Herbal Remedies For Psoriasis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2023 | Last updated: October 2023

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes inflammation. In turn, this inflammation causes symptoms to develop on the skin.1

Common treatments for psoriasis depend on how severe it is and include topical medicines, systemic medicines, and phototherapy. But in recent years, more people with psoriasis are choosing to try treatment with herbal remedies and supplements to treat the condition. Herbal remedies are a type of complementary and alternative therapy.1

Herbal supplements should be used alongside the medicines or treatments you have been prescribed by your doctor, not instead of them. It is very important to talk with your doctor before starting to take any kind of herbal remedy or supplement. Some herbal remedies can interact dangerously with your psoriasis medicines and cause serious side effects.2

Herbal remedies that are most commonly used by people with psoriasis include:2

  • Capsaicin
  • Tea tree oil
  • Turmeric
  • Aloe vera

If you start experiencing any side effects after taking an herbal remedy or supplement, stop taking it right away and let your doctor know.

Capsaicin for psoriasis

Capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that makes them taste hot and spicy. When the substance is added to a cream or ointment that is applied topically, it can help block the nerve endings that transmit pain signals to the nervous system1.

A topical treatment used by people with psoriasis called Zostrix contains capsaicin. Studies have shown that topical treatment with capsaicin can reduce pain and scaliness in many people with psoriasis. However, it can cause some short-term burning and itching where it is applied.2

Tea tree oil for plaque psoriasis

Tea tree oil is made from the leaves of the Australian tea tree and has been used as an herbal remedy for hundreds of years. Pure tea tree oil should be diluted before being applied directly to the affected skin. Tea tree oil is also available in a shampoo for scalp symptoms.1

Tea tree oil should never be swallowed and can sometimes cause skin irritation. There have not been studies on the effectiveness of tea tree oil in treating psoriasis, but some people have reported that it helps with their symptoms.2,3

Turmeric for psoriasis

The herbal remedy turmeric is made from the ground-up root of the turmeric shrub. Its active ingredient is curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to affect chemical messengers (cytokines) that play a key role in inflammation. Because inflammation is the cause of psoriasis symptoms, people with psoriasis have found that turmeric may help to minimize flare-ups.1,2

Turmeric can be taken by mouth in a capsule, tea, or liquid extract. It can also be applied as a paste and can be used as a spice to season foods such as curries. Turmeric usually does not cause side effects, but using too much of it may cause stomach upset or diarrhea.4

Aloe vera for psoriasis

Aloe vera is a gel that comes from inside the leaves of the aloe plant. The gel can also be made into a cream. Some people with psoriasis find that it can help to reduce redness and scaliness of plaques.1

One study found that people with mild to moderate psoriasis had significant improvement in their symptoms after using aloe vera. Aloe vera is usually used topically because ingesting it can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea.2

Before beginning treatment for psoriasis, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

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