Natural Remedies for Psoriasis

With red, scaly patches of skin that can be itchy and painful, psoriasis is a challenge both physically and emotionally. Doctors recommend several different regimens to help control psoriasis symptoms, but their effectiveness varies between patients. For those struggling with the problematic side effects or high costs of some prescription treatments, natural remedies for psoriasis are a popular alternative. 

9 Natural Remedies for Psoriasis

1. Bathing

Regular bathing is an effective way to naturally soften psoriasis plaques, and gives you the opportunity to let your skin soak in calming ingredients. To add moisture and soothe itching, try adding Epsom salts, oatmeal, or coconut oil to your next bath. Be sure to use warm water (too hot can be drying and irritating), and don’t soak for much longer than 15 minutes. 

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegars have been used in food and medicine for centuries, but these days apple cider vinegar is garnering extra attention as a potential treatment for conditions like high blood sugar and obesity. Most of these medical claims have yet to be conclusively proven in a research setting, but vinegar’s acidic properties does allow it to kill or inhibit the growth of some microorganisms.

Apple cider vinegar is most commonly used to treat psoriasis on the scalp, and can help to quell yeast overgrowth (a common cause of dandruff) that may add to itching and irritation. An apple cider vinegar rinse can also help to slough off layers of excess skin that build up during a psoriasis flare.

Always use vinegar diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio. Avoid applying to skin that’s cracked or bleeding, and don’t allow it to sit on your skin for long periods of time.

3. Capsaicin

Rubbing hot peppers on psoriasis plaques may sound like a terrible idea, but it’s actually the basis of a popular home remedy for reducing pain. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers like cayenne and jalapeño their signature kick, actually has the potential to calm the pain signals sent by nerves.

Applying capsaicin cream to psoriasis plaques appears to improve some people’s symptoms, but may cause burning and stinging on the first few uses. To test your specific reaction, it’s best to conduct a patch test before widespread use of capsaicin cream. Don’t apply to broken skin, and ensure you thoroughly wash hands after use to avoid getting this pepper-derived cream in your eyes or other mucous membranes.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

By now you’ve probably heard that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart disease, but adding them to your diet may also improve psoriasis symptoms. Several studies point to fish oil supplements as an effective add-on to topical psoriasis treatments, and eating more oily fish like salmon and mackerel could have a similar effect.

Even if increasing omega-3 intake doesn’t improve your psoriasis symptoms, you should still consider doing it for your heart health. People with psoriasis tend to have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, indicating that chronic inflammation caused by the skin condition has widespread effects.

5. Olive Oil

Psoriasis on the scalp can be especially uncomfortable, and it’s one of the most cumbersome places to apply traditional topical medications. Applying warm olive oil will not only moisturize your scalp, but can help to loosen skin flakes before washing your hair.

6. Curcumin

A chemical compound present in turmeric, curcumin has become the focus of research for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential. In some patients with psoriasis, oral curcumin supplements have been associated with lower levels of an inflammatory cytokine, while topical turmeric treatments appear to help clear psoriasis lesions.

Cooking with more turmeric could have similar positive effects, and the spice makes an easy addition to rice dishes, smoothies, and roasted vegetables. If you’re planning on eating more turmeric with your meals, it’s suggested that you ingest black pepper at the same time, which will boost how much curcumin is actually absorbed by the body. 

7. Stress Management

Stress and psoriasis tend to trigger each other, creating a vicious cycle that makes the condition more difficult to manage. Since eliminating all stress is a near-impossible feat, it’s helpful to develop good coping skills to minimize your physical reaction to difficult situations or emotions. Some popular methods include:

  • Numerous studies on the effects of exercise show improvements in mental well-being and reduction of feelings of depression and anxiety. Getting more physical activity can be intimidating, but you don’t have to join a gym or pledge to run a marathon. Choose exercise you enjoy like yoga, swimming, cycling, or team sports, and switch up your routine to avoid boredom.
  • If you’ve been dealing with persistent anxiety or a stressful life event, counselling can help provide you with specific coping strategies and a safe space to talk.
  • With your eyes closed, sit comfortably and bring your attention to the present moment, focusing on your breath and sensations in your body. The simple task of remaining focused on the present moment can be quite difficult, but it’s a good way to put stress and anxiety in perspective. Make a habit of practicing daily, and you may find that you’re better equipped to deal with your psoriasis and other stressful situations.

8. Mahonia Aquifolium

Also known as Oregon grape, this plant extract was named in a 2017 review as one of the most effective botanical treatments for psoriasis. Applying cream with Oregon grape extract appears to come with few risks for side effects, but you should always do a patch test to check for allergic reaction before applying a product over large areas of the body. Keep in mind that herbal products aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way that drugs are, and choosing a trusted or well-reviewed brand will increase the likelihood that you’re getting what you pay for.

9. Hydrate

Drinking more water isn’t quite a disease cure-all, but not getting enough can contribute to dry skin, dizziness, fatigue, and increased pain. If you often feel thirsty and have dark colored urine, you’re likely dehydrated, and could benefit from drinking more water throughout the day.

If the idea of guzzling tap water makes you cringe, try eating more fruits and vegetables with high water content like pineapple, cucumber, grapefruit, lettuce, and celery. Not only will being well-hydrated help you to feel more energized, but you’ll be less likely to overeat or experience hunger pangs between meals.

In addition to hydrating from the inside, adding some humidity to your home can help to relieve dry skin and flaking from psoriasis, especially during the winter.

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DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.