Turmeric's long-term effects on psoriasis unknown

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

November 30, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My daughter's psoriasis was quite severe. She had a red rash and scaling on both arms from shoulders to wrists. When I read your column about turmeric helping psoriasis, she started taking this spice in gel capsules.

The rash has cleared almost completely, responding better than to any prescription medicine or salve. Is there any information on long-term effects or tolerance to turmeric? It has made a significant difference in her skin condition and consequently her self-esteem.

When a reader told us that taking a teaspoon of turmeric each day cleared up his psoriasis, we were intrigued. This spice is an ingredient in curry powder.

We discovered that researchers are looking into the potential health benefits of curcumin, a key component of turmeric. One group found that curcumin inhibits an enzyme called PhK associated with overactive cell growth in psoriasis (British Journal of Dermatol-ogy, November 2000).

We don't know of any long-term studies on whether people develop tolerance to turmeric. Millions of people in Asia consume it daily for much of their lives. Whether it would be safe and effective for psoriasis suppression, however, remains to be determined.

At every doctor's appointment, the nurse measures my blood pressure and scowls. Even though I am taking propranolol and Norvasc, my numbers are high. Knowing they will be high makes me anxious.

When my son takes my blood pressure, the readings are usually less than 130 / 80. The doctor wants me to take yet another medicine, but I have no energy, and my ankles are swollen because of the pills. I would rather use something natural. Is there any way to lower blood pressure without drugs? Should I get my own machine?

You might have "white-coat hypertension." In this condition blood pressure is elevated primarily in the doctor's office. With your own monitor, you can keep a record of your blood pressure at different times of the day. Ask your doctor to calibrate the machine so you can keep records to share. Weight loss, regular exercise and a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products can be helpful. Relaxation tapes to lower blood pressure might also be beneficial.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them from their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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