Alternative therapies are often combined with conventional treatment to alleviate the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. The effectiveness of alternative treatments has been documented in a few studies. Alternative medicines used for treating psoriatic arthritis include supplements, herbal medicines, massage, yoga, biofeedback and stress management techniques.
Alternative Medicines for Treating Psoriatic Arthritis
Balneotherapy including sulfur baths and mudpacks is considered beneficial for people suffering from psoriatic arthritis. Preliminary evidences suggest significant improvement in the symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis following balneotherapy.
In a study, researchers in Israel have observed that bathing in the Dead Sea water, which is one of the finest natural sites of balneotherapy, for three weeks, caused significant reduction in joint pain and morning stiffness and improved mobility of the joints.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement
Supplementation with DHA and EPA, two easily absorbable forms of omega-3 fatty acid, can provide relief from the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. These fatty acids occur naturally in large quantities in fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are present in the form of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) in flaxseed, walnuts and whole grains. However, the effectiveness of ALA in reducing inflammation and pain is unclear.
DHA and EPA help to treat inflammation and psoriatic arthritis pain by suppressing production of leukotrienes, an inflammatory substance released by the immune system. Excess leukotriene is believed to trigger psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Dietary supplements containing the omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA) such as evening primrose oil, borage seed oil and blackcurrant seed oil is often used for reducing psoriatic arthritis pain. Few studies have been conducted for evaluating the effectiveness of using these supplements for treating arthritis pain.
GLA is converted into prostaglandins that obstruct activities of inflammatory compounds, thereby reducing inflammation and pain of the joints affected by arthritis. Considered safe for long-term use, psoriatic arthritis patients may consider intake of GLA supplements to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
Stress Reduction Therapies
Stress is one of the key causes of acute psoriatic arthritis pain. Learning stress management techniques can reduce the severity of psoriatic arthritis pain and reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
Effective stress management techniques used for preventing psoriatic arthritis recurrence include yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, massage, hypnosis, relaxation, biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. They help to calm the mind and modify thoughts. Moreover, the yoga and tai chi postures are beneficial exercises for the joints and muscles. They help to strengthen the joint, reduce stiffness and improve mobility.
Although numerous herbs are recommended in folk medicines and traditional medicinal texts for treating psoriatic arthritis, sufficient studies have not been conducted to prove the efficacy and safety of these herbs. Nonetheless, popular anti-inflammatory herbs and herbal preparations are used as an alternative to pharmacological drugs.
Turmeric and willow bark, found to be effective in treating joint pain and inflammation, may provide relief from psoriatic arthritis pain. Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle can help to control psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. As toxicity is believed to trigger psoriatic arthritis flare-ups, by strengthening the detoxification function of the liver, milk thistle can provide relief from psoriatic arthritis pain.