Should You Try Curcumin for Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is one of the more frustrating skin conditions, as it can be challenging to treat and cause embarrassment. Along with conventional over-the-counter and prescription medications, there is evidence that the herbal remedy curcumin can be effective for treating psoriasis.
Psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease because the body’s white T cells are prompted into action when they should not be, and the result is uncontrolled inflammation and rapid growth of skin cells, which leaves people with red, scaly, itchy skin. In some cases there is joint and skin pain as well.
What’s good about curcumin?
You may be familiar with turmeric as the yellow spice used in Indian cooking and with curcumin, the active substance in turmeric that is responsible for its many health benefits. Numerous studies have identified curcumin as having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and as being helpful in managing other autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Some of the conventional treatments for psoriasis are associated with significant side effects, so investigators are in search of effective yet safe alternatives. Turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin have demonstrated these benefits in several studies.
Using curcumin for psoriasis
Thirty-four adults with mild to moderate plaque psoriasis were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which half the participants were treated with a microemulgel formulation of turmeric while the others used placebo. A microemulgel formula is one in which the ingredients have been made incredibly small, which improves bioavailability, stability, and prolonged release. All of the subjects were told to apply the topical gel to their lesions twice a day for nine weeks.
By the end of the trial, the treated individuals reported “good feelings” and the authors believe “that could be directly linked to the fact that the level of stress was lessened by the use of proposed microemulgel and patients were respond to the visual appearance of the lesions,” which did improve. In fact, redness, scaling, thickness of the lesions, and the extent of skin involved improved among those who used the turmeric gel when compared with placebo.
In another study, mice were used to demonstrate the ability of curcumin to impact inflammatory factors associated with the skin disease. Researchers found that curcumin significantly interfered with the secretion of inflammatory factors by 30 to 60 percent.
In addition, curcumin inhibited the proliferation of T cells by more than 50 percent, and all psoriasis characteristics, including thickness of lesions, redness, and lymph node weight improved significantly with oral treatment of curcumin. The authors concluded that curcumin “has a great potential to treat psoriasis.”
A new study (October 2016) reported on the effectiveness of a gel that contained both curcumin and tacrolimus, a prescription medication used as a topical for treatment of eczema. The scientists used a liposphere gel, which improves permeability, on models of plaque psoriasis and concluded that the “combination of tacrolimus and curcumin can be an effective strategy for the treatment of psoriasis.”
Anyone with psoriasis who wants to explore the use of curcumin as a treatment should consult with a knowledgeable healthcare provider to identify the best form of the remedy for their use. Micronized and optimized curcumin supplements may provide the best bioavailability.
Jain A et al. Tacrolimus and curcumin co-loaded liposphere gel: synergistic combination towards management of psoriasis. Journal of Controlled Release 2016 Oct 8; 243:132-45
Kang D et al. Curcumin shows excellent therapeutic effect on psoriasis in mouse model. Biochimie 2016 Apr; 123: 73-80
Sarafian G et al. Topical turmeric microemulgel in the management of plaque psoriasis: a clinical evaluation. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 2015 Summer; 14(3): 865-76
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