Pyrostegia venusta as a folk medicine for vitiligo?

Pyrostegia Venusta Close UpPyrostegia venusta is a neotropical evergreen vine widely spread in Brazil throughout fields, at the coast, edge of the woods and along roadsides (see photo below). Popularly known as “flame vine” or “cipó-de-são-joão”, this species is cultivated due to its outstanding ornamental features and due its important therapeutic properties (abstract). 

P. venusta leaves and stems are used in traditional medicine as a tonic or antidiarrheal agent, while its flowers are used in the treatment of leucoderma and vitiligo (abstract). It is also used as anti-inflammatory medicine in cough and common diseases of the respiratory system, such as bronchitis, flu and cold (Ferreira et al., 2000, Scalon et al., 2008 and Veloso et al., 2010). Extracts of flowers and roots of P. venusta contain significant amounts of phytochemicals with antioxidative properties that could act as inhibitors or scavengers of free radicals. It is a one of the most prolific sources of flavonoids. 

Although pre-clinical and other studies clearly demonstrate the antiinflammatory and hyperpigmentant activities of P. venusta, questions about it's in vivo efficacy remain unclear. In fact, many other melanogenesis stimulators found in the in vitro studies failed to show in vivo efficacy, probably because they could not reach outer skin cells from within because of the stratum corneum barrier. 

Further clinical research is needed to examine whether topically applied P. venusta can enhance skin pigmentation, and whether it could be used as a potential source for plant-based pharmaceutical products for vitiligo. 

Brazil not only has one of the world’s highest levels of biodiversity, but also it has an under-used repertoire of plants with potential medicinal and economic value. 

Photo ©Pedro Acevedo-Rodriguez.

Pyrostegia Venusta Roadside

Pyrostegia venusta is a common sight alongside roads and fields in Brazil.

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