Psoriasis is one of the hardest skin issue which influences a large number of individuals around the globe. Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get the patches on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.
A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because your cells rise too fast. It’s really aggravation in one of the skin layers which brings about little red patches on the elbows, scalp or knees. In spite of the fact that the confusion is typically treated with topical or fundamental specialists, there’s one normal cure which can help – vanilla concentrate.
As indicated by an ongoing examination done on rats prompted with psoriatic aggravation who were later treated with vanillin extricate for seven days, the individuals who got the concentrate experienced change in the side effects over the individuals who didn’t get it.
The levels of IL-17 and IL-23 were fundamentally diminished in all mice treated with the concentrate, and the researchers are without a doubt energized by the outcomes. Obviously, more research is as yet required keeping in mind the end goal to affirm the outcomes and begin with human clinical preliminaries, yet for the time being, the outcomes are positively encouraging and could spell the start of another time in the treatment of this skin issue.
In this study, the authors looked at the effect of vanillin (the key chemical component of vanilla flavour) on a mouse model of psoriasis. This model uses imiquimod, a strong immune activator, to induce a psoriasis-like skin condition in the mice.
Mice treated with imiquimod display many similarities to plaque psoriasis in humans, both in the appearance and underlying immune mechanisms. The authors found that consumption of vanillin had a number of positive effects on the mice. It reduced the thickness of the skin and the number of immune cells invading the skin, as well as decreasing the amount of the cytokines IL-17A and IL-23, which are key activators in plaque psoriasis.
These results are really positive and demonstrate an exciting new area of psoriasis research. However, before rushing out to buy some vanilla essence, it’s always important to look at the conclusions of the study within the context of how the results were found:
1. How reliable are the results?
This study was published in a peer-reviewed journal, which means that other scientists in the same field think that the research methods are robust and the conclusions that have been drawn are supported by the results.
To our knowledge, this is the first study looking at the effect of vanillin on a psoriasis model, which means that this area of research is still in a very early stage. Though promising, we will have to wait to see if the results can be replicated by other research groups
2. How was the research funded?
When assessing research, it’s often a good idea to be slightly cynical and take a look at who funded the research or whether the authors have any conflicts of interest. Everyone is susceptible to unconscious bias and scientists are no exception. This is not to say that the results of a particular study will be unreliable, but just something to bear in mind when reading about research, particularly if the results of a study are beneficial to the funder or the authors.
Funding or conflict of interest should be clearly stated in the original research paper and a link to the original paper should be found in any media articles. Some papers are open-access, where anyone can read them but others have to be paid for before you can read the whole article. In this case it’s the latter, however, you can still read the summary (also called the ‘abstract’) here. Unfortunately, the funder is not mentioned with this abstract.
3. How applicable is this to me?
First thing to note is that this study was carried out in mice with a psoriasis-like skin condition. Whilst mouse models are excellent for early research, not all discoveries are translatable to humans and we currently have no knowledge of how effective, or even safe, vanillin will be to treat psoriasis in humans.
Secondly, this study was conducted over a fairly short period of time. Mice were only fed vanillin for 7 days and so other, longer, studies will be needed to assess the long-term safety and efficiency of vanillin as a potential treatment. Not all chemicals can be tolerated long term by all species, indeed the National Institute of Health in America found that rats fed a diet containing 64 mg/kg vanillin everyday for 10 weeks showed reduced growth and damage in multiple organs.
Lastly, the authors state that the mice were fed 100mg of vanillin per kg. As the average laboratory mouse weighs 20g, this equates to 2mg of vanillin per day, which doesn’t sound too bad. However, the average European human weighs 70.8 Kg, which would mean consuming 7.08 g of vanillin daily.
To put this into context, an average recipe for 30 vanilla biscuits uses 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. In the US, pure vanilla extract contains 100g of vanilla bean in each litre of extract, which equals 0.5g of bean extract in each 5ml teaspoon. However, only 2% of each bean is vanillin. This means that in the 30 biscuits there is a tiny 0.01g of vanillin, therefore to consume 7.08 g you would need to eat over 21,000 biscuits a day!
So although there’s no harm in indulging in the odd sweet treat, it’s certainly worth taking the media’s stance on this research with a pinch of salt- or should that be sugar?
For more information, or for a list of resources used in producing this article, please contact the Psoriasis Association.