The skin is our largest organ of absorption, and plays an important role in immunity, temperature regulation and excretion.
Being a player in the orchestra of elimination organs, imbalance in the skin is a sure sign of congestion in deeper lying areas of the body. The liver, lymph, kidneys, bowel and lungs all have an interplay with the skin, and so it’s wise to ensure that these are all functioning efficiently. Only rarely will the skin be treated in isolation, as in bruises and wounds.
Herbs are a fantastic aid to healthy skin. They work in various ways. You can use herbs both topically to reduce inflammation and act as an anti-microbial, and take internally to purify and cleanse the lymph and blood.
Calendula officinalis, Marigold, is one of my most frequently used herbs for the skin. I often use this as a compress for inflammations, acne, ulcerations and wounds on the skin. Steep the flowers in hot water for 15 minutes, and use the tea to soak a flannel, then apply to the skin, repeating the process a number of times. Calendula can also be used internally to aid the lymphatic system. It possesses anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. You can drink the tea and also use as a tincture prescribed from your Herbalist. Use with caution internally during pregnancy.
Stellaria media, Chickweed, is a great herb to soothe itchy, inflamed skin. It’s commonly used for insect bites, skin infections, boils and growths. When used as a cream or an ointment, it has shown excellent results in alleviating the dryness associated with eczema and psoriasis. Why not try some in your salads, as chickweed is a very nutritious edible weed!
Trifollium pratense, Red clover, has a long history as a medicinal herb, dating back to the days of the Druids. We now consider it “Queen of the blood purifiers”. Its use as an alterative herb helps to clear up inflammatory skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema. It has a soothing and cooling effect on the skin. Like Calendula, Trifollium has an affinity with the lymphatic system, supporting detoxification and reducing inflammation.
Arctium lappa, Burdock, is another great blood purifier. It clears heat from the tissues and supports liver function. It’s often used for boils and acne, when the skin has much underlying congestion. But patience is required, as these herbs are not quick fixes, rather slow burners, steadily working their way to a healthier skin. We use the root of this plant for the skin.
Although I’ve mentioned these above herbs as my top skin herbs, I do in fact use them for other areas of imbalance in the body too, therein lies the art of blending and combining herbs in a formula, and the synergy of the concurrent use of herbs in a blend.