Fighting Fire with Fire

December_2017_BlogWhen you hear the words “fire ant,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Creepy crawlies? Stinging bites? They certainly live up to their name, and almost everyone would consider them a public nuisance. But psoriasis sufferers might yet find a reason to love these bugs—and ironically, it’s their venom.

The chemical compound in the ants’ venom is called solenopsin, and it’s toxic. But when examined under a microscope, it closely resembles ceramides, which are molecules that help your body maintain a healthy, well-functioning skin barrier. Keeping that similarity in mind, scientists and researchers at Emory and Case Western Reserve Universities set out to test a theory that fire ant venom could be used to manage symptoms of psoriasis.

The study shows lots of promise: in early mouse models, skin thickness was reduced by up to 30%, and 50% fewer immune cells entered the skin. That likely means less inflammation and fewer episodes—for the mice. It’ll probably be a while before treatments are available for humans, but there’s always a chance that the compound gets fast-tracked.

This isn’t the first time nature has provided us with relief from unexpected sources. We’ve noted before that travelers to the Dead Sea have found some surprising benefits in its extra-saline waters. And recently, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, which is rich in minerals like silica and sulfur, has started offering free entrance for psoriasis patients.

If you’re anxious to try some nature-based support, but can’t wait for fire ant venom or jet setting-vacations, you might want to look around in your pantry. People have had success with a wide variety of common and natural ingredients, from oatmeal to apple cider vinegar. Or, you can always try our Dead Sea Soap.