Isatis

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What other names is Isatis known by?

Ban Lan Gen, Ban Lang Gen, Baphicacanthus cusia, Chinese Indigo, Clerodendron cyrtophyllum, Da Qing Ye, Da Quing Ye, Dyer's Woad, Farberwaid (Färberwaid), Folium Isatidis, Genêt des Teinturiers, Guède, Hierba Pastel, Indigo, Indigo Naturalis, Indigo Woad, Isatis indigotica, Isatis tinctoria, Pastel des Teinturiers, Persicaria tinctoria, Polygonum tinctorium, Qing Dai, Quing Dai, Radix Isatidis, Strobilanthes cusia; Woad.

What is Isatis?

Isatis is a plant with small yellow flowers. It grows in different parts of northern and central China. The leaves and roots of the plant are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Isatis is used to treat the common cold and other infections of the nose, throat, and sinuses (upper respiratory tract infections), as well as infections of the glands that make saliva (parotitis). It is also used for encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain that is usually caused by infection; a liver disorder (hepatitis); pockets of infection (abscesses) in the lungs; digestive tract infections including dysentery and acute gastroenteritis; prostate cancer; and AIDS/HIV.

Isatis is applied directly to the skin for a skin condition, psoriasis. Some people also take isatis by mouth for this condition.

In manufacturing, isatis is used to make indigo dye.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis). Some research suggests that applying a specific product containing indigo naturalis oil extract (Lindioil) to the fingernails and the skin beneath the edge of the nail twice daily for 24 weeks improves psoriasis by 50% to 80%. There is also one report suggesting that an ointment containing isatis plus phellodendron and Baikal skullcap improved psoriasis in an 8-year old boy after usual treatments did not help.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate isatis for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Isatis work?

Isatis might be able to fight bacteria and viruses that can cause infections. It also seems to be able to reduce fever and swelling. There is some interest in using isatis for cancer because it contains chemicals that might keep cancer cells from multiplying.

Are there safety concerns?

Isatis is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin appropriately, short-term. A specific product containing the isatis constituent indigo naturalis as an oil extract (Lindioil), applied to the skin in doses of 0.05 to 0.1 mL twice daily, has been used safely for 24 weeks.

There isn’t enough reliable information available to know if taking isatis by mouth is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking isatis if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Aspirin allergy: Isatis contains chemicals that are similar to the chemicals in aspirin. There is a concern that isatis might trigger an asthma attack or an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin.

Dosing considerations for Isatis.

The following dose has been studied in scientific research:

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis): A specific product containing a chemical in isatis called indigo naturalis as an oil extract (Lindioil), applied in doses of 0.05-0.1 mL to nail folds and the skin beneath the edge of the nail twice daily for 24 weeks, has been used.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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