Collagen and Psoriasis: A New Approach to Soothing Skin Irritation

April 17, 2024

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Psoriasis is an inflammatory autoimmune condition causing rapid buildup of skin cells that form thick, scaly plaques. Beyond the visible skin manifestations, psoriasis can severely impact quality of life and comes with other health risks. While no cure exists, various treatments aim to manage flare-ups and symptoms. Could supplements supporting natural collagen production play a beneficial role as part of a multifaceted approach? This article explores the potential for collagen to improve psoriasis.

What Is Collagen and How Does It Help Skin?

Collagen comprises nearly 30% of total protein content in the human body. It forms a key structural component of skin, bones, cartilage, ligaments, and other connective tissues.

This fibrous protein lends crucial support and resilience to maintain tissue integrity. It also facilitates wound healing through provisional collagen matrices that offer a scaffold for cellular migration and repair.

Skin consists of over 20 distinct collagen subtypes ensuring elasticity and strength. Age-related declines in collagen contribute to characteristic signs of skin aging. Supporting collagen production becomes even more important in inflammatory states like psoriasis accelerating collagen breakdown.

How Does Psoriasis Disrupt Normal Collagen Homeostasis?

The rapid skin cell overproduction of psoriasis has cascading impacts on protein balance and structure.Characteristic psoriatic plaques exhibit abnormal collagen accumulation with disorganization of collagen fibers.

Chronic low-grade inflammation drives excess collagen degradation by upregulating matrix metalloproteinases while also hindering new collagen synthesis.

Ultimately these processes weaken integrity of the dermal-epidermal skin junction. This leads to promotion of water loss, easier tearing of skin, and disruption of signaling between deeper and superficial skin layers.

Strengthening collagen status could help counteract some of this damage from psoriatic inflammation. But can dietary supplements really increase collagen enough to make a difference?

Bioavailability of Collagen Supplements for the Body

Collagen supplements, often sourced from bovine, marine, or other animal materials, supply concentrated amounts of collagen peptides containing abundant glycine, proline and hydroxyproline amino acids. By providing these collagen building blocks, the goal is stimulating fibroblasts to ramp up endogenous collagen production.

Studies demonstrate orally administered collagen peptides efficiently absorb in the small intestine, with measurable elevations seen in both blood and tissue. Improvements in skin hydration, elasticity, and dermal collagen density confirm supplements can target where needed.

Different collagen types, sources, and product purity result in variable outcomes however. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides demonstrate better absorption over undenatured collagen. Marine-sourced collagen shows particular promise for joint and skin directed applications.

Research Evidence on Collagen and Psoriasis

Relatively few studies focus specifically on collagen interventions in psoriasis. However, growing evidence supports roles for supplemental collagen in facilitating wound healing and attenuating inflammation – both highly relevant in psoriasis.

Preclinical Studies

Early lab research found psoriatic skin lesions exhibit nearly 3-fold increases in collagen synthesis, confirming psoriasis substantially impacts collagen turnover. Additional observations include:

  • Collagen extract ointments improved wound closure rates in mouse models of delayed healing
  • Injectable collagen gel implants provided sustained drug delivery of anti-inflammatory curcumin compounds
  • Collagen scaffold patches enabled regeneration of skin tissues in wounds

Such findings set the stage for testing collagen therapeutics in psoriasis.

Pilot Clinical Research

Small preliminary human studies also hint at therapeutic potential:

  • A collagen hydrolysate supplement reduced joint pain in psoriatic arthritis patients
  • Topical application of soluble collagen eased symptoms in plaque psoriasis
  • Pairing collagen with vitamin complexes showed further improvements

Larger scale clinical confirmation is still needed but early results are promising.

Potential Mechanisms of Collagen Supplements Helping Psoriasis

How could enhancing collagen help counter psoriatic disease processes? A few hypothesized pathways include:

Strengthening Skin Barrier Function

  • Additional collagen may reinforce dermal-epidermal junction integrity
  • Improving moisture retention and skin resilience
  • Protection against external insults triggering flares

Supporting Wound Healing Response

  • Proline and glycine stimulate fibroblasts and new collagen deposition
  • Matrix scaffolds facilitate regeneration of healthy tissue
  • Accelerating healing of psoriatic lesions

Combatting Chronic Inflammation

  • Certain collagen peptides demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects
  • Inhibiting immune cell production of inflammatory cytokines
  • Providing substrates for endogenous anti-inflammatory molecules

By addressing fundamental mechanisms underlying psoriasis, collagen could offer wide-ranging benefits.

Using Collagen to Manage Psoriasis: Tips and Considerations

Those with psoriasis interested in trying collagen supplements should keep these tips in mind:

  • Stick with reputable brands ensuring quality and purity
  • Follow dosing guidelines to optimize absorption
  • Give it 2-3 months to notice improvements
  • Track symptoms to gauge personal efficacy
  • Combine with healthy lifestyle measures for best results
  • Inform your doctor about using collagen supplements
  • Check for potential drug interactions
  • Avoid collagen sourced from off-limit animals if vegan/religious dietary restrictions

While more research confirming efficacy would be helpful, collagen supplements appear generally safe if selecting high quality products.

Frequently Asked Questions About Collagen and Psoriasis

What is the best type of collagen supplement for psoriasis?

No direct comparisons exist currently comparing collagen types head-to-head for psoriasis outcomes specifically. However evidence suggests marine collagens may hold particular promise based on enhanced absorption and anti-inflammatory effects. Small trials found benefits for both marine and bovine hydrolyzed collagen peptides.

How much collagen should you take per day for psoriasis?

There’s no standardized optimal dose for psoriasis treatment with collagen supplements presently. Research studies demonstrating benefits for skin and joints have used 10-15 grams daily. Many collagen supplement labels suggest 1-2 scoops or tablets providing around 5-10 grams per day.

Does taking collagen help psoriatic arthritis too?

Early evidence indicates collagen supplements may improve joint pain and stiffness associated with psoriatic arthritis. Reducing systemic inflammation and supporting connective tissue repair could both contribute to easing musculoskeletal manifestations.

Can you be allergic to collagen supplements?

Yes, allergies are possible depending on individual sensitivity and collagen source. People with known allergies to components like eggs, shellfish, bovine products, or fish should avoid supplements containing those materials. Opt for hypoallergenic alternates instead.

How long does it take for collagen supplements to work for psoriasis?

Patience is important when using collagen for psoriasis. It can realistically take 2 to 3 months before noticing significant improvements because time is needed to improve systemic levels and support tissue regeneration. Combining with other psoriasis treatments helps in the interim.

Key Takeaways on Collagen and Psoriasis

  • Psoriasis accelerates skin collagen breakdown
  • Collagen supplements may help repair skin barrier function
  • Anti-inflammatory effects may calm flares
  • Small studies show some efficacy for psoriasis symptoms
  • Marine collagen demonstrates particular promise currently
  • Patience needed to see benefits from added collagen

The Future of Collagen Research for Psoriasis

While still early, a growing body of evidence suggests further scrutiny into collagen’s therapeutic potential in psoriasis is warranted. Future research priorities should include:

  • Placebo-controlled clinical trials of hydrolyzed collagen supplements
  • Standardizing optimal dosing protocols
  • Comparison studies on efficacy of various collagen sources
  • Analysis of changes in skin biopsy collagen morphology
  • Combination studies with anti-inflammatory medications
  • Trials in pediatric and elderly psoriasis subgroups
  • Evaluation of cost-effectiveness long-term

Conclusion

Collagen clearly plays an intricate role in the landscape of psoriatic disease. Supplementation shows intriguing promise supporting systemic collagen status and skin health in psoriasis. However, larger scale clinical confirmation is still needed regarding measurable impact on symptom severity or disease progression. In the meantime, adding a quality collagen product to the regimen poses little risk and could provide adjunctive benefits when managing this chronic condition.

References

  • Koivukangas V, Oikarinen A. Increased collagen synthesis in psoriasis in vivo. Arch Dermatol Res. 1995;287(2):102-4. doi: 10.1007/BF01262327.
  • Kim SK, Karadeniz EM, Jeong YI, et al. Anti-inflammatory Effect of Hydrolyzed Collagen, Identified through Transcriptome Analysis of Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated RAW 264.7 Macrophages. J Med Food. 2020;23(6):629-639. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2019.4377.
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