Use of a natural herb like turmeric for psoriasis is gaining popularity these days because more and more are looking for safe ways to manage their psoriasis symptoms rather than using the conventional steroidal medicines fearing the potential side effects. Curcumin, the main active component in turmeric, possesses potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, liver detox properties along with research backed immunomodulating activity.
Psoriasis is, more or less, a lifelong skin condition. There is no medicinal pill or injection which can treat psoriasis once-for-ever. You need to take those immunosuppressant (drugs that suppress the body’s immune system) pills or injections regularly for the whole life. Now, this is dangerous because these steroids based medicines can impose serious side effects on your body when consumed in the long term. That’s why, conventional pharma based medicines doesn’t make a sense here. The alternative route- holistic healing approach- is definitely a safe and intelligent bet.
Psoriasis is a chronic auto-immune skin disorder where the faulty immune system results in exponential growth of skin cells to develop thick psoriasis patches on various parts of the body. The situation is further worsened by chronic inflammation, skin dryness and severe itching.
The medical science is yet to conclude the exact reason for this stubborn skin disorder. Various possible reasons to trigger an auto-immune disorder like psoriasis are:
- Inefficient digestive tract– Chronic indigestion and constipation, liver impairment, lack of probiotics in the gut, nutritional deficiency, food intolerance, leaky gut.
- Unhealthy lifestyle– Too much consumption of alcohol and tobacco (smoking), chronic stress and anxiety, unhealthy food habits and irregular meal timings, lack of sleep, obesity, sedentary lifestyle with very little physical movement.
- Miscellaneous– Faulty genes, prolonged consumption of steroids and antibiotics, infection or injury.
In short, psoriasis in not just a skin problem. It is a body metabolism related disorder actually. The lesions on the skin are just a manifesto of something wrong inside your body. Hence, we need to adopt an holistic healing approach targeting our body as a whole to get long term relief. Various pillars of the holistic healing of psoriasis are:
- A healthy, restricted diet
- A healthy lifestyle
- Use of dietary supplements and natural herbs
- Stress management
- Use of natural topical solutions like shampoos, oils and creams.
So, how can turmeric contribute here?
The potent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and liver cleansing properties of turmeric makes it an obvious as a natural herb.
National Institutes of Health, USA- a government undertaking medical research agency- states that curcumin (active ingredient in turmeric) has powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties and it can be effective in reliving symptoms of plaque psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis.
Journal of the American Chemical Society suggests that turmeric possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-carcinogenic (cancer preventing) properties. Hence, it can be clubbed with other treatments to treat psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer. However, poor absorption of curcumin in the human body is a matter of concern.
If you would research about various herbal remedies for psoriasis on the internet, turmeric would be there in every single search result because of the numerous research studies approving its efficacy for psoriasis.
What is Turmeric
Turmeric is a yellowish brown spice- native to South Asia, particularly india. The grounded (powdered) form of turmeric is used liberally as a routine spice to make curries in India. It imparts the conventional yellowish color to the curries and enhance their taste as well.
Turmeric belongs to the ginger family.It has a peppery taste with a pleasant aroma.
Apart from culinary purposes, it is used as a symbol of purity, prosperity and fertility in various religious ceremonies and weddings in India.
Due to powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, turmeric is used as a natural food preservative also.
Turmeric as a medicine
Turmeric enjoys a long history of use as an important ingredient of various traditional Indian and Chinese medicines.
According to various Ayurveda text manuals, turmeric can be used to treat skin disorders, liver ailments, joint pain and bacterial infections.
Curcumin (chemical formula- C21H20O6) is an active component in turmeric which is responsible for almost all the health benefits associated with turmeric. It is a phytochemical (naturally occurring plant chemical) with research proven pharmacological actions.
As reported in the magazine- Food and Chemical Toxicology, Sept 2005- more than 7000 published articles have discussed the anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties of curcumin.
According to the researchers at Rutgers University, New jersey, USA- curcumin when consumed along with broccoli and cauliflower can help treat and prevent prostate cancer. Recently, Indians residing in USA patented its medicinal value.
Turmeric (curcumin) has been found useful in dealing with a number of health conditions:
- Stomach ulcer
- Jaundice and other liver ailments
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Various types of cancer
- Brain disorders
Chemical constituents of Turmeric
The crucial active ingredients of turmeric are:
- Curcuminoid- It is the derivative of curcumin. A yellow coloring matter- responsible for most of the medicinal properties of turmeric.
- Essential oils– Essential oils provides the aromatic smell to turmeric. Also contributes toward the anti microbial properties of turmeric.
- Polysaccharides and peptides– Lipopolysaccharides contribute to the antioxidant properties of turmeric.
- An article published in the International Journal of Dermatology, May 2013 suggested that turmeric extracts can slow down the overgrowth of skin cells by inhibiting the activity of Ph-K enzyme. The Ph-K is a unique enzyme which is released by the hyperactive immune system to cause overgrowth of skin cells.
- A research paper published in the magazine- Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2007 – suggests that turmeric is beneficial for various inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, scleroderma, eczema and skin cancer.
- A small case study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, April 2008 suggested that turmeric extracts has potent anti-psoriatic activity. A total of 12 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis were administered 4500 mg of turmeric (curcumin) extracts per day for a period of 12 weeks. Out of 12, 2 patients experienced more than 80% improvement in the psoriasis severity scores without any ill effects.
- Another case study published in the European Journal of Dermatology, may-June 2015 suggested that oral consumption of turmeric extracts along with local phototherapy can bring significant improvement in plaque psoriasis symptoms.
- Another rat study performed by researchers at the University of Mumbai, India found that turmeric extracts when taken along with methotrexate (a conventional drug to manage psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis), can reduce the side effects of methotrexate on blood vessels.
- An article published in the magazine- Biofactors, Jan-Feb 2013- discussed the ability of turmeric extracts to inhibit inflammatory cell proliferation to treat various inflammatory diseases including psoriasis.
- A paper published in the magazine- Integrative Cancer Therapies, Sept 2013- suggested turmeric as one of the prominent dietary supplement for cancer treatment due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Benefits of Turmeric for Psoriasis
- Anti-inflammatory activity
Inflammation is your body’s natural defense against external threats- injury, infection, stress and foreign invaders (disease causing microbes, undigested food, other toxins). To defend against these external threats, the immune system releases chemicals which cause inflammation. Hence, inflammation as such is not bad. The problem arises when the it becomes chronic- as in case of psoriasis because the immune system goes out of order.
Turmeric is one of the best natural anti-inflammatory agent. It can relieve inflammation associated with psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis naturally.
According to a case study published in the magazine- Clinical Interventions in Aging, Mar 2014- the anti-inflammatory activity of turmeric (curcumin) extracts was found at par with ibuprofen (a conventional anti-inflammatory drug) to relieve pain related to knee osteoarthritis. Also, far less side effects such as abdominal pain were reported in case of turmeric than ibuprofen.
Another case study published in the magazine- Phytotherapy Research, Nov 2012- curcumin extracts performed far better than diclofenac sodium to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms without any adverse actions.
Turmeric helps particularly in reversing the inflammation caused by bad diet. Arachidonic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid, can be found in foods like dairy, gluten, red meat and junks foods rich in saturated fats, sugar and salt. This unsaturated fatty acid can convert into various inflammatory substances in your body to cause inflammation in your body. Curcuminoids present in turmeric inhibit the synthesis of these inflammatory substances.
- Liver cleansing property
Accumulation of body wastes (toxins) has always been considered a prime culprit when it comes to holistic healing of psoriasis. Dr John Pagano, in his famous book- Healing Psoriasis: The natural Alternative– has clearly stated that psoriasis is the external manifesto of accumulated body wastes. Hence, smooth elimination of body wastes through stool, urine, sweat and breathing out is crucial. Liver is the most important organ of human body’s eliminatory system. Impaired liver function would result in accumulation of body toxins to trigger psoriasis. It has been observed that most of the psoriatic people has a compromised liver. Here, the use of turmeric is awesome because it is a natural liver cleansing agent.
As published in the magazine- Liver International, April 2007- diabetic rats were administered 300 mg/day of curcumin extracts for 12 weeks. It resulted in protection against liver cirrhosis (damage) and going further, the regeneration of damage liver cells also observed.
Read more: Body Detox for Psoriasis
- Aids in Obesity
By stimulating bile production, turmeric assists in proper breakdown of accumulated dietary fats to promote weight loss. Also, the inflammation inhibiting property of turmeric aids in treating obesity because obesity itself is a pro-inflammatory in nature.
Read more: Obesity and Psoriasis
- Anti-oxidant Activity
Free radicals resulting out of oxidative damage are believed to be one of the causes for aging, wrinkles and numerous chronic inflammatory diseases. These free radicals are highly reactive molecules which can cause self destruction of human body if left un-neutralized. Curcumin (turmeric) not only neutralizes these free radicals, but, boosts the capacity of antioxidant enzymes in your body as well.
- Natural Digestive Aid
By reducing inflammation, turmeric helps to relieve inflammatory bowel syndrome, chronic acid reflux and indigestion. Also, stimulates the gallbladder to produce more bile to breakdown the foods properly and absorb food nutrients. In all, turmeric is a natural digestive aid.
Read more: Constipation and Psoriasis
- Regulates the Immune system
Curcumin in turmeric acts as an immunomodulator; it alters the autoimmune response in a natural way to reduce inflammation and proliferation of skin cells. Also, turmeric contains lipopolysaccharide which can stimulate the white blood cells count to fight off disease causing microbes and calm down the immune system.
Turmeric vs Methotrexate for Psoriasis
Methotrexate oral tablets are prescribed by dermatologists across the world as an immunosuppressant- it suppresses the autoimmune response to relieve psoriasis symptoms on a temporary basis. However, long term consumption of methotrexate has serious side effects such as liver damage, oxidative stress, hair loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, joint pain etc. That’s why dermatologists regularly check the liver health of their patients with the help of certain pathological tests before increasing or continuing methotrexate tablets.
How can turmeric help here?
As discussed earlier, curcumin in turmeric got immunomodulating properties and it has the potential of modifying the autoimmune response naturally. It implies, it has quite a similar effect to methotrexate, but, without any side effects. Researchers evaluated the synergistic effect of curcumin and methotrexate- they combined curcumin with reduced dosage of methotrexate and observed quite encouraging results in autoimmune conditions. Moreover, curcumin has a protective action against methotrexate induced liver toxicity.
Thus, people taking methotrexate on a regular basis should consider curcumin extract capsules to reduce methotrexate related side effects and enhance the healing effect also.
How much to consume turmeric
Optimum curcumin dosage per day is around 1200 mg per day. Remember that only 3% of turmeric is curcumin. It means to get 1200 mg (1.2 grams) of curcumin, you would need to consume 40 grams of turmeric powder everyday- 20 teaspoons- it is almost an impossible task.
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder = 2 grams (approximate)
That’s why, it is always better to go for curcumin extract capsules than consuming turmeric powder.
By the way, from now onwards, add more turmeric in your curries. It is beneficial not only for you, but the whole family.
How to consume Turmeric for Psoriasis
- As suggested, the best way to consume turmeric for psoriasis healing is taking the turmeric (curcumin) extract capsules. Just take 1200 mg of curcumin extracts everyday for atleast 6 to 8 weeks to see if it works for you.
- Otherwise, consume at least 4-6 teaspoons of turmeric powder everyday. Take it with plain warm water or mix it in your green juice or smoothie. It has a mild bitter taste, but tolerable. Handle it with care because turmeric is a natural color and if you accidentally spill it on your body or clothes, it would cause staining.
You can add turmeric powder in your green juice, smoothie or warm lemon water. Freshly prepared juice or warm lemon water with ginger juice and turmeric added in it can do wonders for you. For preparing warm lemon water with turmeric, take a full glass of warm water with half cut lemon squeezed in it. Drink this warm lemon water with 1 to 2 teaspoonful of turmeric and a few drops of ginger juice. Instead of adding ginger juice, you can directly add small chopped ginger pieces into the drink and eat them. Do remember that regular consumption of turmeric drink can stain your teeth. Hence, use a straw to avoid yellowing of the teeth.
Read more: Lemon water benefits for Psoriasis
External application of turmeric on psoriasis patches
An article published in the magazine- Life Sciences, Oct 2014- discussed the wound healing properties of turmeric, when applied externally.
Traditional doctors also advice external application of turmeric for variety of skin benefits- wound healing, glowing skin, regeneration of skin cells and to lighten the scars and dark spots.
But, I don’t buy this idea of applying turmeric paste on psoriasis lesions. It didn’t bring me any encouraging results. Rather, it stained my clothes and made my skin light yellow which took fair bit of time to fade away because turmeric is a natural color (dye). Hence, regular application of turmeric paste can bring undesired change in your skin tone. So, better to avoid it.
However, it may help lighten the leftover dark spots after clearing psoriasis on your skin.
Turmeric doesn’t have any side effects as such. In India, it is used as a regular ingredient of curries and other daily food preparations.
A case study published in the magazine- Anticancer Research, July-Aug 2001- concluded that oral consumption of curcumin extracts up to 8000 mg per day for three months doesn’t impose any side effects.
Hence, 1200 mg per day is definitely a safe deal.
Sometimes, too much consumption of turmeric powder can cause temporary symptoms such as stomach upset, nausea or vomiting.
Prior doctor consultation is strictly advised for below health conditions:
- Pregnancy– During pregnancy, use of turmeric as a spice in food preparations is safe. But, high dosage of turmeric extracts can cause uterus contraction to cause premature labor and menstrual flow.
- Kidney stone and gallstone– High dosage of turmeric can increase oxalates in urine to worsen kidney stone. Similarly, increase in bile production can worsen the gallstone symptoms.
- Diabetes– High dosage of turmeric can lower the blood sugar to complicate the issues.
- Blood thinning– Turmeric slows down the blood clotting process. Hence, if you are consuming blood thinning medications- aspiring, ibuprofen, warfarin- then turmeric is not for you.
In short, if you are dealing with a chronic health problem and you are on medication, do consult your doctor before consuming turmeric extracts for medicinal benefits.
Taking Turmeric with Black Pepper
Due to low level of bio-availability, curcumin is poorly absorbed by the human body. The digestive juices in your gut destroys most of the curcumin before it can enter the blood stream. To solve this problem, it is advisable to use black pepper along with turmeric in the ratio- 1:10- add one part of black pepper powder for 10 parts of turmeric powder.
Black pepper contains piperine (an active ingredient, about 7% of total weight) which slows down the metabolism of curcumin in human body to increase its bio-availability.
A research study published in the magazine-Planta Medica, May 1998- found that piperine (black pepper) can increase the bio-availability of curcumin (turmeric) by up to a whopping 2000%.
From where to buy
Buy curcumin extract capsules of a reputed brand to avail the best benefits of turmeric for psoriasis.
Recommended dosage is 1200 mg per day.
Either buy it from a store near to you or try at Amazon for some discounts:
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Natural solutions like turmeric takes time to show results. Patience and perseverance is the key here. To reap best benefits of turmeric for psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis, consume it regularly for at least 10 to 12 weeks.