Herbal Remedies: A Good Source of Treatment Against Fungal Skin Infections
Received: August 23, 2011;
Accepted: October 24, 2011;
Published: December 02, 2011
Dermatophytes are the fungal pathogens of humans and animals infecting the
keratinized tissues e.g., skin, nails and hairs, they are most likely found
in hot humid areas (Nweze, 2010). These fungi can easily
digest the keratinized tissue by releasing sulphite, exo- and endoproteases
(Monod, 2008). Sulphite being a reducing agent broke
the disulphide bonds of keratin protein and made them more vulnerable to fungal
proteases enzymes. The diseases caused by dermatophytes are also known as dermatoses
and their prevalence depend upon the activity of peoples (Ansart
et al., 2007). As travelers of tropical countries (Africa and America)
have dermatophytosis, depending upon their activity status as tourist, migrant
etc. Almost 20-25% of world population has skin mycoses (fungal disease) and
its prevalence is determined by cultural and socio-economic status of population
(Havlickova et al., 2008). For example, tinea
pedis (also known as athlete's foot) mycosis is mostly present in developed
countries, while tinea capitis (ringworm of scalp) has high prevalence in developing
countries. Moreover, its prevalence also depends on the genetic history of humans,
as tinea versicolor (type of mycoses) begins earlier in persons with positive
family history than with negative family history (He et
al., 2008). Furthermore, in positive family history peoples, it has
long duration and large chances of recurrence. In past these diseases were treatable
with synthetic antimicrobial drugs but now due to inadequate drug exposure and
incomplete therapy courses; fungus has developed resistance against them (Martinez-Rossi
et al., 2008). For this fungus has modified its enzymes, it enhanced
the drugs efflux and become adapted to drug-induced stresses. Thus there should
be an alternative way to treat dermatophytosis. Plants are traditionally used
for the treatment of various diseases (Karim et al.,
2011; Sohail et al., 2011a; Sohail
et al., 2011b). These days research has been done on the plant based
antimicrobial soaps, the herbal soaps derived from aloe, neem and Tithonia
showed the potential to treat Candida albicans (Kareru
et al., 2010). Hence plant based antifungal products may offer a
new and effective way to treat skin infections.
To facilitate the plant based antifungal drug establishment Oladele
et al. (2012) examined the comparative efficiency of three herbal
soaps in treating the dermatophyte infected human patients. A very large proportion
(73.1%) of patients was of middle age (20-30 years) and only few, almost 13%
of total population (67%) had got tertiary school education. Hence high fungal
prevalence was observed in less educated poor community, as educational condition
reflected their socioeconomic status. Moreover, age factor showed high infection
rate in metabolically more productive stage. Majority (74.6%) of studied patients
showed tinea infections, their causal agents belonged to genera Cryptococcus
and Epidermophyton, while the causal agents of ~37.3% infections were
not known. These patients were treated with three herbal soaps, made up of leaves,
stem barks, roots, fruits and seeds extracts of plants. These soaps were different
in composition as soap A was made up of 1 plant only, while B and C were made
up of 5 and 3 folk medicinal, antifungal plants respectively. A four week treatment
with these soaps showed a significant reduction in skin lesions, when compared
to control (no plant input in soap) group. The control soap showed 53.8% tendency
to slightly lower the lesions, while lesions strong reduction was observed
in herbal soap treated patients. As all of the soaps were able to reduce the
lesions but least effects were produced by soap C; it moderately cleared the
31.6% lesions. Where, its completely cleared lesions yet showed some signs of
illness (visible edges etc.). Whereas the other two soaps A and B could clear
lesions completely and more pronounced effects were produced by soap A. As soap
A treated patients 61.1% lesions were without visible edges, while soap
B cleared 52.9% lesions were without visible edges. Hence difference in A and
Bs activity was not significantly different and both these soaps caused
a complete disappearance of lesions with no microscopic signs of infection.
It was also observed that soap B was slightly but non-significantly more effective
than A in reducing the microscopic signs of infection. As soap B caused reduction
was 11.8% while A reduced 11.1% lesions. This can be said that both soaps (A
and B) were equally effective in reducing the fungus caused skin lesions and
might provide antifungal protection to peoples of hot areas. Furthermore, a
good educational support could also favor the reduction in fungus infections,
as in this study poorly educated people were majorly infected.
Fungus act as disease causing agent and peoples of hot humid areas with positive
family history and poor health facilities are its major victims. Oladele
et al. (2012) through their study on antifungal plants provided a
new base for helping dermatophyte infected patients. According to their results
plant derived herbal soaps could reduced the skin lesions without any aid of
other synthetic drugs. Moreover, a good educational base is also needed to minimize
fungal prevalence. More studies on these soaps may enable dermatologist to effectively
treat fungus related skin problems.
Monod, M., 2008.
Secreted proteases from dermatophytes. Mycopathologia, 166: 285-294.CrossRef |
Ansart, S., L. Perez, S. Jaureguiberry, M. Danis, F. Bricaire and E. Caumes, 2007.
Spectrum of dermatoses in 165 travelers returning from the tropics with skin diseases. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 76: 184-186.Direct Link |
Havlickova, B., V.A. Czaika and M. Friedrich, 2008.
Epidemiological trends in skin mycoses worldwide. Mycoses, 51: 2-15.CrossRef | PubMed |
He, S.M., W.D. Du, S. Yang, S.M. Zhou and W. Li et al
The genetic epidemiology of tinea versicolor in China. Mycoses, 51: 55-62.CrossRef |
Nweze, E.I., 2010.
Dermatophytosis in Western Africa: A review. Pak. J. Biol. Sci., 13: 649-656.CrossRef | Direct Link |
Kareru, P.G., J.M. Keriko, G.M. Kenji, G.T. Thiongo, A.N. Gachanja and H.N. Mukiira, 2010.
Antimicrobial activities of skincare preparations from plant extracts. Afr. J. Traditional Complementary Altern. Med., 7: 214-218.Direct Link |
Oladele, A.T., A.A. Elujoba and A.O. Oyelami, 2012.
Clinical studies of three herbal soaps in the management of superficial fungal infections. Res. J. Med. Plant., 6: 56-64.CrossRef |
Karim, A., M.N. Sohail, S. Munir and S. Sattar, 2011.
Pharmacology and phytochemistry of Pakistani herbs and herbal drugs used for treatment of diabetes. Int. J. Pharmacol., 7: 419-439.CrossRef |
Sohail, M.N., F. Rasul, A. Karim, U. Kanwal and I.H. Attitalla, 2011.
Plant as a source of natural antiviral agents. Asian J. Anim. Vet. Adv., 6: 1125-1152.CrossRef |
Sohail, M.N., A. Karim, M. Sarwar and A.M. Alhasin, 2011.
Onion (Allium cepa
L.): An alternate medicine for Pakistani population. Int. J. Pharmacol., 7: 736-744.CrossRef |
Martinez-Rossi, N.M., N.T. A. Peres and A. Rossi, 2008.
Antifungal resistance mechanisms in dermatophytes. Mycopathologia, 166: 369-383.