What is psoriasis?
Deciding what is the best essential oil for psoriasis is very difficult, what with 7 types of psoriasis and not much precise information. On top of that, people have different experiences with and reactions to essential oils. But we’ll start with the basics.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. This is a condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks one’s own body. It is a widespread disease with an estimated 125 million sufferers worldwide. And it may be inherited.
The immune system normally protects our bodies from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. And, ordinarily, our immune systems can tell the difference between foreign cells and our own cells.
But, with an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes healthy parts of our body, such as our skin and joints, as foreign. And it sends out proteins, called autoantibodies, that will attack our healthy organs and tissues.
So psoriasis occurs when the autoimmune system attacks our skin. What it does is cause the production of skin tissue to be increased so fast that it does not give the normal skin shedding process time to work properly.
The typical skin cycle from formation to scaling off is one month. But psoriasis causes such an overproduction of skin that it builds up in unsightly, red, and itchy scales on the skin.
The autoimmune response that causes psoriasis appears to be triggered by such things as cold weather, stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, skin injury, some medications, allergies, and diet.
No cure for psoriasis
There is no known actual cure for psoriasis. However, it may disappear spontaneously, even without treatment. This occurs when, for reasons unknown, the autoimmune system calls off its attack.
However, there are ways to get relief and there are ways to ward off some of the events that may trigger an attack of psoriasis. And these may perhaps even turn off whatever trigger it was that caused the current attack of psoriasis in the first place.
Essential oils for psoriasis
So the question here is whether essential oils, and other natural oils too, can play a role in the relief of psoriasis.
We have no first-hand experience of this because, fortunately, neither my wife nor I have suffered from psoriasis. However, we have gathered here what we have learned from multiple sources.
Our own feeling and intuition are that these natural substances act in some way to relieve the underlying stressors that trigger and maintain the autoimmune response that causes psoriasis.
We have tried to answer the question: what is the best essential oil for psoriasis? And our conclusion is that it is whatever works for you. Sorry, not much help, right?
There is no reliable science. However, there is excellent anecdotal evidence that a number of essential and other natural oils are effective with psoriasis. The effect will vary from person to person but it is definitely worth pursuing the treatment that is best for you.
So our advice is to experiment and see what works for you. But always consult your medical professional.
Essential and natural oil options for psoriasis
Below we have set out what appear to be the best options for coping with psoriasis using both essential and natural oils. For convenience, we have added links to where you can find them on Amazon. Click on the red underlined headings.
Coconut oil is not strictly an essential oil. However, its anti-inflammatory properties have been found to reduce the pain of psoriasis scales. The oil moisturizes both the skin and the scales.
Coconut oil is widely regarded as a benign substance with rare instances of side effects. After all, we use it to cook with. So it is considered safe when used internally as well as externally.
Essential oils often employ coconut oil as a carrier. So don’t consume coconut oil if essential oils have been added to it.
Using coconut oil for psoriasis:
Internally: Up to 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily. It contains a lauric acid substance. This is an antimicrobial and can combat bacteria and viruses
Externally: Apply virgin coconut oil to the affected areas, especially after bathing.
Learn more about coconut oil and psoriasis here.
Tea Tree oil is made from the leaves of an Australian plant. This oil appears to have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It is also believed to support a healthy immune system. It has been found to reduce the pain, itchiness, and scaliness of psoriasis in some people, especially on the scalp.
According to the National Psoriasis Association, shampoos containing tea tree oil have been found to be helpful with scalp psoriasis. You might also consider soaps and lotions containing tea tree oil for other areas of the body. Here is a tea tree oil balm.
Some people are allergic to tea tree oil, so test this by applying small amounts to the skin before using it over a large area.
Learn more about this here: tea tree oil and psoriasis.
There has probably been more research into lavender oil than any other.
Its antibacterial and antifungal properties have been found to be effective against certain types of bacteria, where mainstream medicines have come up short.
It has been found particularly helpful for people under stress. And stress is one of the emotional triggers for psoriasis. And, of course, psoriasis itself causes stress. So try using lavender essential oil in a diffuser, or dab diluted lavender oil onto your temples.
You can also apply lavender oil lotion direct to the skin to reduce inflammation and itching, and expedite healing. You can get the same effect by diluting lavender oil with a carrier like a coconut oil. It appears that lavender boosts circulation and helps condition the skin.
People under stress should try applying lavender oil to their temples. This can have the effect of soothing the mind and easing the stress that is one of the emotional triggers of a psoriasis flare-up. Lavender oil will also reduce itching when applied to the skin in a lotion.
Castor oil has a very long history. It comes from the seed of the castor bean plant. And these seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs going back 4,000 years.
Castor oil is not an essential oil but it is a natural carrier oil for applying essential oils.
Over these many years, castor oil has had numerous health-related applications. It is unclear how it works, but castor oil appears to be able to stimulate the immune system. This is why it is believed to have an impact on the flare-ups and symptoms of psoriasis.
Castor oil is a natural emollient that will soften the skin and speed up the healing process by moistening areas of dry and flaky skin. This may also help remove toxins and boost immune function.
For more on this go here: castor oil and psoriasis.
Geranium oil is antibacterial and antifungal. It is also anti-inflammatory and shows promise in the creation of new medications.
You will find it in facial skin cleansers. And it has been used to treat acne and may have related benefits in the treatment of psoriasis.
Geranium oil has been found to increase circulation and works to relieve stress. And, of course, stress is what can trigger a psoriasis flare.
Geranium oil can cause allergic reactions. So do a small test patch before using it.
To use geranium oil, first dilute it by adding a few drops to a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Apply the mixture to the affected area a couple of times each day.
Depending on the person, peppermint oil will help in varying degrees with the pain and itching associated with psoriasis.
It is the menthol in the peppermint oil that provides relief. So it does not seem to matter which of the many different peppermint oils you use. There are about 25 different species and 600 varieties of peppermint to choose from.
There are usually no side effects associated with peppermint oil but you should test it on a small area to start with in case there is any kind of allergic reaction. Apparently, one is less likely to be allergic to peppermint oil than geranium oil.
Try combining around 6 drops of peppermint with a cup of distilled water and then spraying it onto the affected area of itchy or painful skin to get some soothing relief.
Neem oil is an extract of the fruit and seeds of the neem tree, which grows in India. It has a long history of use by practitioners of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
Neem oil contains linoleic, palmitic, and oleic fatty acids, which support healthy skin. For this reason, neem oil is a frequent ingredient in skincare products.
This type of oil contains several compounds, including fatty acids and antioxidants, that can benefit the skin. It also contains polyphenols and flavonoids, which are antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.
Authors of a 2013 review of the available research into medicinal uses of neem concluded that its extracts can help treat a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis. There is more support here.
The oil should be cold-pressed. It has a yellow-brown color and a strong odor. Dilute the neem oil with a carrier oil.
Neem oil is safe but quite potent. So it should be applied to a small test area first, in case of an allergic reaction.
Of course, fish oil is far from being an essential oil. However, it is a natural product.
And we bring it up here because it has been found that psoriasis is less common among populations whose diet includes cold-water fish containing omega-3 fatty acids. And there have been studies, with mixed results, indicating that fish oil supplements can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. The Mayo Clinic touches on it here.
In our view, given the other benefits associated with taking fish oil, if you suffer from psoriasis, it certainly can’t hurt to take fish oil, and it may very well help you.
So what is the best essential oil for psoriasis?
We come back to our earlier recommendation, which is to try everything. However, it is smart to be methodical about it. Be patient. Observe what happens. Take notes.
In the world of alternative medicine and essential oils, where there is such limited hard scientific data but a wealth of anecdotal support, we become our own researchers.