Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes flare-ups of patchy scales, pustules, or red spots to develop on a person’s skin. Traditional treatments include drugs that you rub on the affected areas, medications you take by mouth, injections, or light therapy — but these don’t always do the trick. Psoriasis is tricky to treat and affects every individual differently, so many people may seek out alternative or complementary therapies to get their symptoms under control.
Acupuncture benefits for psoriasis
Acupuncture may help treat psoriasis in several different ways. Acupuncture is an effective stress reliever, and stress is a common trigger of psoriasis flares. It can also help to relieve pain, especially in cases of psoriatic arthritis.
One older study from 1992 found that half of all patients in the study (31 out of 60) had complete or near-complete clearance of lesions after about nine acupuncture sessions. Fourteen participants saw clearance in two-thirds of the lesions. A 2004 study included 80 participants. It saw a 91.3 percent effectiveness rate in alleviating psoriasis symptoms after just five acupuncture sessions. A newer study from 2016 also found improvement of lesions after using acupuncture as a treatment for psoriasis.
Reasons to Consider Acupuncture
“I don’t treat many patients specifically for psoriasis,” Starkey admits, “but psoriasis affects the whole body, and Chinese medicine is a whole-person treatment, so there is no reason it would not be a good fit.” Here are some other reasons to consider trying it:
“Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, and acupuncture has been shown to help several other autoimmune diseases, including arthritis and multiple sclerosis,” says Starkey.
Acupuncture is a very safe alternative medicine treatment. “The risk/reward balance is in your favor,” Starkey says.
Acupuncture is not likely to interfere with any of your existing psoriasis treatments. Unlike with certain herbal remedies or supplements, there’s no risk of drug interaction, so “acupuncture can be used along with other treatments as part of a treatment plan that includes stress reduction,” Tung says.