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Plant-Based Diets for Psoriasis

Plant-based diets appear to decrease inflammation via a variety of mechanisms, including boosting our adrenal gland function. Glucocorticoids are circulating steroid hormones produced by our adrenal glands that suppress inflammation and also help our kidneys excrete potassium. When we eat a lot of potassium-rich foods our adrenal glands secrete more glucocorticoids to keep our potassium levels in check, which may have the side effect of decreasing the level of inflammation in the body. See my 3-min video Potassium and Autoimmune Disease for the effect this may have on autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.

Where is potassium found? See my post last week, 98% of American Diets Potassium Deficient. Hint: bananas don’t even make the top 50 sources!

What about autoimmune arthritis? See my previous post Plant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid Arthritis and my videos Preventing Arthritis and Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis. Eating healthier doesn’t improve everyone’s joint pain, but as with all nontoxic treatment modalities, they should always be tried first.

Plant-based diets may help with other pain syndromes:

as well as other hypersensitivity diseases:

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

28 responses to “Plant-Based Diets for Psoriasis

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  1. Medscape, NEJM etc.
    For the scientific truth in healing my patients, you and is my favorite and “go-to” read!
    Thanks, as always!

  2. If you are looking for a Psoriasis treatment which is Non Sterodial,non acidic then Biosynol is the perfect solution.It contains Natural Ingredients.

  3. I am confused. The title says “Plant-Based Diets for Psoriasis”. So, what is the diet for Psoriasis? It does not seem to get a mention above.

    1. Lawrence: I agree that this post is not terribly clear. Here is my understanding of the first paragraph combined with looking at the links, distilled and in reverse:
      >> psoriasis = autoimmune disease
      >> autoimmune disease = made worse by a lot of inflammation
      >> inflammation = controlled by foods high in potassium (with additional details on the mechanism of how that happens given above and in the links)
      >> potassium = found in plants
      Hence, an explanation for why plant based diets (ie, diets consisting mostly of whole plant foods with no or minimal animal foods) have been shown to help people with psoriasis (see the video linked to above). Sound about right to you?

  4. I found your video on Auto immune disease fascinating, as a life long sufferer of Psoriasis. My question though is, how do I take in enough potassium? My problem is that I am now taking Sintrom (similar to Warfarin) so have to watch Vitamin K carefully. Can you suggest foods that are high in Potassium, but low in Vitamin K?
    Thank you

  5. Hi, I’ve read in several books (ie: John Paggano’s Healing Psoriais) that night shades (peppers, potatoes, aubergine, tomatoes and tobacco plants), due to their pro inflmatory effect containing compounds (solanine…), are not recommended for psoriasis sufferers. Is there any scientific truth in this? It would be nice to have a video or an article on this. If anyone has an answer for this, I’d very much appreciate it.

    1. At the age of 70 I suddenly developed psoriasis on my legs elbows, trunk of body and face and even lost an eyebrow to it.

      I started a Gluten Free Diet and it got better but until I stopped all nightshade plants and all foods grown underground I did not start getting clear. I cannot eat garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, potatoes, and other things grown underground.
      I had to stop tomatoes and peppers also as I have very bad breakouts with those nightshades.

      Sugar is another issue that I have found affects me so I am now testing Organic Coconut Palm Sugar and I have used Pure Stevia with no additives with good results.
      I am now all clear except for 4 tiny spots and a day ago I stopped all Dairy products so hope these 4 spots will be gone in a few days.
      It is hard to stick to such a strict diet but when I remember how bad my body looked with psoriasis believe me I want to stick to this diet.
      I have a reaction to Steroids and many of the medications are clearly dangerous or I am allergic to something in them so I decided to try this diet and I have finally found what works for my body.

  6. I have psoriasis since I’m 12. Vegan since 1981. Still have psoriasis although it is better than before I was vegan. I’m learning that psoriasis can be candida. Any truth to this? How does one get tested for candida? I eat so good, mostly raw with beans, steams, no oils (Dr McDougall suggested NO OILS), fruit etc. When you look at a candida diet, it’s very restrictive. And now as post menopausal, tend to get bv, which makes me eat a mostly candida diet. No fruit lots of garlic, oregano oil, lemon, probiotics, vitamin c inside vagina, coconut oil and raw apple cider vinegar inside vagina too. I need help not sure what to do. Thought I was healthy.

    1. Flowers,

      May I suggest that you see a functional physician for both testing and potential treatment.

      Your use of the various agents intra-vaginally is not necessarily the best approach. My clinical experiences highly suggest that you will want to check your hormone levels and of course your blood sugars, including a HgbA1c level.

      I also found that the use of the anti-fungal system medications were often times needed, even when the diet and the foods were being used aggressively.

      Good luck and don’t let these symptoms continue. Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

      1. Thank you so much Dr. Kadish. I had vertigo with throwing up 8+ times last year and because Drs do not test for hormones, I used Delgado Protocol. $100 they checked my hormones and consultations included. I did the herbs they said and the exercises Dr Klaper sent me. Gone by October.

        May I have to recheck the hormone thing. I have an appt with my primary care Dr July 3. Appts are made year in advance. She’s thankfully somewhat into alternative medicine but she’s not vegan.

        I’ve beat the bv several times. Yesterday I tried betadine very diluted. It seems to make a difference. Will do one more treatment tonight. Plus probiotics.

        And will look into hormone testing again with Delgado. The USA medical offices don’t seem to do hormone checks. Is there a specific one I can suggest to the primary care physician?

        I will ask about the blood sugar. But I eat so good and rarely eat sugar. Just found that xylitol is ok with whatever may be wrong with me.

        Honestly as a kid they gave me so many shots God only knows how I’m paying for it now.

        I know Dr Klaper very well as he became vegan living with us at 1982. But he’s so busy, I don’t like to bother him.

        Lately I’m not eating fruit, yuck. Added coconut butter and oil to my previously oil free diet. Oregano oil 2x day. Lots garlic, rosemary, lemon, Jamaican sarsaparilla. Will be getting undecylenic acid. Trying not to eat grains. Supposedly this psoriasis (and maybe bv?) can destroy my immune system?

        Otherwise, I’m in a good space. Country living, gardening, sunshine and doing vegan stuff always.

        Thank you so much!!

      2. Hi Dr Kadish, I’m on it. Asked primary doctor for the test and I’m trying to get the appointment date moved up to soon. If I cannot, them will do the Delgado protocol unless you have a better idea of where to get hormones tested please let me know. Thank you again so much!!

    2. Have you tried using probiotics vaginally after the cider vinegar? I found clearing out the bad bacteria with the vinegar and then repopulate the good bacteria with probiotic.

      Do you use any chemical lotions on your skin ? Stop them all, including shampoos and conditioners. Only the purest natural ones will not cause itchy inflammation.

  7. Hi Deer, Thanks for your question and your good interest in Dr Greger website. I am one of the volunteer moderator at the website. I congratulate you with your journey of becoming Vegan for such long time. As for your question regarding psoriasis and association with candida; Many of the molecular pathways associated with psoriasis pathogenesis are also involved in host defense mechanisms that protect against common pathogens. Candida can stimulate the production of cytokines ( substances in cells of immune system) that trigger or exacerbate psoriasis, and many systemic psoriasis treatments may put patients at increased risk for developing oral, cutaneous, and genitourinary candidiasis. I am not a doctor and I would recommend you talking with your doctor regarding applying any natural substance such as garlic or vitamin c inside body parts. As the cells in our body can show reaction to the foreign substance. I would suggest checking your B12 and Vitamin D level as well. I refer you to this study and hope that helps you.
    Diet and Psoriasis: Part 3. Role of Nutritional Supplements

  8. I suffered from time to time embarrassing psoriasis of exclusively my vulva, and going vegan at 26 cured it. if I broke my ethical preferences of perfect vegan, with dairy products or meat psoriasis would slowly return. So, I became a great animal rights activist with an extra layer of immense health vegan appreciation for God’s ideal diet of good karma is disease and plaque free via plants!! :-) I bet it must cure bent penises too…


    This is a wonderful explanation of why so many synthetic creations have bad reactions with us. Even if the molecules can also occur naturally, synthetic creations are in usages that nature hasn’t made. So, instead of just the terms natural substance vs synthetic, the concept is as nature also uses, meaning it’s not a synthetic copy used in a vastly different fashion to how nature uses it.

    1. I found a possible way to make psoriasis better. Being vegan is the all around right thing to do. Getting sun is also on the top of the list. Eating gluten free and nightshade free although I do eat tomatoes. Being calm and eliminating stress. The newest thing I’m doing which seems to be helping is 2-3 drops organic clove oil daily with fat like nut butters and once daily undeclynic acid. I also do not eat oils or fried foods. Rarely consume processed foods and eat organic as much as possible. Living in warm climates is great too. I’m managing to keep it in control.

  10. I have followed a whole foods, plant based diet for 9 months now (I was previously ovo-lacto vegetarian and ate salmon once in a while) and my psoriasis of 30+ years is 90% better and still improving. I also eliminated all refined sugar (including maple syrup) and all oils. I also had a gluten intolerance for years that seems to have vanished over time. I don’t feel bloated when I eat whole wheat (although I keep that to a minimum). I had reactions to the nightshade plant family that I’m no longer sensitive to. I have not been sick with a cold or flu yet while everyone at work is dropping like flies. I’m 51 and my energy level is so high I need to ramp up exercise every day just to keep up with it. As we get older and eat an improper diet, I feel that we forget what feeling good feels like over time. I now feel similar to how I felt when I was a kid. I am never going back to eating dairy, eggs, meat, and seafood again. Like Dr. Greger said “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels”. And I have to add that I LOVE my new foods including all the raw vegetables I munch on all day long.

  11. Does anyone know if there is anything (in addition to eating WFPB) that can be done to support a digestive system that is damaged weekly by Methotrexate injection for Psoriatic Arthritis. I have been WFPB for almost a year and have reduced my MTX injection by 40% so far, but my stomach is always struggling with the damage done by the meds, and I still lack that boundless energy that everyone raves about after going WFPB. Any WFPB doctors out there with a moment to spare? I would appreciate your help.

  12. A personal experience, maybe you could look into.

    I had small patches of psoriasis on my right foot for a few years. I switched to a plant based diet and it remained for about 1.5 years. Then I switched to all raw fruit and it went away completely within a month! My son there is like new baby skin!

    Anyways, what’s with that, that all fruit would be the solution?

    1. This is interesting Levi. A naturopath told me to go fruit free, gluten free (which I’ve been for many years) and take undecylenic acid acid and oil of cloves. I did this for about three months. I’m now eating fruit again and it is summer and my psoriasis is practically gone except a spot behind the ear. This spot rarely gets Sun. So I bend my ear down and give it rays when I can.

      Knowing me, in the autumn and spring I tend to break out again minimally. Hope I don’t break out at all. I skip winters.

  13. there was an article in the British Columbia “Common Ground ” magazine about 2 or 3 years ago about a woman covered with severe psoriasis, who completely resolved it with oral Vit D3, K2, and magnesium. the theory is that people with psoriasis can be very low in Vit D or need more than others. the article also explained the beneficial synergistic effects of Vit K2, and Magnesium. i was taking that combo and my psoriaiss cleared up 100% , but i also had chemo, which is immune suppressive and may have suppressed the inflammation as well. my psoriasis has come back and i am going to get a baseline for Vit D and restart those supplements.
    i had been taking 10,000 units of vit D, and i think 100 or 200mg? vit K2, and 300 -600 mg Magnesium., i wish i had got a baseline before statrting it, i started it as there was also a number of articles saying women with breast cancer are also often deficient iun Vit D.
    anyway, after 10,000 IU of vit D3 for a couple months or more, i tested my D3 and it was within normal, so i’d think i had been lower prior to taking the mega dose of vit D
    the article in common ground is really worthwhile if you can find it or write to the publishers of it.

  14. Since the age of 17, I’ve been fighting psoriasis (scalp, calves, thighs and elbows) via various dermatologic treatments and also food experiments excluding one ingredient after the other to actually figure out why my skin occasionally clears out and then all of the sudden I’m covered with new rushes.

    At 23, I started with UVB as that’s the usual treatment in Denmark where I currently live. I was amazed by the results and continued the treatments for a year although it required 3 sessions a week! Time-consuming but I had 99% improvement and FINALLY people stopped staring at my elbows and forearms when wearing T-shirts. I continued this treatment purely because I felt ‘normal’ again.

    From the very first skin outbreak, I have become extremely conscious about my food intake and although UVB was showing results, I have never really felt ok with that! I’m convinced there is something inside me that keeps causing these uncontrolled outbreaks and I struggle to decode it for years.

    The meat was never really my thing and dairy I have excluded due to lactose intolerance years ago. I’m now 25, in love with sports and sun whenever possible to get some, and after 2 months of psoriasis clear skin and no treatment whatsoever, I begin a full plant-based diet – partly for continues acne, partly for the environment and partly for all the great health benefits I’m getting to know lately.

    One month of my extreme plant-based diet (only fruits, veg, legumes, grains, spice and herbs, and all raw or cooked from scratch), my psoriasis is literally worsening overnight and my acne has never been this bad!

    I’m seriously concerned what is it that I’m doing wrong or why my body reacts this way?
    Has anyone experienced anything like that?

    1. I had psoriasis everywhere from about age 13 and I too used a UV lamp. At age 21 I moved and lived in warm climates. Being in the SUN is the very best thing for psoriasis. I am vegan since 1981. And notice when I break out. Stress. And now I meditate. Wheat, tomatoes (every Autumn I break out due to there being lots of tomatoes in the garden. I rarely eat them now), gluten in general and night shades I avoid. Also sugar. And oils. I do put coconut oils and Shea butter on my skin.

      I’m now a sun addict. And have very little psoriasis.

      A nutritionist I know says for psoriasis, no fruit. And add clove oil and other oils to the diet.

      You might want to connect with vegan Dr Brooke Goldner. Tell her Flowers sent you. She helped a vegan runner get rid of her psoriasis.

      Good luck. Email me for more info.

    2. Hello Veronika,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your worsening condition. Unfortunately, it seems that your questions are best directed at your healthcare provider, as we cannot give medical advice on here, nor do we know your complete medical history.
      As you may know, psoriasis is thought to be an autoimmune condition and inflammation is a key factor, both of which can be helped with a whole foods plant-based diet, although not necessarily in every case.
      If you’re looking for a plant-based doctor in your area, I suggest checking out and to hopefully help you find one who can aid you with your health concerns.

      I hope this helps,
      Dr. Matt

    3. Hi Veronika,

      I think ONE problem is in the word ‘extreme’ (changes to diet).

      The immune system that drives psoriasis is largely in our gut (intestinal control of immune signalling/responses. Anyway, I’m no doc, but I am pso/psa, and I have a sensitive digestive tract (of course : ( ). What going ALL veggie, lots of BEANS, and RAW – these are challenges to the digestion.

      Well, the point is, our microbiome in our gut is what keeps us well/digestion healthy and calm/non reactive. We can IMPROVE our Microbiome SLOWLY.

      From what I’ve read leeks generally help build a very beneficial bacterial group, and one can begins SLOWLY eating very lightly steamed leeks (just a bite or two), then more. Then after a couple of weeks adding in raw leeks – a couple of bites, and then onward to a small handful with a meal.

      I hope that you are soaking and sprouting your beans, so that they become digestible, and the nutrients can be absorbed. I have built up to eating homemade hummus (garbanzo bean based) from garbanzos I have soaked a couple of days, then sprouted THEN making the yummy dip. Sprouted beans freeze well, so you can make hummus every so often (hummus itself loses quality in the fridge after a week or so.)

      Anyway, it’s late, I’m not writing well . . . but yes, veggies and (some) beans and rice, and fruits and low/no oils, etc are great for our health. But the biggest point is to build ones’ microbiome toward beneficial microbes, and away from the pathogenic ones.

      This is a high task, but I recommend keeping it in mind as you work out the foods that are helpful to you. I am very very sorry to hear of your response to the veggies – and hope you’ve worked it out by now!

      By the way, I am overdue to get a second ‘ALCAT’ food sensitivity test . . . it can really be helpful to figure out what each of us does well with, and foods we should leave alone, or bring back into diet slowly.

      They are out of FL, and will provide a really helpful hour consultation after you get results. It’s not cheap, but if you have 300 – 1,000K to figure out what your system is ‘reactive’ to, I highly recommend it.

      Ok, tired, maybe this will help SOMEONE with a few ideas of ways to approach our challenges. : )

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