Complementary therapies

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Introduction

Complementary therapies are increasingly popular for treating psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. There are many reasons for this:

  • Once a diagnosis of the condition is made, some people feel their doctor only treats their symptoms rather than them as a person - complementary practitioners may have an holistic approach that overcomes this sense of abandonment
  • Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is a long-term (chronic) problem with symptoms that come and go over a long period of time, leaving the individuals constantly searching for new remedies to try
  • Some people are unhappy with the side-effects and lack of effectiveness of some conventional treatments
  • Sometimes they find their symptoms are brought on by emotional causes such as stress, where an holistic approach is often more successful
  • Complementary treatments can be helpful in relieving symptoms for some people.
  • Some common complementary therapies

Chinese herbs

These are drunk as a tea or boiled infusion. Caution is needed, however, as some herbs used in the infusion are very powerful and can cause liver or kidney damage. There is little regulation of Chinese herbal medicines. Some have been found to be mixed with steroid drugs, but not declared on the container.

Spa treatments

Treating the skin with mineral salts, mud and sun light. Dead Sea spas are popular in Israel and Jordan. The treatment is expensive. Salts and mud used at home are less effective without the sunlight.

Homoeopathy

Creams, tinctures and tablets individually prescribed. Unlikely to be harmful but have not been proved to be effective.

Aloe vera

Gel or cream applied to the skin.
If consulting a complementary therapist, bear in mind that standards of training and experience vary widely:

  • Check the therapist’s qualifications. The umbrella organisation for each therapy can tell you what training their members have undertaken, their code of ethics and refer you to qualified practitioners in your area
  • Ask how much experience the therapist has in treating psoriasis and what is their success rate
  • Find out how long your course of treatment will last and how much it may cost
  • Don’t stop using your normal treatments unless you are prepared for your symptoms to get worse
  • Stop using any product that irritates your skin or seems to make your symptoms worse, unless you are told to expect this at first
  • Check with your doctor if you are unsure about the safety of any alternative treatment
  • Always remember to continue with your conventional treatments and tell your GP you are also using complementary approaches.