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Alternative Therapies for Psoriasis

By Linda Fugate PhD
 
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Photo: Getty Images

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that may be treated with powerful anti-inflammatory drugs or immune-suppressive biologic agents. However, recent studies demonstrated that traditional and alternative treatments can also be effective with fewer side effects.

Coal tar preparations. Ointments, creams, and shampoos containing coal tar are the oldest traditional treatment. Reference 1 reviewed 25 studies of its effectiveness, and found positive results in 21 of them. These products are very safe and cost-effective. The main disadvantages are odor and staining of clothing. Patients often use the ointments at night, covered with expendable clothing.

Colloidal oatmeal products. I've tried lotion with oatmeal for general skin conditioning, and found it sticky but soothing. Reference 2 reported that avenanthramides from whole grain oats has both anti-inflammatory and anti-histaminic effects. The safety record is excellent. Oats are used in a variety of skin products, and may benefit patients with atopic dermatitis, drug-induced rash, and other skin conditions as well as psoriasis. The report from dermatologists in London suggested that oat products may reduce the need for corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors in patients with severe skin inflammation.

Calcium folinate. This is available as a dietary supplement, and is chemically related to the vitamin folic acid. Reference 3 reported on a trial comparing calcium folinate (15 mg once a day) versus conventional psoriasis therapies, including cyclosporine, acitretin, etanercept, efalizumab, infliximab, and adalimumab. The trial included 30 subjects on calcium folinate, and 28 on prescription drugs. Both groups showed clinical improvement. Side effects were important only in the drug group.

UV light or Vitamin D. Reference 4 reports that UV light cleared up psoriasis and increased vitamin D levels in Irish patients in the winter.

Aloe vera. Reference 5 suggests aloe vera combined with sun exposure for psoriasis.

References:

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