- An unlikely treatment for plaque-type psoriasis – indigo naturalis, commonly found in traditional Chinese medicine, has shown promising results in research conducted by Taiwanese researchers.
- In the study, 42 individuals resistant to other psoriasis treatments applied indigo ointment on one of their psoriatic plaques while treating another plaque with non-medicated ointment. After 12 weeks, psoriasis symptoms improved by 81% in areas where the indigo ointment was applied.
- Of the 34 patients who completed the study, none reported a worsening of psoriasis in the areas treated with the indigo ointment and complete or almost complete clearance of the treated plaques was observed in 74% of the participants.
- While some reported temporary itching sensations, no serious side effects were reported, signaling the treatment’s safety.
- The team expressed hope for more potent extractions from this herb to maximise absorption and enhance patient compliance and called for more extensive research to understand the herb’s pharmacology.
Finding an effective treatment for plaque-type psoriasis can prove challenging, but promising results have been unearthed from an unlikely source – indigo naturalis. A study conducted by Taiwanese researchers unravels the potential of indigo ointment, a solution derived from a naturally occurring, dark blue powder commonly found in traditional Chinese medicine, to offer relief for psoriasis patients.
How the Study Unfolded
42 individuals resistant to other types of psoriasis treatments participated in the research. They were asked to apply the indigo ointment on a psoriatic plaque (a common psoriasis symptom) on one body side, typically an arm, elbow, leg or knee. Simultaneously, a separate non-medicated ointment was used to treat a psoriatic plaque on the other side of their body.
Patients’ skin plaques were thoroughly evaluated at the beginning of the study and re-assessed after progressive intervals of two, four, six, eight, ten, and twelve weeks. What emerged was impressive: after 12 weeks of treatment, psoriasis symptoms improved by a staggering 81% with the use of indigo ointment. This was in stark contrast with the plaques treated with the non-medicated ointment, which only saw a 26 percent amelioration.
The Effects on Participants
Interestingly, of the 34 patients who finished the study, there was no recorded worsening of psoriasis in the areas treated with the indigo ointment. Moreover, complete or almost complete clearance of treated plaques was observed in 25 individuals, equating to 74% of the study’s participants. Notably, a few reported a temporary itching sensation after initial applications of the indigo ointment, but the discomfort subsided after a few days. Despite this, no serious side effects were reported, accentuating the safety of this unique treatment.
The Research Implications
The research was published in a November edition of Archives of Dermatology and showed promising indications about the safety and efficacy of the indigo ointment, announced Dr. Yin-Ku Lin and colleagues of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University. The team expressed hope for future research dedicated to creating more potent extractions from this herb, to maximise absorption and further enhance patient compliance. However, they noted that more extensive research would be necessary to understand fully the fascinating pharmacology of indigo naturalis.
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