Psoriasis patients often use complementary or alternative therapies to treat their symptoms


Patients with psoriasis often use complementary or alternative therapies to treat their symptoms, according to research findings published by dermatologists at George Washington University (GW) at Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, psoriasis is a chronic autoinflammatory skin disease that speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells, which causes red and scaly patches to appear on the skin. Treatments for psoriasis range from topical ointments to ultraviolet light therapy to drugs. Psoriasis is associated with other serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.

A team led by Adam Friedman, MD, acting chair of the Department of Dermatology at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at GW, found that psoriasis patients often turned to complementary or alternative medicine when traditional medicines failed or had severe side effects.

"Patients turn to these treatments because what was prescribed initially is not working for them," Friedman explained. "But what we discovered through the research is that patients may not fully understand which products will work best for them."

The study found that patients reported the use of complementary and alternative medications that have not been previously effective or have not been studied for the treatment of psoriasis. Vitamins D and B12 were frequently reported, although none of them documented efficacy against the disease. In contrast, Indigo Naturalis – a plant extract widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and recognized as a therapy for various inflammatory conditions – showed efficacy but was not reported in the research. Dead Sea treatments were commonly reported and showed therapeutic benefits.

In addition to the treatments chosen, we also found that less than half of the respondents would recommend complementary or alternative therapies to others. This may be the result of the use of therapies supported by limited evidence. "

Adam Friedman, MD, GW Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Recognizing that these treatments are part of patients' armaments, Friedman and his team suggest that educational initiatives that allow physicians to discuss evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.


George Washington University

Journal Reference:

Friedman, A.J. et al. (2019) Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with psoriasis. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.


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