Photobiomodulation for Psoriasis

Colin Cook

If you’re a normal, healthy person, your skin cells replace themselves every 28-30 days. If you suffer from plaque psoriasis, however, your skin cells replace themselves every 3-5 days. When your skin cells reproduce at 10 times the normal rate, the result is bumpy red patches with white scales, which usually occur on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. WebMD‘s explanation of psoriasis is that “something wrong with the immune system causes inflammation, triggering new skin cells to form too quickly.”

If you are an identical twin with psoriasis, the chance of your twin sibling having it is about 70%. If you’re a fraternal twin, on the other hand, the chance is about 20%. Research hasn’t yet explained the cause of psoriasis, but it clearly has a genetic component. The current consensus seems to be that people who are genetically susceptible get it when it is triggered by a wound, strep infection, emotional stress, or certain medications.

There is no cure for psoriasis, but you can get some temporary relief of redness and itching with topically applied coal tar. In the early 1960s, a vendor of coal tar conceived the marketing slogan “the heartbreak of psoriasis,” which Paul Lynde used repeatedly on the television show Hollywood Squares for a laugh line. At the time, it was funny to everybody but psoriasis sufferers and the copywriter who originally came up with the slogan. These days, treatment consists of managing symptoms with steroid creams, Vitamin D3 cream, immune suppressing medications, or even ultraviolet light. Creams alone are enough for about 75% of cases.

In 2010, a study of nine psoriasis patients found photobiomodulation (PBM) in treatments over four to five weeks, achieved a clearance rate of 60% to 100%. It’s difficult to consider a study of nine patients as definitive, but these particular patients were selected because their psoriasis “in most cases had proved resistant to conventional treatments.” The study should have inspired more research, but I haven’t been able to find any followups.

Nevertheless, there is considerable excitement in the dermatology community about PBM therapy. It is non-toxic and non-invasive, and it has no side effects. PBM users report reduced levels of pain as well as relaxation of muscle spasms. PBM reduces oxidative stress at the cellular level, which means it reduces inflammation. Inflammation, of course, is the principal cause of symptoms in an autoimmune disorder like psoriasis.

You won’t find PBM being recommended for psoriasis by mainstream medicine. Why should the mainstream recommend it when 75% of cases can be managed with creams? But if you haven’t been able to get satisfactory results from creams, or you want a drier approach, you may have very little to lose, other than your heartbreak, by trying PBM. Note also that if you’ve been treated for it with ultraviolet light and suffered burns or damage as a result, PBM is known to heal UV damage in many cases.

For an overview of how PBM works, see our video. Find out if it can relieve your symptoms by booking a session at Peak Recovery & Health Center. It will take 10-12 minutes of your time, but if it helps manage your symptoms, it could change your life.