What Are Some Natural Remedies for Psoriasis?

Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:00:20 PM ET
Psoriasis U.S. Dermatology Partners/YouTube

Psoriasis is a relatively common condition that causes patches of itchy, scaly skin to develop on your body. Dealing with these flareups can be uncomfortable, but it's common for doctors to prescribe medications like corticosteroids and retinoids to help people manage psoriasis. Even if you're taking medicine for this condition, you might also find further relief trying one of these natural remedies. Test out one or two; you may be surprised by how well they work.

Aloe Vera

That plant you keep in the kitchen to treat minor burns may also reduce redness and scaling during psoriasis flareups. Aloe vera contains compounds that may help your immune system work properly while also reducing inflammation. You can apply the gel from inside the plant directly to your skin up to three times each day, but be careful not to use it too frequently. While aloe vera gel can moisturize your skin very well when you first start using it, if you apply it on a regular basis, the positive effects can start to wane. When this happens, the aloe can actually dry out your skin — that's not something you want when your goal is to relieve psoriasis discomfort.

It's best to save this remedy for more severe flareups to prevent your skin from drying out. And, skip the aloe supplements and drinks; applying the gel topically appears to offer the most benefits.

Turmeric

You may recognize this bright, orange-yellow spice as a popular ingredient in Indian curries, but it might not just be good for adding color and flavor to food. Turmeric has a host of reported health benefits, and one of them is that it may help alleviate psoriasis discomfort. While more research still needs to take place, preliminary studies indicate that this spice is notable for its ability to reduce inflammation — a hallmark symptom of psoriasis. This is likely due to a compound called circumin that's present in turmeric.

To relieve psoriasis symptoms, start incorporating turmeric into your diet. Powdered dried turmeric may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help minimize your flareups. You can add the spice to your food or take it in pre-made supplement capsules. It adds a bright, citrusy flavor and bold yellow color that work well in rice, curries and vegetable dishes. Add a teaspoon or two to each recipe to start seeing the benefits.

You might also consider trying topical gel formulated with circumin, the active ingredient that reduces inflammation. Preliminary studies have shown that this may relieve redness and scaling and may make thick patches of skin appear less prominent.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular natural antiseptic that may provide relief for the dry, itchy skin on the scalp that psoriasis can cause. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, and dab the solution onto your skin using a cotton ball or washcloth. You can also use this mixture in the shower as part of your shampoo routine. If you have open wounds or abrasions on your skin, it's wise to skip this remedy because it can cause an itching or burning sensation on open sores. Once the vinegar-water blend has dried on your scalp, you can rinse it off with cool water.

Coal Tar

Coal tar is a thick, dark liquid made from coal and woods like juniper and pine and has been used for more than 100 years as a treatment for itchy skin conditions, including psoriasis. You can find this ingredient in shampoos, creams and oils available over the counter or by prescription. It may relieve itching and inflammation so your skin has a chance to heal. Coal tar can also slow down your skin's cell-turnover rate, which can reduce scaliness and dryness. You'll notice that products with coal tar have percentages listed on them that indicate how potent the concentration of coal tar is. If you're unsure which to choose, ask a medical professional first. 

It's important that you take some extra care when using products with coal tar. It can make your skin more sensitive and susceptible to sunburn. It also continues to work on your skin for about 24 hours after application. For this reason, it's important to limit your sun exposure as much as possible while you're using coal tar for psoriasis.

Mahonia Aquifolium

Also called Oregon grape, mahonia aquifolium is an antimicrobial herb that may help reduce inflamed areas of your skin, especially if you have a mild or moderate case of psoriasis. This plant contains a compound called berberine, which can alleviate swelling, redness and pain. Mahonia aquifolium may also slow the speed of your skin's cell turnover, which in turn can help reduce the scaliness that psoriasis causes. 

Mahonia aquifolium comes in oil, cream and tincture form. Tinctures are meant to be taken orally in small doses of less than a teaspoon a few times a day. Look for a cold-processed tincture; these have the highest concentrations of beneficial compounds. Use oils and creams topically over your psoriasis plaques for best results. Mahonia aquifolium is an alkaloid, so check with your doctor to make sure it won't interfere with your other medications before you begin using it.

What to Keep in Mind When Using Natural Psoriasis Remedies

These natural treatments all have the end goal of reducing the discomfort associated with psoriasis while relieving swelling and smoothing the itchy, scaly patches of skin. Although many people who live with psoriasis have anecdotally reported varying degrees of success using these natural remedies for relief, it's important to remember that there haven't been many clinical studies done to test and verify how (and how well) the treatments work. 

There's generally a low risk of side effects when using these remedies, but they can still potentially cause you some discomfort. Before you use any of these natural products and treatments, discuss your plans with your doctor. If one of these items worsens your psoriasis or causes other irritation, stop using it right away and make an appointment with your physician.

Resource Links:

https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/topicals/over-the-counter

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5985880/

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/2698668

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6349368/

https://www.psoriasis.org/treating-psoriasis/complementary-and-alternative/herbal-remedies

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20509719

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23281076

https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis