People with psoriasis have several treatment options, which include biological, topical medications and phototherapy. But many people who have the autoimmune condition turn to natural remedies as an alternative or a supplement to pharmaceutical products. Of the natural solutions to promote health, apple cider vinegar has become one of the most popular.
"I have several patients who take apple cider vinegar to lose weight and digestive and intestinal health problems," says Pooja DeWilde, DO, a family medicine physician at the Northwestern Regional Medical Medical Group in Huntley, Illinois. “I have heard from people who use it as a topical solution for mosquito bites, bees and toenail fungus. I don't know the exact mechanism of how it might work, but I think it may have some antimicrobial and immune system stimulating properties. "
The idea of applying vinegar to the skin as a soothing agent dates back to 420 a. C., when the Greek doctor Hippocrates recommended it to heal wounds.
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The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) specifically supports apple cider vinegar as a treatment to help stop scalp itching related to psoriasis. Vinegar gets its name from the French vin what does "wine" mean and aigre which means "sour." Heartburn comes from acetic acid in vinegar, which can provide relief by killing bacteria. The acid also acts as a scrub, removing dead skin layers so that psoriasis is less flaky.
It is believed that cloudy, brown and unfiltered apple cider vinegar has an especially healthy impact because it usually contains the mother culture. The "mother" is a collection of bacteria that transforms alcohol into the fermentation of apple juice into acetic acid. (It is said that the mother is similar to SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts, in fermented tea known as kombucha).
The NPF recommends creating a one-to-one solution of organic vinegar and water because pure vinegar can cause an unpleasant burning sensation.
"People can do a lot of damage with apple cider vinegar if they're not careful," says Matthew Lewis, MD, a dermatologist at Stanford Health Care. “The pH (measure of acid concentration) is around three, which is similar to lemon juice. If you leave it on your skin for too long, it can burn, like a chemical burn. We definitely see that kind of thing in the office frequently, it just destroys the skin. ”
Instead, Dr. Lewis directs patients to salicylic acid, which is a commonly available product to help remove dead skin cells. Coal tar can also help by slowing the rapid growth of skin cells and eliminating dead skin from the body.
If you use a vinegar solution, the NPF advises to rinse the skin after applying it and avoid using it if the skin is cracked or bleeding.
In addition to using vinegar on the scalp, a dilution of vinegar can be applied to a compress to soothe inflamed or watery skin (a sign of infection), according to John Anthony, MD, dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
It may be contradictory, but some alternative health advocates suggest that apple cider vinegar becomes less acidic or more alkaline once inside the body. Vinegar fans believe that it improves overall bowel health and acid-alkaline balance, which in turn can help reduce inflammation.
So far, no scientific research has validated this. An animal study found that apple cider vinegar was ineffective as an anti-inflammatory agent. On the other hand, there is evidence that vinegar intake may have some health benefits. A study published in May 2018 in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine He indicated that vinegar can help control blood sugar, possibly reducing the risk of diabetes, and a study published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Bioscience, biotechnology and biochemistry It showed that vinegar can reduce body weight and fat mass in obese people.
"There is simply not much medical literature on the subject, more study is needed," says Dr. Anthony.
If you try to drink vinegar, do not take it undiluted. Potential health risks include damage to tooth enamel, burning of the lining of the esophagus and stomach upset.
Complementary and alternative therapies that are sometimes used to improve psoriasis symptoms range from mineral water baths, acupuncture, yoga and meditation.
Although most of these approaches are safe, you should talk to your doctor before trying any new treatment or technique.
Anthony emphasizes that the main topical solution is not "natural" but a steroid medication.
"However, for some reason, some people do not want to take medication," he says. “I think people want options. From my point of view, there is no danger in using apple cider vinegar, so I never advise people not to use it. ”