Turmeric is a yellow-colored, aromatic spice commonly used in Indian cuisine. Its use in food, as well as natural medicine, has been prevalent in Eastern cultures for thousands of years.
Research has confirmed that turmeric contains potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may play a role in combating many diseases.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is where many of the spice’s health benefits stem from.
Current evidence suggests that this spice may help in the management of certain skin disorders like psoriasis.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common skin disorder with a number of associated risk factors.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder marked by inflamed, scaly skin. People with the disorder often report heat, pain, and swelling. Many experience embarrassment in social situations, due to the redness and swelling of the skin.
In psoriasis, skin cells rise to the surface faster than usual. This results in a rapid turnover of cells.
In people with psoriasis, the white T cells of the immune system are triggered by mistake. This is what causes the uncontrolled inflammation and increased cell turnover.
Since the condition involves a problem with the immune system, psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease.
The inflammation tends to affect the skin of the legs, elbows, knees, scalp, back, and face.
A number of risk factors are associated with psoriasis.
It tends to run in families. A person who has a parent or sibling with psoriasis is more likely to have it than others.
Psoriasis is more likely to affect adults than children.
The symptoms of psoriasis vary from one person to the next.
The main symptoms include red, dry skin that is flaky and scaly. It can also be itchy. There may be a pain in the joints and the skin.
The conventional treatments that are currently available aim to stop, or drastically slow, the rate of cell turnover. They also aim to prevent ongoing inflammation.
Topical creams or ointments can be used to suppress the immune system, reduce inflammation, and soothe the skin of patients with psoriasis.
Light therapy from the sun or artificial ultraviolet light sources also appears to help fight the disorder.
Prescription drugs are available for more severe forms of the disease. Some anti-inflammatory medications are used to reduce the swelling and redness.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is known mainly for adding flavor to Indian dishes, like curry. It is a yellow-colored spice that appears to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that may often be found in Indian cuisine.
Turmeric may be used in powdered or root form, or as a dietary supplement.
Researchers have investigated the use of turmeric in preventing and managing a range of conditions, particularly those that involve inflammation. It may help to relieve psoriasis and other inflammatory-related skin conditions, but more research is still needed.
Turmeric is generally considered safe for most people, but there are some precautions.
People with gallbladder disease, for example, should not use turmeric supplements, as they may worsen the condition.
Turmeric in high doses over a prolonged period of time can cause nausea, diarrhea, and indigestion.
People using turmeric supplements for psoriasis should speak to their doctor first to ensure that it will not interfere with current medications.
Can turmeric treat psoriasis?
A study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research examined the potential benefit of a topical preparation of turmeric for psoriasis.
After 9 weeks of applying the turmeric preparation, participants noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms and a reduction in lesions.
A more recent study suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may have a role to play in the treatment of psoriasis.
Another study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology looked at the effect of oral curcumin on psoriasis. However, this study found that a dietary supplement resulted in low benefit if any.
Other possible health benefits of turmeric
Depression has sometimes been linked to inflammation, and some studies have found that the curcumin in turmeric can alleviate depression in some cases. Researchers believe there is a further link, apart from inflammation, but the exact mechanism behind curcumin’s potential mood-boosting effects remains unknown.
The curcumin compound in turmeric may also be useful for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients can utilize a topical ointment with curcumin or via supplements to help manage the swelling and pain associated with the disorder.
Some research suggests that curcumin can help balance blood sugar levels and manage type 2 diabetes if it is combined with lifestyle modifications and insulin therapy.
Others have suggested that turmeric may help to burn fat and to lose weight. It is not known whether turmeric encourages the body to burn fat, or if the weight loss stems from other factors.
People with a condition called vascular thrombosis often use anticlotting drugs to slow or prevent blood clotting. Turmeric has shown promise for helping reduce clotting in these situations.
Turmeric should never be used as a replacement for prescribed drugs. Any use of turmeric for a diagnosed condition should be discussed with a physician.