If you live with psoriasis, you’re probably pretty fed up with your skin developing scales and itching like heck. There’s no cure, but medical science has come up with ways to make the ride less bumpy.
But are there herbal remedies for psoriasis that can complement your regular meds and provide sweet, sweet relief?
Can herbal treatments help psoriasis symptoms?
In a word: yes. Researchers are increasingly finding that herbal remedies really can help relieve that itch!
But before you run out and raid your local health store, a word of caution. Herbal remedies for psoriasis should be used as a complement to the medications and treatments prescribed by your healthcare professional, not instead of the meds.
There haven’t been enough studies into the herbal solutions yet. And until we know more, it’s much better to use them for a little extra relief instead of your main treatment.
Science and nature go hand in hand. Make the most of both!
Let’s take a look at some popular options and measure up the ones that might work for you against those that need a bit more research.
Let’s check out these (possible) herbal heroes for psoriasis.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
1. Oregon grape
Oregon grape, aka barberry, aka Mahonia aquifolium (though only its mom gets to use that name) is the frontrunner. And why’s that?
The research is promising. A 2018 review looked at eight studies and found that Oregon grape significantly improved psoriasis symptoms without causing side effects.
It works by soothing inflammation of your skin and slowing down the growth of skin cells, helping your patches simmer down and become less red.
Bear in mind that it’s not a wonder cure and works best on psoriasis symptoms that are mild to moderate.
2. Indigo naturalis
This Chinese herb also goes under the name Qing-Dai. Indigo naturalis is a traditional medicine that actually has some science on its side.
Just how good is it, though? Science peeps are pretty pleased with the findings so far. In 2017, the authors of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study gave Indigo naturalis to half of their study sample (all of whom had psoriasis) while giving a placebo to the other half.
Guess which group came back with significantly smaller patches of psoriasis that were also less severe? Yup, indigo here we go!
How to use
Indigo naturalis is available in creams for topical use. It also comes in handy bottles that allow you to dab it onto your nails if psoriasis has shown itself there.
3. Aloe vera
It feels like aloe vera pops up in every frickin’ skin cream under the sun. So, as it’s known for its cooling relief, it must be a contender in our herbal race too, right? Well… sort of.
Truth is that there’s less evidence available to show that that aloe vera can help peeps manage their psoriasis than either Oregon grape or Indigo naturalis. But that’s not to say it won’t do anything.
A 2019 review of studies suggests that some folks with psoriasis find relief after using aloe vera, but it’s less likely to have a significant effect. Aloe does provide a nice cooling sensation and antibacterial properties, which is always useful — but it might not have a *super* noteworthy impact on your symptoms.
If we’re talking science-backed herbal solutions for psoriasis symptoms, more research is definitely necessary before we can proudly tout aloe as a consistently effective remedy. Dang!
How to use
You won’t have any problems finding aloe vera products both in stores and online. It’s best to make sure the product is as close to 100 percent pure aloe as possible.
Find a good quality gel, and apply it directly to your sore bits.
Turmeric is another often-cited herbal psoriasis remedy. But does it really work?
We don’t really know (ugh). Turmeric contains an ingredient called curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory that might potentially help you soothe unhappy skin. But researchers just can’t quite figure out how it works.
Recent studies are showing promise, with curcumin possibly being able to reduce your body’s inflammatory response. So it may well be that one day, turmeric joins the psoriasis all-stars — but, until then, we can’t give it a full thumbs up.
How to use
Again, you’ll find a fair few creams at your local drugstore and online that have turmeric as their main ingredient. Closely follow the instructions when applying it to your skin.
There are also some turmeric essential oils that have a much higher concentration than the creams. But be sure to dilute them in a carrier oil first.
Wait, you mean that capsaicin? The stuff in chili peppers? The stuff that burns?
What the fork?! Well, the theory is that if you use a capsaicin cream (as opposed to rubbing naga chilis onto your arms), that burning sensation might desensitize your skin a little.
A 2015 study suggests that this might help you reduce the itchiness that accompanies psoriasis (although the research doesn’t single out psoriasis). And this is backed up by a 2020 review that calls the pool of evidence for capsaicin’s itch-busting effects “growing.”
This means that the research isn’t *quite* there yet.
How to use
Use actual creams. We can’t emphasize this enough. No raw chili peppers, people.
The cream’s packaging will tell you how often to use it, how much to use, and any safety considerations to keep in the back of your mind while using it.
Well, these herbal remedies are all sounding like a pretty boss way to give yourself some extra itch relief, right? If you’re using them alongside your prescribed meds, there’s a good chance that you could see some significant improvement.
But remember that there are always risks. You may experience side effects like:
It’s smart to check with your doctor before you start using anything, just to make sure it won’t interact with your prescribed meds or cause a reaction. Also, dab a tiny bit of cream or gel onto a patch of skin before use in order to check for allergic reactions.
Anything looking or feeling weird? Stop using it. And don’t apply anything to scaly skin which has split open, because yowch.
Some herbal remedies really can help you to get a little extra relief from the burning and itching that goes hand-in-hand with psoriasis. The most tried and tested contenders are Oregon grape and Indigo naturalis, both of which are commonly available in creams and gels.
And while other contenders such as aloe vera, turmeric, and capsaicin show promise, they need more thorough research first.
But whichever remedy you choose to try, remember that you should be using them alongside, not instead of, your meds.
If you check for possible side effects and make sure that you’re not going to have an allergic reaction, these herbal heroes will quite possibly relieve that itch and make life just that little bit better.