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

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was 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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