Herbs for Skin problems
Some useful herbs include:
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) is often used to clear up mildly infected skin problems and teenage acne. It can also be used topically.
Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis) is a cleansing and detoxifying herb, used traditionally for psoriasis, acne and rosacea. It can be drunk as a tea or taken as a tincture.
Burdock (Arctium lappa) is considered to be a liver herb, and helps with elimination and clearing skin problems. It is often used in long standing cases of acne and psoriasis.
Chamomile (Matricaria recuitita) is a gentle nerve relaxant, anti-inflammatory and healer. It combines well with plantain and nettle for the treatment of eczema.
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a cooling and strengthening herb for the skin. It promotes healing and works well in a tea blend.
Nettle (Urtica dioca) is traditionally used as a gentle blood cleanser and anti-allergy remedy. It is particularly useful for itchy, allergic skin conditions and can be taken as a tea or tincture.
Research has been done in the last decade that continues to support the use of many herbs in skin conditions. For example:
Oregon grape root Mahonia aquifolium, Indigo ( Indigo naturalis) and Cayenne ( Capsicum frutescens) are effective treatments for psoriasis (Reuter et al, 2010).
Green tea extract ( Camellia sinensis) and tea tree oil ( Melaleuca alternifolia)have been investigated in the treatment of acne (Reuter et al, 2010).
Podophyllin and green tea extract ( Camellia sinensis) are effective treatments for condylomata acuminata (Reuter et al, 2010). Podophyllin is a resinous extract from the rhizome of American Mayapple ( Podophyllum peltatum) or Himalayan Mayapple ( Podophyllum emodi).
Balm mint and a combination of sage and rhubarb have been shown to be effective in the treatment of herpes simplex in proof of concept studies (Reuter et al, 2010).
Reuter J, Wölfle U, Weckesser S, Schempp C. Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1: Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, condyloma and herpes simplex. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010 Oct;8(10):788-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2010.07496.x. PubMed PMID: 20707875.
Creams or lotions containing these herbs can help alleviate skin conditions:
Starflower (Borago officinalis) seed oil is soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory. It is useful to treat inflamed skin such as in eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis.
Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a cooling herb for hot, itchy skin.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is used by herbalists to reduce redness and inflammation in itchy skin conditions. It combines well with cooling peppermint for itchy eczema.
Pokeroot (Phytolacca decandra) may help to reduce redness and scaling in psoriasis when used as in a prescription only ointment.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is used for its healing and antiseptic properties to prevent infection and heal broken skin. It is useful in acne, dermatitis, eczema and to heal wounds.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil has a strong antibacterial action, and is extremely useful in treating acne, as a herbal cream, gel or in skincare preparations.
Caution: Stopping the use of steroid-based creams suddenly can cause skin conditions to flare up. Steroid creams should be withdrawn slowly and can be used alongside herbal preparations. If in doubt, consult your doctor or a qualified medical herbalist.