How It Works
Indirubin is derived from the Indigo Plant (Isatis RootIsatis Leaf). It has also been created synthetically in the lab. In Asia, it is part of combination formulas used clinically and in traditional herbal prescriptions to treat chronic conditions such as inflammation, gastrointestinal diseases, and some forms of cancer. Animal studies suggest this substance may help keep cancer cells from reproducing. Indirubin may also reduce inflammation by inhibiting part of the immune response.

Studies of indirubin in humans are very limited and side effects with some formulations have been reported. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness of this compound for various conditions.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • To treat cancer
    There is a lack of evidence to support this use. Case reports and initial analyses suggest possible benefits in leukemia, but well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness.
  • To reduce inflammation
    A small study in patients with head and neck cancer suggest that indirubin, taken as indigowood root powder, may reduce mucosal damage from radiation therapy. Additional studies are needed to confirm this effect.
  • To treat psoriasis
    A few studies suggest topical formulations can treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and contact dermatitis.
  • To treat gastrointestinal conditions
    Oral I. naturalis has been used in clinical trials in Asia for ulcerative colitis and other gastrointestinal conditions, but results are preliminary and severe adverse events have been reported.

Do not take if : You are taking CYP450 3A4 substrate drugs: Lab studies suggest that indirubin, a component of the isatis plant, may affect how these drugs are metabolized. Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.