Is Kefir Good for Psoriasis? | MyPsoriasisTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam
Powered By
See answer

Kefir and Psoriasis: Why This Probiotic-Rich Drink May Help Ease Your Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Suzanne Mooney
Posted on March 22, 2023

If you're living with psoriasis, you’re likely familiar with the raised, scaly patches or plaques that characterize this chronic autoimmune disease. These symptoms often develop on the knees, elbows, and scalp, and they may flake, itch, burn, or sting.

“My feet are itchy and burn all the time,” said one MyPsoriasisTeam member. “Some days, I itch all over,” said another. “It drives me nuts.”

In addition to seeking treatment from a doctor who specializes in psoriasis, like a dermatologist or rheumatologist, some people find relief in other ways — such as by drinking kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink found at many grocery and health food stores. If you’ve noticed it in the dairy case and heard about its health benefits, you might be wondering if kefir is good for psoriasis.

“I can’t say for sure, but I have been drinking kefir on the advice of my doctor for stomach reasons, and my psoriasis seems to be clearing,” said one MyPsoriasisTeam member.

Indeed, some research suggests kefir may help with psoriasis symptoms — plus it has other potential health benefits. Read on to learn more about kefir and to see if it may be a good addition to your psoriasis treatment regimen.

What Is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented dairy product that originated in the Caucasus Mountains, located between Asia and Europe. People have consumed kefir for its health benefits for hundreds of years. This drink is usually made from cow’s or goat’s milk, though it can also be prepared with milk from animals such as buffalo and sheep, as well as plant-based milks, like soy or coconut. Making it with kefir grains and water is also an option.

Milk kefir is different from other fermented dairy products — like yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream — in that kefir grains are added during fermentation. Kefir grains are a combination of yeast and bacteria and have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergy benefits. They can also reduce milk’s cholesterol levels.

Although kefir resembles yogurt, it has a thinner consistency. You can drink it from a glass instead of eating it with a spoon. Kefir is packed with calcium, protein, B vitamins, and probiotics — it supplies even more “good” bacteria than yogurt does.

What Are Good Bacteria?

Sometimes you need to keep bacteria out of your body, like if you have a cut or an open wound that could get infected. But some types of bacteria are beneficial. These good or friendly bacteria can aid digestion, attack cells that cause disease, and help make vitamins. They can also protect you from “bad” bacteria — the kind that can make you sick — and support a healthy gut. Two types of good bacteria found in kefir are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

These good types of bacteria are known as probiotics. In addition to drinking kefir and eating yogurt, you can consume probiotics in other fermented foods, like kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut. You can also take probiotic supplements to increase your gut bacteria, promote gut health, and support your gut microbiome, which is an essential part of your immune system.

Your body needs a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria, but you may not need to supplement your natural levels of probiotics. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements for psoriasis or starting a probiotic-rich diet.

Kefir and Psoriasis

Although some foods trigger psoriasis symptoms, your gut microbiome might not spring to mind when psoriasis makes you itchy and uncomfortable. However, research has shown a connection between intestinal health and skin health. Probiotics are often used to treat other types of autoimmune conditions, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, known simply as lupus), rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

Study of Kefir’s Effect on Skin

In a 2021 study, scientists evaluated the benefits of homemade kefir for symptom relief in people with inflammatory skin conditions. They divided participants into two groups — those with atopic dermatitis (the most common type of eczema) and those without any skin conditions. At the end of the study, people in both groups who consumed kefir had improved skin barrier function, meaning their skin was stronger and better protected from harmful substances such as allergens, toxic chemicals, and infection-causing agents. Those in the atopic dermatitis group also experienced symptom relief.

Psoriasis and Intestinal Health

Researchers believe that people with psoriasis are more likely to have a leaky gut than the general population. Leaky gut is not a recognized medical diagnosis, but this condition is often associated with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. When health care providers refer to “leaky gut syndrome,” they mean that toxins are getting through your intestinal lining, which could trigger an inflammatory response.

More studies are needed to explore the benefits of kefir for people with psoriasis, but the probiotics in kefir with anti-inflammatory properties may be able to help relieve skin inflammation and scaling by improving intestinal health.

Anecdotal Evidence From Members

​​One of the benefits of joining MyPsoriasisTeam, or a psoriasis support group in your area, is the opportunity to share with and learn from others living with psoriasis. This is what MyPsoriasisTeam members said about their experience with kefir:

  • “I have been drinking organic goat milk kefir for breakfast for the past four days and taking a natural anti-inflammatory supplement. Everything seems to be helping.”
  • “I started taking kefir three weeks ago after reading an article in a magazine. I have to say there’s already been a massive improvement in my psoriasis.”
  • “Taking diatomaceous earth and milk kefir has really helped to clear up my psoriasis. I think it’s helped to fix my body from the inside out.”
  • “I have only been taking kefir for a few days, but I am already seeing a slight difference. I read that kefir has anti-inflammatory properties.”

Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for psoriasis, dietary changes are also not likely to have the same impact on everyone. While some people with psoriasis have had success with different types of diet, no diets have been scientifically proven to treat or cure the condition. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about taking kefir for psoriasis.

Health Benefits of Kefir

In addition to relieving symptoms in some people with inflammatory skin conditions, kefir may have antitumor properties that could contribute to cancer prevention and treatment, according to researchers. Findings also suggest that kefir may improve:

  • Gastrointestinal health
  • Wound healing
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections

Kefir is usually consumed as a beverage but may also have topical benefits. One study found that a gel made from kefir grains, when applied to the skin of rats, improved wound healing. Other research has found that topical probiotics may help with some skin conditions, but more research is needed.

Risks and Side Effects of Kefir

Kefir is readily available and generally safe to drink, but some people may want to avoid it or limit their intake. If you are prone to intestinal issues, need to avoid even trace amounts of alcohol, or get frequent infections, consider these risks and side effects:

  • Kefir and other probiotics can cause constipation, gas, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Kefir may contain small amounts of alcohol (0.5 percent to 2 percent).
  • In rare cases, probiotics have been associated with sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by the body reacting to an infection.

What’s the Bottom Line?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate probiotic supplements or foods the way it does with psoriasis medications, so you’re unlikely to see kefir on an approved list of psoriasis treatments. Although it appears to help some people, kefir may not work for everyone. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about kefir, probiotics, or changing your diet to address psoriasis symptoms.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 115,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Have you tried kefir? Did it seem to have an effect on your psoriasis symptoms? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

References
  1. About Psoriasis — National Psoriasis Foundation
  2. 5 Reasons To Add More Fermented Foods to Your Diet — Cleveland Clinic
  3. The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir — Frontiers in Microbiology
  4. Caucasus — Encyclopedia Britannica
  5. Kefir: A Powerful Probiotics With Anticancer Properties — Medical Oncology
  6. Cultured Dairy Foods — Encyclopedia Britannica
  7. Mayo Clinic Minute: What Is Kefir? — Mayo Clinic
  8. Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection — Johns Hopkins Medicine
  9. Probiotics: What You Need To Know — National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
  10. Probiotics — Cleveland Clinic
  11. Effects of Regular Kefir Consumption on Gut Microbiota in Patients With Metabolic Syndrome: A Parallel-Group, Randomized, Controlled Study — Nutrients
  12. As Fermented Foods Rise in Popularity, Here’s What Experts Say — American Heart Association
  13. Homemade Kefir Consumption Improves Skin Condition: A Study Conducted in Healthy and Atopic Volunteers — Foods
  14. Probiotics: If It Does Not Help It Does Not Do Any Harm. Really? — Microorganisms
  15. Skin Barrier Function — Indian Journal of Medical Research
  16. Is Psoriasis a Bowel Disease? Successful Treatment With Bile Acids and Bioflavonoids Suggests It Is — Clinics in Dermatology
  17. Leaky Gut Syndrome — Cleveland Clinic
  18. Targeting the Gut-Skin Axis: Probiotics as New Tools for Skin Disorder Management? — Experimental Dermatology
  19. Switching From Western Diet to a Balanced Diet May Reduce Skin, Joint Inflammation — UC Davis Health
  20. Psoriasis Treatment: Biologics — American Academy of Dermatology Association
  21. Clinical Uses of Probiotics — Medicine
  22. The Many Faces of Kefir Fermented Dairy Products: Quality Characteristics, Flavour Chemistry, Nutritional Value, Health Benefits, and Safety — Nutrients
  23. Topical Probiotics in Dermatological Therapy and Skincare: A Concise Review — Dermatology and Therapy
  24. What Is Sepsis? — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Posted on March 22, 2023
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

    We'd love to hear from you! Please share your name and email to post and read comments.

    You'll also get the latest articles directly to your inbox.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
    Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
    Suzanne Mooney writes about people, pets, health and wellness, and travel. Learn more about her here.

    Related Articles

    Clothes shopping can be tricky, especially when you have psoriasis. In addition to your personal ...

    Clothing for Psoriasis: What To Know About Fabrics and Sleeves

    Clothes shopping can be tricky, especially when you have psoriasis. In addition to your personal ...
    Do you have psoriasis and an anxiety disorder? Does your anxiety trigger or worsen your psoriasis...

    Can Anxiety Cause Psoriasis or Make It Worse?

    Do you have psoriasis and an anxiety disorder? Does your anxiety trigger or worsen your psoriasis...
    If you’re dealing with scalp psoriasis, a head lice infestation is the last thing you need. You’r...

    Scalp Psoriasis and Head Lice: Does Psoriasis Shampoo Kill Lice?

    If you’re dealing with scalp psoriasis, a head lice infestation is the last thing you need. You’r...
    You may be surprised to learn that psoriasis is one of many medical conditions that can disqualif...

    Can You Join the Military With Psoriasis?

    You may be surprised to learn that psoriasis is one of many medical conditions that can disqualif...
    Gloves can be useful accessories for anyone, but they’re particularly handy for those with psoria...

    Gloves for Psoriasis: 3 Things To Consider

    Gloves can be useful accessories for anyone, but they’re particularly handy for those with psoria...
    Scalp psoriasis refers to psoriasis that affects the scalp, forehead, back of the neck, hairline,...

    Scalp Psoriasis and Hair Dye: 8 Tips for Less Discomfort

    Scalp psoriasis refers to psoriasis that affects the scalp, forehead, back of the neck, hairline,...

    Recent Articles

    Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) occur when a person’s immune ...

    Psoriasis and Thyroid Eye Disease: What You Should Know

    Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) occur when a person’s immune ...
    MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...

    Crisis Resources

    MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...
    Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis b...

    Fluocinonide for Psoriasis: Can It Help With Itching and Swelling?

    Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis b...
    4 Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis​​​​​1:21This video highlights some early signs of psoriatic...

    Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms (VIDEO)

    4 Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis​​​​​1:21This video highlights some early signs of psoriatic...
    If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition ...

    Psoriatic Arthritis and Trigger Finger: Causes and Symptoms

    If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition ...
    If you are living with psoriasis, finding the right exfoliation products can be a tricky task. Th...

    Do Exfoliation Products Help or Hurt Psoriasis?

    If you are living with psoriasis, finding the right exfoliation products can be a tricky task. Th...
    MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

    Thank you for subscribing!

    Become a member to get even more:

    sign up for free

    close