Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition categorized by itchy, scaly patches on the skin. It's caused by the immune system "overreacting" and creating new skin cells too fast. Psoriasis isn't life-threatening, but it can be annoying and uncomfortable since the patches, called plaques, usually form on exposed places like your elbows, knees and scalp. So what can you do about it? There are some ingredients right in your kitchen that can help improve the condition, though most are not scientifically proven. Still, it can't hurt to try. Just be sure to tell your doctor before you start any type of treatment, including the ones you try at home.
1. Fish oil
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune condition with its root in inflammation, eating fish with lots of omega-3 fatty acids (like ELA, ALA, and DHA) that have been clinically shown to reduce inflammation can improve your condition. If you're not a seafood lover, you can also take a fish oil supplement to boost your intake, but bear in mind that anything that comes in a pill may not be as easily absorbed as nutrients from natural sources, like fish itself.
2. A gluten-free diet
More and more is being written about gluten-free diets such as the Paleo diet and their positive influence on autoimmune conditions. This is because gluten (a relatively new part of the human diet) can cause inflammation, which in turn sets off the immune system to overreact in any number of ways and manifesting in a whole host of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, colitis and multiple sclerosis. Until recently, the connection was mostly anecdotal, but Dr. Terry Wahls is currently working on the first clinical trial of its kind, testing the role of gluten in the healing of multiple sclerosis patients. She has already published some of her findings, establishing a firmer connection and making this a promising therapy for people with autoimmune conditions.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a natural remedy for a variety of skin conditions thanks to its antibacterial qualities. And it's probably the least expensive remedy you can try, since you can pick up a bottle at your local grocery store for about two bucks. If you try it, make sure to dilute it with water first using a one to one ratio (since it can burn sensitive skin), soak a cotton ball in it and apply it to the affected area.
Capsaicin is the natural chemical found in hot peppers that makes them hot — it works by overloading our pain receptors so we feel intense burning initially, but then the itch goes away. Treatment with capsaicin creams may help reduce redness and inflammation and has the potential to reduce the severity of future flare-ups.
5. Oregon grape extract
Oregon grape extract is taken from the Oregon grape plant, which has shown some promise in the treatment of psoriasis. It is believed that Oregon grape extract may help to slow the production of skin cells that are being overproduced in psoriasis. You can get a bottle here.
6. Shark cartilage
I would like to imagine the moment we discovered that ingesting shark cartilage could help psoriasis. Seems a little odd, right? But there are plenty of people who swear by it as a natural remedy for psoriasis. It's important to tell your doctor if you'd like to start this therapy, though, since it can interact with other medications and have adverse effects if you also have diabetes.
Another home remedy? Using a humidifier. Having a humidifier in your bedroom can help to keep your skin moist, especially in the dry winter months. Also, after taking a warm shower, massage your skin with a lotion formulated for sensitive skin (free of dyes or perfumes). Keeping your skin moist will help prevent the plaques from forming in the first place.
You can find out more about natural remedies for psoriasis here and be sure to check out our roundup of home remedies for another common skin condition, eczema.
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