Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammatory scaling, thickened lesions of the skin. Conventional treatment for mild to moderate psoriasis included topical and systemic medications, but all are fraught with potential side effects. Several other studies have shown that turmeric extract applied topically can reduce the severity of psoriasis lesions. The current double-blind, placebo-controlled study measured the efficacy of turmeric extract in a gel, in patients with mild to moderate plaque psoriasis.
Forty patients were recruited and 34 completed the study. Patients were between the ages of 18 and 60 years of age and had mild to moderate psoriasis on their legs and arms. They were eligible for the study if their psoriasis had been stable for at least 2 months and only included if they were not taking topical psoriasis treatments. Patients applied a placebo cream to one side of either right or left arm and leg and then the turmeric treatment cream applied to the opposite side and similar size and severity of lesions. The placebo and turmeric were applied twice per day for 9 weeks.
The placebo contained the microemulgel, and the treatment product contained the microemulgel plus 0.5% of turmeric extracted with water and alcohol. The Psoriasis Area and Severity Index(PASI) measured the redness, thickness, scaling and area of the lesions every 3 weeks. Quality of life was measured as well.
Redness, thickness, and scaling of lesions on the arms decreased significantly with turmeric treatment and the scaling of lesions on the legs decreased significantly over the 9 weeks with turmeric treatment. The mean PASI score decreased from 3.6 to 1.4 with turmeric treatment and was significantly lower than with placebo. There were some adverse effects of dryness and burning, which was similar with the turmeric treatment and the placebo.
Successful natural medicine topical and systemic treatments for plaque psoriasis are limited, so this study is a welcomed report. The turmeric microemulgel significantly reduced the symptoms of psoriasis while also improving quality-of-life indices. While there were minimal adverse effects of drying and burning, it seems as though it was due to the carrier, rather than the turmeric. Psoriasis patients have higher phosphorylase kinase (PK) expression and curcuminoids are known to inhibit PK activity, which should result in a decrease in inflammation.
A comprehensive natural medicine approach would include diminishing triggers, stress management, anti-inflammatory diet, an elimination or rotation diet, potential gluten free diet, sunshine, therapeutic fasting, fish oils, vitamin D, topical treatments including the curcumin gel, aloe vera cream , berberine cream and other historical, empirical and creative approaches.
Reference: Sarafian G, Afshar M, Mansouri P, Asgarpanah J, Raoufinejad K, Rajabi M. Topical turmeric microemulgel in the management of plaque psoriasis; a clinical evaluation. Iran J Pharm Res. Summer 2015;14(3):865-876.