Psoriatic Arthritis: 9 Natural Remedies
Psoriatic arthritis treatments
When it comes to natural treatments for psoriatic arthritis, there's not a ton of research. Conventional drugs have been shown to delay damage from the disease, but alternative therapies have not.
"Many of these supplements or vitamins may ease some of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, but none have been shown to prevent damage," says Guy Fiocco, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, in Bryan.
That said, here are nine vitamins or remedies that may be helpful in addition to conventional treatment.
Dr. Fiocco notes that Eskimo populations have a lower incidence of both psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis than other groups. Genetics probably play a role, but it's possible that a diet high in eicosapentaenoic acid, or fish oil, may help too.
"Studies of acupuncture are very conflicting. They go all the way to not helping at all to helping a little bit, but it doesn't do anything for the immune-system problem of psoriasis," he says.
Some people say that acupuncture relieves their pain. The best results have been reported for isolated areas, such as knee arthritis, Dr. Matteson says.
Some individuals may get relief but, Dr. Matteson adds, "its effects are extremely mild and difficult to measure. [Most people say] they try it and generally they don't notice enough of a benefit to continue with it."
A 2001 study found that willow bark extract equivalent to a dose of 240 milligrams of salicin a day relieved pain better than a placebo in a group of 78 patients with osteoarthritis.
It's possible the effects could extend to people with psoriatic arthritis as well.
The same study found that vitamin D levels didn't seem to affect disease activity.
In another study of just 10 patients, seven of the people who took vitamin D reported a decrease in joint pain, but there was no placebo group for comparison.
More research needs to be done to determine whether vitamin D is beneficial for psoriatic arthritis patients.
However, one report found that low vitamin K levels were associated with more severe osteoarthritis in a group of almost 700 patients.
It's not clear whether vitamin K could help osteoarthritis, much less psoriatic arthritis. But it can't hurt to eat more leafy greens.
Healthy people generally produce enough on their own, and carnitine's not considered an essential nutrient. There have been hints that it might benefit people with psoriatic arthritis, but it hasn't been proven.
For example, a 36-year-old man was given L-carnitine as part of an infertility study; he had a reduction in psoriatic-arthritis-related knee pain when he was taking L-carnitine (but not a placebo), and it returned when he stopped.
But again, like vitamin D, B12 doesn't seem to be a primary treatment option, says Dr. Fiocco, who is also the director of rheumatology at Scott & White, in Temple, Texas.
Vitamin B12 is found in clams, trout, fortified breakfast cereals, and yogurt.
Traditional Chinese medicine
For example, extracts of the plant Tripterygium wilfordii (TwHF) are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects. One study completed by the National Institutes of Health found that patients taking TwHF along with steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) did better than patients taking the drug Azulfidine (sulfasalazine) with steroids and NSAIDs.
Overall, though, Dr. Fiocco feels the impact of these herbs has not been "very impressive."