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Psoriasis and Black Pepper

Black pepper

Some people with psoriasis get relief from their symptoms when they stop eating foods that belong to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants. These include vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, but also spices like paprika and chili powder as they are derived from peppers.

What many people don't know, though, is that black pepper, or black peppercorn, is not part of the nightshade family. Instead, it's the fruit of a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, and is commonly included in recipes designed for psoriasis sufferers. Dr. John Pagano's Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative, for example, contains tons of recipes for meals that are seasoned with black pepper.

On the other hand, as dermatologists Kendra Bergstrom and Alexa Kimball point out in their book 100 Questions & Answers About Psoriasis, psoriasis triggers can vary among people, meaning that a food that one psoriasis sufferer can eat without any problems may be aggravate the condition in another person, and even black pepper can be a trigger food for some people with psoriasis. Therefore, it is important to identify hidden food allergies (aka food sensitivities) to find out which foods may make your psoriasis worse.

One of the most effective ways to identify hidden food allergies is to embark on an elimination diet designed for psoriasis patients. This strict diet plan cuts out all of the most common allergenic foods as well as foods that frequently pop up on lists of common psoriasis-triggering foods. These include nightshades such as tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, nuts, dairy products and foods that contain gluten. After the very strict initial elimination phase, you can gradually re-introduce foods (or food groups), while monitoring your body for possible reactions. After you have tested every potential trigger food, you should have a better understanding of what makes your condition worse.

In her groundbreaking book, The Paleo Approach, scientist Sarah Ballantyne presents her Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (Paleo AIP), an elimination diet that has been specifically designed for people suffering from autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. The Paleo AIP categorizes foods into groups depending on how likely they are to cause reactions in people with autoimmune diseases, and foods that are less likely to be trigger foods can be re-introduced earlier than foods that are more likely to cause problems. Ballantyne puts black pepper in the same category as other spices derived from berries and fruit. These spices are best eliminated initially, but can be re-introduced much sooner than nightshade-derived spices like paprika or chili peppers.

It is also worth mentioning that not only is black pepper less likely to cause trouble than peppers that belong to the nightshade family, black pepper may actually offer some health benefits for people with psoriasis. Research shows that black pepper can boost the effectiveness of turmeric, a spice that may help fight psoriasis by reducing inflammation (for more on this, see Turmeric, Psoriasis and Eczema).

Dr. John Pagano has gained international fame with his groundbreaking book, Healing Psoriasis (available here), in which he presents an all-natural regimen designed to control psoriasis symptoms without drugs or ultraviolet treatments. Dr. John's Healing Psoriasis Cookbook is the indispensable companion book to Healing Psoriasis. Weighing in at nearly 600 pages, this extraordinary cookbook provides over 300 kitchen-tested recipes designed for people suffering from psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis or eczema, plus plenty of general nutritional information and advice. To learn more about this cookbook, or to order your copy, click here.