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Complement Ther Med. 2013 Oct;21(5):453-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Aug 17.

Plant-based ointments versus usual care in the management of chronic skin diseases: a comparative analysis on outcome and safety.

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Louis Bolk Institute, Department of Nutrition & Health, Driebergen, The Netherlands; Mid-Sweden University, Department of Health Sciences, Sundsvall, Sweden; NIKIM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:



To assess the outcome and safety of plant-based ointments versus usual care in the management of chronic skin diseases.


Prospective mono-centric comparative analysis. Patients were recruited at an outpatient dermatology clinic and treated with plant-based ointments or care as usual. Main outcome criterion was the response rate, defined as the proportion of patients experiencing 'complete recovery' or 'major improvement' at 6, 12 and 24 months. Secondary outcome criteria were quality of life (SF-12 and EQ-5D), patient satisfaction and safety of treatment.


A total of 112 patients with chronic skin diseases were evaluated of which 44 were treated with plant-based ointments (PO) and 68 received usual care (UC). The majority of patients suffered from psoriasis (PO: 50%; UC: 56%) or eczema (PO: 41%; UC: 32%) and were treated with homoeopathic topical ointments containing mahonia or cardiospermum or usual care creams containing calcipotriene and corticosteroids. The only significant difference in baseline status between the two groups was in disease severity score (PO: 1.8±0.7 versus UC: 2.4±0.8, p=0.0004). After two years, the main outcome of responders to treatment was 52.3% (95%-CI: 36.1-64.9) in the ointment and 41.2% (95%-CI: 20.4-42.2) in the UC group. Change in SF-12 (2 years compared to baseline), adjusted for baseline disease severity, was not significantly different between both groups; PO: 5.4 (95%-CI: 3.4-7.3) versus UC: 3.2 (95%-CI: 1.5-4.9). The adjusted EQ-5D was found to be significantly different between the two groups after two years, in favour of the ointment group; PO: 0.113 (95%-CI: 0.052-0.174) and UC: -0.008 (95%-CI: -0.055-0.038). Other secondary outcome parameters such as patient satisfaction and number of adverse drug reactions were comparable.


The outcome of this study suggests at least therapeutic equivalence between plant-based ointments and usual care management of chronic skin diseases. As this non-randomised study was open to selection and other bias, further rigorous studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these topical products.


Chronic skin disease; Comparative study; Homoeopathy; Usual care

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