Treating Psoriasis > Complementary and Alternative

Whole Medical Systems

Whole medical systems are built upon theories and practices that have evolved apart from, and earlier than, the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Whole medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is an alternative medical system. It takes a different approach from conventional medicine in diagnosing, classifying, and treating medical problems. Key concepts of homeopathy include:

  • Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body's defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness.
  • Treatment involves giving very small doses of substances (called remedies) that, according to homeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses.
  • Treatment in homeopathy is tailored to each person. Homeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms but lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors.

Most homeopathies in the United States are practiced along with another health care practice for which the practitioner is licensed, such as conventional medicine, naturopathy, chiropractic, dentistry, or acupuncture.

People report success with homeopathic treatments for psoriasis, including sulfur and nickel. Homeopathic remedies are usually so diluted that they will not cause major side effects. A consultation with someone trained in this practice will help guide the treatment and ensure your safety.

Naturopathy

Naturopathy, also called naturopathic medicine, focuses on supporting health rather than combating disease. The practice of naturopathy is based on six key principles:

  1. First do no harm. Naturopathic practitioners choose therapies with the intent to keep harmful side effects to a minimum and not suppress symptoms.
  2. Promote the healing power of nature.
  3. Treat the whole person. Practitioners believe a person's health is affected by many factors, such as physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social ones. Practitioners consider all these factors when choosing therapies and tailor treatment to each patient.
  4. Treat the cause. Practitioners seek to identify and treat the causes of a disease or condition, rather than its symptoms. They believe that symptoms are signs that the body is trying to fight disease, adapt to it, or recover from it.
  5. Prevention is the best cure. Practitioners teach ways of living that they consider most healthy and most likely to prevent illness.
  6. The physician is a teacher. Practitioners consider it important to educate their patients in taking responsibility for their own health.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a whole medical system that originated in China. It is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of qi, vital energy, and imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Practices such as herbs, meditation, massage, and acupuncture seek to aid healing by restoring the yin-yang balance and the flow of qi.

In the treatment of psoriasis, oral and topical herbal treatments are used. Psoriasis patients have used the following herbal topicals with some success: aloe, apple cider vinegar, capsaicin (a natural ingredient found in cayenne peppers), emu oil, evening primrose oil, oats, and tea tree oil.

Use caution with all herbals: Some make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light, while others may interact with other prescriptions or medications.

Acupuncture - Aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body using a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. Qi can be unblocked, according to TCM, by using acupuncture at certain points on the body that connect with these meridians.

Reports from people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis are mixed: Some say acupuncture helps their disease while others report no effect. People who try acupuncture and improve say it takes many treatments. Acupuncture has few known side effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture is an acceptable treatment for many pain conditions. Studies have shown that acupuncture helps relieve pain from fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, so it may help relieve pain associated with psoriatic arthritis.

Ayurvedic Medicine (Ayurveda)

Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world's oldest medical systems. It originated in India and has evolved there over thousands of years. It aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit; thus, some view it as holistic, treating the body as a whole and not just the symptoms of an illness.

The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness. Ayurvedic medicine uses a variety of products and techniques to cleanse the body and restore balance. Some of these products may be harmful if used improperly or without the direction of a trained practitioner. For example, some herbs can cause side effects or interact with conventional medicines.

Yoga – A practice from Ayurvedic medicine that combines breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation. It is intended to calm the nervous system and balance the body, mind and spirit. There are various styles of yoga that people use for health purposes. They typically combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. There are numerous schools of yoga. Hatha yoga, the most commonly practiced in the United States and Europe, emphasizes postures and breathing exercises.  People use yoga for a variety of conditions and to achieve fitness and relaxation. Yoga has also been used in Traditional Chinese medicine and is also considered a Mind-Body medicine technique.

Yoga can help bring stress under control. Some people with psoriatic arthritis anecdotally report that yoga can help ease pain and improve range of motion.