Alternative Medicines for Psoriasis

By: Editors of Consumer Guide

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease in which the skin cells divide 1,000 times faster than normal, resulting in a discomforting and unsightly pileup of cells. The lesions appear red and inflamed and are often covered with silvery scales. By some estimates, psoriasis affects 1 out of every 50 people.

When doctors at a university hospital in Norway surveyed psoriasis sufferers, they found that more than 40 percent had used some type of alternative therapy for their skin condition. The reason? Most turned to the therapies because conventional medicine failed to offer relief.

Alternative medicine aims to do two things for psoriasis patients: 1) lessen the pain and the lesions and 2) prevent the skin cells from malfunctioning in the first place. One alternative therapy, light therapy, has met with some acceptance with conventional doctors.


Nutritional Therapy for Psoriasis

Nutritional therapy holds that the absence of certain foods and the presence of others trigger the overproduction of skin cells. Food allergies have also been implicated.

Foods, or specific nutrients, that have offered relief to some psoriasis patients include cold-water fish oils, vitamin A, zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. These can be taken in the form of whole foods or as supplements. Researchers in England found that psoriasis patients who each took fish-oil capsules for eight weeks greatly reduced their symptoms of itching, redness, and scaling, whereas similar subjects who were given the placebo capsules filled with olive oil had no change in symptoms. Eating cold-water fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, or herring, is a dietary alternative to taking capsules. Flax oil is a vegetarian alternative to fish oil.

Things to eliminate from the diet include alcohol and excessive animal foods. One study done in Sweden showed that psoriasis sufferers who ate a vegan diet (no meat, fish, milk, or eggs) for three to four weeks experienced fewer symptoms than on their regular diet. In addition to animal products, wheat and acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes, coffee, pineapple, and soda) also tend to aggravate psoriasis.


Hydrotherapy for Psoriasis

Water therapy can supply heat, moisture, and minute amounts of key minerals to the skin. Some types of hydrotherapy that offer relief from psoriasis include:

  • bathing in warm water, which stimulates blood circulation
  • using a room humidifier, which eliminates dry air that can aggravate lesions
  • bathing in water high in minerals (especially sulfur) that may seep through the skin and aid in healing

The Dead Sea, located between Israel and Jordan at the lowest point on Earth, has earned a great reputation with psoriasis sufferers from around the world. They go there to bathe in the mineral- and salt-rich waters and sunbathe under the unique natural ultraviolet spectrum of light. According to a study, 88 percent of the patients at one Dead Sea psoriasis clinic experienced a significant or total reduction in their lesions.

Here are some helpful hints for psoriasis sufferers: When taking a bath, use warm (not hot) water. Never rub the skin dry. Instead, gently pat it with a soft towel.


Detoxification, Fasting, and Colon Therapy for Psoriasis

Detoxification, Fasting, andColonTherapy for Psoriasis

Detoxification therapy works on the premise that getting rid of the body's lingering toxins and waste products can enable the skin cells to function properly again. Another theory of detoxification holds that psoriasis lesions are a sign that the body is trying to release toxins through the skin; people with psoriasis tend to have high levels of endotoxins (components of bacterial cell walls) in their intestines.

Some cleansing techniques include enemas, which are intended to empty the bowels and aid in the fasting process, and colonic irrigation, which gently pumps water in and out of the large intestine to wash out residue and excess gas. A cleansing program that includes colonic irrigation usually begins with a supervised water fast. Supervision by a qualified practitioner, such as a naturopathic physician, is essential for a safe and effective water fast.


Other Psoriasis Therapies

  • Herbal Medicine for Psoriasis -- Many herbs are important in the treatment of psoriasis, including sarsaparilla (which binds with endotoxins), Coleus forskoli, Psoralen coryliforia, and many others.
  • Aromatherapy for Psoriasis -- The essential oils of bergamot, calendula, or lavender can be mixed with carrier oils and massaged into the skin.
  • Hypnotherapy for Psoriasis -- Hypnotic trances may be used to offer the subconscious mind suggestions regarding pain control, skin healing, and stress reduction.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine for Psoriasis -- Effective treatment may include herbal therapy and acupuncture directed toward the organ system that has the imbalance of vital life energy triggering the skin lesions.


For more information on psoriasis and alternative medicine, see: