Oral turmeric extract (curcumin) in combination with light therapy produces remarkable healing results in patients with severe-to-moderate psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic, recurrent inflammatory skin condition characterized by itchy, dry, scaly plaques. Conventional treatment, which involves drugs and sometimes surgery, is often ineffective, leading many to search for alternative treatments. Many of these, however, have not been studied clinically and while working in some circumstances, may not be taken as seriously as so-called evidence-based natural interventions.
Thankfully, there are a number of natural interventions that have undergone conventional research protocols, over thirty of which can be viewed on our psoriasis research page. You will notice that curcumin, the primary polyphenol in turmeric, features high on the list, with four studies concerning its potential therapeutic value. Now, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot clinical trial published in the European Journal of Dermatology has found that oral curcumin extract in combination with visible light therapy (phototherapy) is highly effective at improving the condition of adults with plaque psoriasis.
Titled, “Effects of Curcuma extract and visible light on adults with plaque psoriasis,” European researchers conducted a trial with patients suffering from moderate to severe psoriasis. They received curcumin extract orally for 17 days, about 15 days of which occurred in combination with either real visible light phototherapy (VLRT) or simulated visible light phototherapy (VLST) in only the experimental area, while the rest of the body surface was treated with ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation.
The study results were reported as follows:
Twenty-one patients were included in the study. In the intention-to-treat analysis, no patients included in the VLRT group showed “moderate” or “severe” plaques after the treatment, in contrast to the patients included in the VSLT group (p<0.01). Parallelisms in the evolution of PGA (Psoriasis Global Assessment), BSA (body surface area), and PASI (psoriasis area and severity index) scores were observed in the two groups following the treatment. At the end of the study period, 76% of all patients showed a response in the BSA exposed to UVA. Lesions on the experimental area showed a response in 81% of the patients in the VLRT group and 30% of the patients in the VLST group. There were no study-related adverse events that necessitated participant withdrawal.”
In other words, all three groups showed significant improvement, with the most pronounced effect involving a combination of real visible light phototherapy and oral curcumin who no longer showed “moderate” or “severe” plagues after treatment.
The study concluded:
The results suggested that moderate to severe plaque psoriasis should show a therapeutic response to orally administered Curcuma if activated with visible light phototherapy, a new therapeutic method that would be safer for patients than existing treatments.”
Because the full study was not available to us, we are not able to report how much curcumin they used. Despite this limitation, previous trials give us an idea of what constitutes a therapeutic dose. For instance, a phase II trial with psoriatic patients used 4.5 grams of curcumin, the results of which are described below:
A phase II, open-label, Simon’s two-stage clinical trial sought to determine the safety and efficacy of oral curcumin in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis (52).  Twelve patients with chronic plaque psoriasis were enrolled in the study and were given 4.5-g curcumin capsules every day for 12 weeks, followed by a 4-week observation period. Curcumin was well-tolerated, and all participants completed the study. The response rate was low, however, possibly caused by a placebo effect or the natural history of psoriasis. However, two patients who responded to the treatment showed 83% to 88% improvement at 12 weeks of treatment. Small sample size and the lack of a control (placebo) group were the limitations of the study (52). Therefore, large placebo-controlled studies are required before recommending oral curcumin for psoriasis.“
Additionally, since certain subtypes of psoriasis have been linked to wheat and gluten intolerance ad/or sensitivity, it is important to consider a broad-based strategy in preventing and/or treating psoriasis versus simply looking for “natural” magic bullets.
 Kurd SK, Smith N, VanVoorhees A, Troxel AB, Badmaev V, Seykora JT, Gelfand JM. Oral curcumin in the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis vulgaris: A prospective clinical trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Apr;58(4):625-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2007.12.035. Epub 2008 Feb 4. Erratum in: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Jun;58(6):1050. PubMed PMID: 18249471; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4131208.
 Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB. Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. AAPS J. 2013 Jan;15(1):195-218. doi: 10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8. Epub 2012 Nov 10. Review. PubMed PMID: 23143785; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3535097.
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