Turmeric and Psoriasis

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Turmeric and Psoriasis

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Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can also affect the joints and connective tissue. The most obvious symptoms of the disease are inflammation and skin outbreaks. Suffers typically develop patches of thick, red skin or scaly, silvery lesions on their elbows, knees, back, chest, face, scalp, hands, and feet, but these can show up anywhere on the body. If psoriasis affects the joints, arthritis may occur; if it spreads to the connective tissue, irregularities will show up in the fingernails and toenails.

Diagnosis is usually made through observation by a medical specialist; there is no single test to officially confirm the presence of the disease. Psoriasis is not contagious, nor is it the result of infection, allergies, or nutritional deficiencies. There is a genetic component to psoriasis, but this is determined by family history rather than clinical tests. While people who have family members with psoriasis are at a greater risk of developing the condition, it is not a foregone conclusion that the children of psoriasis suffers will get psoriasis themselves.

Psoriasis is caused by problem in the body’s immune system involving a type of white blood cell called a T cell. The normal role of T cells is to protect the body against infections and diseases.psoriasis sculpture In the case of psoriasis, T cells become overactive and set off other immune responses, which lead to increased swelling and a faster turnover of skin cells. All skin undergoes a process called cell turnover, in which the skin cells that grow in the basal layer rise to the surface, or epidermis. This process takes three to four weeks in a healthy individual. In a patient with psoriasis, on the other hand, it can take as little as several days.

The National Psoriasis Foundation acknowledges the efficacy of certain dietary supplements in minimizing flare-ups, among them turmeric. Citing turmeric’s role in both food and traditional medicine, the Foundation states that many sufferers use it as a means of alleviating their symptoms. Anecdotal evidence seems to attest to its success.

Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is a spice that is related to the ginger family. It is commonly used in cooking for both its sharp, pungent flavor and its golden color; but because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric also plays an important role in traditional medicine. Medicinal use of turmeric, it should be noted, tends to exceed the amounts used in curry and other dishes; it can be taken in pill or supplement form, or mixed into food. While there is no scientific consensus on how turmeric might alleviate the symptoms psoriasis or to what extent it might be useful as a treatment, it is thought that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory qualities are responsible for reductions in swelling.

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