A review of the Psorisis-Hope™ web site and its claims about psoriasis.

Grade F

“Weedwoman” emailed me and asked me to review her Web site about an herbal tea which “really works” for psoriasis…

The homepage is little more than a disclaimer. It’s nice that it’s right up front, and not hidden away, but its implied claim that herbal teas and soaps and bath additives are “for amusement only” is, in itself, quite amusing. At least, I don’t understand how these things can really be considered entertainment, as, for example, a “psychic hotline” could be. Weedwoman’s use of the phrase “yadda yadda” also implies that she doesn’t take her own disclaimer seriously, that perhaps she doesn’t believe a word of it, and that it really is only there for fear of litigation.

“Practicing medicine without a license” is really not what she should be worried about — her fear would be better directed towards the fact that she is making treatment claims (that her tea can relieve psoriasis symptoms) without any solid evidence whatsoever. This is something the Federal Trade Commission would be interested in, as Weedwoman sells her tea and other products.

To read more, we are directed to the “About” page, which begins with another reminder that Weedwoman is not a doctor. She then makes the sweeping claims that psoriasis is not incurable, and that it is caused by a “liver malfunction.” Shepresents no evidence whatsoever for either claim. Not a single reference to support these opinions she states as facts. “Liver malfunction” is, of course, vague and imprecise. The liver is responsible for many different functions in the human body. Which function of the liver is malfunctioning in psoriasis is never specified.

She then discusses her history, and her frustration with the “cortisone cream, olive oil, yadda yadda” things she’s tried, and which failed to have any effect on her. This frustration is quite understandable, as nobody knows the true cause of psoriasis (although modern medicine doesn’t lay the blame on the liver, but rather genetics). Manydermatologists are frustrated, as well. For the most part, they don’t enjoy people who remain sick.

Weedwoman then talks about removing causes of disease from the inside, and her disbelief that putting creams on things can cure anything (a disbelief later shown to be not completely true as she describes, with an exclamation point, the elimination of boils with a preparation applied to the skin).

What Weedwoman and others like her do not understand is that none of the treatments prescribed by doctors is ever claimed to be a “cure” for psoriasis. Steroid creams and other treatments are known to only reduce psoriasis symptoms: they are not now, nor have they ever been, a “cure” for this disease. Expecting them to “cure” you is inappropriate, to say the least.

She then talks about historical uses of plants, her own fascination with the subject, and that since mainstream medicine wasn’t helping her, she thought she’d “give plants a shot.” Depending on the plant(s), there’s little harm in this, and I’m quite supportive of people who attempt to take control of their own treatment in such a fashion. It is, of course, vital to gain deep knowledge of the things you are trying prior to actually attempting them, though (in other words, don’t try this at home, kids).

But then, for no seemingly good reason, we read:

And everyone has also read all the blind articles in the papers meant to scare the wits out of everyone saying that all herbs can kill, which, I believe are planted by the AMA so they don’t loose [sic] any money.

This is pretty bad on several points. I don’t believe that any article in any paper worth its purchase price has ever claimed that all herbs can kill. Sure, one can take the extreme point-of-view, and state, quite correctly, that if you eat enough lettuce you can die, but nobody in their right minds would ever eat such a huge volume, so I doubt any author who’s at all reasonable would devote paper to the idea.

The fact that there are more and more articles every day about serious interactions between herbal remedies and modern drugs appear to be lost on Weedwoman. Supplementing with “natural” antidepressants can be devestating if the patient is also taking modern — powerful — pharmaceutical antidepressants. Grapefruit juice can inactivate several classes of modern drugs, which could easily be life-threatening.

The last part of this sentence shows, unfortunately, little but paranoia about some sort of conspiracy in which the AMA is supposedly taking part. This ungrounded fear would better be directed towards the pharmaceutical companies, who stand to lose the most money if herbal treatments are found to be more effective and safer than modern drugs. The doctors who make up the AMA membership, after all, would undoubtedly switch to “prescribing” herbs and other plants instead of drugs, and go on making money regardless.

The implication of Weedwoman’s sentence (and paranoia) is that all herbs are safe, which is utter and absolute nonsense, easily shown to be false with one word: hemlock. On the other hand, some plants only have a therapeutic effect in humansdue to some chemical which is, in large doses, a poison. When used in small doses, it’ll relieve some disease orother. These chemicals are made by plants as a defense mechanism — so that animals won’t eat them.

Some plants are quite safe (lettuce), and others quite deadly (hemlock). There is no one generality that covers the wide range of nature in a single sentence. Especially since people react differently to different plants (allergies).

Moving on, Weedwoman claims that all of our current botanical knowledge comes from ancient Greece and Egypt, which is quite contrary to the fact that we know quite a bit more about plants than anyone did way back then. For example, we now know which chemical in willow bark is responsible for pain relief, and sell that chemical by itself as aspirin. We learn more and more about plants every day, expanding our knowledge of therapeutic uses of herbs. The idea that only the ancients knew what was going on is, to me, nothing more than romantic fantasy.

By way of apparent support, she offers us a quip about cranberry sauce and turkey, claiming that in 1758 a Dr. Culpepper discovered that “red berries neturalize the botulism toxins that are present in fowl!” Here in America, there is only one time a year, really, when cranberries and turkey go together, while turkey is eaten all year long by many people. Red berries may very well neutralize the toxins, I don’t know, but it seems likely that in today’s modern world, we don’t need to worry much about botulism toxins in our birds, anyway. Either through cooking, sanitation, or bird health, we don’t seem to eat lots of red berries with our fowl in general. I don’t see cranberries sold in many delicatessens, or currants as a side dish at Kentucky Fried Chicken, for that matter.

Then we hear the boil story (see above), and we hear about the wonders of boric acid. Weedwoman then speaks of mustard plasters, and cupping of all things. Why?

It seems as though she’s trying to tell us that all natural or herbal remedies work, even though we don’t see a whole lot of mustard plastering or cupping going on these days at all. Weedwoman seems to assume that boric acid wasn’t used as a pesticide until quite recently (within her lifetime). It seems to me that her aim is to glorify all these old-fashioned therapies, ignoring the fact that many modern therapies grew from these old ones. The new ones tend to be more effective, more safe, or both.

Finally, she begins talking about her teas for psoriasis. She says most did nothing for the diseases, but that her fingernails now grow instead of cracking. Now, she believes the combination of herbs she uses is correct, since her psoriasis is much better, but still not completely healed. Not much information at all.

The “details” are found on the “products” page, along with the pricing. Weedwoman says it took her five or six years of “hit or miss tweaking” with diffent herb combinations until her condition was reduced “by about 90%.” She believes that if she stops drinking the tea, the psoriasis will never come back (she hasn’t stopped completely yet, but doesn’t drink as much as she once did). How she knows this is unknown. It’s a claim that her tea can cure psoriasis, but I don’t understand how this tea can permanently cure a “liver malfunction.” If her liver becomes damaged again, shouldn’t the psoriasis return?

Weedwoman rightly says she doesn’t know how fast anyone will get relief with her tea, but then contradicts herself by saying that it’d “probably” take less than one year to “get rid of the psoriasis altogether” when drinking her tea. She continues along those same lines: “You just have to try it. But as soon as you try it you will notice a difference for the better.” Emphasis mine. Again, she doesn’t know, and yet she claims to know.

Also, these are the kinds of statements that the Federal Trade Commission would be interested in (see my talk about her disclaimer, above). To make such statements legally, one needs evidence — solid evidence — that they are true. Companies are being slapped with injunctions left and right these days for making such claims without any evidence whatsoever.

Weedwoman’s psoriasis tea includes (see parenthetical links for warnings):

Stinging Nettles (I’m not sure if this is the same as Nettle)


Oak Bark (perhaps White Oak Bark?)


Calendula (see Calendula)

Yarrow (see Yarrow)


Walnut Shells

Horsetail Grass (see Horsetail)


Weedwoman does not write about how to actually steep her tea, so it’s impossible for me to tell how long a one-ounce supply would last (how many quarts of tea it would make). She uses vague phrases something like “you can keep reusing it until you feel it’s lost its ‘juice’,” but that certainly doesn’t help when comparison shopping. Is $11 for an ounce expensive? I can’t possibly say.

As far as the psoriasis skin cream and bath herbs go, they only seem to be “designed” for itch relief (although Weedwoman gives no evidence for this, either). She could make that more clear. She could also explain why our hearts need to be above water level in the bath — especially for people with head, neck, or shoulder level psoriasis.

Since they’re not psoriasis-related, I won’t talk about the “soothing chemo bath,” the “jewelweed hemorroid [sic] cream,” the handcrafted or kids’ soaps, or the “adult” products (one of which shows up on the “products” page instead of the “adults only” page).

Weedwoman also makes “Psoriasis-Hope™” soap, but doesn’t explain at all what it’s useful for. Is it just itch relief, as with the cream above, or something better? Of course, the whole name of the Web site is “Psoriasis-Hope™.com.”

Realistically, there is hope for psoriasis sufferers, but I doubt that it’ll come from people like Weedwoman. There is a lot of good, solid, and scientific research into psoriasis these days. New drugs are being investigated at an astounding pace. That is where the real hope lies. Someone will eventually find out what causes psoriasis. The root cause (or causes). And they’ll have something much more definite than the incredibly vague “liver malfunction” to tell all of us.

Weedwoman, through “hit or miss” luck, has stumbled across something she thinks work for her. I wish her all the best in her continued success. But, it is her success and hers alone right now. She has not a single piece of credible evidence to support her claims that her tea will even “probably” help anyone else within a year, or that if she quits drinking it entirely, her psoriasis will never come back (well, if she does have such evidence, she isn’t sharing it). She’s decided that what’s good enough for her is good enough for anyone, for a price — a mistake made by many people involved in “alternative” medicine.

May 27, 2002, Update: Weedwoman’s web site is no longer available.