My favourite botanicals for inflamed skin
Herbs are powerful allies when it comes to healing, and especially healing the skin.
Topically, they act as direct healers, decreasing inflammation, preventing infection, and providing nourishment. 99.9% of the time, skin stuff is coming from internally, and botanicals also work as powerful healers from within to help your body get back to a place where it can rebalance and detoxify on its own.
Everlasting flowers: Helichrysum italicum
Heli- what? A part of the sunflower family, the oils from these bright yellow flowers are powerful skin healers and anti-inflammatories. . Compounds called acetophenones and phloroglucinols are abundant in this plant, making it a powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti inflammatory. It works from different angles to decrease inflammation - inflammatory enzyme inhibition, free radical scavenging activity and corticoid-like effects. Usually used topically for any inflammatory skin condition, including eczema, TSW, acne, candida, bruises, wounds etc. This plant is a heavy hitter.
Chickweed: Stellaria media
Both an astringent and emollient, this is high in vitamins and compounds that help calm the skin, add moisture, and decreases swelling and redness. I mostly work with this herb topically, (along with helichrysum) when the skin is inflamed, angry, and hot. Chickweed is also a potent antipruritic, meaning it helps decrease itch. It’s very gentle and often well tolerated by those who may be more sensitive.
Fun fact: This herb grows on every continent in the world with exception of Antarctica and blooms almost all year round. The small crawling plant is best used fresh, making it a bit of an effort to extract and process the compounds, Which is why you don’t see it much in skincare.
Rosehip: Rosa canina
Rosehip oil, used external and sometimes internally is one of my skincare staples, eczema or not. The rose hip or rosehip, also called rose haw and rose hep, is the accessory fruit of the rose plant. Most rosehip oils are derived from the rosa canina rose bush, which is grown mostly in Chile, however, you can find them growing all around the PNW (around now actually, go outside and look!)
Rosehip oil is full of vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids and amazing for nourishing and repairing dry skin. I utilize rosehip oil externally when the skin is dry and flaky and in need of moisture, repair, and nourishment.
Burdock: Arctium lappa
This herb is best used internally, and is one of my favourite gentle detoxifiers to support the body's toxic load. Burdock is an alternative, meaning its a detoxifier, working through a combination of effects including: choleretic, cholagogue, enhancing detoxification pathways in the liver, increasing cellular metabolism, laxative, nerve tonic, and stimulation of glandular functioning. A burdock and dandelion tea is a nice way to gently stimulate the bodys detox pathways.
Bonus herb: Prepared Rhemmania/Chinese Foxglove/Shu Di Huang
blood tonifier (TCM)
Looks weird right. This herb is "prepared" meaning cooked or steamed beforehand. This is one that’s not often utilized in the western world, but is commonly found in traditional Chinese medicine formulas. It’s one of my faves to use with eczema, topical steroid withdrawal, or anything allergic or inflammatory that stems from an imbalanced immune system. This means it’s also great for certain autoimmune conditions. This herb is often utilized as a tea to balance and nourish yin in the TCM world, and to balance the immune system and detoxify, in the western world.
There are so many healing plants out there that can be utilized to support our bodies and our skin. These are my current go to’s, and much of the medicine can be found all around us!
*Disclaimer: none of what I say about should be considered medical advice, treatment, or recommendations. Consult your health care practitioner before taking any new medicine (including herbal)
Alison F. Stallings, M. a. (2009). Practical Uses of Botanicals in Skin Care. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol., 36-40.
Araceli Sala 1, M. R.-L. (2002). Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Helichrysum italicum. J Pharm Pharmacol ., 365-371.
Lin, T.K.; Zhong, L.; Santiago, J.L. (2017). "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 19 (1): 70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070. PMC 5796020. PMID 29280987.
Yee Huang, T. Q. (2016). Rehmannia glutinosa polysaccharide liposome as a novel strategy for stimulating an efficient immune response and their effects on dendritic cells. Int J Nanomedicine, 6795-6808.