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Wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)

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Also listed as: Baptisia tinctoria
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Afrormosin, afrormosin 7-O-beta-D-glucoside, aglycone texasin, alkaloid P2, alkaloid P4, alkaloids, American indigo, anagyrine, añil silvestre (Spanish), arabinogalactan protein, baptifoline, baptin, Baptisia arachnifera, Baptisia australis, Baptisia australis L., Baptisia australis (L.) R. Br., Baptisia bracteata, Baptisia lanceolata, Baptisia minor Lehm., Baptisia perfoliata (L.) R.Br., baptisia root, Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R.B., Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R.Br., Baptisiae tinctoriae radix, baptisiasaponin I (3-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-->2)-beta-D-xylopyranosyl-(1-->2)-beta-D-glucuronopyranosyl sophoradiol), baptisin, baptisinine, baptisol, baptista, biochanin A-7-O-glucoside-6''-malonate, blue false indigo, blue wild indigo, cytisine, D-sparteine, Fabaceae (family), false indigo, fixed oils, flavonoids, formononetin, formononetin-7-O-beta-D-glucoside, formononetin-7-O-glucoside-6''-malonate, genistein, glucolipopolypeptide, horse fly weed, horsefly weed, indigo broom, indigo carmine, indigo sauvage, indigo silvestre, indigo weed, kaikasaponin III, lupanine, lysine/ornithine decarboxylase (L/ODC), N-methylcytisine, pseudobaptisin glycosides, quinolizidine alkaloids, radix Baptisiae, rattlebush, rattleweed, resins, texasin 7-O-beta-D-glucoside, triterpenoid saponin, wild indigo root, yellow broom, yellow indigo.
  • Combination product examples: Esberitox® (Schaper & Brümmer, Salzgitter, Germany), an herbal combination therapy that contains Thujae occidentalis herba (white cedar), Baptisiae tinctoriae radix (wild indigo), Echinaceae purpureae radix (purple coneflower), and Echinaceae pallidae radix (pale purple coneflower).
  • Note: Wild indigo is not to be confused with indigo carmine, a synthetic dye derived from coal tar, or true indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), which is most often used for dying. Neither indigo carmine nor true indigo will be discussed in detail in this monograph.

Background
  • The species of wild indigo most common used in medicine is Baptisia tinctoria. Currently, wild indigo seems most promising when used to affect the immune system. In addition, wild indigo may have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects. However, sufficient evidence is lacking, and more studies looking at the potential benefits of wild indigo alone are needed before its safety and effectiveness can be determined.
  • Some wild indigo species are considered toxic and are on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of toxic or poisonous plants. However, studies in humans have not found serious side effects when wild indigo was used in the combination formula Esberitox®.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Preliminary research has found that Esberitox® N combined with antibiotics such as azithromycin may promote healing in people who have sinus inflammation. However, the effect of wild indigo alone is unclear at this time.

C


The anticancer effects of Esberitox® N have been studied in people with lymphoma (cancer in the cells of the immune system). Although preliminary research suggested some benefit, the effect of wild indigo alone is unclear at this time. More studies are needed.

C


A clinical trial found that Esberitox® N given before a hepatitis B vaccination may improve response to the vaccination. However, the effect of wild indigo alone is unclear at this time. Further studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Preliminary research has found that Esberitox® may be an effective treatment for herpes. However, further research is needed before conclusions can be made on the effect of wild indigo alone.

C


Clinical studies have looked at Esberitox® as a treatment option for inflammatory conditions. Esberitox® has been used to treat inflammation of the tonsils and middle ear, but research results are lacking at this time. Esberitox® N used in combination with the antibiotic erythromycin may reduce symptoms and recovery time in people with tonsil inflammation, as well as improve general well-being. However, more research is needed.

C


Esberitox® has been used to treat people with leukopenia (low white blood cell count) as a result of radiation. Some results suggest that Esberitox® N may reduce the side effects of radiation therapy for cancer. However, the effect of wild indigo alone is unclear at this time. More research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.

C


Several studies have found that Baptisia tinctoria extracts may stimulate the immune system. Although the results suggested that Esberitox® N improved symptoms, the studies were of poor quality. Higher-quality studies are needed to determine the effects of wild indigo alone in treating respiratory tract infections.

C


A clinical trial showed that Esberitox® N combined with the antibiotic doxycycline may promote healing and well-being for people who have sinus infections. However, the effect of wild indigo alone is unclear at this time.

C


Esberitox® has been used to treat wounds and other skin conditions. However, additional details are lacking at this time.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory (general), anti-inflammatory (inflamed nipples or lymph nodes), anti-malarial, antiviral, boils, chest pain (from clogged heart blood vessels), Crohn's disease, diphtheria (acute bacterial disease), emetic (promotes vomiting), fever, flu (general and swine), immune system regulation, inflammatory bowel disease, pain, pharyngitis (throat inflammation), promotion of regular bowel movements, scarlet fever, skin conditions, stomatitis (mouth inflammation), typhoid fever, ulcers, vaginal discharge, vomiting.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

  • One cup of wild indigo tea has been taken by mouth three times daily, prepared by simmering 0.5-1 grams of dried wild indigo root in 150 milliliters of boiling water for 10-15 minutes and then straining.
  • An ointment containing one part of wild indigo liquid extract to eight parts of ointment base has been applied directly to the skin.

Children (younger than 18 years):

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for wild indigo in children. Some wild indigo species are considered toxic and are on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of toxic or poisonous plants.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), its parts, or members of the Fabaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There is little reliable information on the side effects of wild indigo at this time. Some wild indigo species are considered toxic and are on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of toxic or poisonous plants. Reports of serious side effects from Esberitox® are lacking, although some studies report mild-to-moderate side effects. Wild indigo may cause blood in the urine, fever, mild nausea, and rash on mucous membranes. However, the effects of wild indigo alone are still unclear, and further details are unavailable at this time.
  • Use cautiously in people undergoing therapy that may weaken the immune system. Wild indigo may affect the immune system.
  • Use cautiously in people who receive wild indigo via stomach injections. There have been some reports that samples of Esberitox® marketed for injection through the stomach may be contaminated with bacteria.
  • Use cautiously in people who have rheumatoid arthritis. Esberitox® may cause rheumatic symptoms.
  • Use cautiously in children, due to a lack of safety information.
  • Avoid in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some studies suggest that herbal combinations containing wild indigo may affect the baby.
  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to wild indigo, its parts, or members of the legume family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Wild indigo is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Some studies suggest that herbal combinations containing wild indigo may affect the baby.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Wild indigo may interact with agents that affect the immune system, antibiotics, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatories, and antivirals.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Wild indigo may interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antivirals, and herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Beuscher N, Kopanski L. [Stimulation of immunity by the contents of Baptisia tinctoria]. Planta Med 1985;(5):381-384.
  2. Beuscher N, Scheit KH, Bodinet C, et al. [Immunologically active glycoproteins of Baptisia tinctoria]. Planta Med 1989;55(4):358-363.
  3. Dowlatshahi K, Jokich PM, Schmidt R, et al. Cytologic diagnosis of occult breast lesions using stereotaxic needle aspiration. A preliminary report. Arch Surg 1987;122(11):1343-1346.
  4. Henneicke-von Zepelin H, Hentschel C, Schnitker J, et al. Efficacy and safety of a fixed combination phytomedicine in the treatment of the common cold (acute viral respiratory tract infection): results of a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, multicentre study. Curr.Med.Res.Opin. 1999;15(3):214-227.
  5. Ikeda T, Jinno H, Fujii H, et al. Recent development of sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer in Japan. Asian J Surg 2004;27(4):275-278.
  6. Imoto S, Fukukita H, Murakami K, et al. Pilot study on sentinel node biopsy in breast cancer. J Surg Oncol 2000;73(3):130-133.
  7. Kohler G, Bodinet C, Freudenstein J. [Pharmacodynamic effects and clinical effectiveness of a combination of herbal substances comprised of Cone Flower, Wild Indigo and White Cedar]. Wien.Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):393-397.
  8. Naser B, Lund B, Henneicke-von Zepelin HH, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical dose-response trial of an extract of Baptisia, Echinacea and Thuja for the treatment of patients with common cold. Phytomedicine 2005;12(10):715-722.
  9. Ragosch V, Hundertmark S, Hopp H, et al. [Insulin-like-growth-factor-binding-protein 1 (IGFBP-1) and fetal fibronectin in diagnosis of premature rupture of fetal membranes]. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 1996;56(6):291-296.
  10. Roxas M and Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern.Med.Rev. 2007;12(1):25-48.
  11. Wack M, Classen B, Blaschek W. An acidic arabinogalactan-protein from the roots of Baptisia tinctoria. Planta Med 2005;71(9):814-818.
  12. Wagner H, Jurcic K. [Immunologic studies of plant combination preparations. In-vitro and in-vivo studies on the stimulation of phagocytosis]. Arzneimittelforschung. 1991;41(10):1072-1076.
  13. Wagner H, Proksch A, Riess-Maurer I, et al. [Immunostimulating action of polysaccharides (heteroglycans) from higher plants]. Arzneimittelforschung. 1985;35(7):1069-1075.
  14. Wagner H, Proksch A, Riess-Maurer I, et al. [Immunostimulant action of polysaccharides (heteroglycans) from higher plants. Preliminary communication]. Arzneimittelforschung. 1984;34(6):659-661.
  15. Wustenberg P, Henneicke-von Zepelin HH, Kohler G, et al. Efficacy and mode of action of an immunomodulator herbal preparation containing Echinacea, wild indigo, and white cedar. Adv.Ther. 1999;16(1):51-70.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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