Clinical evaluation of a topical Unani pharmacopoeial formulation Tila-e-Kalf in the management of melasma (Kalf): A randomized controlled clinical trial

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Moalajat, SUMER, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India

2 Department of Ilaj Bil Tadbeer, SUMER, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India

3 Department of Dermatology, HIMSR, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India

4 Department of Moalajat, School of Unani Medical Education and Research, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India

5 Department of Pharmacognosy, SPER, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India


Objective: Melasma is a chronic, acquired, symmetrical hyper melanosis of skin, characterized by irregular light to dark brown patches on sun-exposed areas, with a significant effect on psychological health; melasma is termed as Kalf in Unani medicine. Conventional treatments have transitory results and often carry adverse effects like skin irritation, scarring, etc. This study was planned to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a Unani pharmacopoeial formulation Tila-e-Kalf, comprising of lentil (Lens culinaris), bitter almond (Prunus amygdalus), and fig (Ficus carica), and to compare its efficacy with standard drug hydroquinone in patients of melasma.
Materials and Methods: This was an 8-week open-label, standard controlled, randomized clinical study conducted on patients of epidermal melasma. The test group received Tila-e-Kalf while the control group received hydroquinone 4% cream for local application once daily. Efficacy was assessed by MASI (Melasma Area Severity Index), DLQI (Dermatology Life Quality Index), and PGA (Physician Global Assessment) and colored photographs.
Results: Mean MASI score decreased from10.65±0.85 to 7.07±0.74 in the test group (p<0.0001) and from 11.28±1.24 to 7.76±0.9 (p<0.0001) the in control group. Similar improvement was noticed in other parameters also. A large number of patients in the control group reported mild burning, itching, dryness, and skin rashes, while only one patient in the test group reported mild itching.
Conclusion: Tila-e-Kalf as a topical depigmenting agent was found equally effective with better tolerability and safety as compared to hydroquinone.