Natural Alternatives for Psoriasis, Part I: Coleus & Other Great Herbs
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on February 9, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Psoriasis, a common but still not fully understood disorder of the skin, occurs in about 2-3 percent of the American population. In this condition, the skin cells can divide up to 1000x faster than normal, leading to the scales and “placquing” that is typical of this condition.
Coleus (Coleus forskohlii) is a herb that has traditionally been used to help manage psoriasis. One of its consituents, forskolin, has been shown to help normalize the highly imbalanced cAMP/cGMP ratio present in skin cells in psoriasis. This imbalance results in the markedly increased cell proliferation.
Sarsaparilla, also known as Smilax, may also be helpful for psoriasis. This is thought due to its anti-inflammatory “saponins,” components that structurally resemble cortisol. They may exert a similar, albeit weaker, anti-inflammatory action in the body as does cortisol, by binding to cortisol-receptors.
Traditional “blood and skin purifier” herbs such as Yellow Dock, Cleavers, Red Clover, and Blue Flag may also provide benefit by supporting the body’s eliminative channels, especially the liver and lymphatics.
Next post we’ll look at some topical suggestions and other considerations for psoriasis.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan