Ayurvedic Herbal medicine to Treat Psoriasis

An intensely itchy, scaly skin rash that affects about 2% of Americans, psoriasis is typically treated with topical steroids. Ultraviolet light with or without topical medicated creams is also used.66

Psoriasis is considered to be a second level (or pathway) of disease in Ayurvedic medicine. As such, it involves the skin and the circulatory and lymphatic symptoms. It is considered more difficult to treat than first level illnesses, which are thought to be internal but superficial. Herbs traditionally used in Ayurveda to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis typically have anti-inflammatory properties.15

Some herbs that have demonstrated positive results in modern clinical research include:

  • Aloe (Aloe vera and Aloe barbadensis). Considered by Ayurveda to be a bitter astringent herb, aloe has anti-inflammatory properties and decreases both pitta and kapha doshas while increasing vata.1,37 Some placebo-controlled clinical studies suggest aloe may provide relief from psoriasis, but others have failed to reproduce those results.37
  • Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium). The root of Oregon grape is recommended by Ayurveda in small amounts to treat dryness, even though it is a bitter herb.15 It is an anti-inflammatory herb that also has antioxidant properties, which may be beneficial with psoriasis since the accumulation of free radicals is believed to have a role in the condition.48 Experts caution that its main constituent, berberine, is an alkaloid and should not be used during pregnancy because it can stimulate the uterus.48 Results from a double-blind clinical trial involving 200 people with psoriasis demonstrated that those who used a cream containing 10% Oregon grape extract had statistically significant better results than those who used the placebo cream.45
  • Cayenne (Copsicum annuum). Although these pungent pepper plants are native to Central America, its use spread to traditional medicines like Ayurveda hundreds of years ago.67 Used both topically and internally, Ayurveda considers cayenne to be a heating and stimulating substance recommended for certain skin conditions to stimulate blood flow and pacify the kapha dosha.15,67 In a large double-blind clinical study, those participants who used topical capsaicin (the active component in cayenne peppers) showed reduced severity and itching from their psoriasis.44
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