Citing evidence that supports the value of herbal medicines for dermatologic conditions, researchers conducted a clinical trial to test the efficacy of Melissa officinalis syrup, comprised of damask rose (Rosa damascena), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis), and honey, in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate plaque psoriasis. The report, published in BMC Research Notes, showed that Melissa officinalis appeared to reduce Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scores and itch severity in participants compared to the placebo.

Despite the observed benefits, “how this formulation could improve psoriasis symptoms is not entirely known,” acknowledged the study’s lead author, Alizera Yargholi. However, she cited previous studies that showed benefits of some phenolic compounds found in Melissa officinalis, such as rosmarinic acid, in improving atopic dermatitis or psoriasis.

A total of 100 patients with clinically diagnosed mild to moderate plaque psoriasis, a PASI score of less than 30%, and an affected body surface area (BSA) of less than 10% were randomly assigned to the intervention or control group. The intervention group consumed two 10 ml tablespoons (each tablespoon = 10 ml) of Melissa officinalis syrup before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Patients in the control group received the same amount of placebo.

The investigators reported that mean pruritus intensity and PASI scores in the intervention group decreased significantly compared to the placebo group (p < 0.001). Also, the DLQI score in the intervention group increased post-treatment compared to pre-treatment (p = 0.029), but the difference between the intervention and the control group at the end of the study was not significant.

This study was limited by the lack of post-trial follow-up to ascertain long-term outcome, potential bias from the use of a questionnaire, and the inclusion of only mild to moderate plaque psoriasis. The study collaborators also could not conduct biochemical tests due to resource limitations, but they proposed them as outcomes of interest for future research.

Despite an unclear understanding of the particular mechanisms by which Melissa officinalis syrup produced beneficial effects, the findings of this study may indicate that it may be an effective treatment option for patients with mild to moderate plaque psoriasis.

Source: BMC Research Notes