bowl of turmeric spice

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that produces red, scaly, itchy patches on the skin, particularly on areas like elbows or knees. In mild cases, it can be treated with sunshine or controlled ultraviolet light. Corticosteroid creams are often used as well. But many people would like to find a more natural way to ease the suffering from psoriasis.

Turmeric Treats a Young Woman’s Suffering from Psoriasis:

Q. My daughter’s psoriasis was quite severe. She had a red rash and scaling on both arms from shoulders to wrists. When I read your column about turmeric helping psoriasis, she started taking this spice in gel capsules.

The rash has cleared almost completely, responding better than to any prescription medicine or salve. Is there any information on long-term effects or tolerance to turmeric? It has made a significant difference in her skin condition and consequently her self esteem.

A. When a reader told us that taking a teaspoon of turmeric (Curcuma longa) each day cleared up his psoriasis, we were intrigued. This spice is an ingredient in curry powder.

How Does Turmeric Affect Psoriasis?

We discovered that researchers are looking into the potential health benefits of curcumin, a key component of turmeric. One group found that curcumin inhibits an enzyme called PhK associated with overactive cell growth in psoriasis (Br. J. Dermatol. Nov. 2000). A study in mice with a condition similar to psoriasis found that curcumin inhibited the overactive T cells that are associated with psoriasis and reduced the levels of inflammatory markers (Biochimie, April, 2016).

A review of the effects of curcumin on skin health found promising indications that it may provide therapeutic benefit, though more and better studies are needed (Phytotherapy Research, online May 23, 2016). An intriguing study in rats found that curcumin given together with methotrexate, a standard medication for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, was able to reduce the negative side effects that methotrexate has on the blood vessels (Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, Jan., 2016). Of course, any human who wanted to use curcumin for that purpose would be well advised to work closely with the prescribing physician.

Do People Develop Tolerance to Turmeric?

We don’t know of any long-term studies on whether people develop tolerance to turmeric. Millions of people in South Asia consume it daily for much of their lives. Whether it would be safe and effective for ongoing psoriasis suppression, however, remains to be determined.

Additional Stories from Readers:

Other readers offer their own experience with turmeric (and its active ingredient curcumin) for psoriasis.

Q. My doctor prescribed Soriatane for my psoriasis, but I had to quit taking it. I developed every side effect that was listed in the warnings I got with the medication: hair loss, blisters and blurred vision, among other things.

After I stopped the Soriatane, I began taking a turmeric capsule twice a day. Within a few weeks, my psoriasis patches were gone. The prescription was very expensive, but the turmeric was very inexpensive.

A. Soriatane (acitretin) is a powerful chemical cousin to vitamin A, and the side effects resemble those of excess vitamin A. They include dry eyes, dry mouth, hair loss, joint pain, dry skin, nail problems, rash and elevated liver enzymes, among many others. Soriatane can cause birth defects and must be avoided by women who might become pregnant.

Soriatane is for treating severe psoriasis. We hope that you consulted with your physician about stopping the drug.

Turmeric, the yellow spice in curry powder, contains curcumin. This compound is being studied as a possible treatment for autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol. 595, 2007).

Although turmeric has fewer apparent side effects than Soriatane, we have heard from several readers that it can increase the effects of the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin).


Q. I read about using turmeric for psoriasis in your column. I was having an outbreak at the time and decided to try it. I am absolutely amazed at the results.

My psoriasis comes and goes, but when it hits it drives me crazy with itching. I scratch until my skin bleeds.

I bought 300 mg turmeric capsules and started taking four spaced throughout the day. After the first day the redness, heat, and itching started to abate. It has been five days since I started taking it and the symptoms are gone! Over the last 30 years I have used a couple of prescribed medications, but they didn’t work nearly as well as the turmeric.

A. Turmeric is the yellow spice in curry and yellow mustard. It has anti-inflammatory properties and has long been used in both Chinese and Indian traditional medicine (Archives of Physiology and Biochemistry, April, 2008). Many other people with psoriasis have reported similar success, though we don’t know how long the benefits will last.

We suggest you inform your physician about this treatment. New research suggests that regular use of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, could have a significant impact on other medications (Annals of Pharmacotherapy, June, 2010). Some of the drugs that could be affected include acetaminophen, Ambien (zolpidem), melatonin and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). We have also heard from people who found turmeric interacted with warfarin (Coumadin) to make bleeding more likely.


Q. For a year and a half, my dermatologist has treated me for psoriasis. First I took cyclosporine and then CellCept.
Like another reader stated, I too developed every side effect listed in the warnings I got with the medication: hair loss, blisters, dry skin and scalp, and blurred vision. Worst of all, I got no permanent relief from psoriasis!

I then tried a turmeric capsule twice a day (one in the a.m. and one at bed time), following your reader’s example. Within two weeks, all my psoriasis patches disappeared and my hair loss has all but stopped! I don’t even have the 24-hour heartburn I had on both cyclosporine and CellCept.

I cannot believe that with all the possible side effects of the two pricey prescriptions I was taking, such as lymphoma, liver failure and even death, my dermatologist did not suggest turmeric. Maybe it is because this spice found in curry powder can be purchased without a prescription at any health food store. I have not experienced any adverse side effects with the turmeric capsules.

A. Many people with psoriasis find that turmeric or its active component curcumin can be helpful. Not everyone gets benefit, however, and some people develop a severe rash. No one taking the anticoagulant Coumadin (warfarin) should take turmeric medicinally. We have received several reports of excessive bleeding or high INR values from people combining these therapies. INR is a measure of bleeding susceptibility.


Revised 5/30/16

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  1. Nancy M
    Cleburne, TX
    Reply

    I have been using a mixture of equal parts Turmeric, black pepper, and garlic powder, as a seasoning for cooked meats, eggs & vegetables. I make up the mixture, put it in a spice jar & sprinkle on the foods on a daily basis. Since using this mixture, for the past few years, I no longer suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. N. M.

  2. PP
    Florida
    Reply

    Intrigued by the comment of turmeric/curcumin’s effect on autoimmune diseases. Is there any research about that? A family member recently was diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica, a particularly painful autoimmune disease, and is now weaning off steroids. Am wondering if turmeric could help support the immune system. Any information or experience with that?

  3. ma lalaine
    riyadh
    Reply

    Had plaque psoriasis and used so many ointments and natural oils like olive, coco virgin oil, aloe and argan oil… but putting turmeric mixed in petroleum jelly to my surprise reduced itching and the plaque. Now I plan to take powder though it’s quite hard to swallow bec of the taste n smell…

  4. Peter
    India
    Reply

    I am suffering from psoriasis since 10 years and I have tried over the counter medicines and I saw many dermatologists, but I am still suffering and it started spreading all over the body and I am getting frustrated, please give some solution for this.

    • H o d
      Nigeria
      Reply

      Pls can turmeric be used to treat genital wart? Have tried so many ways to get off it for close to a year

  5. Amber
    somewhere
    Reply

    I make a paste with coconut oil and tumeric and apply on my daughter’s head every other night before she goes to bed. There was a huge difference in just a week! My daughter’s scalp has been clear for a month now because of it! We tried so many perscriptions and over the counter products, and they never worked. The only down side is it makes the scalp an orange color, but found tea tree oil shampoo helps with that.

  6. fbl
    Reply

    See my note above. The same advice applies today as it did then. Be sure to take coconut oil internally as well as using it on the skin. I make an afternoon treat of hot chocolate using coconut oil as the base. Coconut oil (I use 2+ TB but work up slowl), cocoa powder, stevia, hot water and organic heavy cream (6-7 tsp.)
    fbl | May 11, 2012 12:09 PM |

  7. littledove
    Reply

    Why can’t you take aspirin with turmeric? I take a low dose Bayer Aspirin daily.( Don’t want to take something that will do me harm.) Am thinking of trying Turmeric for Palmar/Plantar on hands and feet. Some days am not able to walk or use my hands. Hope to find something that will help.

  8. littledove
    Reply

    Psoriasis on hands and feet very bad. went through treatments up to methotrexate with folic acid for 3 months had to stop because of elevated liver problems and kidney and thyroid elevated also. The only thing the Derm will let use now is Clobetasol ointment, which thins the skin 10 days on, 10 days off. Derm said I cannot go back on MTX.
    Don’t know what he will say at my next appointment in a month. Thinking of dropping all meds because of the side effects and just use natural things. Do you think Turmeric will help with palmar/plantar? Insurance will not pay for holistic Dr. and can’t afford it on my own. Do you know of ANYTHING that will help? I tried to talk with my Derm about taking some herbs and he said “leave that voodoo alone”. Thanks for any help

  9. Thalita
    Reply

    Kathy are there any improvements by using turmeric?

  10. Eileen
    Reply

    Hello, it is over two years since you posted about how psoriasis is ruining your life, and I do wish you have resolved it. But just in case you haven’t I will share with you what really helped me. I am now 63 years old, but when I was 14 and had just started my periods I started getting an horrendous rash, it came in the form of raised wheals all over my body, lips and in my mouth. After my period it would vanish for a couple of weeks and the only time I didn’t have it was when I was pregnant with my two children. I was put on valium at the age of 14 for this rash which obviously didn’t help. Then when I was about 30 a professor prescribed Nalcrom (sodium cromoglicate), which eventually got rid of the rash and after a couple of years I came off the tablets.
    I hope you don’t need this info, and life is good for you now.
    Best regards,
    Eileen x

  11. Thalita
    Reply

    How is your skin now, after using turmeric?

  12. Brittany D
    Reply

    I just bought turmeric capsules online today. I should have them May 2nd. I have had palmoplantar pustular psoriasis for at least 10 years. I wonder if it was brought on by starting smoking a couple years earlier. I quit smoking march 2010 but my psoriasis is still bad and is still here. Since my psoriasis has only ever been on my palms and soles (constant) I never thought that I could end up developing plaque psoriasis as well!! Well just last night I noticed that I had it on the back of my thigh. Great. Just. Great.
    I have recurring toe infections (due to diabetes?? nobody knows why!) and my blood sugar is well controlled. I’m still considered pre-diabetic with an a1c of 6.0. But with my recurring (monthly or more) infections in sometimes both of my big toes at the same time I can’t take any biologics or methotrexate or other systemic medications that lower your immune system. So I’m stuck using ointments and creams that really don’t work.
    So I came across the idea of turmeric for psoriasis so I ordered a bottle from Amazon. I have nothing to lose. So hopefully it’ll work. I’ll give it 2 or 3 months to see any improvement. If no improvement I’ll quit taking it. I do know that I cannot take aspirin or ibuprofen with turmeric so I’ll switch to taking tylenol instead on the occasions I do take aspirin. I’m really scared that my new psoriasis on my leg will grow and grow and end up covering my leg OR WORSE my body!
    My pustular psoriasis on my hands and feet grew and grew and have now engulfed my entire palms and soles and even gone up around the sides of my feet and on top of my toes. So that’s why I’m terrified of it growing. Hopefully turmeric is the answer. We shall see.

  13. Ladyliza
    Reply

    Turmeric worked well for my arthritis too.
    But it didn’t cure it completely, so I continued to search for something more. And, I found Sam-e. Not only does it work well, but it is also a mood enhancer, so now I walk around happy all the time.

  14. Nicole
    Reply

    This is a lot of information. Don’t get overwhelmed. It took me 3-4 years to implement all of this, and/or to find the info I needed.
    What I did first (well, after I tried the ‘band-aid’ treatments): http://www.thecandidadiet.com/what-to-eat-during-cleanse.htm
    – Note: I only did the food part of the cleanse and drank LOTS of water. I did not do the bentonite clay, as I read there is aluminum in it. Some say not to worry, others say not good. I also did not do any of the detox drinks. Your choice.)
    Pro’s-
    1) Psoriasis 80-90% cleared in 3 weeks.
    2) You eliminate possible food allergies, and when you slowly start adding things back in, you can tell what is bothering your skin.
    3) My P almost NEVER itches anymore and is almost gone.
    Con’s-
    1) It’s the most head-first you can go (aside from doing a fast), and you WILL have die-off symptoms. Mine were so bad I could barely walk for 3 weeks! Others have reported flu-like symptoms for days or weeks.
    2) No fruit :( No, nothing!
    3) You can have a worsening of symptoms for a little while. I did not, but my diet was already 99% whole foods for years before this diet. (No dairy, refined sugars, gluten and pretty much no foods with labels.)
    4) All of the information I’ve read over the last few years has came back to: if you go back to eating the same way you did, without doing the bad in moderation, you’ll go back to being in bad health. This is a life-time commitment to eating healthy.
    What I am going to start doing: http://www.candida-cure-recipes.com/apple-cider-vinegar-cure.html
    I will keep my strict diet of organic: chicken, eggs, veggies, unrefined coconut and flax seed oil and the herbs/spices in the original link. Adding 1 apple / day. Half in morning, half at night.
    About me:
    1) Blood work: Low VitD3 (25 hydroxy) Taking 8000 IU / day for 3 months, then re-checking.
    2) Low B-12. Lead to my egg consumption. There are other foods with B-12. I stay away from any and all synthetic vitamins, and get my nutrients through food.
    3) I do NOT use ANY prescription drugs and I don’t consume alcohol–although I have read it’s okay to consume a glass of wine every now and then. Again, your choice.
    4) Psoriasis on scalp caused me to lose 2/3rd’s of my hair. (I also have it elsewhere.)
    5) I make my own or use as close to natural of the following products:
    A) Lotion: Olive oil / Coconut Oil
    Shampoo: I use sulfate free. (You can use, if no reaction: Baking soda w/ water for shampoo, and Apple Cider Vinegar with water, for Conditioner.
    B) Detergent/Fabric Softener: Soap nuts. (Cheaper than my original Tide. Purchase online.)
    C)Toothpaste: Neem. (Health food store. Fluoride free.)
    D) Deodorant: I make my own. No aluminum. http://wellnessmama.com/1523/how-to-make-natural-deodorant-beating-the-b-o-with-natural-deo/ (it ends up costing $2 less than buying it. Takes 5min to make.)
    Reading material:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-digestive-system_b_313247.html
    He suggests supplements in one of his articles, one is Glutathione. Studies I’ve read say it’s dangerous to do a Candida cleanse with Mercury toxicity (Fillings).

  15. MLH
    Reply

    Is it still working? I have had scalp psoriasis since I was 12 and now it is starting to make my hair fall out and I am getting it on my body. Just wanted to know if the relief was temporary or not?

  16. MLH
    Reply

    Is the turmeric still working? I have scalp psoriasis…. since I was 12. Now at 33 it is starting to appear on my body and my hair is falling out. I am, like everyone else, looking for a natural solution that works. How has the process been for you?

  17. BJ
    Reply

    I have a three year old granddaughter with eczema. Has then been used on anyone this young? We eat turmeric. It is delicious! However, I would love to be able to give her this herb to clear up her eczema.

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