Natural treatments for managing psoriasis

September 17, 2007

Treatments suggested include probiotics coupled with fructooligosaccharides. zinc pyrithione products, glycemic support products, and homeopathic medicines.

"Don't always try to suppress the symptoms, but look for the cause," said Mark Mandel, Pharm.D., owner of Mark Drugs, a compounding pharmacy in Roselle, Ill. "Psoriasis is not a superficial disease—it can have deeper roots." Preferring natural remedies whenever possible, Mandel is an advocate of probiotics coupled with fructooligosaccharides, a therapeutic combination that has been touted to boost immune function in patients with psoriasis. He also claims good success with zinc pyrithione products: sprays, lotions, or creams. One such spray, available without a prescription is marketed as Zoriasis. Zinc pyrithione, a cytostatic agent, is thought to reduce cell turnover rate by nonspecific toxic actions on epidermal cells. According to Mandel, sometimes his staff will compound additional therapeutic agents—salicylic acid, triamcinolone, or pyridoxine—into zinc pyrithione sprays and creams.

Additional natural options suggested by Mandel include glycemic support products containing selenium, chromium, and gymnema leaf, about which Mandel noted, "I have just recently started recommending glycemic support products for psoriasis after reading that stabilizing blood sugar and insulin may improve skin texture and tone." For those with psoriatic arthritis, Mandel said fish oils are worth a try, "at a dose of 1,000 mg per 50 lb. of body weight."

Another natural product with roots in homeopathic medicine comes from Mahonia aquifolium, otherwise known as the Oregon grape. Under the trade name Relieva, a component of the plant called psorberine has been encapsulated into a patented delivery system for topical application as a cream, lotion, and shampoo. Douglas Weiland, M.D., CEO of Apollo Pharmaceutical, indicated that for treatment of mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis, clinical studies have found Relieva to be "safe, effective, and free of steroids." Though Relieva is not available through pharmacy wholesalers, patients can obtain a free sample and place orders for Relieva by calling toll-free 1-(866) 772-2111.