Turmeric’s popularity has exploded within the natural health community. The spice is also making a name for itself in mainstream medicine. According to several studies, turmeric may be a powerful natural remedy to treat symptoms of psoriasis.

Psoriasis overview

Psoriasis is a noncontagious skin condition that causes skin cells to build up on the skin. This build-up results in a variety of mild to severe symptoms such as:

  • red scaly patches
  • dry, cracked skin
  • bleeding skin
  • itchy skin
  • burning skin
  • swollen joints and stiffness

Symptoms may be constant, or may come and go. Treatment is usually aimed at slowing skin cell growth and reducing scales on the skin. Treatment options include:

  • topical corticosteroids
  • vitamin D analogue treatment
  • topical retinoids
  • anthralin (Dritho-Scalp)
  • calcineurin inhibitors
  • salicylic acid
  • coal tar
  • light therapy
  • other powerful drugs that alter the immune system

Many of these treatments may cause serious skin irritation and other side effects. They are also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. As a result, some people with psoriasis are turning to natural remedies, such as turmeric, for relief.

Turmeric and curcumin

Turmeric is a relative of ginger. It’s best known for adding peppery flavor and yellow color to curries and mustard. Turmeric has also been used as a healing spice for centuries. It’s popular in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is thought to have powerful anti-inflammatory abilities that may help relieve psoriasis symptoms.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. It’s thought to be responsible for much of turmeric’s healing capabilities.

According to a proof-of-concept observational study published in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences, and Applications, curcumin gel may help relieve psoriasis when combined with:

  • topical steroids
  • antibiotics
  • avoidance of allergens
  • avoidance of dairy products (for the 60 percent of study participants who were lactose intolerant)

After 16 weeks, 72 percent of the study participants were no longer displaying symptoms of psoriasis.

A placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial of 34 people with plaque psoriasis treated with a curcumin microemulgel, a special topical version of curcumin, also had positive results. The results, published in the Iran Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, showed the microemulgel was well tolerated. Participants showed improvement in symptoms such as redness, thickness, and scaling, compared to placebo. They also reported an improvement in quality of life.

The European Journal of Dermatology published a study on the effects of oral curcumin combined with visible light therapy on psoriasis patients. Results showed that the combination might be a safer therapy for people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

How to use turmeric

Ground turmeric can be added to foods such as soups, curries, and stews. To use, add about a teaspoon per recipe.

Supplements and prepared teas are also available, but should be purchased from a reputable source. Fresh turmeric is difficult to find, but you may be able to find it in your local natural health store.

To make turmeric tea, add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then strain and add honey or lemon to taste.

To use turmeric topically, you’ll need to make a paste from one part turmeric powder to two parts water. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until a thick paste forms. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator. If you want to try it, talk to your doctor or natural health practitioner. They can provide more guidance that takes your personal health history into account.

Turmeric dosages and precautions

Turmeric is generally well tolerated. Side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea are rare and usually mild. You should use caution when using turmeric with iron supplements or drugs and herbs that alter blood sugar or slow blood clotting.

Dosages of up to 4,000 mg daily have been used in clinical trials. Higher doses increase the risk of side effects. Before using turmeric to treat psoriasis or any medical condition, talk to your healthcare team to determine if it’s safe for you. They can also determine whether it will conflict with any other drugs you currently take and determine the best dosage and preparation method.

Hope for improved quality of life

Although more studies are needed, research on using turmeric to treat psoriasis is encouraging. There’s the potential for future treatments that may be safer than some of the treatments commonly used for this condition. New research offers hope to people with psoriasis that a better quality of life is on the horizon.