Psoriasis is often painful and has high psychosocial impact on patients. Therapy is costly and time consuming. Though research has investigated alternative treatments, so far no study has turned to the purple fleabane, Vernonia anthelmintica.
The leaf powder of the plant has been used, in India, for skin ailments and is clinically proven to help with a type of eczema. In traditional Chinese medicine, the fruit of this wild annual herb, kali jeeri, has been used for leucoderma, eczema, vitiligo and even psoriasis.
Recently, Dinesh Kumar and Krishana Thakur, from the CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Himachal Pradesh, worked with Nittya K Dograa and Suresh Kumar, from the Punjabi University, to scientifically assess the antipsoriatic activity of kali jeeri extracts.
The team collected V. anthelmintica fruits and extracted phytochemicals using dichloromethane and methanol. Ointments containing 2.5 and 5% concentrations of these extracts were applied on mouse tails.
The normal adult mouse tail has alternating rings, characterised by the presence and absence of a granular layer. The granular layer is histologically similar to that of normal human epidermis. And the rings, where the granular layer is absent, are histologically similar to psoriatic plaques in humans. So, scientists use the mouse tail as model of psoriasis.
The team used the mouse-tail model to look for the most active extract. “The dichloromethane extract had significant antipsoriatic activity – equivalent to that of the standard drug, retino-A”, says Nittya K Dogra, Punjabi University.
The team confirmed the activity of the fraction in human keratinocyte cell lines. They characterised the bioactive fraction using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
“The ameliorative effect of V. anthelmintica in psoriasis might be due to essential fatty acids. Perhaps this explains its traditional use for skin ailments”, says Dinesh Kumar, CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Himachal Pradesh.
Ethnp. Pharm. 224: 85-90 (2018); DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.05.038
Sileesh Mullasseri, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies