Close up photo of oats in a field
Oats make an excellent mild cleanser for very sensitive skin

Herbal relief: Skin and hair

20 August, 2014

Our skin may form a wonderfully protective barrier against the outside world, but it is also a mirror of our inner health.

Effective cleansing and care can maintain skin and hair health from the outside, but most skin problems require both internal and external remedies to effectively relieve and treat symptoms such as rashes, spots, and itching. This chart while not comprehensive, provides a guide to the key herbs for skin health.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

A soothing herb that also stimulates healing of the skin. Take an infusion of the herb or dilute the tincture for abrasions, wounds, ulcers, or as a mouthwash. Use as a cream or macerated oil to relieve eczema, rashes, or sore skin.

Oats (Avena sativa)

Cleansing and soothing, oats make a good alternative to soap or detergents for very sensitive skin. Grind oats to a powder and add to the bath water, or mix with a little water or oil to make a soothing mask or cleanser.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Soothing and anti-inflammatory. Use cooled chamomile tea as a lotion to relieve any hot, inflamed skin conditions e.g. sunburn, hives, or rashes. Drink the tea, with its calming and anti-allergenic properties, to alleviate eczema, rashes, etc.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

A wonderfully cooling and soothing herb for the skin, chickweed will relieve any irritation such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, or ulcers. Mash the fresh plant, adding a little boiling water, wrap in a muslin cloth, and apply once cold as a poultice to the skin.

Burdock root (Arctium lappa)

One of the most effective cleansing herbs, which is used internally to treat chronic skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, persistent boils, ulcers, and so on. Combine with dandelion and make a decoction of the root, or take the tincture.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

The soothing, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties of lavender make it a very versatile herb. Use the essential oil or a cooled infusion to calm rashes, redness, eczema, sunburn, thrush, and so on.

Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale)

One of the best-known cleansing herbs, dandelion leaf can be combined with burdock and red clover and taken as an infusion three times a day for several weeks to help clear acne, eczema, psoriasis or problem skin.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Taken internally as an infusion, nettles help to reduce inflammation and have an anti­allergenic action. Combine with chamomile for urticaria [hives) or any itchy rash. Allow the infusion to cool and use as an excellent final rinse for dandruff or psoriasis of the scalp.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

An effective antiseptic and antifungal herb. Dilute the essential oil in a base oil to treat fungal infections such as ringworm, thrush, and athlete’s foot. Make a strong infusion to use as a lotion to prevent infection, for example in wounds, ulcers, or gum disease.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

A cleansing herb that promotes healing of the skin. Combine with dandelion and burdock and drink as an infusion or as tinctures to help clear eczema, psoriasis, recurrent boils, or any chronic skin disease.