Western Medicine

Nutritional Support for Psoriasis

Several nutritional supplements have been studied for psoriasis 

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Psoriasis is considered an autoimmune inflammatory disease that can affect the skin and may also cause arthritis.[1] The dysregulation of the immune system occurring with psoriasis is associated with varying degrees of inflammation, and research suggests anti-inflammatory compounds may be useful in decreasing the severity of psoriasis and disease flare-ups.[2,3] Optimizing health through nutritional therapy may also be successful in decreasing the severity and length of psoriatic outbreaks.[2,3] From a naturopathic standpoint, optimal health is attained by removing the obstacles keeping us in our diseased states. Therefore, nutrition can either help or hinder in reaching the goal of peak health and should be considered for the treatment of psoriasis. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Psoriatic plaques have shown a localized metabolic alteration of eicosanoids, which are fatty acid precursors for hormones and other molecules. The psoriatic plaques show increased pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA) and its metabolites.[4] Introduction of dietary anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may reduce the inflammatory response occurring in psoriatic skin lesions.[2,5] A systematic review of studies on EPA and DHA supplementation in psoriatic patients found moderate evidence for these supplements resulting in improved Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scores.[2] Although dosages differed among trials, fish oils high in omega-3 fatty acids could be considered for psoriasis treatment.[2]

Vitamin D

Patients with psoriasis are more frequently deficient (<20 nanograms/mililiter) in serum levels of vitamin D when compared to healthy counterparts.[6] Prescreening of vitamin D levels might help determine if vitamin D supplementation could be beneficial.[2] One review of 6 separate studies found statistically significant reductions in PASI scores (correlating with decreased psoriasis severity) with vitamin D supplementation.[2] A health professional can help determine if Vitamin D supplementation is warranted and can monitor appropriate treatment. 


Well known for its bright yellow color, turmeric is a root vegetable that contains the molecule curcumin. Clinically, the root has been used by health practitioners for centuries to treat skin conditions.[7] Although clinical studies using human subjects have not been conclusive on the benefits of curcumin for various skin conditions, it may still prove helpful as an adjunctive therapy.[3,7] One study found a significant decrease in PASI score of patients treated with curcumin (2 grams/day) and topical steroid vs topical steroids alone.[3] Curcumin has also been associated with decreasing levels of the inflammatory signal interleukin-22 (IL-22) and may help to decrease inflammation in psoriatic lesions.[3]  


Other Possible Considerations

Vitamin B12

There is a correlation between low vitamin B12 levels and plaque psoriasis prevalence, but no reproducible studies have linked B12 supplementation or injection as a beneficial treatment.[8,9] Thus, increasing B12 levels might be considered a possible adjunct therapy for psoriasis patients with inadequate levels, at least for the purpose of optimizing health from the naturopathic viewpoint.[10] 


As with vitamin B12, serum selenium levels have been shown to be depressed in individuals with a history of psoriasis, but no studies have found significant improvement in PASI scores with supplementation alone.[11,12] One study found a relationship between clinical severity and a decrease in selenium for individuals with chronic lesions of psoriasis.[11] Thus, monitoring and supplementation might provide benefit for individuals with low levels of selenium by preventing further illness[11,13] but studies that specifically evaluate selenium supplementation in psoriasis will be helpful to see if this association is true or not.  


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1.    Staff C. Psoriasis.  http://www.cdc.gov/psoriasis/. Accessed July 7, 2016.

2.    Millsop JW, Bhatia BK, Debbaneh M, et al. Diet and psoriasis, part III: role of nutritional supplements. J Am Acad Dermatol.2014;71(3):561-569; PMID: 24780177.

3.    Antiga E, Bonciolini V, Volpi W, et al. Oral Curcumin (Meriva) Is Effective as an Adjuvant Treatment and Is Able to Reduce IL-22 Serum Levels in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris. Biomed Res Int.2015;2015:283634; PMID: 26090395.

4.    Grimminger F, Mayser P. Lipid mediators, free fatty acids and psoriasis. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids.1995;52(1):1-15; PMID: 7708814.

5.    Kragballe K, Voorhees JJ, Goetzl EJ. Inhibition by leukotriene B5 of leukotriene B4-induced activation of human keratinocytes and neutrophils. J Invest Dermatol.1987;88(5):555-558; PMID: 2437212.

6.    Ricceri F, Pescitelli L, Tripo L, et al. Deficiency of serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D correlates with severity of disease in chronic plaque psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol.2013;68(3):511-512; PMID: 23394917.

7.    Gupta SC, Patchva S, Koh W, et al. Discovery of curcumin, a component of golden spice, and its miraculous biological activities. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol.2012;39(3):283-299; PMID: 22118895.

8.    Brazzelli V, Grasso V, Fornara L, et al. Homocysteine, vitamin B12 and folic acid levels in psoriatic patients and correlation with disease severity. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol.2010;23(3):911-916; PMID: 20943063.

9.    Baker H, Comaish JS. Is vitamin B12 of value in psoriasis? Br Med J.1962;2(5321):1729-1730; PMID: 13969145.

10.    Kannan R, Ng MJ. Cutaneous lesions and vitamin B12 deficiency: an often-forgotten link. Can Fam Physician.2008;54(4):529-532; PMID: 18413300.

11.    Serwin AB, Wasowicz W, Gromadzinska J, et al. Selenium status in psoriasis and its relations to the duration and severity of the disease. Nutrition.2003;19(4):301-304; PMID: 12679161.

12.    Ricketts JR, Rothe MJ, Grant-Kels JM. Nutrition and psoriasis. Clin Dermatol.2010;28(6):615-626; PMID: 21034986.

13.    Koekkoek WA, van Zanten AR. Antioxidant Vitamins and Trace Elements in Critical Illness. Nutr Clin Pract.2016;31(4):457-474; PMID: 27312081.