Psoriasis is a chronic disease with no cure, as yet. Some people use home recipes, such as apple cider vinegar, to relieve symptoms.
What is psoriasis and what are the symptoms?
Psoriasis appears to involve both genetic factors and the immune system.
People with psoriasis will find that at times the symptoms seem to go away or to get better. At other times, symptoms flare up and get worse.
Psoriasis can affect the skin of the head and scalp.
Certain triggers can cause symptoms of psoriasis to flare up, but what triggers symptoms in one person may not affect another.
Symptoms of psoriasis include:
- red patches of scaly skin
- dry, cracked skin that may or may not bleed
- itching or burning
- painful skin
- thickened fingernails or toenails
- swollen or stiff joints.
The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. Symptoms of plaque psoriasis can vary in severity, from mild patches to plaques covering large areas of the skin.
Treatment focuses on relieving inflammation and smoothing the scaly patches of skin.
Topical steroid creams or other topical creams usually relieve inflammation. Other treatments include light therapy and drugs that affect the immune system.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider with specialized bacteria to form an acidic vinegar. It is used to preserve food and has been used in the past as a disinfectant. More recently, it has gained popularity for its potential health benefits.
Although research has not confirmed the benefits or risks of using apple cider vinegar for medicinal purposes, many people report that it has helped them in a number of ways.
The benefits are said to include:
- aiding digestion
- supporting the immune system
- improving the health and appearance of the hair and skin
- assisting blood sugar regulation.
Some people with psoriasis have found that apple cider vinegar provides relief from itching on the scalp, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Organic, unrefined apple cider vinegar is believed to be the most healthful. It is widely available in grocery stores.
Can apple cider vinegar help with psoriasis?
Because of its antiseptic properties, apple cider vinegar may help get rid of itching or irritation from psoriasis, especially on the scalp.
Raw, organic, cider vinegar may help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.
Those who support its use suggest applying the apple cider vinegar directly to the scalp several times a week. Some people report seeing an improvement in their condition within a few weeks.
So far, there appears to be no risk to using apple cider vinegar for psoriasis.
However, if the scalp is cracked, bleeding, or if there are open wounds, apple cider vinegar is likely to cause further irritation and pain.
Using too much vinegar can cause a burning sensation. Diluting the vinegar with equal quantities of water before applying it can reduce the sensation of burning and irritation. Rinsing the scalp once the solution has dried may also alleviate these effects.
No direct research has determined the effect of apple cider vinegar on psoriasis. Its use was mentioned anecdotally in an article published in the Journal of Pharmacy Research, however.
Other food remedies for psoriasis
Many people look to natural and alternative remedies to help treat their psoriatic plaques.
In addition to apple cider vinegar, several household products may benefit people with psoriasis.
Aloe vera gel is a well-known remedy for cuts, burns, and irritations of the skin. It can be squeezed directly from the leaves of the aloe vera plant.
Its moisturizing properties may also relieve the discomfort associated with psoriasis.
Capsaicin is the chemical found in hot peppers that gives them their heat. Researchers found that adding this substance to topical creams may help to reduce the inflammation and discomfort associated with psoriasis.
Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts
Adding these to a warm tub bath may help to relieve itching and discomfort. The salt works by drawing fluid out from the tissues, decreasing edema.
It is important to moisturize the skin after taking a salt bath to help restore moisture to the surface.
Oats are a natural skin soother. They are often used to relieve itching associated with the chicken pox or other itchy skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
Oats can be put directly into a bath. An alternative is to put the oats into a sock that is tied at the top, and using it in the bath, either just in the water or to rub on the skin. A paste made with oats can also be applied directly to the affected area.
Curcumin and turmeric
Curcumin derives from turmeric, a spice found to be rich in antioxidant and other anti-inflammatory substances. It appears to inhibit inflammatory activity. Research suggests it may be effective in treating a range of conditions.
As a foodstuff or as a therapy, turmeric can be added to curries and other recipes. It can also be taken as a supplement.
Food supplements such as these, and including apple cider vinegar, may or may not be helpful in treating psoriasis.
Their use appears to be limited to relieving the itching or discomfort associated with the condition. They are not a cure.
If irritation or increased discomfort result from using one of these remedies, it is important to stop using it immediately and check with a doctor if necessary.
Many alternative remedies lack adequate scientific studies that confirm their use and safety. Supplements can also interact with other treatments.
It is therefore important for patients to inform their doctor about any supplements or alternative treatments they are using.