There are several important complementary and natural measures – backed by significant scientific evidence – that can assist psoriasis treatment.
A few of them are:
- Folic acid supplements during methotrexate treatment. If you are taking methotrexate for psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, you may be taking folic acid supplements (also known as vitamin B9 or folate) as part of your health regimen. If you are not, put it on your question list for your next doctor appointment. Folate has been shown to reduce the stomach upset that some people feel when taking methotrexate, and it can also reduce the likelihood of abnormal liver tests. Generally, physicians suggest a higher dose of folic acid than can be consumed through diet alone, or via a typical vitamin, so ask your health care provider for the appropriate dose for you.
- Sunlight – but not sunburn – for psoriasis. Exposing your psoriasis plaques to sunlight is a natural and time-tested treatment that improves the skin symptoms of most people with psoriasis. But as with everything, there are exceptions and caveats, so you should discuss this with your dermatologist. Sunlight can make psoriasis worse for a minority of psoriasis patients; certain medications make one extra-sensitive to the sun’s rays, which can lead to sunburns, which are unhealthy; and if you are at risk for skin cancer, sunlight may be the wrong way to treat your psoriasis.
- Moisturizers. Moisturized psoriasis plaques tend to itch less than dry ones, but you probably know already if that holds true for you. If so, moisturize many times a day. Note that a more expensive moisturizer is not necessarily a better one. There is an extraordinary amount of marketing hype around claims in over-the-counter products. We like to suggest: keep trying less expensive moisturizers until you reach a point that they don’t satisfy you.
- There are no shortage of products and theories claiming to be able to help you conquer the horrible itch faced by most people with psoriasis. But the most scientifically proven way to reduce or eliminate the itch of psoriasis is to treat your psoriasis – so get to a dermatologist (and, failing that, another healthcare provider) and find a treatment that works for you.
- In addition to things patients can do to improve their psoriasis, there are some things some people can do less of that might lead to an improvement in their psoriasis. Quitting smoking, eliminating excessive alcohol consumption, and reducing obesity are three “natural” strategies with some clinical evidence suggesting they can lessen psoriasis symptoms. (Eliminating or reducing these things also would have other clearly demonstrated health benefits, completely aside from possible impact on psoriasis.) Of course, each can be “easier said than done.”
Warning: Commentary ahead.
There are also many highly-touted “natural remedies” that are hogwash.
Alternative and complementary products are very profitable.
People love to read about them and believe in them. Media organizations repeat the most outlandish claims of alternative medicine profiteers without any skepticism.
We believe that all medical claims should face the same, careful scrutiny.
Virtually all alternative treatment companies include some pretty startling fine print in their advertising. We think it’s worth taking them at their word.
Let us explain. Have you ever watched or listened to a nutritional supplement advertisement? After 28 seconds pretty much telling you their product “supports” your immune system and will fix everything that ails you in life; in the final two seconds they will announce, in part: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
(That’s right after they strongly implied their supplement would fix your psoriasis, your arthritis, your “bedroom issues,” and a whole host of other ailments!)
By adding that disclaimer, they can stay out of court for the stuff they just told you in the preceding 28 seconds. And they hope you are just desperate enough, just in pain enough, that you will put aside your common sense and spend your hard-earned money on their snake oil.
Psoriasis patients have traditionally been major targets of these efforts. Any disease where effective treatments are lacking are prime targets for the unscrupulous. So we completely understand why an entire ecosystem has grown up over the years around making absurd claims about how to “fix” psoriasis.
But here’s the thing. We no longer need to chase fictions. Psoriasis is no longer one of those diseases where the science and medicine have not been able to make major inroads.
There are now treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis that can make you feel much better. Many people can be completely free of psoriasis. And not because a dishonest person is making something up to take your money. Instead, these claims have been tested in thousands of psoriasis patients for many years, by leading hospitals, doctors, and scientists, and then have been reviewed by other doctors and scientists at the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
It’s time for psoriasis patients – and the media enablers who also profit from constantly writing about and promoting phony treatments and spurious claims from ‘natural’ and ‘alternative’ products – to embrace real science and educate psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients about real treatments with real results, so people can live their best lives.
We believe the disproportionate attention and resources directed at alternative and complementary products by the traditional media, internet message boards, social media, and some nonprofits, is counterproductive. And it does more than just waste patients’ money. It distracts them from focusing on treatments that can truly improve, and even transform, their lives. (We also believe the level of attention to the impact of stress and diet on psoriasis is excessive. Don’t click that link if it is just going to upset you!)
What alternative, complementary, or natural strategies do you endorse for improving psoriasis (or psoriatic arthritis)?
Drop us a line and we will share some of them in a future, less stringent, update.
[Last updated 6-2-2020]