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Dr Tamanna Nazli and Prof Neena Khanna

Unani treatment is effective in psoriasis with minimal side effects: Study

Psoriasis, is a chronic skin condition having an unpredictable course of remission and relapse that typically results in scaly, itchy rashes commonly on knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp with winter aggravation. It is associated with high impact on patient’s quality of life. Though several treatment options are available for psoriasis, there is no curative treatment. 

A collaborative research effort between the Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine and Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences has yielded noteworthy results in the treatment of psoriasis using Unani medicine. The study was conducted in the Department of Dermatology under the supervision of Prof. Neena Khanna, according to the 3 year study, in which treatment lasted for only 3 months, involved 287 participants. 

Psoralens, a class of phototoxic plant-derived compounds, were administered to 140 patients as part of the standard allopathic treatment of Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) photochemotherapy. And remaining 147 patients received Unani formulations containing a combination of Unani coded medicines UNIM-401 containing  F. parviflora (Barg-e-shahtra), S. chirata (Chiraita talkh), P. corylifolia (Babchi) and Terminalia chebula (Halela siyah), as well as topical application UNIM-403 which contains A. indica (neem) and C. camphora (camphor, kafoor) dispensed in sesame oil. 

Throughout the six-month study period, with three months of treatment and three months of follow-up, their study demonstrated that Unani treatment can be equally effective, as measured by the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score, a tool for assessing psoriasis severity and extent.

According to Dr. Tamanna Nazli, one of the study's co-investigator, despite the response, the problem with therapy of psoriasis is that relapses are generally the rule when treatment is stopped. Relapse was determined by patients who had completed the 12 weeks of treatment period and achieved a clinical meaningful response (≥50% improvement in PASI) for a further period of 12 weeks. It was discovered that at 24 wk of follow up, the relapse in 15 % of patients in Unani treatment group and 18 % in the PUVA sol group, the relapse rate in the two groups was comparable.

On the other hand, what sets Unani treatment apart is its minimal side effects, the total number of patients who developed clinical side effects (nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain) was much higher in the PUVA sol group (16.4%) than in the Unani treatment group (2%) the speaker continued. 

"In conclusion, you can interpret Unani treatment as almost equally effective as standard treatment, but it is better when it comes to side effects and relapse,” Dr Nazli added.

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