Until I read about Japanese Indigo in the centuries-old beauty manuscript that inspired the Tatcha collection, I thought it was merely a lovely sounding adjective used to describe the color of denim. While searching for an alternative to steroid treatments for my eczema though, I was intrigued to learn that Japanese Indigo, or Indigo Naturalis, (polygonum tinctorum) is actually a beautiful plant with powerful healing benefits that has long been prized in Eastern medicine as a dietary supplement for internal inflammatory conditions. Knowing this, researchers have investigated natural Japanese Indigo’s unique chemistry and its potential for other medical uses. Current clinical studies have found that the active compounds in Indigo have significant anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
Curious as to whether this would work for my eczema, the scientists at Tatcha Institute and I began running experiments and to my delight, it did heal my eczema, which had become resistant to steroids and light therapy. The more we experimented over two years, the more we came to understand and appreciate the potency of this fascinating botanical.
Three active compounds in natural Japanese Indigo—trypanthrin, indirubin, and isatin—provide its anti-inflammatory effects. Specifically, recent research has shown that Indigo is especially effective for patients with psoriasis, a proliferative skin disease, when applied topically.
Because it worked so well in creams, I thought it could also be beneficial in our exfoliating Rice Enzyme Powders. Even though the formulas are very gentle, those with eczema, psoriasis and other sensitive skin conditions tend to avoid exfoliation in order to prevent further irritation.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, daily exfoliation is essential for restoring skin to its natural, healthy balance. Eczema and other inflammatory experiences actually kill skin cells, leaving behind rough patches of skin that actually prevent lotions and treatments from penetrating. By gently sloughing away those irritated, itchy patches, the skin is able heal itself. Adding calming Colloidal Oatmeal to the formula provides skin with immediate nourishment and soothing protection, which helps skin retain its natural moisture—an essential part of restoring balance.
Colloidal Oatmeal (a fancy name to describe oats that have been ground, boiled, steamed, and then finely milled) is another time-tested ingredient. Even a millennium ago, oatmeal baths in Ancient Egypt were a common remedy for dry, irritated skin. The actives include lipase, an enzyme that gently breaks down long-chain proteins in old skin cells so they can be easily sloughed away. Gamma oryzanol, another rice active, has anti-oxidant properties that protect against UV-induced damage for protection as well as nourishment.
With Tatcha Institute, our research and teaching group, our mission is to keep finding ways to create new efficacious formulas firmly rooted in the wisdom of the past. It’s humbling to realize that seemingly simple ingredients have proven so effective.
It was even more humbling when a dear friend told me he was suffering from bumpy eczema patches on his face. I sent him some of our new Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder to try for himself. Within two weeks of regular use morning and evening, his patches faded away and his skin was back to bright and glowing—so much so that when he went back to his dermatologist for a check-up, even she was surprised.
I hope that the new Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder will bring you the freshest skin possible especially if you have had trouble finding something gentle enough to use every day.