Acne and scars, begone? The makers of Bakutrol (a company named Unigen) say that the derivative of a plant extract called Psoralea corylifolia, which is used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine, has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring properties, making it useful for the treatment of acne.

Psoralea corylifolia, which is commonly known as babchi in the East, is a popular herb used to cure various skin diseases in Ayurvedic medicine. An Indian clinical trial found that an oral herbal tablet that contained the Psoralea corylifolia plant as one of the ingredients showed a great improvement in 56% of patients with acne. This study, however, was not of the Psoralea corylifolia alone.

As far as the plant goes, there are several other studies that prove it can be beneficial for the skin. According to one study, a meroterpene and four flavonoids, bakuchiol, bavachinin, bavachin, isobavachin and isobavachalcone, were isolated from the seeds of Psoralea corylifolia as antioxidative components. The phenolic compounds in it were shown to protect biological membranes against various oxidative stresses. Bakuchiol in particular (which Unigen says is the key component to their product), was the most potent antioxidant in this study and protected red blood cells against oxidative haemolysis. In Japan, when bakuchiol was isolated from the seeds, it showed bactericidal effect against all the bacteria tested.

Another study at a University in Bangladesh found that antibacterial compounds could be obtained from the seeds of Psoralea corylifolia that were useful against a number of types of bacteria. And extracts from the seeds of the plant in an Indian study showed several degrees of antifungal activity as well.

In mice, the plant showed anti-inflammatory properties too. But less provable is the plant's effect on reducing scarring, which Unigen claims is tangible with their product. No independent studies could be found to back that claim, though I did find that traditionally the plant has been used as an anti-fungal for rheumatism, a hair loss product for alopecia and an aid for leprosy and psoriasis.

Not bad if it really works. Unigen is still working on putting out a commercial product and they don't have a specific time line on a proposed launch. Perhaps I'll hunt for the babchi seeds myself to see what they can do for my acne-prone skin. Regardless, this plant (with it's antioxidant heavy seeds) looks promising.