What do psoriasis, sun exposure, carrot seed oil, and celiac disease all have in common?

Well, actually, a lot. I could connect them by the autoimmune disease- vitamin D- intestinal permeability (via gluten exposure) link.

However, most importantly they all are the topics of this week’s reader’s questions and answers, VOLUME UNO! TA-DA!

More good news on this week’s post, you can relax your brain a bit, the blog is specific to be more reader friendly vs. a cranium strain!

Skin Condition, “Sun Allergy”, and Gluten

A Cloudy DayQ: Nancy S writes:

Thanks for this opportunity to ask a question. Do you think that psoriasis that gets worse in the summer and exposure to sun can be attributed to an allergy? I stayed away from gluten for a time and it did not seem to help. Any suggestions? I also try to eat a healthy balanced diet.
A: Thank you for your question, Nancy.

Let me give you a little background on psoriasis first and this will clarify the answer.

Psoriasis affects about 2% of the population and is an immune-mediated skin condition that comes in five main types: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. These all have different characteristic features to accompany the red, scaly patches, papules, and plaques that usually  itch.

This inflammatory skin condition results from skin cell layers not differentiating properly which causes its outermost layer, the epidermis, to over produce keratinocytes. The keratinocytes are responsible for protecting the skin from infections and environmental damage. However, in psoriasis these cells become damaged and infiltrations of immune cells that produce inflammatory mediators (cytokines) are released into the skin creating a dysfunctional inflammatory process. This is what is responsible for the manifestation of psoriasis.

Since psoriasis is related to an immune response that effects the skin, rather than a skin condition alone, anything that modulates immune health could have an effect on its relapsing and remitting qualities. This also means, those with psoriasis could be at risk of other conditions because the immune system has an effect on our whole body.

The current medical understanding of psoriasis is a multifaceted one, with those who suffer having a genetic predisposition and a certain trigger igniting the disease to express itself. For example, guttate psoriasis has been linked to the strep infections. Interestingly, this form of psoriasis can also be triggered by stress, injury, alcohol, and sunburn. This is actually a perfect example of epigenetics- meaning diseases and diagnoses are only expressed if the right interaction of genes with the environment occurs, not because of either alone.

The Vitamin D-“Sun Allergy” Connection

Interestingly, UVB and UVA light, and synthetic vitamin D analogs are current treatments for psoriasis. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and vitamin and can be found in UVB light. It has an effect on cellular DNA health through vitamin D receptors (VDRs) found in specific locations in genes throughout the body. However, in order for the vitamin D to be absorbed, the skin must have a healthy fatty bi-layer which contains its precursor, cholesterol. This is so the sun can do its magic to convert it into a form of vitamin D that is first sent to liver and then converted into its active form in the kidney.

Some people with autoimmune issues have dysfunctional vitamin D receptors and may have differing responses to this vitamin. Furthermore, many people have strained livers and kidneys and can’t convert high doses of vitamin D from the sun or supplements. They may also lack other fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin E to effectively modulate vitamin D use in the body. Finally, healthy fats and minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, are important for vitamin D to do its job and balance immune and whole body health.

So, basically, if the keratin structure is destroyed, you may be getting more skin damaging effects of the sun than the beneficial effects and be lacking in the nutrients or antioxidants to modulate this consequence.

In my functional medicine training on immune health, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald discussed how variations in structural proteins in the skin can also affect skin disease manifestations. For example, a genetic SNP in a structural protein of the keritoncytes (filaggrin) has been linked to eczema.

Does Gluten Free Help Skin?

Dietary changes that support the gut are a good place to start with psoriasis or any skin issue. This is because it’s the home of over 70% of your immune system. Furthermore, the gut helps to eliminate toxins and modulate any infections which could be causing an inflammatory response on the skin or elsewhere in the body. Gluten is a dietary component that can cause intestinal permeability, and this is one factor that has been associated with autoimmune disease.

To truly go “gluten- free”, it’s important to remember that you have to go “all the way.”  This means even a little every few days or a few times a month can be enough to trigger an immune response.

If you want more hints on how to have a healthy gut and immune system, I go into more specifics in the following blogs I wrote on these subjects listed below:

You made me do my research on that one, thanks Nancy! 🙂


  • Psoriasis. Wikepedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psoriasis
  • Psoriasis. Medicine Net. http://www.medicinenet.com/psoriasis/article.htm
  • Psoriasis. Medscape-EMedicine. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-overview
  • Psoriasis – guttate. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000822.htm
  • Psoriasis Treatments. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/news/20110512/vitamin-d-treatments-target-psoriasis
  • Promising New Treatments for Psoriasis. Review Article. The Scientific World Journal. Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 980419, 9 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/980419
  • Mercola, J. Shocking Update — Sunshine Can Actually Decrease Your Vitamin D Levels. Mercola.com. May 12, 2009. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/05/12/shocking-update-sunshine-can-actually-decrease-your-vitamin-d-levels.aspx
  • Vitamin D Council. How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/.
  • Yang CY1, Leung PS, Adamopoulos IE, Gershwin ME. The implication of vitamin D and autoimmunity: a comprehensive review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2013 Oct;45(2):217-26. doi: 10.1007/s12016-013-8361-3.
  • Gene-environment interaction in the onset of eczema in infancy: filaggrin loss-of-function mutations enhanced by neonatal cat exposure. PLoS Med. 5 (6): e131. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050131. PMC 2504043. PMID 18578563.


Carrot Seed Oil For Skin?

Q: I have read carrot seed essential oil is good for this issue (psoriasis). What is the best way to use it? Topically, internally? Where do we find your blog? Thanks again.

A: Hopefully, the questioner has found my blog. 😉

Ok, carrot seed oil for psoriasis-

I couldn’t find any clinical, human studies on this. Still, carrot essential oil has a lot of health benefits and some of its beneficial actions may help with skin health, depending on the cause of the issue.

Carrot seed oil properties:

  1. Antioxidant (modulating immune response and damage)
  2. Antimicrobial and anti-fungal (chronic infections can cause immune imbalances as noted above)
  3. Beta-carotene content for skin differentiation
  4. Liver health
  5. It may offer some SPF protection from the sun

However, the results of these studies are extrapolated from rodents and petri dishes, but the rational may be worth a try with a “n=1” (trial of one person).

You could try it and see if helps and report back. Carrot seed oil has a low toxic profile as long as you don’t overdose on it. Too much could  also turn your skin orange. Avoid carrot seed oil if you are a smoker-beta-carotene is contraindicated.

I would only recommend Young Living Oils, of course, and generally suggest my clients start with applying 1-2 drops of an oil on the bottom of the feet once or twice a day.


  • Shebaby WN, El-Sibai M, Smith KB, Karam MC, Mroueh M, Daher CF. The antioxidant and anticancer effects of wild carrot oil extract. Phytother Res. 2013 May;27(5):737-44. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4776. Epub 2012 Jul 20.
  • Zeinab RA, Mroueh M, Diab-Assaf M, Jurjus A, Wex B, Sakr A, Daher CF. Chemopreventive effects of wild carrot oil against 7,12-dimethyl benz(a)anthracene-induced squamous cell carcinoma in mice. Pharm Biol. 2011 Sep;49(9):955-61. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2011.559250. Epub 2011 Jul 21.
  • Jasicka-Misiak I, Lipok J, Nowakowska EM, Wieczorek PP, M?ynarz P, Kafarski P. Antifungal activity of the carrot seed oil and its major sesquiterpene compounds. Z Naturforsch C. 2004 Nov-Dec;59(11-12):791-6.
  • Hepatoprotective activity of carrot (Daucus carota L.) against carbon tetrachloride intoxication in mouse liver. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Jul 7;47(2):69-74. PMID: 7500638
  • Do-It-Yourself, All-Natural SPF. Chopra Center. http://www.chopra.com/ccl/do-it-yourself-all-natural-spf
  • Environmental Working Group. Carrot Seed. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701860/DAUCUS_CAROTA_SATIVA_%28CARROT%29_SEED_OIL/


More Questions Please…

I had a great time answering some of your questions and plan on doing this more. It makes more sense to write about what you want to read! SO–keep the questions coming!

Post your questions and comments here or on my Facebook page.


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Speaking of Oils For Immune Balance

This week I wrote about white fir oil modulating immune response.

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Here’s a little snippet on the immune-modulating effects of white fir:

1. The anti-tumor properties of white fir

2. The history and biochemistry (actions of the constituents) in white fir

Specifically, this fir oil contains:

  • Terpinolene: a terpine, this constituent has anti-tumor activity
  • Myrcene: has properties of being astringent, antiviral, and anti-microbial
  • Limonene: studied in trials for use in cancer
  • Gallic acid: a tannin that also demonstrates anti-tumor activity


  • Soon, I’m going to get my sister on for her insight with my niece, “Paging Dr. Mom Kate!”

Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin.
This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.

Images courtesy of istockphotos.com