Psoriasis is a skin condition that occurs due to a faulty immune system and genes. This causes skin cells to grow more rapidly than they are shed. New skin cells pile up on unshed old cells and as a result, lesions form on the skin’s surface. Depending on the appearance, there are 5 types of psoriasis – inverse, plaque, guttate, erythrodermic and pustular. The most common is plaque or psoriasis vulgaris. This looks like patches of silvery white or red skin that is scaly and thick to touch. It occurs mostly on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
Causes of psoriasis are still being studied for it is very complex. However, even intimate contact cannot transmit psoriasis. There is no particular group that is more vulnerable to contracting psoriasis. Both men and women of all ages can get it with family history being one cause.
Turmeric Treatment for Psoriasis
Turmeric root is often used to make medicines. Several studies have been conducted on the benefits of turmeric drug to treat psoriasis.
Curcumin is an active ingredient got from turmeric. Studies have been conducted on its biological properties since it can be used in high doses without too many side effects and toxicity. Hence, it could be used to treat skin diseases like psoriasis, skin cancer, scleroderma and tumors of the skin, duodenum, colon, breast and pancreas. Curcumin can protect the skin by fighting inflammation and protecting it from attack by free radicals. This is due to the nuclear factor KB inhibition. Turmeric can also improve collagen deposits, reduce time it takes for wounds to heal and act as a proangiogenic agent. All these benefits are due to the powerful antioxidants found in curcumin and the fact that it can be used safely in high doses without promoting toxicity.
Studies conducted by National Institute of Health, Washington DC have found that turmeric extract curcumin has antioxidant effects and can be used in the treatment of psoriasis in reducing inflammation and healing of wounds.
The National Psoriasis Foundation states that turmeric can help minimize skin flare-ups due to psoriasis.
A cohort study found that a gel made using turmeric (curcumin) which was applied on psoriasis lesions reduced plaque or in some cases even resolved psoriasis symptoms after an 8 week treatment.
The primary part of turmeric used is the rhizome – curcumin, the most active constituent. Curcumin effects are due to various growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, transcription factors and other enzymes. It has a powerful ability to control molecular pathways that cause diseases. The ability of curcumin to block or promote various molecular targets are being studied for its various benefits for dermatological conditions like psoriasis, acne, skin cancer, keloids and wound healing. Curcumin can affect various related but different pathways and this gives it the potential of being used for treating these skin diseases.
It is important to know the safety of using turmeric drugs for psoriasis treatment. A study was conducted on patients suffering from plaque psoriasis. They were given oral cucuminoid C3 complex (4.5g/d). Scores were given after the tests and the patients scored 75 in both Severity Index and Psoriasis Area. None of the patients demonstrated any adverse reactions. The limiting factor was that the sample size was small and a placebo group was not used. Larger studies are required before turmeric is recommended as a drug to treat psoriasis.
Another preliminary study was conducted on the therapeutic and preventive benefits of turmeric. It is said to benefit various inflammatory diseases including psoriasis. High doses of oral curcumin did not demonstrate any toxicity apart from mild diarrhea and nausea. While oral application of curcumin may not be as effective, taking curcumin supplements could benefit the skin. More well-designed studies are required.
Ways that Turmeric can be used for Psoriasis
There are different ways that turmeric can be used in treating psoriasis:
- It can be included in daily diet
- Make a paste of turmeric powder and water and apply on psoriasis lesions
- Take turmeric supplements daily
- Make a drink of turmeric powder and warm milk or with organic honey.
- Turmeric taken along with ginger is also believed to provide relief in psoriasis.
Turmeric is available as capsules, tincture or fluid extracts. Bromelain is often included with curcumin medications since it improves its anti-inflammatory effects. There is no recommended dosage of turmeric supplements for children. For adults, 400-600mg of standardized curcumin powder 3 times a day is the recommended dosage.
Turmeric supplements taken in excess and for long periods can cause diarrhea or ulcers. It could react with conventional medications and other herbal supplements. It is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Anyone with diabetes, gallstones, and other medical conditions must consult their doctor before taking oral curcumin supplements.