The Psoriasis Online Association

A review of the Psoriasis Online Association's information about the disease.

Grade F

The Psoriasis Online Association (POA) appears, at first glance, to be an information resource for psoriasis patients. A deeper look makes it seem that their first priority, however, is to sell clay. Clay which a psoriatic would mix with water and drink. Supposedly, this clay will remove all the “toxins” from the body which are trying to get out through the skin, creating psoriasis lesions. The sheer amount of misinformation available at this site, though, is noteworthy, and so I will go through almost all of it, page by page.

“Psoriasis, the facts…”

Psoriasis is not a skin disease, but yet, all known treatments are intended to treat it topically.

Psoriasis is a disease where the majority of symptoms are on and in the skin. Makes it a “skin disease” in my book. It’s also an autoimmune disease, but since the skin is obviously involved in the process, it’s still a skin disease. Also, apparently, POA has never heard of cyclosporine, methotrexate, oral prednisone or oral retinoids. These are all well-known treatments, but usually reserved for only the most serious cases of psoriasis, or as a last resort.

Psoriasis is a natural skin reaction which is more and more associated with stress and nutrition. Science can’t deny the success of curative diets to treat the disease.

Yes, science can. There is a lot of dietary advice on psoriasis, and very little of it has been shown to be effective in any scientific sense. Specific foods and drinks to stay away from are common, and probably have more solid standing than any one-size-fits-all “curative diet” to treat psoriasis, but even then, there’s little good evidence. As far as stress is concerned, while it can trigger or exacerbate psoriasis, there is, again, not a lot of evidence which shows that stress reduction, by itself, is often successful in completely clearing the disease.

How do you treat a disease associated with the food people eat?

By eliminating trigger foods. People with Celiac Disease know this quite well, since, for them, eating gluten can be deadly.

Each year, the number of people affected by the disease increases dramatically. Why? Because people’s lifestyle is changing… The statistics are there and can’t be denied… The food we eat is not, for the most part, very healthy as it is filled with preservatives and other chemical ingredients which slowly add up in the body.[1]

These statistics can be denied, as POA doesn’t bother to offer references for their data. If true, the most reasonable explanation for this is that psoriasis is being correctly diagnosed more often these days. Just a little more than 200 years ago, psoriasis was considered to be “white leprosy.” Also, the idea that toxins build up in our bodies from a bad lifestyle is a common one among “alternative” practitioners. If psoriasis were simply caused by toxins, one would think that it would be a lot more common than it is, given the number of people who live “badly” in just the United States.

Also, all food has “chemical” ingredients, even the most natural foods on the planet must be created from chemicals. This has been true since the beginning of time.

“What is Psoriasis”

For detailed information and pictures about the different types of psoriasis, visit the National Psoriasis Foundation.

I believe this is the most accurate statement on POA’s entire web site, and a good suggestion for everyone to follow.

Although it is believed to be genetically inherited, there is no evidence or pattern to follow that would prove this hypothesis.

There is a lot of evidence. The OMIM Report on psoriasis susceptibility is one of the best and most detailed.

Until about 5 years ago, the medical research couldn’t explain why an individual, with no apparent signs or historical genetic pattern, would all of a sudden breakout.

Since psoriasis is believed to be multifactoral (more than one gene is involved), people with no ancestral psoriasis probably just get a bad break as far as inheritance goes.

But since then, the success obtained with the prescription of curative diets to a selected number of patients, has changed it’s approach in the effort to find an effective treatment against the disease.

This is true primarily for alternative medical research. Mainstream scientific researchers are still concentrating on the immune system. Also, all of the mainstream treatments currently available, topical or not, tend to be effective. They wouldn’t be used, otherwise.

The theories are that an unhealthy nutrition contributes to the accumulation of toxins while stress is known to reduce renal functions.

Stress is also known to affect the production of steroids by the body. Steroids inhibit inflammation. Stress could, therefore, lower the levels of the body’s own anti-inflammatories, allowing psoriasis to flare.

Two factors which could, indeed, result in the body using the skin, being theonly alternative, to eliminate it’s toxic remains.

There are also the colon and the lungs. They are major parts of the body’s excretory system. The skin itself, of course, is a barrier which attempts to stop anything from getting in or out. Sure, while heavy metals and other toxins can accumulate in skin and hair cells, and thus be “excreted” as the skin or hair falls off, those same toxins also accumulate in other body cells. So why is it that other major organs are not affected? The spleen, for instance. It is involved in filtering the blood (to a lesser extent than the kidneys, but it does).

The sweat glands, a part of the skin, can excrete lots of nasty stuff. However, my gut feeling on this is that they excrete things as a “by product” of excreting water and oils, and not in an attempt to rid the body of any particular “toxins” (as the kidneys do). Anyway, one would think that if the toxins were being forced out through the sweat glands, psoriasis would be limited more to those areas of skin with a lot of glands. Wouldn’t the underarms be one of the first places to be affected? As a friend pointed out to me, “psoriasis shows up prominently where there are sweat glands, but also where there are no sweat glands.” Also note that psoriasis is a disease of the epidermis, while the sweat glands create sweat and sebum deep in the dermis.

“Clay vs Nutrition & Stress”

Studies have shown that curative diets are very effective for the relief of psoriasis.

One of the things I find most annoying about the POA site is that they make broad assertions like the above, without providing any references whatsoever. Which studies have shown this? Were those studies any good, from a scientific perspective? Have they been published?

The remains of these ingredients are more difficult to assimilate and to filter by the digestive system which is mainly composed of the intestine and the kidneys.

This is the first I’ve ever heard that the kidneys are a part of the digestive system. The kidneys do not digest anything. They filter the blood and excrete the wastes.

[Toxins] accumulate to form microscopic toxin communities which eventually get into the blood.

Where do these “microscopic toxin communites” reside prior to getting into the blood? Have any doctors ever found them in that place (say, during an autopsy of a psoriatic)?

These functions include digestive and renal functions.

So now the kidneys are not a part of the digestive system anymore?

Another hypothesis is that stress may also cause the immune system to turn against it’s own body, attacking it’s own cellular composition and forcing it to accelerate, from others, the normal skin cells reproduction cycle. The abnormal cells growth resulting from such a phenomenon would be at the origin of the typical lesions of psoriasis.

Now this is nearly the current scientific thinking, except that a lot more than stress can trigger this process, and that “attacking” is not necessarily the correct word to use.

Like all bodies, clay is radio-active but as oppose to most of them, this radio-activity is detectable with the apparatuses used today in laboratory.

It would be interesting to know just what kind of radioactivity POA is referring to here. Not everything is radioactive in the common, uranic sense of the word. On the other hand, since everything emits some electromagnetic radiation, they’re partially correct, except that this radiation is nearly always detectable with lab equipment.

Clay has, inter alia properties, that to stimulate the radio-activity of the body to which it is exposed to if this one is overdrawn, or to absorb that in excess.

This is true of heat. Perhaps the radioactivity they’re talking about is simply infrared radiation, which typically carries heat energy. Smear cold clay on something warmer, and it will suck heat away — smear hot clay on something cold, and it will warm that something up. But this is true of just about everything, not just clay.

Therefore, it produces an harmonizing effect on the entire body, preventing any eventual immune system misbehaviours.

How they know this is unknown. Why radioactivity has anything to do with this is also not discussed.

A simple 6 weeks Clay treatment…

Except that on POA’s own “Conclusive Results” page, some feel the need to use the clay for upto 9 weeks.

“Frequently Asked Questions”

Q. Can pregnant women use it?
Absolutly. In fact, it will absorb any toxic substance from the food the mother assimilates leaving only but the healthy food composition for the baby.

How does clay accomplish this magical feat? How can it distinguish between toxic and non-toxic? Some necessary vitamins and minerals are themselves toxic when consumed in excessive amounts. If the clay removes them simply because they’re toxic, the growing baby will be malnourished.

“Conclusive Results”

On this page, POA reports on eight people who cleared or had massive reductions in symptoms while using clay. This is hardly conclusive, as POA cannot, from these stories alone, even show that the remissions were due to the clay itself. Spontaneous remissions are not unknown in psoriasis, and it sounds like at least one of these people was using another form of treatment while using the clay. There’s also the placebo effect to consider.

It’s great that these people have had such good luck, but the simple fact is that the clay may not have had anything to do with it. Calling these results “conclusive” is nothing but marketing. POA doesn’t even try to present any sort of scientific evidence of their claims.

March 31, 2002, Update: The POA web pages have gone away, but the acticells site is still up, with much of the same information as above.


1. All spelling and grammar errors present in the quotes from POA’s site are actually present on that site, I am quoting verbatim.