Psoriasis and Herbs
Herbal Remedies for Psoriasis
Herbal remedies for psoriasis are increasingly popular and mainstream. Many
people dealing with chronic diseases such as psoriasis turn to these
alternatives when Western medicine stops working.
Caution is advised in taking herbal remedies. Many of them can have
potentially dangerous interactions with medications. For example, St. John's
wort, a popular natural "mood lifter," has been found to lower the blood
level of cyclosporine.
St. John's wort and other dietary supplements can also cause increased
sensitivity to light, which could be dangerous for people who sunbathe or
undergo ultraviolet light treatment for their psoriasis.
It is important to carefully examine the herbal remedy you choose to use, as
some cannot be used during pregnancy or when you have a pre-existing medical
condition. If you are unsure of the potential side effects or possible
interactions with medications, consult a health-care professional before
starting to take an herbal remedy.
Milk Thistle and Psoriasis
Milk thistle has been shown to inhibit human T-cell activation, which
occurs in psoriasis; however, no specific studies have been done with
psoriasis patients. Milk thistle products can be purchased at health food
stores in tablet or fluid extract form. The herb should not be taken when a
person is also taking antipsychotics or male hormones. Few adverse effects
have been seen when patients take milk thistle supplements, except for brief
gastrointestinal disturbances and mild allergic reactions.
Oregano Oil and Psoriasis
Oregano is a commonly used spice for baking and cooking. It possesses
antibacterial and antifungal properties, which may be helpful with some
infections associated with psoriasis. Oregano oil can be purchased at most
health food stores.
Many people have contacted the Psoriasis Foundation to let them know that
use of oregano oil, either orally or topically, has helped their psoriasis.
Oregano oil has been known to cause allergic contact dermatitis when applied
to the skin.
Shark Cartilage and Psoriasis
Studies have shown that shark cartilage extract prevents the formation of
new blood vessels. The growth of new blood vessels is believed to play a
role in the development and progression of psoriasis lesions. Shark
cartilage is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
AE-941 is a shark cartilage extract that has demonstrated some promising
results in treating psoriasis. It is currently in clinical studies for
treating psoriasis. It is taken by mouth once a day. Short-term side effects
of AE-941 include nausea and skin rashes. Long-term side effects are not
known at this time.
Shark cartilage is normally taken in pill form as a food supplement and can
be found at most health food stores.
Turmeric and Psoriasis (See
Curcumin & Psoriasis)
Turmeric is a primary component of curry powders used in cooking. The
spice has a long history of being used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Turmeric can be found in capsules to be used as a dietary supplement;
however, many people who call the Foundation use the powdered form of the
spice and mix it in with their food.
Turmeric has also been reported to help relieve the swelling, pain and
inflammation associated with arthritis.
People suffering from gallstones or bile duct problems should avoid
turmeric. A small study in 1999 showed that curcumin (a compound in
turmeric) can cause contractions of the gallbladder. These contractions
could potentially harm a person with gallbladder problems.