The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Herbals to treat psoriasis: A review of the evidence

    Dr. Sharon Jacob from the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Florida and colleagues reviewed the scientific support for herbals used by patients with psoriasis.

    Here are the highlights.

    Cayenne (Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens)

    • 2 studies showed improvement with topical application.
    • Unfortunately, burning and stinging at the application sites in the capsicum group made impossible to blind the study.

    Aloe (Aloe vera)

    • In one study, the aloe group showed significantly higher rates of clearing of psoriatic plaques (83%) vs placebo (7%).
    • Delayed hypersensitivity reactions are a reported complication of topical aloe.

    Dong quay (Angelica sinensis)

    • It contains a psoralen that acts as a potent photosensitizer in the presence of UVA.
    • In 92 patients, two-thirds experienced complete clearing of their disease after oral treatment
    • Caution in patients who are pregnant or using oral contraceptives, as bleeding and drug-herb interactions have been noted.
    • Another herb (hogweed; Heracleum sphondylium) contains a psoralen, but data are not available for this herb.

    Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

    • Not proven to directly benefit psoriasis.
    • Might protect the liver in patients on hepatotoxic medications.
    • Diarrhea, uterine stimulation, and herb-drug interactions with butyrophenones, phenothiazines, yohimbine, and phentolamine have been reported.

    Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra)

    • Reported improvement could not be attributed to the effects of slippery elm alone.

    Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

    • Studies show no effectiveness.

    Turmeric/Indian saffron (Curcuma longa, Curcuma domestica)

    • Clearing of plaques has not been studied.

    No studies available in psoriasis for the following herbals.

    • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
    • Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
    • Wintergreen/Boxberry (Gaultheria pro cumbens)

    Read the article for more detail and a table of herbal adverse effects and interactions.

    12/18/07 23:33 JR

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