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What Is Indigo Used for Today?
Based on its traditional use for liver problems, researchers have investigated whether indigo might protect the liver against chemically induced injury. Animal studies do suggest that extracts of the indigo species Indigofera tinctoriaprotect the liver from damage by toxic chemicals. 1 No human trials, however, have been performed to examine indigo's effects on the liver.
The species Indigofera oblongifoliahas been tested for its antibacterial and antifungal activity. 2 In a test tube trial, this plant showed significant activity against certain types of bacteria and fungi. This research is still in its preliminary stages, so it is too early to tell whether Indigofera oblongifoliawill prove useful for the treatment of any infectious diseases.
Note: A different plant called wild indigo ( Baptisia tinctoria), in combination with echinacea and white cedar, has been studied as a possible immune stimulant. 3 However, wild indigo is not part of the Indigoferafamily of plants and is not discussed here.
- Anand KK, Chand D, Ghatak BJR. Protective effect of alcoholic extract of Indigofera tinctoria Linn. in experimental liver injury. Indian J Exp Biol. 1979;17:685–687.
- Dahot MU. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of small protein of Indigofera oblongifolia leaves. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;64:277–282.
- Wustenberg P, Henneicke-von Zepelin H-H, Kohler G, et al. Efficacy and mode of action of an immunomodulator herbal preparation containing Echinacea, wild indigo, and white cedar. Adv Ther. 1999;16:51–70.