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Turmeric’s popularity has soared 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 the skin condition psoriasis.

A bowl of turmeric.Share on Pinterest
Nataša Mandić/Stocksy United

Turmeric is a relative of ginger. It’s best known for adding peppery flavor and yellow color to curries and mustard.

For centuries, people have used turmeric as a healing spice, and it is popular in both Chinese and ayurvedic medicine due to its anti-inflammatory abilities. These may help relieve psoriasis symptoms.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. It’s considered the primary source for much of turmeric’s healing capabilities.

Psoriasis causes skin cells to build up. This buildup on the skin results in a variety of mild to severe symptoms, such as:

Psoriasis patches may flare up without warning and symptoms present differently based on skin type:

  • on light or fair skin tones, psoriasis tends to be pink or red with a silvery-white scale
  • on medium skin tones, psoriasis appears as salmon-colored with a silvery-white scale
  • on dark skin tones, psoriasis can be violet with a grayscale, or it can appear dark brown and be difficult to see

Psoriasis symptoms may be constant, or they may come and go.

Learn more about psoriasis.

The research on using turmeric to treat psoriasis is encouraging.

Curcumin gel

According to a 2011 proof-of-concept observational study, curcumin gel may help relieve psoriasis when combined with:

After 16 weeks, a little over 72% of the study participants were no longer displaying symptoms of psoriasis.

Curcumin microemulgel

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial published in 2015 also presented positive results. It involved 34 people with plaque psoriasis. Researchers treated participants with a curcumin microemulgel, a special topical version of curcumin.

The results indicated the participants tolerated the microemulgel well. When compared with those who received the placebo, participants showed improvement in symptoms such as redness, thickness, and scaling. They also reported an improvement in quality of life.

Oral curcumin

A small 2015 study on the effects of oral curcumin combined with visible light therapy showed that this combination might be safer than traditional treatments for people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Fresh turmeric can be difficult to find, but you may be able to locate it in your local natural health store. You can add ground turmeric to foods such as soups, curries, and stews. To use, add about a teaspoon per recipe.

Supplements and teas are also available online, but you should purchase them from a reputable source.

If you’re giving turmeric powder or supplements a try, it can be helpful to take some black pepper as well. Black pepper improves the body’s absorption of curcumin.

Make turmeric tea

To make turmeric tea:

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture, and add honey or lemon to taste.

Make a turmeric paste

To use turmeric topically, you’ll need to make a paste:

  1. Use one part turmeric powder to two parts water.
  2. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until thick paste forms.
  3. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator.

If you’re considering trying turmeric, talk with your doctor or natural health practitioner first. They can provide guidance that takes your personal health history into account.

Most people tolerate turmeric well. Side effects like nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea are rare and usually mild.

But it’s important that you use caution when taking turmeric with iron supplements, drugs, and herbs that either alter blood sugar or slow blood clotting.

Researchers have used dosages of up to 4,000 milligrams (mg) daily in clinical trials. Higher doses increase the risk of side effects.

Before using turmeric to treat psoriasis or any medical condition, talk with your healthcare team to determine if it’s safe for you. They can determine whether it’ll interact with any other drugs you currently take and also determine the best dosage and preparation method.

Treatment is usually aimed at slowing skin cell growth and reducing scales on the skin. Treatment options include:

Many of these treatments may cause serious skin irritation and other side effects. They are also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding people.

Because of the potential for adverse reactions, some people with psoriasis are turning to natural remedies, such as turmeric, for relief.

Although more studies are needed, there’s potential for future turmeric treatments that may be safer than some of the commonly used psoriasis treatments. New research offers the potential for creating more treatment options that continually improve the quality of life for people with psoriasis.