Indigo ointment may help treat patients with psoriasis

Nov 17, 2008

An ointment made from indigo naturalis, a dark blue plant-based powder used in traditional Chinese medicine, appears effective in treating plaque-type psoriasis, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Dermatology.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease for which no cure exists, only therapies that bring it into remission, according to background information in the article. "Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the most frequently chosen alternative therapies in China and Taiwan, and psoriasis has been treated for centuries with topical and oral herbal preparations," the authors write. "Indigo naturalis is one of the Chinese herbal remedies that has been reported to exhibit potential antipsoriatic efficacy. However, long-term systemic use has been occasionally associated with irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and adverse hepatic [liver] effects."

Yin-Ku Lin, M.D., of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of an ointment containing indigo naturalis in 42 patients with treatment-resistant psoriasis. Participants enrolled in the study between May 2004 and April 2005 and applied the indigo naturalis ointment to a psoriatic plaque on one side of their body (usually on the arm, elbow, leg or knee) and then a non-medicated ointment to a parallel plaque on the other side of their body. The researchers assessed and photographed patients' skin plaques at the beginning of the study and again after two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks of treatment, the plaques treated with indigo naturalis ointment showed significant improvement in scaling, erythema (redness) and induration (hardening) when compared with the plaques treated with non-medicated ointment. "Weighting the sum of scaling, erythema and induration scores by the lesion area and comparing between the start and end of the study, the indigo naturalis ointment–treated lesions showed an 81 percent improvement, whereas the vehicle [non-medicated] ointment–treated lesions showed a 26 percent improvement," the authors write.

Of the 34 patients who completed the study, none experienced worsening psoriasis in the areas treated with indigo naturalis, while the treated plaques were completely or nearly completely cleared for 25 of them (74 percent). None experienced serious adverse effects. Four patients reported itching after applying the indigo naturalis ointment, but only for a couple of days at the start of treatment.

"In conclusion, we present a randomized controlled trial showing the use of topical indigo naturalis ointment for the treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis to be both safe and effective," the authors write. "Future research for a more potent extraction from this crude herb that can provide better absorption and convenience would help improve patient compliance with the treatment regimen. However, much more research will be necessary to clarify the pharmacology of indigo naturalis."

Citation: Arch Dermatol. 2008;144[11]:1457-1464.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

16 hours ago

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

17 hours ago

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

Ancient clay seals may shed light on biblical era

18 hours ago

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist ...

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

20 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

18 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

22 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hudres
not rated yet Nov 17, 2008
This could be a breakthrough for psoriasis suffers who usually have to deal with chemical therapies that range from bad (steroids) to unimaginable (chemotherapy). I wonder if it is effective on ecezma as well.
Lila
not rated yet Nov 28, 2008
I read this psoriasis release last week an was very excited. Has anyone tried indigo naturalis yet? Can anyone provide results? I also found a site to buy the power or cream at http://indigonaturalis.com.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.