In a new study out of Taiwan, a common plant extract has been shown to work wonders for more than 70% of psoriasis sufferers.
Of the patients who completed the study, 25 out of 34 patients experienced a complete (or nearly complete) clearing of psoriasis plaques when treated with a soothing, all-natural topical ointment. Additionally, limited side effects were reported. Only 4 out of 34 patients experienced mild, short-term itching.
This is huge news for patients who suffer from psoriasis, generally considered a chronic, incurable disease for more than 5.5 million Americans.
>Psoriasis has long puzzled both conventional and alternative doctors around the world. While some nutritionists believe a high fat diet is to blame, others argue that fatty acid deficiencies trigger the disease. Still others argue think it’s caused by a build-up of toxins in the intestines.
Standard medical options usually include the use of topical steroids to treat flare-ups. But long-term use of these lotions can lead to thinning of the skin. Some complementary treatments include acupressure, fatty acid supplements, and UV treatments. But few of these alternatives offer much long-term relief to psoriasis sufferers.
That’s why this study, though small in scope, shows so much promise.
The clinical study involved 42 patients in Taiwan who had suffered from psoriasis for at least two years. Patients were accepted into the study if they had serious chronic psoriasis that had not improved despite at least two different mainstream medical treatments.
Once accepted into the study, patients applied a medicated ointment to a psoriasis plaque on one side of their body (usually on the arm, elbow, leg or knee) once a day for 12 weeks.
An herbal extract called indigo naturalis was the ointment’s key ingredient.
Indigo naturalis has been used for centuries in China and Taiwan to treat common infections and inflammatory diseases such as mumps, pharyngitis and eczema. (It’s generally used with caution as long-term systemic use has been linked to GI and liver problems. Side effects for topical use have not been thoroughly identified.)
On the other side of their body, participants applied a placebo (or non-medicated ointment). Researchers then checked and photographed the patients‘ skin plaques at the beginning of the study and again after two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12 weeks.
Here’s what they found:
- Overall, the indigo naturalis ointment-treated lesions showed an 81 percent improvement.
- The placebo-treated lesions showed a 26 percent improvement.
- Of the 34 patients who completed the study, not one patient experienced a worsening of the areas treated with indigo naturalis.
- While a few patients experienced a mild skin allergy, none experienced serious adverse effects. Four patients reported itching for a few days after beginning treatment.
74% of participants experienced a complete or nearly complete remission of the psoriasis plaques on the side treated with indigo naturalis.
This is a great start and the first new hope for psoriasis sufferers that I’ve seen in years. I’m hopeful that research will continue with a larger clinical trial that pays close attention to the possible long-term side effects. I’ll keep you posted if a new trial on U.S. soil ever materializes.
Unfortunately, the indigo ointment isn’t available for purchase in the United States.
However, based on a quick Google search, I believe some brave souls have begun to try making their own ointment.
Here’s what they did:
- Purchased indigo naturalis as dry powder.
- Ground up a small sample into a fine powder.
- Combined a few grams, as the researchers did, with petroleum jelly, yellow wax (I assume you could use beeswax), and olive oil.
- Applied it once a day to an isolated patch of psoriasis for 12 weeks.
I have also read of success using indigo naturalis in treating psoriasis of the scalp. Try mixing a couple of grams of fine powder with shampoo for relief of psoriasis of the scalp.
Since this is such a new treatment for psoriasis, there’s not much anecdotal evidence available. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how it works and if you experience any side effects.