Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes extra skin cells to build up on the surface of the skin. These will form scales and red patches that can be itchy, and sometimes painful. Although it is one of the most common chronic skin diseases where patients need a long-term treatment, the therapies that exist today to reduce inflammation generally have many side effects and are not effective for many people.
Evaluating a new natural treatment for psoriasis
A recent study aimed to evaluate a natural topical treatment for psoriasis. The treatment involved an ointment which was created from a mixture of propolis (50%) and aloe vera (3%), and was used for treating mild or moderate psoriasis.
- Apitherapy, an alternative medicine that uses honey bee products (such as honey and propolis), has always played an important role in traditional folk medicine. In particular, propolis, which is derived from plants, is rich in essential oils.
- Aloe vera, a plant with moisturizing qualities, has been extensively used in many cultures for its effectiveness in treating wounds, burns, itchiness and hair loss. There have been many studies that showed a significant amount of anti-inflammatory properties, which motivated seeing how well aloe vera could treat psoriasis.
What were the results?
2248 patients who had mild to moderate psoriasis were treated with either a placebo or the ointment for 12 weeks. Neither the patients nor doctors knew what treatment each patient was receiving.
The research team found significant improvement in patients who received the therapy, which supports the value of propolis and aloe vera in the treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis.
Here's how the researchers separated responses to the treatment:
- Excellent response: When all psoriatic lesions disappeared, and skin becomes nearly normal
- Good response: When some of the lesions disappeared
- Weak response: When no significant improvement in symptoms was observed
- No response: When no response happened at all
In the group which received the propolis and aloe vera treatment, the overall response at the end of 12 weeks was:
- Excellent response: 64.4%
- Good response: 22.2%
- Weak response: 5.6%
- No response: 7.7%
In the patients who received a placebo, no significant improvement was observed after 12 weeks of treatment.
Other natural therapies used for psoriasis
Natural therapies that are used today for treating psoriasis include:
- Apple cider vinegar: This is most commonly used for reducing scalp itch from psoriasis. You can buy this from most grocery stores, either apply it directly or dilute the vinegar with water in a 1-to-1 ratio.
- Dead sea salts: Adding dead sea salt or epsom salt to a warm bath and soaking for around 15 minutes in the tub may help with itching from psoriasis. You can also do the same with oats.
- Dietary supplements: According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, dietary supplements (such as vitamin D, fish oil, and aloe vera) may help manage psoriasis symptoms. It's important to speak with your doctor before taking supplements to check that they won't interfere with your medications or other conditions you have.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil comes from leaves of a plant native to Australia. It's believed to have antiseptic qualities, and can be applied to the skin. Some people with psoriasis find that using shampoos with tea tree oil can help control the symptoms of their scalp psoriasis, but a formal study has not been done yet to demonstrative its effectiveness for treating psoriasis.
What does this mean for you as a psoriasis patient?
More natural therapies for psoriasis are being evaluated in clinical studies, both on their own, and in combination with other existing treatments.
Examples of what researchers are currently studying include:
There isn’t a single treatment option that works well for everyone, and some treatment options may have negative side effects if you also have conditions other than psoriasis (such as diabetes) or are on certain medications. You can use the results from this study to begin a conversation with your doctor or loved ones about exploring what natural therapies may be helpful for managing your psoriasis symptoms.
Are you or a loved one interested in exploring new therapies for psoriasis being evaluated in clinical trials? Let us know! We'll help you every step of the way. Sign up for Clara now or follow this link to learn more about how Clara supports patients through the clinical trials process.