The Doctors Book of Home Rememdies II

A review of the psoriasis information in the book, the Doctors Book of Home Remedies II.

Grade C

My mother-in-law happened to have a copy of The Doctors Book of Home Remedies II (by Sid Kirchheimer and the Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books, Rodale Press, Hardback, 1993) laying around, and sure enough, there are almost three pages on psoriasis in there, starting on page 420.

The introductory information is fairly good, even without having anything in there on the last 6-7 years of research (much of the genetic research has been done just recently). In about half a page, they touch on the skin growing too quickly, lack of contagiousness, the possibility that it’s genetic, stress, strep, coal tar and UV.

Then, they get into their suggestions. As the title implies, this book provides information for those who’d like to see less of their doctors, so none of the things they suggest involves going to one. However, they do stress that there’s no cure, and their ideas are just for the control of psoriasis.

Moisturize: The book claims that while Vaseline is fine, moisturizers that contain lactic acid (such as LactiCare) are better. They don’t explain why. They also mention Eucerin by name. A nice surprise, they quote the NPF in saying, in effect, “pat dry, then apply moisturizers all over within three minutes.”

Get some sun: The book suggests sunbathing as a good source of therapeutic UV, but neglects to write enough about Sun safety (avoiding burns, using sunblock), as far as I’m concerned.

Alcohol: An osteopath they quote claims that “alcohol is a definite problem,” yet there exist plenty of people for whom alcohol makes little difference to their psoriasis. Yes, it can often trigger psoriasis or make it worse, but it’s not universal.

Bath oils: The book suggests warm baths to loosen plaques, but also mentions that warm water can dry out the skin. They suggest adding oil to the bath, and they do give appropriate “slippery tub” warnings here.

Itching and Cracking: For itching, they offer a couple of kitchen remedies, just for their soothing effects. For cracked skin, they suggest Bag Balm or other “Cow Creams.”

Stress: Unfortunately, the book claims that relaxation is “one way to keep your condition under control,” impying that “mellowing out” will help, not just might.

Injury and Infection: They just touch on Koebnerization here. I don’t think they give it enough emphasis. They touch on it again later when suggesting that people use electric razors instead of blades if they’ve got psoriatic skin where shaving is required.

And Diet: The book does a poor job here, suggesting only the elimination of four fairly-specific things, and adding more oily fish to the diet. Perhaps it’s just the age of the book, but there’s so much more.

Overall, the 3 pages on psoriasis out of 613 is not, by itself, a good reason to purchase this book. I think they speak too much in absolutes, where they should be speaking in terms of probabilities, and in some cases, they don’t offer enough information for safety. I believe that all of the information the book presents can be found on the National Psoriasis Foundation web site, though perhaps not all in one place.