Turmeric and Psoriasis
Turmeric, a spice which is used in curry and many other dishes has been used as medicine for many centuries. Traditional healing methods in China and India use this spice for many diseases.
These days, clinical studies and trials have been made to test the effectiveness of curcumin on different illnesses. To learn more about the studies concerning ordinary curcumin and enhanced curcumin, you may read the articles Health Benefits of Turmeric and Choosing the Right Turmeric Supplement for Your Needs.
While a lot of people might mistake psoriasis for an ordinary skin disease, it is actually an immune condition showing symptoms on the skin, and sometimes, the joints. Normally, we replace our skin cells within 21-28 days. For people with psoriasis, the skin replacement process becomes a lot faster, taking just a few days. The excess skin cells accumulate, forming thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that can sometimes be painful. These scales and patches normally form on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back, but they can appear in any part of the body.
According to recent research, psoriasis begins when certain immune cells called “T cells” get triggered and become hyperactive. These T cells act as though they were fighting an infection or healing a wound, which makes them produce inflammatory chemicals. Eventually, this leads to the rapid growth of skin cells and the formation of psoriatic plaques. This is why psoriasis is often called an autoimmune disease or immune-mediated condition.
Psoriasis and turmeric (curcumin)
Long before clinical studies have been done to turmeric, Indian households have already been using it to care for their skin. They usually combine this with a variety of ingredients, such as milk or sandalwood.
Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, has been found to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, a lot of psoriasis sufferers have reported improvements in their condition upon using this spice.
Turmeric also has bacteria-fighting properties, which makes it a good natural substitute for commercial soap.
The National Psoriasis Foundation states that a lot of psoriasis sufferers find curcumin helpful in reducing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flares. Laboratory research show that curcumin prevents the production of nuclear factor kappa B, which is a skin inflammation factor. It also lessens the activity of Th1, which is a kind of inflammatory skin cell.
How to Take Curcumin for Psoriasis
Turmeric can be used for treating psoriasis in different ways:
It can be taken as a spice in daily diet
It can be taken as a dietary supplement in pill form. This is preferably a 95% standardized curcumin supplement.
Using turmeric or curcumin capsules will be a lot easier since turmeric spice stains. Also, raw turmeric has little curcumin in it, and this small amount of curcumin has low bioavaiability. This means it does not get absorbed easily by the body. On the other hand, curcumin supplements are standardized to 95% curcumin, which means they have more powerful effects than ordinary curcumin. For more information on this, you may check the article Choosing the Right Turmeric Supplement for Your Needs.
Use curcumin paste on psoriasis lesions
Applying curcumin paste directly to the skin is a good idea because it does not have to go through your body's digestive system and circulate through the bloodstream to reach the epidermis of the skin, where it is needed. You can make your own anti-psoriasis skin cream from curry powder or turmeric with butter or ghee. You may also opt to have it made by an Ayurvedic practitioner, or buy commercially available paste.
Here's What the Studies Say
Research into curcumin as a possible psoriasis treatment is still fairly new. Before more definite results and conclusions can be made, large placebo controlled trials are needed. Currently, topical application of curcumin is more effective due to the poor bioavailibilty of oral curcumin.
Studies At A Glance:
Curcumin can protect the skin by inhibiting nuclear factor-KB, which is an inflammatory factor. It can also act as an antioxidant by stabilizing free radicals in the body.
Curcumin may enhance wound-healing.
A study done on mice found that topical application of curcumin significantly reduces psoriasis-related inflammation
Studies show that curcumin has the ability to protect the skin by bonding with free radicals, and inhibiting the inflammatory factor nuclear factor-KB (1). Curcumin also showed improvements in both normal and impaired wound healing. It lessened the time it took for wounds to heal, improved collagen deposition, and increased fibroblast and vascular density in wounds.
Curcumin has the ability to inhibit the the expression and secretion of various matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which contribute to chronic diseases including psoriasis (2).
According to a Chinese study (3) done on mouse epidermis, topical application of curcumin greatly lessened psoriasis inflammation in epidermis.
- Beneficial role of curcumin in skin diseases. Thangapazham RL, Sharma A, Maheshwari RK. 2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569219
- Curcumin: a potential candidate for matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors. Kumar D1, Kumar M, Saravanan C, Singh SK. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22913284
- Curcumin Inhibits Imiquimod-Induced Psoriasis-Like Inflammation by Inhibiting IL-1beta and IL-6 Production in Mice. Jun Sun, Yi Zhao, and Jinhong Hu. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3692410