AGAINST you instead of working FOR you. It attacks healthy tissue instead of infection-causing agents (bacteria and viruses, for instance), causing inflammation that can manifest in a variety of ways.

Most conventional doctors will have you think that your only recourse is, then, to shut down your overactive immune system with drugs.

But, of course, that leaves you open to all sorts of infections and other issues that may follow.

Last week I answered a question about one of the most common autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis. And much of what I said about addressing the underlying causes and restoring the health of the immune system applies here, too.

Supplementing with vitamin D3 and probiotics can also help rebalance a dysfunctional immune system -- as will switching to a diet that's naturally an inflammation fighter, like Paleo.

Undiagnosed allergies are very often a secret trigger to an autoimmune reaction -- so, identifying those and then avoiding the allergen can get to the root of the problem.

Once allergies have been determined and treated, there are a number of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can drastically improve -- and even eliminate -- psoriasis.

For instance, natural anti-inflammatories like curcumin, fish oil, and white willow bark can help tame a psoriasis flare-up when it occurs.

Also helpful in treating psoriasis are vitamin B12 and folic acid (though it can take two to three months to experience results). Because the dosages required are fairly large, you might need a prescription from a doctor skilled in nutritional medicine.

Research has also shown that low quantities of the natural element nickel can safely and substantially improve psoriasis -- or even make it disappear completely -- with very few adverse reactions when combined with another natural substance, called bromide.

One non-drug, non-toxic treatment the mainstream does use for psoriasis is UV light therapy. UV radiation works well for this condition because it penetrates the skin and slows the abnormal rate of skin cell growth that occurs in psoriasis.