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Chinese Herb Reduces Plaque Psoriasis Lesions

Application of the Chinese herb indigo naturalis leads to improvement in the size and severity of plaque psoriasis lesions

THURSDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Topical application of an ointment containing the herb indigo naturalis is a safe and effective treatment for chronic plaque psoriasis, according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Yin-Ku Lin, M.D., of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a randomized, vehicle-controlled study of 42 patients with chronic plaque psoriasis from 2004 to 2005. Patients applied a topical ointment containing either indigo naturalis or vehicle to each of two psoriasis plaques over a 12-week period. Clearing of the plaque lesion, assessed by an improvement in scaling, erythema and induration, was scored by two blinded observers.

A significant decrease in the degree of scaling, erythema and induration was observed after application of the indigo naturalis, but not vehicle, ointment (mean summary score: 6.3 versus 12.8, respectively). The lesion area was reduced to 38.5 percent of the original area after application of the herb, compared with only 90 percent after vehicle application, the researchers report. Overall, the study found an 81 percent improvement in the plaque lesion following application of indigo naturalis, compared with only a 26 percent improvement after vehicle application.

"We anticipate that indigo naturalis ointment can be an alternative or complementary therapy for psoriasis," write the study authors, who add that future research is required to better understand the pharmacology of the herb.

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