The Best Natural Remedies For Psoriasis Relief

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Your skin is one of the first things that people see when they look at you. And for the more than 8 million Americans (1) and 125 million people (2) worldwide with psoriasis, this condition can take a physical and emotional toll after years of uncomfortable, painful symptoms and diminished confidence. While conventional treatments aim to alleviate symptoms, they often fall short in addressing the underlying triggers and provide long-term relief.

Studies suggest that up to 41% of individuals (3) with psoriasis have sought out alternative therapies to treat their symptoms, but it's difficult to know how many succeeded in finding relief depending on what remedies they tried. That’s why it is my job as a functional medicine expert, to help point you in the right direction. Read on to learn more about this condition and my favorite natural remedies to treat psoriasis symptoms - without worrying about any side effects.

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What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by the rapid overproduction of skin cells, leading to the development of thick, scaly, and often itchy patches. Like other autoimmune conditions, psoriasis is a case of mistaken identity. Thinking your skin cells are foreign invaders, your immune system ends up attacking your perfectly healthy skin cells, causing an inflammatory response that accelerates the skin cell turnover process. As a result, new skin cells form on the surface of your skin at an abnormally fast rate, forming plaques all over your body, particularly your elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back.

While those symptoms alone are enough to impact daily life, some people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis - a chronic inflammatory condition that results in joint inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness. Although psoriatic arthritis usually develops in people who already have psoriasis, it can sometimes occur in people who don’t have a history of skin psoriasis. This condition can affect any joint in the body and may vary in severity, ranging from mild to severe and can cause damage to joints over time if left untreated.

Is psoriasis curable?

Although psoriasis - and most other autoimmune conditions - are not considered curable in the traditional sense, it can be managed through various natural remedies and lifestyle changes to a point of remission. The exact cause of psoriasis is unclear, but researchers believe it involves a combination of factors including genetic predisposition and environmental factors that trigger your immune system to overreact. Because of this, functional medicine aims to put symptoms in remission by identifying and addressing these immune system triggers.

Natural remedies for psoriasis

For many people struggling with psoriasis the conventional treatment typically includes topical and oral steroids and other medications that come with their own set of side effects. That’s why functional medicine looks to reduce psoriasis symptoms naturally through supplements, dietary changes, and alternative therapies. Not only can these natural remedies for psoriasis clear psoriasis symptoms fast depending on the severity of your case, they come with very few (if any) side effects. 

Topical remedies

1. Dead sea salt baths

One of the most soothing natural remedies for psoriasis is soaking in a bath of Dead Sea salt. Its unique combination of anti-inflammatory minerals combined with its exfoliating capabilities, helps soothe itching and remove dead skin cells to promote skin renewal and improve overall appearance. 

Studies have also found (4) that Dead Sea salt can help alleviate chronic pain symptoms in those with psoriatic arthritis. To use Dead Sea salt, dissolve Dead Sea salt in a warm bath and soak for about 15-20 minutes. After bathing, gently pat the skin dry and apply lotion to lock in moisture.

2. Tea tree oil

Due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, studies have found that tea tree oil as a stand-alone remedy (5) and in conjunction (6) with other psoriasis soothing compounds can help alleviate uncomfortable psoriasis symptoms and improve skin’s appearance.

3. Sunlight

Controlled exposure to natural sunlight or phytotherapy can be beneficial for managing psoriasis symptoms due to its effect on slowing skin cell growth. In fact, sunlight has been shown to resolve symptoms of psoriasis in 50-90% (7) of cases!

6. Aloe vera

With its soothing and moisturizing properties, aloe vera has been a go-to remedy for skin conditions like psoriasis. Applying aloe vera gel topically can provide relief from both itching and scaling.

7. Capsaicin cream

Derived from chili peppers, capsaicin cream may help (8) alleviate itching and discomfort associated with psoriasis as it can desensitize nerve endings and moderate inflammation levels.

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Supplements

1. Shark cartilage

Yes, you read that correctly. Shark cartilage has been shown in certain studies (9) to reduce and prevent psoriasis symptoms from recurring however, it is important to note that studies are limited and that shark cartilage supplements can be expensive and are not readily available. Plus, you need to be mindful if you are on any medications and talk with your doctor before taking.

2. Curcumin

Since psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, one of the biggest things you can do to relieve symptoms is reduce inflammation levels. Curcumin, the primary compound in turmeric, is known for its anti-inflammatory superpowers. Not only do curcumin supplements offer a more targeted dose of curcumin compared to just cooking with turmeric, they can help reduce both plaque psoriasis (10) and psoriatic arthritis (11) symptoms. 

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Found abundantly in fish oil supplements, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help mitigate psoriasis symptoms. Additionally, since people with psoriasis are up to 50% more likely (12) to develop heart disease, fish oil supplements can pull double duty as omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

4. Vitamin D

This fat-soluble vitamin plays a major part in immune health through its role in regulating your immune system. Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of psoriasis with more extreme symptoms directly correlating with the severity of Vitamin D deficiency, whereas vitamin D supplementation has been linked (13) to a significant improvement in symptoms. 

5. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another fat-soluble vitamin essential for a strong immune system and healthy skin with studies linking (14) Vitamin A deficiency to multiple autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis. (15) While you can get Vitamin A from plant beta-carotenes - a precursor to vitamin A - in sweet potatoes and carrots, the conversion rate to the usable retinol is very weak. Because of this, look for vitamin A supplements derived from whole food sources like fish liver oil or retinyl palmitate.

Lifestyle tools

1. Drink water

Staying hydrated is essential for managing psoriasis as dehydration can exacerbate symptoms by causing the skin to become dry, flaky, and more prone to irritation and itching. Also, drinking enough water promotes your body’s detoxification process by encouraging regular urination and the flushing out of inflammatory toxins.

2. Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese medicine techniques like acupuncture, work to alleviate psoriasis symptoms by stimulating specific points that promote energy flow, with early studies (16) linking it to lowered inflammation, less itching, and fewer psoriasis lesions. 

3. Massage 

Although more research needs to be done, an early study published in the journal Medicine, (17) found that moving cupping therapy was able to improve symptoms of psoriasis better than pharmaceutical medications alone.

4. Anti-inflammatory diet

Numerous studies advocate (18) for dietary changes to ease psoriasis symptoms. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, omega-3-rich fish, and healthy fats while reducing processed foods, gluten, and dairy may help manage inflammation associated with psoriasis. To learn more about food and its relationship to inflammation (and how to identify your personal inflammatory trigger foods) check out my book, The Inflammation Spectrum

Seeking help from a functional medicine doctor

From dietary adjustments and herbal supplements to alternative therapies like acupuncture, there are many natural remedies for psoriasis that can be just as helpful for treating your symptoms, if not more so, than medication. If you are struggling with psoriasis and are interested in learning more about addressing the root cause of your symptoms and ways to heal naturally, schedule a telehealth consultation today.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe. 

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References:

  1. Armstrong AW, Mehta MD, Schupp CW, Gondo GC, Bell SJ, Griffiths CEM. Psoriasis Prevalence in Adults in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. 2021;157(8):940–946. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2021.2007
  2. National Psoriasis Foundation "Psoriasis Statistics" Accessed November 2023. https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis-statistics/
  3. Healio Psoriatic Disease "As interest in alternative medicine grows, patients with psoriasis weigh benefits, risks" Accessed November 2023. https://www.healio.com/news/dermatology/20230131/as-interest-in-alternative-medicine-grows-patients-with-psoriasis-weigh-benefits-risks
  4. Katz, Uriel et al. “Scientific evidence of the therapeutic effects of dead sea treatments: a systematic review.” Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism vol. 42,2 (2012): 186-200. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2012.02.006
  5. Pazyar, Nader, and Reza Yaghoobi. “Tea tree oil as a novel antipsoriasis weapon.” Skin pharmacology and physiology vol. 25,3 (2012): 162-3. doi:10.1159/000337936
  6. Kharat, Pratik et al. “Thymoquinone-Loaded Essential Oil-Based Emulgel as an Armament for Anti-psoriatic Activity.” AAPS PharmSciTech vol. 24,1 26. 22 Dec. 2022, doi:10.1208/s12249-022-02482-8
  7. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Does light therapy (phototherapy) help reduce psoriasis symptoms? 2017 May 18. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435696/
  8. Chan, Tom C et al. “Capsaicin attenuates imiquimod-induced epidermal hyperplasia and cutaneous inflammation in a murine model of psoriasis.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie vol. 141 (2021): 111950. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2021.111950
  9. Iandoli, Raffaele. (2001). Shark cartilage in the treatment of psoriasis. Dermatologia Clinica. 21. 39-42.
  10. Zhang, Shuo et al. “Efficacy and safety of curcumin in psoriasis: preclinical and clinical evidence and possible mechanisms.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 13 903160. 29 Aug. 2022, doi:10.3389/fphar.2022.903160
  11. Martin, Brett R. “Treatment of Psoriatic Arthritis With Acupuncture, Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis) and Vitamin D: A Case Report.” Journal of chiropractic medicine vol. 19,3 (2020): 194-200. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2019.12.005
  12. Garshick, Michael S et al. “Cardiovascular Risk in Patients With Psoriasis: JACC Review Topic of the Week.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology vol. 77,13 (2021): 1670-1680. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2021.02.009
  13. Stanescu AMA, Simionescu AA, Diaconu CC. Oral Vitamin D Therapy in Patients with Psoriasis. Nutrients. 2021; 13(1):163. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010163
  14. Ikeda, Utako et al. “1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 and all-trans retinoic acid synergistically inhibit the differentiation and expansion of Th17 cells.” Immunology letters vol. 134,1 (2010): 7-16. doi:10.1016/j.imlet.2010.07.002
  15. Garbicz, Jagoda et al. “Nutritional Therapy in Persons Suffering from Psoriasis.” Nutrients vol. 14,1 119. 28 Dec. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu14010119
  16. Jing, Mingyi et al. “Efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapy for psoriasis: an overview of systematic reviews.” Annals of palliative medicine vol. 10,10 (2021): 10804-10820. doi:10.21037/apm-21-2523
  17. Xing, Meng et al. “Moving cupping therapy for plaque psoriasis: A PRISMA-compliant study of 16 randomized controlled trials.” Medicine vol. 99,41 (2020): e22539. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000022539
  18. Wu, Albert G, and Jeffrey M Weinberg. “The impact of diet on psoriasis.” Cutis vol. 104,2S (2019): 7-10.

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BY DR. WILL COLE

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Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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