Natural Treatments for Psoriasis
Dr. Lauren Adams, Dermatologist
August 12, 2019
Used in combination with medications, these lifestyle changes and alternative therapies can help to keep psoriasis under control.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition that manifests as a proliferation of extra skin cells, particularly on the elbows, knees and lower back, and it often co-exists with other issues. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and other chronic, inflammatory health conditions often go hand-in-hand with psoriasis. It is most often treated using topical steroids, and severe psoriasis can be treated with biologics, medications that work through the immune system to dampen the body’s inflammatory response.
Today, many people are looking for more natural ways to treat psoriasis. Luckily, lifestyle changes, such as diet, as well as a host of complementary and alternative therapies, may be combined with traditional therapies prescribed by your doctor.
Recent studies have shown promise in a number of different therapies:
Indigo naturalis. This traditional Chinese medication, available in topical ointment or cream form, has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent. Patients using indigo naturalis ointment for at least eight weeks saw significant improvement in their conditions in one study.
Curcumin. Studies on this phytochemical found in the spice turmeric are exploding! Its anti-inflammatory properties benefit a large number of conditions, and it has been investigated both orally and topically for psoriasis. Try introducing turmeric in your salad dressing, smoothies or curries at least weekly to start reaping the benefits of this wonderful herb.
Meditation, guided imagery and prayer. Stress is a major trigger for psoriasis. Researchers have found that eliciting the relaxation response via repetitive movements or phrases, such as sun salutations in yoga or prayer, can have substantial physiological effects on the mind as well as the body. Regular practice could be helpful in decreasing the severity of psoriasis and it might help patients respond more quickly to other psoriasis treatments. It’s good for the rest of you, as well!
Balneotherapy. Some people swear by the healing mineral waters of the Dead Sea in Israel or the Blue Lagoon in Iceland to soothe their psoriasis. Doctors aren’t sure why it works so well, but it’s likely attributed to the high concentration of magnesium, sulfur, selenium, and salt present. Being out in the sunshine – which is known to improve psoriasis, but needs to be balanced with skin cancer risk – may also be a factor. You can try to replicate this process at home in the bathtub by ordering Dead Sea minerals online.
Acupuncture. This therapeutic art is showing some promise in the treatment of psoriasis, but patients often need to do it two to three times a week for at least six weeks to see results.
Diet. This is probably the most important change you can make. Psoriasis may have genetic links, but it’s largely a lifestyle disease. The same healthy lifestyle recommendations we hear all the time also apply to psoriasis: eating a low-calorie diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, managing stress, limiting alcohol and not smoking. The Ornish diet, which is a whole-food plant-based diet, is good for psoriasis sufferers because it also lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. But the best diet for you is the one that you’re going to stick with, so make that your first consideration when choosing.
Dr. Lauren Adams is a dermatologist, with offices in our Mount Kisco location. To make an appointment, call Westchester Dermatology and Mohs Surgery at (914) 242-2020.