A treatment for plaque-type psoriasis has been discovered in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). An ointment produced from the plant-based powder indigo naturalis, a TCM herb, has been proven to be effective in the treatment of the skin condition. The study appears in the November issue of Archives of Dermatology.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease for which no cure exists; present therapies can lead to remission of the skin condition. The recent study was carried out by Yin-Ku Lin, M.D. and colleagues from the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
In TCM, indigo naturalis (qing dai) is used in combination with heat-clearing and blood-cooling herbs for blood detoxification. Indigo naturalis for the treatment of psoriasis is a safe long-term therapy with prolonged efficacy that has virtually no adverse side effects. Because the disease is resistant to conventional therapies, developing an alternative treatment is necessary.
TCM has been documented for over 1000 years for the effective treatment of various inflammatory skin diseases. Recalcitrant psoriasis, when treated with indigo naturalis composite ointments, can show significant clinical improvement, leading to long-term remission of the condition.
"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,” said Lin and colleagues. “Indigo naturalis is one of the Chinese herbal remedies that has been reported to exhibit potential antipsoriatic efficacy.”
The researchers conducted a randomized trial with 42 patients experiencing intractable psoriasis. Study participants were treated with two ointments. An indigo naturalis composite ointment was applied to a psoriatic plaque located on an arm, elbow, leg, or knee on one side of the body. A second non-medicated ointment was also applied to a plaque on the other side of the body. Participants’ psoriasis skin plaques were assessed at two, four, six, eight, ten, and twelve weeks.
At twelve weeks of treatment, the scaling, redness and hardening of the skin plaques significantly improved for the plaques treated with the indigo naturalis composite ointment in comparison with the plaques treated with the non-medicated ointment.
“Lesions treated with the indigo naturalis ointment showed an 81 percent improvement, whereas the lesions treated with the non-medicated ointment showed a 26 percent improvement," said the researchers. “The trial shows the use of topical indigo naturalis ointment for the treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis to be both safe and effective.” Of study participants, 75 percent of those treated with the indigo naturalis ointment had complete or near complete clearings of the plaques in the treated skin areas.
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