What Are Herbal Remedies For Psoriasis?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2022. | Last updated: July 2022

What are herbal remedies for psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes symptoms to develop on the skin, which is caused by inflammation inside the body. The conventional treatments for psoriasis, depending on how severe it is, are topical medicines, systemic medicines, and phototherapy. However, 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/alternative therapy1.

Herbal supplements should be used alongside the medicines or treatments you have been prescribed by your healthcare provider, not instead of them. It is very important to talk with your healthcare provider before starting to take any kind of herbal remedy or supplement. Some herbal remedies can interact dangerously with your psoriasis medications and cause serious side effects. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people who have conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression may be advised that they cannot use herbal remedies because of the side effects they can cause2.

Herbal remedies that are most commonly used by people with psoriasis include2:

  • capsaicin
  • tea tree oil
  • turmeric
  • Aloe Vera

If you start experiencing any side effects after taking an herbal remedy or supplement, stop taking it immediately and let your healthcare provider know.

What is capsaicin?

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 to block the nerve endings that transmit pain signals to the nervous system1. A topical treatment used by patients with psoriasis called Zostrix contains capsaicin. Studies have shown that topical treatment with capsaicin can reduce pain and scaliness in many people with psoriasis, although it can cause some short-term burning and itching where it is applied2.

What is tea tree oil?

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, and is also available in a shampoo for scalp symptoms1. Tea tree oil should never be swallowed and can sometimes cause skin irritation2. Studies have not yet been carried out to find out about the effectiveness of tea tree oil in treating psoriasis, but people have reported that it helps with their symptoms3.

What is turmeric?

The herbal remedy turmeric is made from the ground up root of the turmeric shrub. Its active ingredient is curcumin, which has been shown to affect the proteins in the body called cytokines that play a key role in inflammation1. Because inflammation is the cause of psoriasis symptoms, people with psoriasis have found that it can help to minimize flare ups2. Turmeric can be taken by mouth in a capsule, tea, 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, although using too much of it may cause stomach upset or diarrhea4.

What is Aloe Vera?

Aloe Vera is a gel that comes from inside the leaves of the aloe plant, which can also be made into a cream. Some people with psoriasis find that it can help to reduce redness and scaliness of plaques1. One study found that people with mild-to-moderate psoriasis had significant improvement in their symptoms2. Aloe Vera is usually used topically (aloe vera nectar is much less concentrated) because ingesting it can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

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