Traditional Thai Medicinal Herbs Used in Primary Health Care to Treat Skin Allergies and Inflammation Caused by Insect Bites

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Onmanee Prajuabjinda
Intouch Sakpakdeejaroen
Pakakrong Thongdeeying
Sumalee Panthong

Abstract

Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin condition caused by an irritant or an allergen, which can originate from certain poisonous plants, or the bite or sting of animals such as ants, mosquitoes, or jellyfish. The resulting allergic reaction can cause symptoms with various severity levels, including pain, burning sensations, edema (swelling), itching, or some other severe conditions, including death. Several Thai medicinal herbs are used in primary health care for preliminarily relieving allergic contact dermatitis, including Barleria lupulina (BL), Clinacanthus nutans (CN), Ipomoea pes-caprae (IP), Coccinia grandis (CG), and Curcuma longa (CL). According to the Thai traditional medicine principles, all these herbs are considered “drugs with cooling effect” and are used to reduce the “fire” and “wind” elements causing allergies. The objective of this literature review was to compile all medicinal herbs used in primary health care and understand their pharmacological activities. The results indicated that the methanolic extract of BL could significantly reduce carrageenan- and serotonin-induced rat paw edema by inhibiting the release of prostaglandin E2, and the CN extract could inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines of macrophage cells. The petroleum ether extract of IP could exhibit anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the biosynthesis of prostaglandin E2, both in vitro and in vivo. While the fresh leaves of CG could relieve pain and inflammation in vivo, comparable with ibuprofen. While curcumin extract from CL rhizome could decrease histamine-related itching in rats, and significantly decrease uremic pruritus or pain and itching in chronic kidney disease patients, compared with those on a placebo. Thus, it is concluded that all the five Thai medicinal herbs used in primary health care can preliminarily relieve allergic contact dermatitis from insect bites.

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