Small amounts of artificial vanilla extract, also called vanillin, are present in a wide variety of consumer products, from baked goods to perfumes. But vanillin may have a significant health-related use as well. In a recent mouse study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers reported that this compound also could prevent or reduce the inflammation caused by psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a serious inflammatory skin disorder that affects about 125 million people worldwide. It results in scaly red areas called plaques that typically show up on the elbows, knees or scalp. Immune system proteins called interleukins are known to be key players in the development of the condition. Interestingly, vanillin can have effects on different interleukins that are involved in other inflammatory conditions and diseases.
Leaders of this study sought to find out if treatment with vanillin could prevent psoriatic symptoms. After inducing psoriatic skin inflammation on groups of mice by putting a compound called imiquimod on their skin, the mice were given various daily oral doses of vanillin for seven days. They found that mice treated with certain doses of vanillin had reduced psoriatic symptoms compared to those receiving smaller or no doses of vanillin. In all mice treated with vanillin, levels of two interleuken proteins specifically associated with psoriasis were decreased. The researchers concluded that vanillin was an effective compound against psoriatic skin inflammation in this animal model, and plan to continue their research into its potential benefits in humans.