How is psoralen used in PUVA treatment?

Psoralen is a naturally occurring phytoalexin from the root of Psoralens or Panax quinquefolium. It is part of the family of flavonoids that includes vitamin C and other antioxidants. Psoralen is considered to be a very important source of dietary antioxidants for its antioxidant activity against free radicals (harmful oxygen molecules) and other toxins in the body. However, studies conducted on animals showed that the antioxidant activity caused by Psoralen was not as powerful as the action of Vitamin C. This prompted scientists to conduct further studies to determine whether Psoralen was really capable of acting as an effective free radical scavenger and if other antioxidants were needed to complement Psoralen. These studies concluded that Psoralen can act as an effective natural antioxidant in preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, reducing blood clots, reducing plaque formation in the arteries, and improving cardiovascular disease and general health.

Psoralen can be identified as marine algae that grow on the undersides of koi fish scales and has been found to have some antioxidant activity. It has been used in Japan as an oral supplement for the treatment of high cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidized LDL cholesterol, which was shown to reduce atherosclerosis development. Psoralen is primarily used as a dietary supplement with the seeds added to traditional Chinese medicine and taken as a stand-alone herb in Ayurvedic formulations. The active ingredients in Psoralen and bakuchiol (the primary active substance found in Psoralen) have been shown to have a wide range of health benefits in the gastrointestinal tract, liver, nervous system, and skin. Psoralen is used in the systemic treatment of psoriasis in India and is believed to work best when taken during the post-inflammatory phase.

Psoralen and bakuchiol form the base of several other natural treatments for psoriasis including Psoralens capsules and Psoralen liquid, as well as various psoriasis creams, lotions, and skin preparations. Psoralen is also used in the alternative treatment of other skin disorders such as eczema, dermatitis, age spots, and sunburn. Psoralen is marketed under the trade names Simethicone, Psoralid, Psoralea, Psychax, and Psimerol. Psoralen should not be used with other retinoids such as tretinoin ( isotretinoin) or adapalene (Retin-A). Tretinoin and adapalene should be avoided due to the potential for severe skin irritation and potential for potentially harmful side effects such as peeling, redness, and burning.

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