Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by a sudden speedup of the life cycle of skin cells, resulting in the buildup of dry, itchy scales and red patches known as plaques. While there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are a variety of treatments that can help to maintain your comfort and manage your skin cells’ growth cycle. Learn more about some of the best natural remedies for psoriasis below.
Studies have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and psoriasis.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is available in a variety of foods and supplements, but your main source of vitamin D is the sun. When your skin makes contact with sunlight, it triggers the production and release of vitamin D. Vitamin D most prominently helps to maintain bone health by promoting calcium absorption in the gut and by maintaining healthy serum calcium levels, which allows for normal bone mineralization.
A lack of vitamin D plays a central role in psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases. Studies have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and psoriasis. Research found that 57.8% of patients with psoriasis were vitamin D deficient compared to just 29.7% of control patients. During the winter months, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency increased to 80.9% in psoriasis patients.1
While topical forms of vitamin D have become a mainstay treatment for psoriasis, oral vitamin D may also be beneficial. In a meta-study, researchers identified seven prospective trials involving the use of vitamin D3 supplementation in the treatment of psoriasis. These studies looked at three forms of vitamin D3: alfacalcidiol, calcitriol, and cholecalciferol. While the first two are more powerful, they are only available with a doctor’s prescription. Cholecalciferol is available over the counter. In an open trial, patients with psoriasis were given daily calcitriol supplements of varying doses. Results showed that 88 percent of these patients had some level of clinical improvement.2
Studies also show that regularly taking vitamin D supplements may help to promote vitamin D levels and to improve psoriasis scores. In a pilot study, nine patients with psoriasis and 16 patients with vitiligo were given a daily supplement of 35,000 IUs of vitamin D3 for six months along with a low-calcium diet and hydration. A low calcium diet was recommended for patients on the high Vitamin D treatment because high amounts of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood).
Researchers scored psoriasis patients based on the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index before and after the treatment. At baseline, all of the patients presented low vitamin D levels, but after the treatment their vitamin D levels significantly increased. Standardized scores for Psoriasis Area and Severity Index improved in all psoriasis patients in relation to serum vitamin D levels. This suggests that high-dose vitamin D therapy may be effective in reducing psoriasis symptoms.3 Talk to your doctor if you want to try taking high doses of vitamin D for psoriasis so your calcium levels can be monitored.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that fish oil changes the lipid profile of cells to reduce inflammation. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it involves the immune system attacking the body’s own healthy cells. Reducing inflammation may help to reduce the severity of these symptoms. In fact, the current treatment guidelines for psoriasis involve the use of steroids to dampen immune responses. Studies found that between 3.6 and 14 grams of EPA (one of the two main types of omega-3 fatty acids) taken every day for a period of six weeks to six months resulted in clinical improvements in patients with psoriasis with minimal side effects.4
However, lower doses of fish oil may have less significant outcomes. One study found that daily supplementation with 3.2 grams of EPA and 2.2 grams of DHA for six to eight weeks resulted in no clinical improvements in patients with plaque psoriasis.5
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of the oxidation of cells. As free radicals accumulate, they can cause damage to cells and DNA, resulting in inflammation, an overactive immune system, and other issues.
In a study on dietary factors and psoriasis, researchers recruited 316 patients with a history of psoriasis and 366 control subjects with newly diagnosed skin conditions that did not include psoriasis. Researchers evaluated diet based on semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. The results of this case-control study found an inverse relationship between psoriasis risk and the intake of carrots, tomatoes, fresh fruit, green vegetables, and the compound beta-carotene. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may be beneficial in psoriasis as they provide a rich source of various antioxidants, including flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C.6
Traditional treatments for psoriasis generally involve topical medications aimed at reducing inflammation and relieving itching. However, if you are looking for natural remedies, consider taking fish oil and vitamin D supplements as well as incorporating more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet.