Herbal Remedies for Psoriatic Arthritis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2024 | Last updated: February 2024

Many people living with chronic diseases like psoriatic arthritis (PsA) turn to herbal remedies and supplements for symptom relief. While the research is ongoing on complementary and integrative medicine, these remedies may help people manage PsA symptoms and improve their quality of life.1

What are herbal remedies and supplements?

Herbal remedies are made from plants and plant extracts. Supplements are dietary ingredients that add nutritional value to a person's diet. Supplements may include 1 or a combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, or other botanicals.2

Types of herbs and supplements for psoriatic arthritis

A variety of herbs and supplements can be used to help ease PsA symptoms.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a plant that produces a gel. It has been used for thousands of years for various skin conditions. It is often used to soothe psoriasis lesions and joints inflamed by arthritis. Aloe vera can also help heal cuts and burns.1,3

Apple cider vinegar

People with PsA who also have psoriasis have used apple cider vinegar (ACV) on their skin to relieve itching. There is limited scientific evidence of ACV’s effectiveness on PsA symptoms. But it may relieve itchy, inflamed skin.1,4

There are several ways you can use apple cider vinegar for itchy skin:4

  • Add 1 to 2 cups of ACV to a warm bath.
  • Dilute ACV with water (using a 1:1 ratio) and use it directly on the skin.
  • Mix a solution of warm water with 1 tablespoon of ACV and apply it to a wet towel. Wrap the towel over the skin.

Arnica

Arnica is a plant that has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Applied to the skin, arnica can be used to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, and heal wounds. It is commonly found in creams, ointments, and as a tincture, which can be used in compresses and poultices. It is generally safe to use on the skin.5

Turmeric

Turmeric is an herb that is known for its warm, bitter taste and golden color. It has long been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. Turmeric has been used to aid digestion and liver function, relieve pain from arthritis, and reduce inflammation. Turmeric can be used as a spice in cooking or taken as a pill.1,6

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies suggest that it may help reduce symptoms of arthritis. Scientists have found that turmeric has a special quality that can change the way certain substances in the body, called TNF cytokines, behave. This may help reduce skin and joint flare-ups in those with psoriasis and PsA.1,6

Willow bark

Willow bark contains salicin, which is a chemical that is similar to aspirin. It has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever and inflammation. Today, it is used to treat pain, headache, and inflammation. Some studies show that willow bark is as effective as taking aspirin.7

While it has not been studied in people with PsA specifically, several studies have shown that willow bark is more effective than a placebo (an inactive substance) in reducing pain from osteoarthritis. Because it contains salicin, willow bark can interact with other drugs and herbs you may be taking.7

Check with your doctor

Supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the same way other drugs are. This means that no outside agency confirms the ingredients or suggested dose.8

For example, a fish oil supplement may have more or less fish oil than listed on the label. A supplement may also contain ingredients that are not labeled correctly or at all. This can be dangerous. It can lead to taking too much or taking unwanted ingredients.

The FDA created good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to help this situation. GMPs are guidelines for companies to follow when making supplements. But the FDA rarely inspects facilities making supplements in the United States, and companies outside the United States do not have these inspections. Many more supplements are sold than are tested. Your doctor can help you decide if a supplement is safe.8

Some supplements also may have side effects or interact with other drugs. Before beginning treatment for psoriatic arthritis, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

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Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.