The Role of Mindfulness in Healing Autoimmune Disease 


Doctors like to tell me that I’m fundamentally a “healthy” person—though I’ve never really believed it. Sure, I lead a healthy lifestyle including lots of time in the great outdoors, running, skiing, hiking, and camping. I eat mostly vegetarian food, don’t smoke, and only drink occasionally. Despite my many healthy habits, I don’t look healthy, especially to those meeting me for the first time. My skin is shocking.

You see, a quarter of my body is covered in thick, red patches of itchy, scaly skin. I have psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that makes my skin cells reproduce much faster than normal, then slough off in dry scales. I’m not alone: Roughly 7.5 million people in the U.S. have psoriasis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. While my doctors have always been sympathetic, the best they can do is offer creams and treatments, some of which come with dangerous side effects, to alleviate the unsightly symptoms. There is no cure for psoriasis.

The humiliation and discomfort of my condition motivated me to embark on a mission to heal myself. For many years, I invested a lot of money (it’s a $63.2 billion industry) and hours into various healing modalities. From all kinds of cleanses (inside and out) to radical diets to a wide array of alternative treatments, my quest to heal felt like a full-time job. For brief periods—usually weeks, though sometimes a month or two—my skin w…

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