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Indigo naturalis for psoriasis


Psoriasis is a chronic problem for a lot of my patients: it itches, it flakes, and it can be unsightly. Common prescriptions for psoriasis often include topical steroids (which can have adverse effects if used long term), but many of my patients ask for a more natural alternative.

Indigo naturalis (qing dai) has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a therapy for psoriasis. However, it was used internally and was know to cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Recently, 2 very nice articles were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and in the Archives of Dermatology regarding the use of indigo topically for psoriasis on the skin and the nails. On the skin, the psoriasis plaques shrank by an average of 60%, and 75% percent of patients experienced clearance or near clearance of their psoriasis. On the nails, 50% of patients saw a 50% or greater improvement in the disease.

Indigo powder is nontoxic, relatively inexpensive, and effective for psoriasis. Other things to note: the powder must be ground very finely to produce maximum surface area; the large granules won't work. Secondly, it is not as messy as you would think. I tried some on myself (I don't have psoriasis, but I wasn't going to recommend this to my patients without checking it out first!), and the beautiful blue cream stained my skin and nails just barely noticeably after I left it on overnight and washed it off in the morning. In the studies, this natural topical therapy was used for 12 weeks in order to produce the results. If you have psoriasis, and a little patience, you might want to try indigo as a safe, natural, and effective alternative.

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