Many people frustrated by their psoriasis turn to complementary and alternative therapies to find relief. These therapies, many of them with roots in Eastern medicine, may benefit your psoriasis treatment plan.
Keep in mind: There's little scientific evidence supporting alternative treatment options for psoriasis. "Some people with psoriasis want a natural treatment, something that's not a medication," says Neil Korman, MD, PhD, director of the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals in Cleveland. “If a person with psoriasis tells his doctor that an alternative therapy is making his or her psoriasis better, that doctor will say to keep doing it. But there's no evidence to support and prove that it’s good."
However, some patients report that these non-traditional therapies have helped them reduce pain and ease the emotional maladies that can trigger psoriasis symptoms:
Acupressure practitioners apply gentle pressure to key points on the body to achieve specific results, such as reducing pain, alleviating stress, or providing a boost to the immune system. It's a practice that was developed in Asia thousands of years ago and has the potential to help a person with psoriasis lower stress levels and discomfort.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that acupressure points lie along channels through which a person's life force flows and that applying pressure can release energy that’s been blocked. Modern physicians have theorized that acupressure works by stimulating the release of pain-killing hormones called endorphins.
Acupuncture has also been practiced in China and other Asian countries for centuries. The acupuncturist gently inserts thin needles into the body at key points. As with acupressure, this might either release the flow of energy or endorphins into the body.
According to a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012, acupuncture has been proven in clinical trials to help manage chronic pain. Overall, people who received acupuncture had less pain than those who received placebo (or fake) acupuncture or no treatment at all. This may suggest that people with psoriasis might also get some relief from the treatment.
Homeopathy is an alternative therapy that attempts to stimulate the body's immune system to treat or prevent diseases. Participants are given highly diluted doses of substances that homeopathic doctors believe would provoke similar symptoms if taken at full dose. These weak exposures are thought to boost the immune system.
The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that some people have found success with homeopathic psoriasis treatments using substances like sulfur or nickel, but it recommends that anyone interested in homeopathy consult with a trained homeopath to make sure their therapy is safe.
Of all alternative therapies, this type of psoriasis treatment is the closest to traditional medicine. However, naturopathic doctors tend to focus on preventing illness and treating the root causes of sickness rather than fighting disease and waging war on microbes. They believe in holistic medicine that treats the entire person and takes into account the physical, mental, and emotional factors that could contribute to any illness. This approach could benefit people with psoriasis because doctors believe the disease is a physical ailmen t that can be compounded by emotional stress.
Massage therapists use their hands and instruments to manipulate, rub, and knead your muscles and connective tissues. Studies have found that massage therapy can decrease stress, anxiety, and pain. In addition to the research, there are a number of theories behind the benefits of massage. Some believe it releases endorphins into the body, while others believe it flushes lactic acid from muscles and improves lymphatic circulation. Massage therapy may offer benefits for either psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
Reiki is considered a healing relaxation technique. It's based on the concept that a person's own natural healing powers can be stimulated by the spiritual energy channeled through a Reiki practitioner. Although Reiki is rooted in Tibetan practices more than 2,500 years old, the modern form of this therapy was popularized in Japan in the early 1900s. The hands-on therapy delivered by a Reiki practitioner is said to promote a sense of relaxation and wellbeing while decreasing stress and anxiety, making it a potentially beneficial psoriasis treatment.
Though most medical practitioners agree that alternative therapies lack the level of research and validation behind traditional therapies, you may find that certain complementary treatments lower stress, pain, and more.
Have you tried any of the above? Did it help? What other alternative therapies do you know?