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Turmeric’s popularity has soared within the natural health community. Experts are studying the spice as a powerful natural remedy to treat symptoms of the skin condition psoriasis.

turmeric is a healing spice related to gingerShare on Pinterest
Nataša Mandić/Stocksy United

Turmeric is a spice that’s related to ginger. It’s best known for adding peppery flavor and yellow color to foods like curries and mustard.

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

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and is responsible for the spice’s anti-inflammatory effects.

Psoriasis is a condition that 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 can differ based on skin type. For example:

  • On light or fair skin, psoriasis tends to be pink or red with a silvery-white scale.
  • On medium skin, psoriasis appears salmon-colored with a silvery-white scale.
  • On dark skin, psoriasis can be violet with a gray scale or dark brown and 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, but limited.

Curcumin gel

Curcumin gel may help relieve psoriasis when combined with:

In a 2018 study, 40 people with mild to moderate scalp psoriasis received either a topical turmeric tonic or placebo twice daily for 9 weeks. The group taking the turmeric tonic experienced significantly reduced redness, thickness, and scaling compared with those in the placebo group.

Curcumin microemulgel

A clinical trial in 2015 also had positive results.

It involved 34 people with plaque psoriasis. Researchers treated participants with a curcumin microemulgel, a special version of curcumin applied to the skin.

The results indicated the participants tolerated the microemulgel well. When compared with those who received the placebo, participants using the gel 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 and visible light therapy showed that this combination might be safer than traditional treatments for people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

In another study from 2018, participants took either acitretin (an oral retinoid used to treat psoriasis) plus oral curcumin (3 grams per day) or acitretin alone for 12 weeks. Participants whose treatment included curcumin saw a greater reduction in psoriasis symptoms than those whose treatment involved acitretin alone.

You may be interested in specific turmeric recipes that you can use to help with psoriasis

Fresh turmeric can be difficult to find, but you may be able to locate it in a natural health store.

For people with psoriasis, turmeric-focused recipes often involve adding ground turmeric to foods such as soups, curries, and stews. All you need to do is add about a teaspoon per recipe.

It’s important to note that studies use concentrated curcumin supplements. Turmeric contains only about 2-4% curcumin. So, by taking turmeric, you will be getting a much lower dose of curcumin than what’s used in studies.

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

If you’re using turmeric powder in a recipe or taking supplements, it can be helpful to add or 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 1 part turmeric powder to 2 parts water.
  2. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until a thick paste forms.
  3. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator.

Importantly, these homemade versions of turmeric topicals are very different from the formulations used in clinical studies. There isn’t currently any research to support the use of homemade turmeric paste for psoriasis.

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 to 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 daily in clinical trials. Higher dosages 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 advise you on the best dosage and preparation method.

Psoriasis 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 people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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, some evidence suggests that curcumin may improve symptoms of psoriasis when used orally or topically. New research offers the potential for creating more treatment options that continually improve the quality of life for people with psoriasis.