Try These Natural Treatments
Whether it’s from a friend, colleague, or psoriasis support group member, you may frequently hear about an alternative or natural psoriasis treatment and be tempted to try it. The fact is, however, that there’s little scientific evidence to suggest that psoriasis home remedies work, says Stefan C. Weiss, MD, a dermatologist at the Weiss Skin Institute in Boca Raton, Fla., and a member of the medical advisory board of the National Psoriasis Foundation. Still, you may find at least temporary relief with the following suggestions — and, says Dr. Weiss, it won’t hurt to try. Just be sure to consult with your doctor.
Eating a couple of servings weekly of salmon, albacore tuna, and other fatty fishes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation, the hallmark of psoriasis.Fish oil supplements also are available over the counter in capsule form at many food markets and drugstores. Some studies have shown that fish oil can protect against heart disease and boost the immune system. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, so this natural psoriasis treatment could help improve symptoms. One word of warning: Don’t take fish oil if you’re on blood thinners — it can raise your risk for bleeding.
Some people find that stress triggers their psoriasis symptoms. Massage is a great way to reduce stress and also has been shown to relieve chronic pain, which can often accompany psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. If you don’t want to go for a professional massage, ask your partner to rub or knead your muscles and other soft tissues to help you relax. Avoid using any massage oils that will irritate your skin.
Like massage, yoga is a great stress reducer. Reducing stress may help relieve the pain and itch of psoriasis plaques. Yoga also may improve your range of motion if you have psoriatic arthritis. Devote 20 minutes a day to yoga exercises, which involve some meditation as well as breathing, stretching, and strengthening movements. You may want to take a class to learn the basics and then practice yoga at home, where you might feel more comfortable during psoriasis flares.
Research is inconclusive, but some preliminary studies suggest that shark cartilage — which contains a mixture of protein and carbohydrates and is available in powder or pill form — can help relieve symptoms of plaque psoriasis. However, shark cartilage can be costly, and you may find relief with other less expensive psoriasis home remedies. Also, if you have diabetes, it’s off limits. Always talk to the dermatologist helping you manage your psoriasis before starting a shark cartilage regimen, especially if you take calcium supplements, as they may already have some shark cartilage in them.
Multiple studies have suggested that people who have celiac disease may be at higher risk for psoriasis, in part because gluten can cause inflammation, and psoriasis is an inflammatory disease. That connection may explain why some psoriasis patients report that eating a gluten-free diet — which eliminates wheat, barley, and rye — helps them feel better. “Anecdotally, it works,” Weiss says, “but it has never been proven scientifically.” If a gluten-free diet makes your psoriasis feel better, however, that’s great. “There is certainly no danger in trying it,” Weiss adds.
Some people with psoriasis have found relief with turmeric as a natural psoriasis treatment. Turmeric is part of the ginger family; you’ll find it in foods such as curry powders, mustards, and cheeses. Other supplements that have been tried for psoriasis home remedies include evening primrose oil, milk thistle, and oregano oil. Though a few people report some success with turmeric and other supplements because of their anti-inflammatory properties, keep in mind that there are no scientific studies to back up these claims, Weiss cautions.
Here’s an easy natural psoriasis treatment that you may not have thought of: Drink water. Drinking plain water helps keep you hydrated and, when you have psoriasis, being well hydrated will keep your skin from getting too dry. Your body is more than 90 percent water, and you need to constantly replenish it. Using a humidifier is another easy psoriasis home remedy that will help keep skin moist, especially in winter.
Dead Sea Salts
People with psoriasis have traveled to the Dead Sea in Israel for centuries to soak in its salty water and experience its healing benefits. Though adding Dead Sea salts to your bath at home isn’t quite the same — “You’re not in the 100-degree dry heat that the Dead Sea provides as well,” Weiss says — many people find that psoriasis Dead Sea salt soaks can help alleviate their itching and burning. To try this natural treatment, add a quarter cup of authentic Dead Sea salts (check labels carefully) to bath water that is warm to tepid and soak for about 15 minutes.
Tea Tree Oil
For centuries, many cultures have used tea tree oil to treat skin problems andinfections. The oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree plant, which grows in Australia. When applied to the skin, this psoriasis home remedy is said to help remove dry, dead cells. “While there is no scientific evidence to support the use of tea tree oil for psoriasis, some people report it works,” Weiss says. However, he cautions that it can cause an allergic reaction in others.
Colorful Fruits and Veggies
One of the easiest things you can do for your psoriasis is to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Be sure to include a variety of colors when planning meals — variety ensures that you won’t miss any important nutrients. Colorful fruits and veggies contain disease-fighting antioxidants and are rich in fiber, which makes you feel fuller and less likely to overeat. When you have psoriasis, you need to maintain a healthy weight so that any medication will be more effective.