Indigo naturalis is a dark blue plant-based powder which has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Now, a report has suggested that an ointment concocted from this powder may harbor a treatment for psoriasis.
Yin-Ku Lin, M.D., of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan, and colleagues found that the dark blue plant-based powder used in traditional Chinese medicine appears effective in treating the chronic skin disease for which no cure exists.
The experts examined a random trial in 42 patients with psoriasis condition who had been asked to apply the indigo naturalis ointment to a psoriatic plaque on one side of their body and then a non-medicated ointment to a parallel plaque on the other side of their body.
Following 12 weeks of treatment, the researchers observed 81 percent improvement in the indigo naturalis ointment-treated lesions as compared to the 26 percent improvement shown by the use of non-medicated ointment.
While plaques of 34 patients, who had completed the study, treated with indigo were completely or almost completely cleared, none had suffered serious adverse effects.
The report, in the November issue of Archives of Dermatology, further revealed that only four patients using the indigo naturalis ointment complained of itching which lasted only for a few days at the start of treatment.
The authors wrote: "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."