Research: FLEISCHER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 20


FLEISCHER and colleagues, Department of Dermatology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina USA investigated the use of alternative medical treatments for psoriasis, including sociodemographic variables, conventional medical treatment and severity of psoriasis disease.



317 out of 578 psoriasis patients (55%) from a university dermatology clinic responded to a questionnaire. 57% of the respondents were women. Psoriasis severity was measured with the Self-Administered Psoriasis Area and Severity Index.


62% of respondents used alternative medicine and excluding sunlight and nonprescription tanning equipment, 51% used one or more of alternative therapeutic treatments. Psoriasis severity was worse in those who had tried herbal remedies, vitamin therapy and dietary manipulation. Apart from vitamin therapy, there was no association between intensity of conventional medical treatment and alternative treatment. The present or prior use of herbal remedies was correlated with vitamin therapy use and sunbathing and dietary interventions were significantly correlated with vitamin therapy. Of the 113 (36%) who had used nonprescription tanning equipment for their psoriasis, 68% thought this modality to be effective. The authors found that alternative medical therapies were widely used by the participants of this study.


There is a need for clinicians to be aware of the use of nonallopathic remedies by their patients in order to discover useful information regarding future therapies and to monitor for adverse effects.


Fleischer AB Jr et al. Alternative therapies commonly used within a population of patients with psoriasis. Cutis 58(3): 21620. Sep 1996.


It is not at all surprising that those people suffering the worst psoriasis would have tried every possible treatment option, including herbal and dietary therapies. It is interesting that the authors suggest that doctors be on the look-out for the use of alternative therapies in case they discover something that works for this often intractable condition, and, unfortunately predictable that they warn doctors to look out for side-effects of complementary treatment.

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