What are the Best Herbs for Psoriasis?

Sick of the laundry list of potential side effects that come with prescription medicine? You’re not alone – herbal medicine has been on the up and up for the past 20 years, as more and more people are realizing what the rest of the world still remembers: herbs work, and usually without serious side effects.

Medicinal herbs are nothing new, they’ve been used for everything from skin conditions to serious illnesses for thousands of years and according to the World Health Organization, around 80% of the world’s population still rely on herbal medicines for some part of their primary health care. Even in developed countries like Germany, around 600 to 700 plant-based medicines are available to be prescribed by around 70% of the nation’s physicians.

And thanks to growing public interest in natural remedies, more research is proving the efficacy of traditional herbs in treating skin conditions. So which are the best herbs for psoriasis? Read on to find out!

BLACK CUMIN SEED

These peppery black seeds have been used as a healing herb forever – they’re mentioned in the Bible as the “curative” black seed as well as described by Prophet Mohammed as being able to “cure every disease except death.”

Quite a resume for a humble black seed, but one that it mostly lives up to – we now know that the black cumin seed is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antihelmenthic (in English, this means it destroys worms). And when it’s directly applied to flaky, cracked psoriatic skin, it suppresses the proliferation of skin cells – result? Less scaling, flaking and itchiness. This peppery seed also encourages healthy epidermal growth and has been shown to be equivalent to tazarotene gel for healing psoriasis-affected skin.

How to use it: You can take black cumin seed orally, either as a spoonful of pure oil mixed with honey or in capsule form (this is the most palatable). It’s also great applied directly on your psoriasis lesions – do so with a 100% pure black seed oil.

BURDOCK

Ah, burdock. This woodsy herb is widely known for its blood purifying and cleansing benefits. By clearing your bloodstream of toxins, it’s able to treat skin conditions like psoriasis from the inside out.

But it’s not all detox and purification – burdock root also contains powerful antioxidants like luteolin, quercetin and phenolic acid and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that promote healing.

How to use it: You can use burdock root tincture mixed with a natural oil directly on your psoriasis flare-ups to speed up the healing process, but we prefer to drink it for its internal benefits. Get some organic, dried burdock root and brew it into an earthy, woodsy, almost smokey tasting, non-caffeinated tea that you can sip on all day.

CALENDULA

For such a gentle herb, calendula packs a powerful disinfecting punch, thanks to its antibacterial, antiseptic, and immunostimulant properties. Calendula gently disinfects while stimulating the production of collagen at wound sites to speed healing.

But our favorite thing about it is that calendula is a very gentle herb that’s incredibly soothing on sore, inflamed skin – the perfect cream when your psoriasis flares just need a little TLC.

How to use it: Smear it on your skin, as often as you need to 🙂 There are tons of calendula-based creams out there – just make sure to choose one that has a large percentage of calendula rather than filler ingredients and doesn’t contain toxins and skin irritants.

Our favorite at the moment is MJ Herbals Calendula Salve. It’s tiny but damn good, with just 4 all-natural, skin-saving ingredients: organic calendula and real vitamin E oil (d-alpha tocopherol) in a base of certified organic olive oil and unrefined propolis beeswax (to help seal it into your skin).

GOTU KOLA

When itchiness is driving you mad, the herb to reach for is gotu kola. It’s incredibly effective for stopping itchiness and has been shown to slow the rampant production of skin cells, thus helping to inhibit flaking.

It’s also known to inhibit the inflammatory process, protect against infection and even aid in skin thickening to prevent future flare-ups.

How to use it: Gotu Kola is best used topically in cream form – it’s not recommended you take this orally, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.

LICORICE ROOT

This licorice-y root’s been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, mainly to treat and strengthen the digestive system – this root’s been known to help everything from ulcers and heartburn to ongoing inflammation of the lining of the stomach (chronic gastritis). And this is great news for your whole body, including your skin since a healthy gut equals a healthy life.

How to use it: Licorice can be used both internally and topically for psoriasis – it’s a super soother when applied topically (mix a licorice root tincture with a natural oil), thanks to a compound called glycyrrhizin, which helps reduce redness, inflammation and irritation. But it’s also taken internally by brewing it into a tea or dropped into water or juice in tincture form – just keep in mind that licorice root shouldn’t be used long-term as an internal treatment.

OREGON GRAPE

Oregon grape, aka Mahonia Aquifolium is quite possibly the trendiest alternative treatment for psoriasis at the moment. It’s long been known to herbalists for its ability to stimulate liver function, improve the flow of bile, cleanse the blood and bowels, and treat infectious conditions of both the stomach and intestines – all of which can help relieve psoriasis from the inside out.

But now both studies and media are pointing to oregon grape’s effectiveness as a antipsoriatic topical – applied on skin, this antimicrobial herb’s been shown to significantly inhibit keratinocyte growth, reduce inflammation, and soothe itchiness. One study showed that a 10% mahonia cream proved effective in treating mild to moderate psorasis and 84% of the patients in the study rated the Mahonia-treated psoriasis as good to excellent response.

How to use it: You can take it internally, but only for short intervals – it’s not something you would take regularly like a vitamin. Oregon grape is really best as a topical – go for a tincture, mix it with a natural oil and apply directly to your skin for psoriasis relief.

ST. JOHN’S WORT

Naturally anti-inflammatory and great for nerve regeneration in wounded skin, it’s no wonder St. John’s wort is one of the most popular herbs for psoriasis. And if it works for you, it makes a very effective topical remedy for psoriasis – one small study with 10 participants with plaque-type psoriasis showed that redness, scaling and thickness were significantly reduced by using topical St. John’s wort twice daily for 4 weeks.

How to use it: The best is to spring for some St. John’s wort oil and apply it directly – or diluted with a natural oil – to plaque psoriasis..

TURMERIC

This root that gives Indian curries their traditional yellow color is one of the best herbs for psoriasis. Why? Well, it’s got a load of good stuff in it, like iron, manganese, copper, and potassium but its true claim to psoriatic fame is curcumin. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is pretty multi-talented: It’s protects your skin from free radicals thanks to its potent antioxidant properties.

It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory that blocks your cell’s inflammation response. It inhibits an enzyme called PhK associated with overactive cell growth in psoriasis. And it speeds up the healing of broken, cracked skin by improving collagen and fibroblast density in wounds.

How to use it: You can cook with turmeric powder, sprinkle it on your food, or even juice the raw root (love this). But since curcumin is what we’re after – and turmeric contains only about 2 percent curcumin by weight – it’s best to take a curcumin supplement.

Keep in mind that curcumin is fat-soluble and take it with your fish oil supplements or alongside a fatty meal for best absorption.

You can also apply turmeric directly to your skin, but be warned – this stuff stains. Use at the risk of sketchy-looking yellow splotches on your clothes.


Not all of the best natural remedies are herbal – check out the full list of home remedies for psoriasis for more natural, effective treatments!

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