Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the skin in about 2-3% of people in the whole world. It is characterized by sore or itchy thick red patches of skin covered with silvery scales. As opposed to curative treatments for many other diseases, it is a type of skin disorder for which only remissive treatments are available.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most ancient, effective and widely chosen alternative therapies in China and Asian countries. Psoriasis has been treated for centuries with several oral and topical herbal remedies formulated using the golden principles of TCM. “Indigo Naturalis” is a renown Chinese herbal preparation that has been reported to have potential anti-psoriatic activity.

Medical professionals, professors and several other colleges of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University, Taiwan, conducted a study of an ointment that contains Naturalis Indigo as an active ingredient in 42 patients with recalcitrant psoriasis. Patients applied the ointment on skin lesions on one side of their body, and another ointment, without Naturalis Indigo on the opposite side. The researchers examined and photographed the plaques of patients at the beginning and again after every two weeks (12 weeks in total).

After 12 weeks of treatment, the side treated with Indigo Naturalis ointment demonstrated remarkable changes in skin redness, hardening, and scaling compared to the opposite one, which was treated with placebo. The herbal remedy revealed an 81 percent improvement compared to 26% of the non-medicated ointment.

Out of 34 patients who participated in the study, no one has experienced worsening signs and symptoms after treatment with Indigo Naturalis ointment, while the treated lesions were almost completely cleared for 24 (74%) of them. However, four patients reported itching after initiation of the treatment. The itching wasn’t severe and resolved by itself after few days.

In conclusion, the use of Indigo Naturalis ointment for the treatment of recalcitrant psoriasis appears to be both safe and effective; however, much more research is necessary to clarify its pharmacology effects.


Lin et al. Clinical Assessment of Patients With Recalcitrant Psoriasis in a Randomized, Observer-Blind, Vehicle-Controlled Trial Using Indigo Naturalis. Archives of Dermatology, 2008; 144 (11): 1457 DOI: 10.1001/archderm.144.11.1457