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Psoriasis: Complementary and Alternative Treatments May Be Beneficial

By HERWriter
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Psoriasis related image Photo: Getty Images

All of us have skin cells that grow and rise to the surface on a regular basis. People with psoriasis however suffer from the accumulation of these skin cells that grow too quickly and don't clear quickly enough. Sufferers live with skin redness, scaliness and irritation, that can range from an inconvenience to a debilitating disorder that disrupts aspects of their lives.

Many people use medications to handle their symptoms. An increasing number of people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine in their search for relief.

Psoriasis.org describes complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as medical and health care systems and practices that are not considered a part of Western, or conventional medicine in the United States. Complementary medicine is used alongside Western medicine. Alternative medicine is used instead of Western medicine.

There are a number of CAM options for psoriasis. Among them are mind-body practices, dietary supplements and topical treatments (applied to the skin), according to About.com.

Yoga, tai chi, qi gong and meditation are mind-body practices that may be beneficial for many chronic conditions. While clinical studies have not assessed these activities, there is an abundance of anectodal support for them.

Dietary supplements and topical treatments include omega-3 fatty acids, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, capsaicin, evening primrose oil, oats and tea tree oil.

Flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids which may reduce itching and inflammation. Caution is advised concerning the use of flaxseed oil for those on blood thinners as there is a risk of bleeding.

The C.A.M. Report recommends the use of coal tar for psoriasis. While coal tar is not aesthetically pleasing, due to its greasy, malodorous nature, and while it can leaves stains on clothing and the surrounding environs, it is an effective treatment for some symptoms of psoriasis. In a study, coal tar performed on a par with tazarotene gel for patients with stable plaque psoriasis.

Aloe vera is applied to the skin. Apple cider vinegar may be added to bathwater, or used as a moisturizer, or simply applied to the skin.

Capsaicin is an extract from cayenne peppers that hinders pain and itching messages from reaching the brain. It can be purchased in over-the-counter creams, lotions and patches. It may ease the redness and scaling of psoriasis.

Evening primrose oil comes in capsule form which can also be put on the skin. It may benefit both psoriasis and eczema. Be aware that people taking some medications for schizophrenia may be at risk for seizures.

Oats can be added to bathwater, alone or combined with oil, to relieve itching and dry skin.

Tea tree oil may relieve symptoms of scalp psoriasis. Be aware that tea tree oil may cause some people to experience allergic reactions.

Talk to your doctor about any CAM treatments you are considering.


Psoriasis. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus. Web. August 14, 2011.

Complementary approaches: What are they? Psoriasis.org. Web. August 16, 2011.

Complementary and Alternative Psoriasis Treatments. About.com. Web. August 16, 2011.

Still useful: Coal tar for treating psoriasis. Thecamreport.com. Web. August 16, 2011.

Reviewed August 17, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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