Complementary and Alternative Therapies to Consider for Psoriasis

Here at Clarify, we’re on a mission to improve the lives of people living with chronic skin conditions. As part of that mission, we believe it’s important to share information, studies, and news which may help people who are searching for new ways to manage their conditions.

A recent systemic review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology presented clinical evidence for a number of complementary and alternative medicine therapies that are effective in treating psoriasis. It found that the most efficacious treatments for plaque psoriasis, based on evidence from the reviewed studies and meta-analyses, were indigo naturalis, curcumin, dietary modification, fish oil, meditation, and acupuncture.

Indigo naturalis
Indigo naturalis is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, and in its most natural form is a blue powder. It is used in a topical form known as lindioil, a mix of indigo naturalis and olive oil. It was was found to be effective according to a study that was conducted regarding the use of Lindioil used to treat psoriatic nails.

Curcumin is derived from the spice turmeric, which is known for its healing properties. It has been studied for its use in the treatment of psoriatic plaques and has been known to enhance phototherapy. A study was conducted where phototherapy and curcumin were simultaneously administered, and approximately 80% showed improvement in their moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Dietary Modification
Diet is important for maintaining your psoriasis as some foods and products can cause flare-ups. The National Psoriasis Foundation conducted a survey in which participants noted that reducing gluten, alcohol, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers improved their symptoms. Keeping a food diary and noting down what foods correlate to flare-ups and what don’t is a good idea and an important form of self-care.

Fish oil
There have been some studies that have shown that omega-3s (in the form of fish oil) have a benefit for psoriasis patients. Most studies show that a high dosage of fish oil usually leads to signs of improvement. It is important to note that walnuts, plant seeds, and other nuts don’t contain enough omega-3s to produce an effect. Seafoods such as salmon and halibut, have a higher amount of omega-3s as well as additional nutritional benefits. Dr. Liao, from UCSF said that he doesn’t prescribe omega-3s but instead encourages patients to add fish into their regular diet.

Meditation is always good for stress prevention, and studies have been conducted testing meditation and phototherapy being done concurrently as a treatment regimen. One study demonstrated that using a stress reducing audiotape during phototherapy helps to show improvements in your skin more quickly. Apps like  Headspace,  Simple Habit, and Pacifica are some of the top rated stress & anxiety management apps available on iOS and Android which include a number of guided meditations. These can all be used in conjunction with home phototherapy.

Acupuncture is seen as a stress reliever and found to be effective in treating psoriasis. Acupuncture is the strategic placement of thin sterile needles that are inserted to help alleviate physical, mental and emotional conditions. There have been several studies that have proven its efficacy, including one from UCLA that showed 50% of participants cleared their psoriasis flares and another 25% demonstrated some improvement. Rebecca Tung, MD, a dermatologist from Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, said “acupuncture can be used along with other treatments as part of a treatment plan that includes stress reduction”, which means it safe to use with other treatments such as phototherapy!

Trying a new treatment can be an exciting step on your journey to clearer skin. When evaluating complementary and alternative treatment therapies, make sure to do your own research and talk to your physician to determine which of these treatments may be a good fit for you.

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