J. Graf, MD
Department of Dermatology, New York University Medical Center, New York, USA
Herbs have been used in clinical medicine for thousands of years. However, it is only in recent times that we have been able to employ scientific methods to prove the efficacy of many of these herbs and to give us a better understanding of their mechanisms of action. This article will focus on the use of herbs in various dermatological conditions characterized by inflammation and pruritus. Topical preparations of many of these herbs are more commonplace in Europe. However, their availability is increasing in the US. As this is occurring we are witnessing a growing marriage between alternative and traditional medicines.
herbs, anti-inflammatory, astringent, antipruritic
The process of inflammation involves the release of vasoactive mediators and chemotactic factors such as histamine, leukotrienes, proinflammatory prostaglandins and lymphokines. These substances are responsible for the capillary dilation and increase in permeability, resulting in swollen, inflamed tissues.
- Licorice root
- Willow bark
- Witch hazel
- Oak bark
- Aloe Vera
- Other anti-inflammatory herbs
- Essential fatty acids
- HERBS FOR THE SKIN
- Review of Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Medicines
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Methods
- 2.1. Curcuma longa
- 2.2. Zingiber officinale
- 2.3. Rosmarinus officinalis
- 2.4. Borago officinalis
- 2.5. Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose)
- 2.6. Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil’s Claw)
- 2.7. Boswellia serrata
- 2.8. Rosa canina
- 2.9. Urtica dioica
- 2.10. Uncaria tomentosa
- 2.11. Salvia officinalis
- 2.12. Ribes nigrum
- 2.13. Persea americana/Glycine max
- 2.14. Elaeagnus angustifolia
- 2.15. Vaccinium myrtillus
- 2.16. Olea europaea
- 3. Conclusion
- Competing Interests
- Herb’N Eden
- 1) Aloe Vera
- 2) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- 3) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
- 4) Lavender (Lavandula angostifolia)
- 5) Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- What better when your skin needs healing?
- Topical Herbs for Skin Problems
- Arnica (Arnica montana)
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
- Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
- Plantain (Plantago major, Plantago lanceolata)
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
- Herbal Resources
- 7. Chamomile
- 6. Green Tea
- 5. Aloe Vera
- 4. Cinnamon
- 3. Red Clover
- 2. Witch Hazel
- 1. Turmeric
- What Are Herbs?
- Herbs For Skin Care: 15 Of The Best Natural Skin Healers
- Use Herbs For Skin Care And Follow These Other Tips For Healthy Skin
- Herbs for healthy skin and hair
- Here are five top tips to naturally boost your beauty regime:
- These are the Top 10 Herbs for Hair Growth
Many herbs have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity. Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the major ingredient of curry powder and prepared mustard, has a long history in both Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent. The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated potent antiinflammatory activity in a variety of experimental animal models, while curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric is even more potent in acute inflammation1. When used orally, curcumin inhibits leukotriene formation, inhibits platelet aggregation and stabilizes neutrophilic lysosomal membranes, thus inhibiting inflammation at the cellular level2. Curcumin is reported to possess greater anti-inflammatory activity than ibuprofen3. At low levels, curcumin is a prostaglandin inhibitor, while at higher levels it stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete cortisone4. Formulation difficulties due to the yellow color of curcumin has made topical use slow in coming. However, recent developments in technology may change that. The standard oral dose of curcumin is 250-400 mg, three times a day.
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been used for centuries to treat inflammatory and viral diseases. The active part of the root contains glycyrrhizin, (a triterpene saponin), at concentrations ranging from 7-10%. It is converted to glycyrrehetic acid (GA) in the body. This herb has been used extensively in Europe as an anti-inflammatory agent, and in Japan as an antiviral agent with success in treating chronic hepatitis. It has been shown to inhibit the activity of proinflammatory prostaglandins and leuktrienes, and appears to have a cortisone-like effect making it useful as an anti-inflammatory5,6. In one study the effects of topical corticosteroids were significantly enhanced by the addition of 2% GA7. Another study reported that the use of topical ointments containing active isomers of GA exerted anti-inflammatory activity in a number of subacute and chronic dermatoses8. When compared, topical corticosteroids were superior in the treatment of acute atopic dermatitis. However, GA was superior when treating chronic conditions such as contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and other conditions characterized by inflammation and pruritus8. Although topical preparations are not available in the US, compresses can be prepared by adding 3 gm (1 tsp) of the extract in 150 ml of water. Orally, the dosage depends on the form in which it is taken. In powdered root form, the dose is 1-4 gm daily. In fluid extract form, the dose is 1 tsp before meals and as a solid extract, the dose is 1/2 tsp before meals. Generally speaking, although herbs have far fewer side effects, they do exist and caution must be exercised in patients with hypertension when using oral licorice root. Elevations in blood pressure have been reported. Much smaller doses, or none at all, should be used for patients with cardiac or renal histories.
Bromelain, a mixture of proteolytic enzymes from the stem of the pineapple plant, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity in a wide variety of conditions. It appears to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, induce production of antiinflammatory Series 1 prostaglandins, and reduce capillary permeability9. Bromelain is quite useful postoperatively as an agent to speed healing and reduce postsurgical pain and swelling.
Willow bark (Salix alba) contains salicin, known for its antipyretic and pain relieving activity since ancient times. Available in many forms, willow bark extract can be found in many topical and oral products primarily in health food stores.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has been used for centuries by Native North American tribes to soothe inflamed skin. Much of the anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel extracts can be explained by the presence of astringent tannins, which enhance the soothing effects10. However, it is important to note that commercially available witch hazel extract does not contain tannins because they are lost in the distillation process. Nonetheless, it is still believed to be soothing when applied to inflamed skin.
Turmeric, Indian saffron (Curcuma longa)
250-400 mg, 3 times/day
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
1-4 gm daily
Bromelain, Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
80-320 mg, 2-3 times/day for 8-10 days19
White willow bark (Salix alba)
To make a tea: 1-2 tsp of powdered bark steeped in 1 cup boiling water for 8 hours19
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
External decoction: 2-3 gm fine cut powdered bark in 150 ml water19
For external use only. If taken internally, GI and hepatic damage can occur18
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita and Chamaemelum nobile)
3 gm whole flower head, 3-4 times/day, between meals19
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
External: 100 gm/20 l hot water for sitz bath19
Oak bark (Quercus alba)
3 gm/day of cut herb. For rinses, compresses and gargles: 20gm/l water19
Walnut leaf (Juglans regia)
2-3 gm dried leaf/100ml water19
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Internal: 6 gm/day
Chamomile refers to two distinct plants. Matricaria recutita is known as German or Hungarian chamomile, and Chamaemelum nobile is known as Roman or English chamomile. Although the plants are not identical, they are used for the same types of conditions. The active constituents of chamomile include the terpenoids (bisabolol, matricin, chamazulene) and flavenoids (apigenin, luteolin)11. Studies have documented the antiinflammatory and soothing effects of creams containing chamomile in patients with various inflammatory dermatoses12. It is often used in a variety of cosmetic products and as soothing compresses.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), contains anti-inflammatory ingredients including chamazulene. Known for its antiinflammatory and anti-pruritic activity, it is used externally in the form of compresses and bath additives.
Oak bark (Quercus alba) contains a mixture of tannins including catechins, oligomeric proanthrocyanidins and ellagitannins. Due to their astringent, vasoconstrictive and cooling properties they make excellent soothing compresses.
The use of aloe as a medicinal can be traced back to 333 BC, and there are over 180 aloe species identified. It is widely used for the treatment of burns and wounds. The active component is a polysaccharide that forms a protective and soothing coating when applied to the skin. The ability of aloe to accelerate wound healing was demonstrated in a study with patients who had fullface dermabrasion20. Aloe vera was also found to be effective in the treatment of psoriasis21 and it has been used as a biologically active vehicle for certain ingredients.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis), derived from the marigold plant, is quite widely used in topical skin and hair preparations as a soothing ingredient. Its anti-inflammatory effects are a result of triterpene flavonoids and saponins22. It has been used topically as an antiseptic agent and applied to poorly healing wounds.
Capsaicin inhibits substance P, a peptide transmitter involved in pain transmission, cutaneous vasodilation, and the inflammatory process. Capsaicin has also been found to be effective in the treatment of plaque-type psoriasis23,24. It is worth noting that the first few applications of topical capsaicin often result in burning and stinging. These symptoms diminish with continued use. However, in both studies noted, the dropout rate was significant due to these reactions.
Other anti-inflammatory herbs
Walnut leaf (Juglans regia), extracted from the dried leaves of the English walnut, contains ellagitannins, whose astringent properties can be soothing to weeping lesions when used as compresses. There are many other topically applied antiinflammatory herbs that are used mostly in Europe and Asia, such as mallow (Malva sylvestris), wild pansy (Viola tricolor), and fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum) that contain several anti-inflammatory saponins.
The bioflavenoids, including quercetin and hesperidin, inhibit histamine release and mast cell degranulation, and support capillary integrity13,14. Quercetin (found in high levels in onions) inhibits phospholipase A2 and lipoxygenase enzymes. This results in the inhibition of proinflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
Essential fatty acids
The essential fatty acids are those fatty acids that are not synthesized or are poorly synthesized by humans. Historically, a diet rich in land animal fats results in much higher levels of arachidonic acid with a concomitant increase in proinflammatory prostaglandin synthesis. Conversely, a diet rich in fish will have the opposite effect, increasing anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Several studies demonstrate marked clinical improvement in atopic patients using dietary supplementation with either eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), or gamma-linoleic acid (GLA)15,16,17. The most effective fatty acids include EPA, docosahexanoic acid (DHA) from fish oils, and GLA from plant oils such as borage, black currant, and evening primrose, since they bypass the desaturation enzyme steps. It generally takes several months of fatty acid supplementation before improvement is noted. There are anecdotal reports about the application of evening primrose oil to chapped, irritated skin, leading to clinical improvement and healing.
As our familiarity with herbal ingredients increases and we employ our known scientific methodology to study them physiologically, our ability to treat patients satisfactorily, with fewer side effects will be enhanced. Many more herbs are being studied for their therapeutic as well as preventative roles in traditional medicine, thus narrowing a gap that has been present for many years.
- Arora RB, Kapoor V, Basu N, Jain AP. Anti-inflammatory studies on Curcuma longa (turmeric). Indian J Med Res 59(8):1289-95 (1971 Aug).
- Srivastava R. Inhibition of neutrophil response by curcumin. Agents Actions 28(3-4):298- 303 (1989 Nov).
- Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Pharmacology of diferuloyl methane (curcumin), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent. J Pharm Pharmacol 25(6):447-52 (1973 Jun).
- Srivastava R, Srimal RC. Modification of certain inflammation-induced biochemical changes by curcumin. Indian J Med Res 81:215-23 (1985 Feb).
- Okimasu E, Moromizato Y, Watanabe S, et al. Inhibition of phospholipase A2 and platelet aggregation by glycyrrhizin, an antiinflammation drug. Acta Med Okayama 37(5):385-91 (1983 Oct).
- Ohuchi K, Kamada Y, Levine L, Tsurufuji S. Glycyrrhizin inhibits prostaglandin E2 production by activated peritoneal macrophages from rats. Prostaglandins Med 7(5):457-63 (1981 Nov).
- Teelucksingh S, Mackie AD, Burt D, McIntyre MA, Brett L, Edwards CR. Potentiation of hydrocortisone activity in skin by glycyrrhetinic acid. Lancet 335(8697):1060-3 (1990 May).
- Evans FQ. The rational use of Glycyrrhetinic Acid in dermatology. Br J Clin Pract 12:269-74 (1958).
- Taussig SJ. The mechanism of the physiological action of bromelain. Med Hypotheses 6(1):99-104 (1980 Jan).
- Korting HC, Schafer-Korting M, Hart H, Laux P, Schmid M. Anti-inflammatory activity of hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Influence of vehicle and dose. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 44(4):315-8 (1993).
- Merfort I, Heilmann J, Hagedorn-Leweke U, Lippold BC. In vivo skin penetration studies of camomile flavones. Pharmazie 49(7):509-11 (1994 Jul).
- Della Loggia R. Chamomile extracts exerted anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically in animal models of inflammation. Plant Med 56:657-8 (1990).
- Middleton E Jr, Drzewiecki G, Krishnarao D. Quercetin: an inhibitor of antigen-induced human basophil histamine release. J Immunol 127(2):546-50 (1981 Aug).
- Emim JA, Oliveira AB, Lapa AJ. Pharmacological evaluation of the anti-inflammatory activity of a citrus bioflavenoid, hesperidin, and the isoflavenoids, duartin and claussequinone, in rats and mice. J Pharm Pharmacol 46(2):118-22 (1994 Feb).
- Berth-Jones J, Thompson J, Graham-Brown RA. Evening primrose oil and atopic eczema. Lancet 345(8948):520 (1995 Feb).
- Schalin-Karrila M, Mattila L, Jansen CT, Uotila P. Evening primrose oil in the treatment of atopic eczema: effect on clinical status, plasma phospholipid fatty acids and circulating blood prostaglandins. Br J Dermatol 117(1):11-9 (1987 Jul).
- Bahmer FA, Schafer J. . Kinderarztl Prax 60(7):199-202 (1992 Oct).
- DerMarderosian A, editor. The review of natural products. facts and comparisons Publishing Group (2000).
- Herbal Index at onhealth: http://www.onhealth.com/ch1/resource/herbs/
- Fulton JE Jr. The stimulation of postdermabrasion wound healing with stabilizing aloe vera gel-polyethylene oxide dressing. J Dermatol Surg Oncol 16(5):460-7 (1990 May).
- Syed TA, Ahmad SA, Holt AH, Ahmad SA, Ahmad SH, Afzal M. Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: a placebo-controlled double-blind study. Trop Med Int Health 1(4):505-9 (1996 Aug).
- Brown DJ, Dattner AM. Phytotherapeutic approaches to common dermatologic conditions. Arch Dermatol 134(11):1401-4 (1998 Nov).
- Ellis CN, Berberian B, Sulica VI, et al. A double-blind evaluation of topical capsaicin in pruritic psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol 29(3):438-42 (1993 Sep).
- Bernstein JE, Parish LC, Rapaport M, Rosenbaum MM, Roenigk HH Jr. Effects of topically applied capsaicin on moderate and severe psoriasis vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol 15(3):504-7 (1986 Sep).
Do you suffer from sensitive skin conditions?
Maybe you’re looking for something to take the fire out of the itch?
Then botanical herbs for the skin may just become your new best friend.
There are a number of soothing herbs that have a real affinity with the skin and relieve inflammation.
They can be really useful in helping to soothe symptoms such as rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.
Yesterday I looked at herbs for skin types; today I’d like to focus on these benefits in much greater detail.
HERBS FOR THE SKIN
Aloe Vera: Applied topically it has a wonderful soothing effect on the skin, it is both an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory.
Comfrey: This is one of our favourite herbs for the skin, simply because it has so many skin loving benefits.
It has a high mucilage content, making it a wonderful moisturising ingredient.
It also contains an important compound called allantoin, which helps with cellular rejuvenation,
Making it a useful ingredient, when treating wounds and reducing new scar tissue.
Cucumber: Although not exactly a herb, I believe this ingredient deserves a special mention.
This is because Cucumber is the perfect antidote for sun burnt and stressed out skin.
Cucumber also contains a compound known as Silica, an important compound for helping to build healthy connective tissue.
German Chamomile: This is another wonder herb for the skin.
Chamomile has many important components including the chemical compound Chamazulene, which naturally helps to reduce inflammation.
With its powerful aroma and beautiful deep blue colour, it is widely used as a topical application for red skin problems, including rashes, insect bites, burns and eczema.
To find out more about the healing properties of this interesting herb, the article benefits of chamomile is worth taking a read.
Olive leaf extract: This extract is one of those all-round useful herbs for the skin, helping to clear breakouts and skin eruptions.
This extract is also extremely healing, helping to repair sun damage and soothing a stressed out skin.
Here at the Naked chemist, the aim is to harness the richness and diversity of New Zealand’s natural botanical habitat. I have really managed to fully achieve this with Naturelene treatment balm, delivering healing energy below the skins surface, to anywhere that needs it.
Review of Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Medicines
Medicinal plants and their secondary metabolites are progressively used in the treatment of diseases as a complementary medicine. Inflammation is a pathologic condition that includes a wide range of diseases such as rheumatic and immune-mediated conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular accident, and etcetera. We introduce some herbs which their anti-inflammatory effects have been evaluated in clinical and experimental studies. Curcuma longa, Zingiber officinale, Rosmarinus officinalis, Borago officinalis, evening primrose, and Devil’s claw are some of the introduced medicinal herbs in this review. Since the treatment of inflammation is not a one-dimensional remedy, this review tries to reach a multidimensional therapeutic approach to inflammation with the help of herbal medicine and modification in lifestyle.
Inflammation is a defense response of our body to hazardous stimuli such as allergens and/or injury to the tissues; on the other hand, uncontrolled inflammatory response is the main cause of a vast continuum of disorders including allergies, cardiovascular dysfunctions, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and autoimmune diseases imposing a huge economic burden on individuals and consequently on the society . There are various medicines for controlling and suppressing inflammatory crisis; steroids, nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and immunosuppressant are the practical examples of these medications which are associated with adverse effects while in practice our goal is to apply minimum effective dose by the highest efficacy with the least adverse effects. Thus, we need to apply natural anti-inflammatory factors within medication therapy to achieve increased pharmacological response and the lowest degree of unwanted side effects . Herbal medicines are promoting subjects in medicine and, of course, we have to increase our knowledge about them. Complementary, alternative, and traditional medicines are the pivotal source of herbal medication guidance, but surely modern medicine must prove these guidelines through scientific methods before using them in practice. In this review, we have endeavored to assess the plants and the most clinical evidence of their anti-inflammatory effects.
In this study, all the data were gathered from search engines as follows: PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar.
We have used these keywords “anti-inflammatory”, “plant”, “herb”, and “herbal medicine” for searching in these databases.
All the references which were used to publish this review article were written in English and from the standpoint of the time interval, they belonged to 1980 to the present. The entire articles relating to our goal were collected and classified based on the level of evidence, where systematic reviews and randomized control trials (RCT) have possessed the highest values. Open-label, cohort, case-control, case series, preclinical, in vivo, ex vivo, and in vitro studies have less importance than the first two, respectively.
It is obvious that each subject that we have found which has higher valuable studies, such as RCT in association with that, has received high priority for mentioning in this literature.
2.1. Curcuma longa
Curcuma longa (common name is Turmeric in English, زردچوبه in Persian, cúrcuma in Spanish, in Hindi, and عقدة الصفراء in Arabic) is an Indian indigenous plant . The most important secondary metabolite of C. longa is curcumin, which is responsible for anti-inflammatory effect of this plant .
Many clinical trials have been done for proving the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin. Their results suggest that curcumin can be effective in improving inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and reducing clinical manifestation of RA, such as joint swelling and morning stiffness in comparison with phenylbutazone which is used as a positive control . Also, curcumin was tested in patients with anterior uveitis; after 2 weeks, exhaustive remission occurred . The effectiveness of curcumin in patients with dyspepsia and/or gastric ulcer was proved by another clinical trial. In this study, subjects experienced remission after 12 weeks (maximum) . Curcumin is beneficial in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) treatment and also works as a reducing agent to delayed graft rejection (DGR) after kidney transplant surgery . Curcumin likewise has a beneficial effect in inhibition of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and reduction in sedimentation rate in patients who suffered from IBD . It is also proven to be beneficial in maintaining amelioration of ulcerative colitis and psoriasis (by the selective prohibition of phosphorylase kinase) .
2.2. Zingiber officinale
Zingiber officinale (common name is ginger in English, زنجبیل in Persian, in Hindi, and الزنجبيل in Arabic) is a native plant from south-east Asia .
Oral administration of Z. officinale extract has shown different and inconsistent effects, depending on the quantity of consumption. Although administration of squeezed ginger extract to mice one time or twice has elevated the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) in peritoneal cells, long-term consumption of the extract has increased the serum corticosterone level and has reduced proinflammatory markers . Z. officinale was also tested in type 2 diabetic patients with low-grade inflammation; after 2 months of treatment, serum level of TNF-α and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) were decreased definitely . In patients with osteoarthritis, ginger had not only efficacy in pain improvement identical to Diclofenac 100 mg but also no side effects . Ginger extract has been compared to Ibuprofen and Indomethacin in OA patients; the results have exerted improving function of Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, and ginger extract equally in pain score . Ginger powder has had ameliorative effect in musculoskeletal and rheumatism patients through inhibiting cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathway in synovial fluid .
2.3. Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosmarinus officinalis (common name is Rosemary in English, رزماری in Persian, Romero in Spanish, in Hindi, and روزماري in Arabic) is native in the Mediterranean area .
In an open-label trial, the effects of rosemary extract have been assessed in patients with osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and fibromyalgia during 4 weeks; hs-CRP (an index for inflammation presence) was decreased noticeably in patients who had demonstrated augmentation in this index; by the way, reduction in inflammation related to pain score was observed during the treatment but remission has not occurred in fibromyalgia scores . There is evidence that confirms anti-inflammatory potential of R. officinalis in molecular scope; according to this, rosmarinic acid could disturb complement system activation easily by inhibiting C3b attachment; the dose required for making this effect is very low (34 M) . Furthermore, rosemary’s extract has shown gastroprotective action against gastric ulcer, even better than Omeprazole; this advantage is because of inhibition activity of rosemary in neutrophils infiltration and reduction in proinflammatory mediators: TNF-α and IL-1 . Nevertheless, in another preclinical study on rats, high dose of rosemary extract (500 mg/kg) has reduced testosterone and spermatogenesis that led to infertility . This plant has had topical anti-inflammatory in wound healing in mice . Carnosic acid in R. officinalis has interacted with CYP3A4 and CYP2B6 substrate and likewise has had toxicity in human hepatocyte with EC50 value identical to Tamoxifen .
2.4. Borago officinalis
Borago officinalis (common name is Borage in English, گل گاوزبان in Persian, Borraja in Spanish, and لسان الثورحمحم in Arabic) is a member of Boraginaceae family and is native in European area and north of Africa .
This plant is a rich source of gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which contains 25% of GLA, by elevating prostaglandin-E (PGE) level that leads to cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) augmentation; GLA could count as a strong suppressor of TNF-α. The mechanism mentioned above can clarify the anti-inflammatory effect of borage oil in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) . Regarding this pathway, borage has contraindication during pregnancy because of the miscarriage risk . Antirheumatoid arthritis’s potential of borage seed oil was assessed in 2 RCT as follows: in the first study, 1.4 g/day borage seed oil has been compared with placebo in RA patients; 36.8% amelioration occurred in the treatment group at the end of 6-month therapy. In the second study, 2.8 g/day of borage seed oil was taken by patients during 6 months; at the end of treatment, the amelioration percent of RA manifestation was noticeable: 64% in the treatment group compared with 21% in the control group . Likewise, the anti-inflammatory effect of borage oil was tested in patients with atopic dermatitis. 12 clinical trials were performed to evaluate the effectiveness of this herb in ameliorating in atopic dermatitis. 5 of those have proved the anti-inflammatory effect and 2 of those have recorded improving in some patients, although in the rest 5 trials there has not been any observation for remission .
2.5. Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose)
Oenothera biennis (common name is evening primrose in English, گل مغربی in Persian, Onagri in Spanish, in Hindi, and زهرة الربيع المسائية in Arabic) is a member of Onagraceae family which is native in Central America .
GLA, linear aliphatic alcohols (e.g., Tetracosanol), and phenolic compound (ferulic acid) are the active components of evening primrose oil which have had protective roles against proinflammatory markers . This oil has sterols such as β-Sitosterol and Campesterol that have had modulator effect on nitric oxide (NO), TNF-α, IL-1β, and thromboxane B2 (TXB2) leading to suppressing COX-2 gene expression; because of these reasons, the primrose oil has a greater anti-inflammatory effect than borage oil . The effectiveness of evening primrose oil with hemp seed oil has been clinically assessed in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Patients with MS (a chronic inflammatory disorder) have randomly taken hemp seed/evening primrose oil and placebo. Significant reduction in IFN- and IL-17 has occurred in the treatment group. The relapse rate of the disease has been also alleviated in the treatment group; this study has shown the immunomodulatory impression of these oils and their components . In an RCT on RA, researchers have recorded subjective improvement and reduction in using NSAIDs without any improvement in clinical measurements . Likewise, patients have demonstrated remission in morning stiffness with no clinical changes in articular index or pain . And no significant amelioration in target therapy group was the main outcome of a clinical trial on 18 patients with RA after 12 weeks .
2.6. Harpagophytum procumbens (Devil’s Claw)
H. procumbens (common name is Devil’s claw in English, پنجه شیطان in Persian, Garra del Diablo in Spanish, and مخلب الشيطان in Arabic) is a member of Pedaliaceae family . Among its abundant metabolites, Harpagoside has been substantiated as an anti-inflammatory component . Root’s extract of Devil’s claw has been claimed to possess inhibition potential of NO, inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α), and PGE2, as well as prevention of arachidonic acid metabolism and eicosanoid biosynthesis, leading to COX-2 inhibition and reducing inflammation . In another preclinical study, devil’s claw has shown no efficacy in improving carrageenan-induced edema in the hind foot of the rat . Over an RCT, the effectiveness of Devil’s claw in osteoarthritis remission has been assessed. At the end of treatment period, anti-inflammatory effects of H. procumbens have been observed . In contrast, in a pilot study which has been carried out on patients who have suffered from arthritic disease (RA and psoriatic arthropathy), researchers have not observed any remission or subjective and objective improvement with 410 mg TDS of H. procumbens’s liquid extract after 12 weeks . Gastrointestinal upset is the main side effect of this plant which leads to contraindication in patients with gastric or duodenal ulcers, gallstone, and diabetes .
2.7. Boswellia serrata
Boswellia serrata (common name is Indian Olibanum in English, کندر in Persian, in Hindi, and الـلُّبَّـان in Arabic) is an oleo gum resin of Boswellia tree, which is native in India .
Efficacy of Boswellia serrata extract in patients with osteoarthritis has been substantiated; dramatic alleviation in the frequency of joint swelling and pain and augmentation in joint flexibility and walking distance have been observed at the end of treatment period . Likewise, a significant reduction in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), morning stiffness, and NSAID administration requirement during therapy has occurred in rheumatoid arthritis patients within another clinical trial . In one pilot study which has been carried out on patients with chronic polyarthritis, no significant remission has been observed in patient’s manifestations after 12 weeks of therapy with extract of B. serrata; just minor attenuation in NSAIDs requirement has been recorded . Collagenous colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and B. serrata has been clinically effective in the process of ameliorating this disease in target therapy group compared to the placebo group . The combination of B. serrata with C. longa and Glycyrrhiza glabra has been effective on improvement of asthmatic patient’s symptoms; also, in this study, treatment group has demonstrated significant diminishing in plasma level of leukotriene C4 (LTC4), NO, and malondialdehyde after 4 weeks . Modulating in inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IFN-γ, and PGE2) by B. serrata extract has been proved in in vivo and in vitro studies . Boswellic acid is the main component of this gum which can inhibit C3 convertase and suppressed classic pathway of complement system . Likewise, it has had topical anti-inflammatory impress as well as systemic effects .
2.8. Rosa canina
Rosa canina (common name is Dog rose in English, نسترن وحشی in Persian, escaramujo-tapaculo in Spanish, in Hindi, and ورد الکلبورد السياجالنسرين in Arabic) is a member of Rosaceae family .
The effectiveness of rosehip has been assessed in OA and RA patients. The outcomes of these studies were as follows: the patients, who have suffered from OA, have experienced alleviation in pain, rescue medication consumption, and stiffness and a significant reduction in CRP which have been observed after treatment with this plant . It should be noted that anti-inflammatory effect of rosehip refers to the seed, but not its shell. The latter claim has been substantiated via two clinical studies which have been done on OA patients . Likewise, rosehip powder has reduced ESR and improved quality of life in RA patients; thus, it might be used as a supplement besides the standard treatment of RA . In contrast, 10 g of rosehip powder per day, during 1 month, has no anti-inflammatory effect on patients with RA . The ethanol extract of rosehip was fractioned by some solvents with different polarity; ethyl acetate and butanol fraction have had anti-inflammatory effects in delayed phase of inflammation process through inhibition of PGE1 in mice . Since n-hexane and dichloromethane extracts of this plant’s fruit have had a downregulatory effect on COX-1, COX-2, and LTB4, these fractions are rich sources of unsaturated fatty acids . Galactolipid is an active component in rosehip powder which its NO inhibitory potential has been confirmed through laboratory and in vitro studies .
2.9. Urtica dioica
Urtica dioica (common name is stinging nettle in English, گزنه in Persian, Ortigamayor in spanish, and القراص الكبير in Arabic) is a member of Urticaceae family .
Nettle leaf has been investigated to prove its anti-inflammatory effect in a pilot study. 50 mg Diclofenac per day was administered to patients with acute arthritis together with 50 mg infusion of Urtica dioica orally. This remedy has caused remarkable attenuation in CRP level and some patients’ complaints for 200 mg Diclofenac per day; according to these outcomes, U. dioica when combined with NSAIDs have an outstanding synergistic effect . Topical effectiveness of nettle leaf has been assessed in osteoarthritis of thumb through RCT; significant alleviation in pain, stiffness, and anti-inflammatory and analgesic therapy requirements have been observed . The combination of nettle leaf with rosehip and willow bark has suppressed IL-1β and COX-2 in chondrocytes. In this in vitro study, chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of this botanical extract have been proved . Leaf extract of U. dioica has had inhibitory potential on proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB (scientific studies have shown elevation in NF-κB in synovial fluid of RA patients) . This extract has had anti-inflammatory potential in allergic rhinitis by the following pathways: antagonizing H1-receptor, reducing of PGD2 production (allergy specific prostaglandin), and inhibitory effect on mast cell tryptase .
2.10. Uncaria tomentosa
U. tomentosa commonly known as cat’s claw in English, uña de gato in Spanish, پنجه گربه in Persian, and مخلب القط in Arabic. It belongs to Rubiaceae family and it is an indigenous plant in Amazon and Central America forests .
The efficacy and safety of this plant in improving OA of the knee have been tested on 45 patients who have been divided into 2 groups (placebo and active); the active group has demonstrated some degrees of remission after 4 weeks by inhibiting TNF-α and diminishing PGE2 production . In a 24-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial which has been performed for evaluating the effect of high purified extract of U. tomentosa in RA patients, this extract has been administered along with Sulfasalazine or Hydroxy chloroquine; modest benefit of this herb in alleviating pain, swelling, and tenderness of joint has been shown in the treatment group in comparison with the placebo group . There is a report of U. tomentosa causing remarkable remission in enteritis in rats which has been observed . Edible extract of cat’s claw has had protective action against respiratory inflammation in mice . Pivotal mechanism of cat’s claw is inhibition of iNOS and NF-κB expression that in turn have downregulated TNF-α, IL-1α, 1β, 10 and 17 successively. Also, little inactivation effect on COX-1 and COX-2 has been expressed through an in vivo study . This plant’s bark has demonstrated anti-inflammatory action exactly the same as dexamethasone in an animal model, while it has attenuated about 40% of IL-4 while dexamethasone has not .
2.11. Salvia officinalis
Salvia officinalis (commonly known as sage in English, مريم گلی in Persian, salvia in Spanish, and قصعين طبي in Arabic) is a member of Lamiaceae family .
Carnosol and carnosic acid are phenolic diterpenes which have had anti-inflammatory activity . These two components could have inhibited PGE2 production via microsomal PGE2 synthase-1 inhibition . Chloroform extract of sage leaves has shown atopic anti-inflammatory effect in mice . However, sage essential oil has not shown any immunomodulatory effect in mice which had underwent cyclophosphamide-mediated immunosuppression . It is also worth mentioning that Halicioglu et al. have reported generalized tonic-clonic seizures following accidental exposure to sage oil in a newborn and a child .
2.12. Ribes nigrum
Ribes nigrum (common name is blackcurrant in English, آنگور فرنگى سياه in Persian, Casis in Spanish, and الكشمش الأسود in Arabic) oil is a rich source of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), γ-linoleic acid, and α-linoleic acid .
In one clinical trial which has been fulfilled on RA patients during 6 weeks, researchers have investigated the effect of blackcurrant oil (BCO) on patients; outcomes were as follows: attenuation in morning stiffness in the experimental group and reduction in proinflammatory mediators including IL-1β and TNF-α in peripheral blood monocytes . After 24 weeks of treatment period with BC seed oil, disease activity symptoms of RA patients have been reduced. Overall, no significant differences in clinical signs and symptoms have been recorded between the placebo and the case group . Also, BC seed oil has a moderate reinforcement effect on the immune response and inhibitory effect on the PGE2 biosynthesis in 40 healthy volunteers older than 65 years . In another clinical study, 12 healthy subjects have consumed BC oil; attenuating in LTB4 biosynthesis via polymorphonuclear-neutrophil (PMN) and increasing of dihomo–linoleic acid in PMN’s phospholipids have been observed . BC skin extract could reduce heat shock protein (HSP70 and HSP90), COX-2, and NF-κB expression in rats which were under diethylnitrosamine (hepatocarcinogen) exposure .
2.13. Persea americana/Glycine max
Persea americana (common name is Avocado in English, آووکادو in Persian, árbol in Spanish, in Hindi, and الزِبدِيّةالأفوكاتة in Arabic) is a native fruit in Central America and belongs to Lauraceae family. Glycine max (common name is soybean in English, سویا in Persian, soja in Spanish, in Hindi, and فول الصويا in Arabic) is a member of Fabaceae family, native to East Asia.
In a prospective multicenter, 3-month randomized control trial, 153 OA patients have been enrolled and treated with Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) along with NSAID; after 45 days of therapy, NSAID requirement has diminished but no significant changes have occurred in patients’ pain scores . In three clinical trials which have been carried out on OA patients, the effectiveness of ASU has been assessed. Two of them have demonstrated reduction in Lequesne’s functional index (LFI), pain, and disability; likewise, more than 50% attenuation in NSAID requirement has been observed in 71% of patients in the case group versus 36% in the control group, but in the last trial, no intergroup changes have been reported in joint space width (JSW) which has been considered as primary endpoint and no amelioration has been reported in clinical investigations . During 3 years of follow-up of the hip in OA patients taking ASU, no improvement in JSW has been recorded, but 20% prevention of JSW exacerbation has occurred . ASU also has been administrated to 100 patients with linear scleroderma and morphea; this study has shown a beneficial effect of ASU in preventing atrophy, deformity, and contracture, if the treatment with ASU has been initiated at an early stage of the disease . Topical and dietary administrations of Avocado and soybean extract have been assessed in patients with mild to moderate vulvar lichen sclerosus (VLS). At the end of 24 weeks of treatment period, main sign and symptom of disease have been diminished significantly .
2.14. Elaeagnus angustifolia
E. angustifolia (common name is Oleaster in English, سنجد in Persian, and الخلاف ضيق الأوراقالزيزفون السوري in Arabic) is a member of Elaeagnaceae family .
The effectiveness of Oleaster in the treatment of oral lichen planus (OLP) lesion has been evaluated in an RCT with 28 patients. Seventy five percent and 50–75% attenuation in pain and lesion size, respectively, have been observed in the case group . In another randomized clinical trial which has been carried out on 90 knee OA female patients, a significant attenuation in TNF-α and matrix metalloprotein-1 (MMP-1) (proinflammatory mediators) and alleviation in IL-10 (an anti-inflammatory cytokine) have been reported in active therapy group . Oleaster extract has demonstrated an anti-inflammatory effect in an animal model but this effect was not significant in comparison with sodium salicylate . Aqueous extract of this fruit has shown anti-inflammatory properties in mice through COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition; the evidence has exerted no correlation between corticosterone level and that of anti-inflammatory action .
2.15. Vaccinium myrtillus
Vaccinium myrtillus (commonly known as bilberry in English, بلوبرى آروپایى in Persian, arándano in spanish, العنبية الآسية in Arabic) is a member of vaccinium family .
In a randomized clinical trial, which has been carried out on 27 patients with metabolic syndrome who have received 400 g fresh bilberry daily, outcomes have been reported as follows: diminishing in hs-CRP, IL-6, and IL-12 and circulating LPS concentration in the active group . Bilberry has caused remission in 63.4% of 13 ulcerative colitis patients after 6 weeks and significant reduction in mayo score and fecal protection level has occurred . No changes have been observed in anti-inflammatory peptides (monocytes chemotactic protein-1) of diabetic patients after one capsule of concentrated bilberry extract (36% w/w anthocyanins) administration per day .
2.16. Olea europaea
Olea europaea (commonly known as Olive in English, زیتون in Persian, Olivera in Spanish, in Hindi, and الزيتون in Arabic) is a species of Oleaceae family .
The positive effect of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) on modulating postprandial plasma lipopolysaccharide, proinflammatory cytokines, TXB2 and LTB4, and diminished performance in risk of coronary heart disease has been demonstrated in healthy individuals and metabolic syndrome patients . Oral olive oil has accelerated wound healing process and has alleviated hospitalizing duration in deep second-degree and more burn wound patients in comparison with sunflower oil (SFO) . Also, disease activity index and tumor incidence of ulcerative colitis-associated colorectal cancer and proinflammatory cytokines in mice have been alleviated after EVOO enriched diet consumption compared with that of SFO-fed mice .
The amount of the plants which have been asserted to possess anti-inflammatory effect is so much that evaluating all of them is out of the scope of this paper; thus, we have sufficed to mention the herbs about which there is more evidence.
Herbal medicine is one of the most important aspects of complementary medicines. There are many studies which have been asserted the role of several herbs in inflammation remission. We introduce some herbs which their anti-inflammatory effects have been evaluated in clinical and experimental studies; of course, clinical data is more reliable than others; among our research data, the Curcuma longa had the most clinical evidence about different inflammatory disorders such as RA, uveitis, and IBD. Also, other listed herbs have demonstrated good performance in clinical and experimental anti-inflammatory tests. Inflammation process has various mechanisms and numerous treatment methods consequently. Plenty of cytokines participate in enzyme activation (such as phospholipase ), mediator release, fluid extravasation and vasodilation, cell migration, and finally tissue damage which generally have been named inflammation (Figure 1). Biochemical outcomes of the experimental studies clearly show the potential role of herbs in activation or inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines (Table 1), although more clinical studies with larger participants and meta-analyses could dissolve some conflicts. The amount of the plants which have been asserted to possess anti-inflammatory effect is so much that evaluating all of them is out of the scope of this paper.
|Note: other mechanisms may also exist but we could not cover all of them.|
Table 1 Mechanisms of anti-inflammatory action of the medicinal plants mentioned in this review article.
Figure 1 Inflammation pathway. COX, cyclooxygenase; LOX, lipoxygenase; PG, prostaglandin; LT, leukotriene; TX, thromboxane; NO, nitric oxide; iNOS, inducible NO synthase; IFN, interferon; TNF, tumor necrosis factor; NF-κB, nuclear factor-κB; MAPK, mitogen activated protein kinase; JAK, janus kinase; IL, interleukin.
It should be noted that the word “natural anti-inflammatory” refers to natural compounds, lifestyle, exercise, and sleep and eating habits. There are numerous studies on natural compounds and herbal medicines issues but those outcomes are various and inconsistent; sometimes, the method of evoking extract has direct impact on the chemical constituents and it must be considered because the pharmacological effect of each medicinal herb is the result of plenty of metabolites combination and their synergistic effects; perhaps, it is one of the reasons of paradoxical results. In another aspect, considering side effects, contraindication, and pregnancy properties of plants is an important issue, which requires great caution on the part of the practitioner, but almost there is no reliable evidence about these. Further evidence-based studies and meta-analyses perhaps could create more clear vision and approach for the health professionals.
The authors declare that there are no competing interests regarding the publication of this paper.
Herbs have been around as long as we can imagine. Renowned for their amazing effects in conjunction with the human body, there are herbs with the power to heal the skin. With the use of so many harsh chemicals, many are returning back to the natural healing of herbs.
The forms of concoctions, tinctures, salves, body products, infused in oil are different methods herbs work their magic. Here’s a list of some herbs, which you should be aware of their of powers.
1) Aloe Vera
One of my favorite house plants due to it’s many uses, every home should have one! As a house plant, aloe purifiers the air and makes for a nice touch of decor. It’s simple to cut off a piece of the plant to use for burns, sores, scrapes,etc. The gel filled leaves provide a cooling effect for inflamed irritations.
Aloe is a good moisturizer for oily skin, as it retains moisture and doesn’t leave an oily residue. Aloe Vera is skin softening and light enough to use without clogging pores.
It’s astringent properties enhance the tightening of pores and help reduce unwanted bacteria. Through the removal of bacteria, aloe can treat skin problems such as acne, eczema, & psoriasis. We infuse aloe into our original and premium bars to enhance their moisturizing properties. Aloe Vera is a skin hydrating herb for oily, normal, & dry skin.
2) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Whether fresh, dried, or as an essential oil, rosemary is a medicinal healer. It’s herbaceous aroma strengthens memory and stimulates the mind. Receive a boost in confidence, perception, & creativity, simply from it’s scent. Rosemary is an antioxidant that enhances skin elasticity and prevents premature aging, as an essential oil.
When absorbed by the skin, Rosemary enhances sluggish blood flow and aids digestion. The herb’s mild astringent properties make it ideal for oily, normal, and combination skin. I don’t know what Rosemary doesn’t do, it’s cell regenerating, wound healing, and helps to open sinuses. We combine clarifying rosemary with relaxing lavender for a soothing soap bar.
3) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
Often considered a weed, dandelion is actually highly nutritious and detoxing for our skin. Dandelion is a mild blood cleanser, which gets to the root of skin problems such as acne, boils, and eczema. It is most effective when combined with another blood cleanser like burdock root. Our Burdock and Dandelion bar is unscented due to the gentle nature of both herbs on the skin.
4) Lavender (Lavandula angostifolia)
A celebrity in the world of herbs! Simply rubbing a leaf in between your fingers and smelling it’s floral aroma, will set you on cloud 9. Mild enough to be applied to all complexion types, lavender essential oil helps to relieve pain and headaches. It can be applied to sore and itchy skin infections to promote healing and relief from irritation. Lavender is a skin cell re-generator, preventing scarring and stretch marks.
5) Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
When it comes to skin infections caused by bacteria, tea tree is who you need to see. Tea tree is highly anti-septic treating boils, acne, and fungal infections. As an essential oil it is one of the few, that can be applied directly to the skin. It’s antiseptic properties are so strong, it can be applied during cancer treatments to protect the skin from radiation burns.
Our skin constantly comes into contact with unwanted bacteria, tea tree reduces the growth of that bacteria and effectively cleanses the skin. I often recommend tea tree oil itself or either of our tea tree/tea tree turmeric soaps as facial bars.
What better when your skin needs healing?
There are so many species of herbs with various healing energies. I’ve listed 5 of my favorite herbs for skincare, which are also included in select soap bars. It helps to know how those herbs benefit your skin, as each ingredient is hand picked for it’s skin benefits. The great thing about herbs, you can use them as is, or easily combine them for a skin care product that fits your regimen.
Topical Herbs for Skin Problems
To make calendula salve, combine the calendula oil with the grated beeswax in a small, heavy saucepan. Heat gently until the beeswax is melted. Add lavender essential oil. Pour the mixture into wide-mouth glass jars. Let the salve cool, and cover with a lid. When stored in a cool, dark place, calendula salve will stay fresh for approximately one year.
Arnica (Arnica montana)
Arnica is most commonly used for bruises, sprains, strains and sore muscles, and is an excellent addition to a first-aid kit. The flowers contain anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating compounds. Because arnica is potentially toxic if taken internally, it never should be used on broken skin.
Bruises, sprains, strains, sore muscles: Apply arnica salve or oil as soon as possible to the affected area; repeat the application two to three times daily until the pain and swelling subside. Discontinue use if irritation occurs.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
A close relative of the common marigold, calendula has a wide range of anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and wound-healing properties. Research supports the healing potential of calendula, including a recent study that indicates calendula can help heal venous leg ulcers, a slow-healing wound that is caused by poor circulation. Use calendula salve for skin rashes (including diaper rash), minor cuts and burns, and chapped lips. The antimicrobial properties of calendula also make it helpful for athlete’s foot.
Minor wounds, burns, bruises, chapped lips: Apply calendula salve two to three times daily.
Diaper rash: Apply calendula salve after every diaper change.
Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
Spicy hot cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, a compound that is a potent pain reliever for neuralgia (nerve pain), arthritis and muscle soreness. When applied topically, capsaicin stimulates nerve cells to release substance P, a neurotransmitter that delivers pain messages to the nervous system. By depleting the nerve cells’ supply of substance P, capsaicin helps to temporarily relieve pain.
Arthritis, neuralgia, sore muscles: Apply cayenne salve, oil or a capsaicin cream three to four times daily to the affected area. For continuous pain relief, apply the salve, oil or cream every few hours to maintain the depletion of substance P. Mild burning and redness commonly occur as an initial side effect, but this usually disappears with repeated application. Be careful not to touch your eyes and other sensitive areas after use.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile flowers are rich in compounds, including bisabolol (which calms inflammation and combats bacteria) and apigenin (an antioxidant that shields skin from free radicals and helps the skin repair damaged cells). Chamomile is used widely for a variety of topical applications, including sunburn, gingivitis and venous leg ulcers.
Skin irritation and sunburn: Make a strong tea of chamomile. Chill it in the refrigerator, and apply with a spray bottle to the skin. Alternatively, soak in a cool bath with 1 quart of strong chamomile tea added.
Gingivitis: Use chamomile tea as a mouth rinse after meals.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Comfrey leaves and roots are rich in allantoin, a compound that stimulates the creation of healthy new skin cells and helps calm inflammation. Allantoin is a common ingredient in a variety of over-the-counter skin soothers for dry skin, sunburn and minor cuts. Because comfrey speeds the repair of damaged tissue, midwives and herbalists often recommend an herbal sitz bath made with comfrey tea to help heal vaginal tissue following childbirth. Note: Comfrey is for external use only.
Cuts and scrapes: Apply a comfrey salve to minor cuts and wounds daily to promote healing. Avoid using comfrey on deep wounds to prevent rapid surface healing, which potentially can create an abscess.
Plantain (Plantago major, Plantago lanceolata)
Plantain is one of the most common weeds in the world. Its leaves have astringent, soothing properties and encourage wound healing. Often included in skin-healing salves, the crushed fresh leaves also are a useful first-aid remedy and generally are readily available—plantain grows in back yards, open fields and even in sidewalk cracks.
Insect bites and stings: To alleviate pain and inflammation, crush or shred plantain leaves. Rub the juice onto the affected area for several minutes.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Although St. John’s wort is known primarily as an herbal remedy for relieving mild to moderate depression, the plant also has been used for centuries to treat wounds, burns, bruises, varicose veins and nerve-related pain, such as sciatica. Recent scientific studies are verifying the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of St. John’s wort. In a 2003 study reported in the journal Phytomedicine, researchers found that a cream containing St. John’s wort was significantly more effective than a placebo in relieving atopic dermatitis.
Burns, wounds, bruises, varicose veins, sciatica: Apply an oil, cream or salve of St. John’s wort flowers two to three times daily.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Witch hazel has been a popular and inexpensive home remedy for insect bites, sunburn and hemorrhoids for more than a century. Rich in tannins and volatile oils, witch hazel calms inflammation and reduces swelling. Witch hazel also has antimicrobial properties, which makes it helpful for more serious skin problems. In a 2002 German study, researchers found that a 90 percent distilled witch hazel extract demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity when applied to the skin.
Insect bites, minor skin irritations: To cool and soothe the itching of insect bites and irritated skin, apply distilled witch hazel extract to the skin with cotton balls or a spray bottle.
Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: Ease the pain of hemorrhoids and varicose veins and shrink swollen tissues by applying chilled witch hazel compresses several times daily to the affected area.
Laurel Vukovic writes and teaches about herbs from her home in southern Oregon. She is the author of 1001 Natural Remedies (DK, 2003) and Herbal Healing Secrets for Women (Prentice Hall, 2000).
Many people spend a lot of time looking for the miracle cure that will help their skin look great and keep them looking younger. While there are a variety of beauty products on the market today, the most effective skin care products may be found in numerous herbs found naturally. These herbs can reduce the risk of blemishes, diminish wrinkles, rehydrate the skin, provide a glowing effect on the skin, and so much more. Best of all, these herbs are all-natural, which greatly reduces the risk of side effects.
Below is a look at the top seven herbs that can save your skin and help you keep your youthful appearance.
Chamomile is one of the most beneficial herbs for skin care. It includes a powerful chemical, called alpha-bisabolol, which can improve the healing process. This allows skin irritations, such as acne, burns, and scratches, to heal faster. Chamomile is most effective when made into a tea and either ingested or used as a standard face wash.
6. Green Tea
Protecting your skin from the dangerous rays of the sun can prevent future skin damage and even skin cancer. When used as an ointment, green tea is a very effective natural sunscreen. It should be applied at least 30 minutes prior to going out in the sun. Green tea also has high levels of catechins, which work as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It can even prevent aging skin, by thickening the epidermis.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has been referred to as the “plant of immorality” by the ancient Egyptians and it has been used for centuries to treat blemishes on the skin, including cuts, scratches, acne, and wrinkles. As an anti-inflammatory, Aloe Vera helps to speed up the healing process and even rehydrates the skin while using. Leaves from the aloe Vera plant can be split opened and applied directly to the skin, but this herb is also sold as ointments, gels, powders, and juices.
If you want glowing skin, then a just a half of a teaspoon of cinnamon added to your coffee or tea every morning may just do the trick. Cinnamon is packed full of antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals in the cells. These unruly radicals can cause skin damage and even premature aging of the skin. Keeping these radicals under controls keeps the skin looking and feeling healthy.
3. Red Clover
Red clover has been used extensively to help promote healthy skin. It is very beneficial at soothing red and itchy patches of skin, as well as, eczema. Red clover ointments can be applied directly to the skin for faster results. This herb can also be taken with tea. When ingested, the herb has the ability to remove toxins from the blood, which can prevent future outbreaks.
2. Witch Hazel
If you are looking for an herb to help battle unwanted pimples on your skin, witch hazel may be your best options. This powerful herb includes natural anti-inflammatory properties that help to fight blemish quickly. Unlike some other anti-inflammatory herbs, witch hazel is able to fight acne without drying out the skin. It also helps to tighten the skin tissues, which can reduce the look of dark circles under the eye.
This beneficial herb has been used throughout India for thousands of years and has been known to help create beautiful skin. It works as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. This powerful combination helps to keep the skin clear and prevents blemishes. Its high levels of curcumin is believed to help fight against melanoma.
Many of these herbs are already used in a large number of beauty products on the market. However, each herb, individually, does a fine job on its own at saving your skin. These herbs can be grown naturally, or you can purchase supplements and ointments over-the-counter. While each person will react to these herbs differently, you will start to notice an improvement in the look of your skin over just a short time. When applying an ointment to the skin, it is always a suggested to test the products on a small patch of skin first, to check for allergies.
Are your sick and tired of using beauty products that are filled with yucky synthetics and harmful ingredients that cause more damage than good?
If you are looking for the best natural skin healers that will make a real change in your skin then you have come to the right place. I will give you the best herbs for skin care to achieve glowing, vibrant, and nourished skin!
Many skin and body care products, even so-called natural ones contain irritating and unhealthy ingredients. I have many clients that have experienced allergic reactions, rashes, and other skin sensitivities from using products that are made with synthetic ingredients, harmful chemicals, and artificial fragrances and colorants.
It isn’t ideal to put products on your skin every day when you don’t even know what the ingredients are, let alone how to pronounce them
It’s time to get back to the basics and take control of your body!
Using herbs for skin care is an ancient tradition practiced for thousands of years because herbs are healthy, nourishing, healing, soothing, and highly beneficial for skin.
The great thing about using herbs for skin care is that you know you are using ingredients that support skin health and are safe to use. Each herb has a specific medicinal property that benefits the skin.
This post may contain affiliate links, which is at no cost to you. Disclosure.
Table of Contents
What Are Herbs?
Herbs are any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers that are used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Typically herbs are a non-woody flowering plant, but any plant that is used for flavor, scent, medicinal, or other qualities are considered to be a herb. Even fungi and minerals are considered medicinal herbs.
Herbs are used in smaller amounts then food as they are more potent and have a stronger reaction in the body.
Culinary Herbs And Spices
Most herbs and spices used to flavor food contain medicinal properties that are useful for digestion and processing food.
In fact, most of the herbs we use to flavor food are used because of their healing properties. In ancient times, they would help preserve food and help heal the gut if bad food was consumed.
Some culinary herbs have other beneficial healing properties that can be used in skin care.
Medicinal herbs are a plant or part of a plant that is used for medicine. These herbs are prepared to maintain health and to prevent, alleviate, or to cure disease.
Plants that contain medicinal constituents are often toxic or hard on the system in large doses. When used in appropriate doses medicinal herbs can have a positive impact on your health, because they interact with your body and often help correct imbalances and health issues.
Many common “weeds” have high medicinal value and are strong allies for human health, and there are many great medicinal herbs that are beneficial for skin care and health.
Tonic herbs are plants that are safe to consume in large doses and have a medicinal effect on the whole body system as a whole.
Their low toxicity and high medicinal properties make tonic herbs very beneficial for your health, as well as tone the body and help balance your health.
There are many tonic herbs that help keep your skin balanced, clear, and nourished.
It’s time that you started using medicinal herbs for your skin health now!
Health Benefits Of Herbs For Skin
- Strengthens the immune system
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Pain alleviation
- Fight Infections
For ages, herbs have shown significant benefits when it comes to natural skin care. Using herbs medicinally for skin care help assure radiant and healthy skin. When applied topically, herbs help repair damaged skin tissues, are antibacterial, and help clear troubled skin.
Using herbs for skin care help give your skin a smooth and youthful appearance, and they are a great addition to any skin care routine!
Now that you know what herbs are you can start using them medicinally for your skin. Use these 15 herbs as part of your skin care routine to look and feel your best!
Herbs For Skin Care: 15 Of The Best Natural Skin Healers
1. Herbs For Skin: Aloe Vera
Parts Used: Fresh gel from the leaves or commercially bottled juice. Be sure to buy bottled juice that has at least 1% citric acid added as a natural preservative, and look for natural, raw juice and not a processed product with added sugars. Also, consider keeping a potted plant in your home to use fresh.
What It Does: The gel from the leaves of aloe vera is used to treat and soothe burns, rough or irritated skin, rashes, insect bites, and wounds. Also, aloe vera is a wonderful moisturizer that also firms and tones the skin.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Oily, Normal-to-dry
Parts Used: Leaves
What It Does: The leaves are antiseptic and are used topically to treat acne, insect bites, and ringworm. Likewise, the juice of the fresh plant is applied to the skin to treat fungal infections.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Acneic skin or skin with bacterial issues.
Parts Used: Flowers
What It Does: The orange flowers are calming, anti-inflammatory, and has skin healing properties. Calendula is mildly astringent and antiseptic, and it is good for skin that is sensitive, environmentally damaged, acneic, irritated or chapped. Calendula is a good choice for bruises and sores and it has skin soothing effects.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types, especially sensitive, damaged, acneic, and dry.
Parts Used: Aerial parts of the plant
What It Does: This weedy plant has soothing effects on the skin, and is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent. Chickweed treats eczema, psoriasis, rashes, burns, chapped skin, wounds, and insect bites.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types, especially dry and environmentally damaged. Any skin with dermatitis issues.
5. Herbs For Skin: Comfrey
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers, root
What It Does: The leaves and flowers are used topically for their anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties. Comfrey is great for dry skin as it is an emollient and also soothes bruises, burns, eczema, scars, wounds, and sunburn.
Comfrey root infusion or tea is soothing, healing, and mildly astringent. Good for inflamed, sensitive, environmentally damaged, and dry skin because it facilitates and activates the healing of damaged tissue.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Dry and damaged skin. Any skin with dermatitis.
Parts Used: Root, Aerial parts of the plant
What It Does: Drinking dandelion root tea can treat the skin from the inside out. Dandelion is the little herb that roars!
The tea helps purify the blood by improving liver function, and drinking the tea helps treat acne, boils, eczema, and psoriasis. The aerial parts are antifungal and help treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, and wounds.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types but especially acneic and skin with dermatitis.
Parts Used: Flowers
What It Does: The flowers are used for their anti-inflammatory, emollient, and mildly astringent properties. The blossoms are used to treat acne, oily, dry, and mature skin, and the flowers are soothing and balancing.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types but especially oily and dry.
Parts Used: Flower Buds
What It Does: The mature buds can be made into an infusion or tea to use as a soothing face wash or toner. The flowers are antiseptic and astringent, and they also treat eczema, psoriasis, and acne but is great for all skin types.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types, especially acneic and sensitive
9. Marsh Mallow
Parts Used: Root
What It Does: The root is anti-inflammatory and has emollient properties, and is used for dry and sensitive skin issues. Marsh Mallow Root helps eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, chapped, windburn, and wounds. It also is soothing and healing when used topically on the skin.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types, but especially dry and damaged
10. Herbs For Skin: Nettle
Parts Used: Leaves
What It Does: The leaves are used for their antifungal and astringent properties. It is used internally to treat acne, boils, and eczema. Nettle leaves is a great tonic for the face because of the mineral-rich and astringent properties. It also helps balance overproduction of oil and deters fungal and bacterial growth.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Oily-to-normal, combination, or acneic skin. Any skin with overproduction of bacteria.
Parts Used: Leaves
What It Does: A parsley infusion is mildly astringent, soothing, and healing for weeping acne, eczema, psoriasis, or any other dermatitis. It is an antioxidant, and antiseptic.
Eating parsley on a regular basis helps promote clear and balanced skin, so be sure to add to salads and smoothies for an added boost for skin health.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Acneic and skin with dermatitis.
Parts Used: Flowers
What It Does: The flowers are used for their antiseptic, astringent, hydrating, rejuvenating, and soothing properties. In addition, Rose Water is great for dry skin, bruises, and helps reduce puffy eyes.
Skin Type It Is Good For: All skin types but great for dry and mature skin
Parts Used: Leaves
What It Does: The leaves are antioxidant, antiseptic, astringent, rejuvenating, and stimulating. It also helps strengthen the capillaries and improve dull and mature skin. When used in salves, rosemary is good for bruises and eczema.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Mature skin and skin with dermatitis.
Parts Used: Leaves
What It Does: An infusion or tea of sage leaves is used as an astringent, antibacterial and antiseptic. Sage is especially beneficial for acne and oily skin. Also, it treats eczema, psoriasis, and poison oak and ivy.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Oily, combination, and acneic skin. Also, normal skin.
15. Herbs For Skin: Thyme
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers.
What It Does: The leaves and flowers are antiseptic, astringent and stimulating. It also helps treat acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Also, thyme is a great option to soothe oily skin conditions.
Skin Type It Is Good For: Oily, combination, and normal skin. Also, skin with dermatitis issues.
Use Herbs For Skin Care And Follow These Other Tips For Healthy Skin
Your skin care routine, topical products, and herbal medicines are important for skin health. But don’t overlook lifestyle habits that also play a roll in the health of your skin. Follow these habits, along with using proper skin care for vibrant, nourished, and clear skin.
- Practice Self-Care
- Eat a healthy diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Practice meditation
- Do Yoga
- Say positive affirmations
- Get a good nights sleep
- Follow a simplified skin care routine
- Do deep breathing exercises
- Practice Mindfulness
- Move your body
- Practice gratitude
It’s time you had skin you love!
Find out more on how to live the best life for the best skin, head over to:
- 8 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed To Do For Healthy Skin
- 8 Self-Care Habits That Will Make You Have Amazing Skin
- 5 Easy Self-Care Routines That Will Improve Your Skin
Want to add herbs to your skin care routine? Starwest Botanicals has a great selection of bulk herbs and I order herbs that I use at my spa from Starwest Botanicals and I have always been satisfied. Be sure to check them out now!
It’s time that you started using medicinal herbs for your skin health now!
Do you use herbs for your skin care? What are your favorites? Share in the comments.
Do you want to have healthy skin that ages well? Would you like to be less stressed?
2/10Sure, basil adds a delightful dash of flavor to your zoodles—but did you know it’s also great for your skin?
Not only are plants powerful in terms of your diet (turns out they can even offset your vices) and your environment, but certain herbs and flowers can do things like fight acne and calm inflammation when used on your face.
No one knows this better than Joshua Morgan and Brad Scoggins, the duo behind Little Barn Apothecary, who have been crafting organic, holistic products out of all-natural ingredients for years (way before the brand officially launched in 2015). As herb enthusiasts (no, not that kind), they’re well-versed in what to slather and spritz on for everything from calming skin redness to keeping whiteheads gone for good.
“A lot of come from modern-day products that are filled with parabens and synthetics that are clogging the pores”
Clearly, they’re doing something right: Not only is the indie brand an editors’ favorite, but this Friday, August 12, Little Barn Apothecary is opening it’s first brick-and-mortar store in Atlanta. The stylish shop (filled with gorgeous plants, no surprise) is meant to be a hub for natural beauty enthusiasts, who will be able to test the latest and greatest from them—and other under-the-radar brands—as well as learn more about how plants can nourish the skin.
Photo: Chris Burden
Which is truly part of the duo’s mission: educating people on how natural ingredients can help them solve their most stubborn beauty problems. “Most flare-ups can be balanced by healing from within using a mixture of herbs and all-natural products,” says Scoggins. “A lot of come from modern-day products that are filled with parabens and synthetics that are clogging the pores. As far as acne and cleansing goes, you really want to nurture the skin.”
When you stop to think about your skin, there are two important facts to bear in mind. One, it’s the largest organ of your entire body, and two, it’s all over you. Men and women alike want healthy skin, and this is amply proven by the huge amounts of cosmetics and skin care products sold globally every year. According to cosmetic industry trade groups, global cosmetic and toiletry sales exceeded 333$ Billion last year, and are expected to grow. Additionally, in the highly competitive skin care business, natural ingredients are faring very well, with sales of truly natural cosmetics topping 8 billion dollars in the U.S. alone.
You don’t really have to spend big on skin preparations. This may sound like heresy to many, but a few herbal agents can do a world of good for your skin, and can help to greatly improve its strength, cellular health and firmness overall.
First off, a personal confession that I have splashed witch hazel on my face daily since I was a little boy. This refreshing liquid is distilled from the bark and leaves of witch hazel shrubs (Hamamelis), which are especially abundant in Connecticut. My dad used Dickinson’s Witch Hazel as an after shave skin bracer. I still do. Witch hazel is an astringent; it tightens skin and makes it more firm. Wash your face and then splash on witch hazel, and your skin will gain a healthy glow. Except when I apply topical remedies for bites, etc., witch hazel is the only thing I use on my skin besides water. It is inexpensive, and a bottle will last for months.
This little daisy-like lawn flower (Anthemis nobilis) has been used for centuries as an herbal tea for calming and for promoting sleep. Chamomile is given to babies with colic, and many a mother has quieted a child with a cup of this tea. It is unquestionably one of the most popular herbs of all time. But chamomile also demonstrates benefits to skin. It contains among other things a compound called alpha-bisobolol, which reduces the appearance of fine wrinkles. In other words, it makes your skin look younger, and provides excellent antioxidant protection to cells. You can get a chamomile-based preparation like CamoCare, or make a cup of strong chamomile tea and apply it as a face wash. You can also apply chamomile tea bags onto your skin after you have made the tea.
This tropical nut oil (Calophyllum inophyllum) from the Pacific islands has taken off like a rocket, due to some major media and increased awareness of its unique properties. Tamanu oil has antioxidant properties, so it helps to protect skin cells. It is potently anti-inflammatory, so it benefits sensitive or irritated skin. It’s pretty much the single best thing for burns of any kind. It has cicatrizing properties, which means that it causes the formation of new healthy skin tissue. And as an additional benefit, it kills pimples fast and radically speeds up their healing. A little bit of nutty-smelling tamanu oil goes a long way. Just a thin smear on your skin- anywhere- will make it healthier, smoother. I like the New Chapter Tropical Tamanu. Tamanu is both a beautifier and a first aid product. I never ever travel without tamanu oil. It is indispensible for treating bites, stings, cuts, abrasions, and any kind of bad thing that can happen to skin.
This is first aid pure and simple. But it’s also starting to make its way into exotic cosmetic preparations around the world. From the Amazon rainforest, Dragon’s blood (Croton lechleri) is the latex of a fairly common tree. The latex is blood red, and is widely used by native people as a treatment for any skin problem, including burns, bites, stings, scrapes, cuts, infections, eruptions. You name it, dragon’s blood is applied to it. The latex is rich in an alkaloid called taspine, which demonstrates powerful healing properties. Dragon’s Blood fights bacteria, fungus and viruses, and when applied directly, it forms a “second skin,” a thin protective barrier. I like the Dragon’s Blood from Raintree Nutrition. A bottle will last you a long time. I have used this often, and always bring it with me on field trips.
The world of medicinal plants includes not only those herbs that are used internally, but a broad array of plants that also have traditional and new applications for skin. The herbs I have mentioned here are just a few among many, but using them will open you up to a whole new experience of natural, herbal skin care.
Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com
Herbs for healthy skin and hair
Here are five top tips to naturally boost your beauty regime:
Herbs for breakouts
If you are suffering from breakouts it could be related to hormonal imbalance, excess stress or liver stagnation. There are some incredible herbs that support liver function, which is the major organ responsible for breaking down and excreting excess fat-soluble hormones, such as oestrogen.
If liver function is poor, hormones will build up in the bloodstream and play havoc with skin health.
Some of our favourite liver-supportive herbs are dandelion, turmeric and lemon, as well as matcha green tea for breaking down fats more effectively and providing essential antioxidants to neutralize free radicals.
Pukka teas and supplements to try: Clean Matcha Green tea, Clean Chlorella tablets
Herbs for healthy hair
Any herbal tea containing nettle is wonderful for healthy hair. Nettle is rich in the mineral silica, which naturally helps to strengthen the keratin (a compound in hair) in the hair and nails, allowing stronger growth.
If your hormones are out of balance and you’re feeling stressed, this can sometimes cause hair to become fine and brittle.
To help reduce stress and balance hormones, the Ayurvedic herb shatavari nourishes the body and helps support a healthy hormonal cycle. It is also an adaptogenic herb, which means it is able to help the body cope and adapt when it is going through periods of stress.
Pukka teas and supplements to try: Wholistic Shatavari capsules, Castor Oil
Herbs for clear skin
While completely clear skin may not be a realistic goal, it is important to have a liver that functions effectively to help your skin. A healthy liver helps to keep the body clear of toxins that may originate from our diet or from the environment. These toxins can cause breakouts and unwanted skin troubles. Ensuring you have enough antioxidants in the diet also is a must for radiant, glowing skin.
The bright yellow spice turmeric is known as ‘the golden goddess’ in India thanks to its beautifying properties. Not only does turmeric help to support a healthy liver function, but it is jam-packed full of antioxidants that protect the skin cells from ageing. This also improves the appearance of skin so you can sport a healthy glow from the inside out.
Pukka teas and supplements to try: Glow capsules, Cleanse tea, Turmeric Gold tea
Herbs for beauty sleep
We all know that getting enough sleep at night is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Lack of sleep can impact on your appearance, with poor sleepers often suffering from dark circles around the eyes and tired-looking skin.
Herbs such as valerian, oat straw and chamomile have been used for centuries as a natural relaxant and sleep aid and can greatly benefit those who have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. They also help the mind and body to relax and unwind before bed.
Pukka teas and supplements to try: Night Time capsules, Night Time tea
Herbs for hair growth
Stinging nettle is one of the best possible plants you can take to stimulate hair growth. It does so by balancing the hormones that are responsible for hair loss. Nettle is also nutritive, containing many important compounds required for repair and optimal body function.
Ginseng is a popular herb for its tonic effects. A tonic helps to support the body when it is tired, overworked or depleted and therefore will help restore normal vigour. Once a body is balanced and retains equilibrium, growth processes such as hair will function better.
It’s tempting to turn to a bottle of harsh product when met with skin complaints or hair troubles. But natural remedies provide a kinder, more eco-friendly and equally effective alternative.
Most of us know lavender helps us relax, chamomile soothes our souls and calendula acts as an anti-inflammatory – but there are plenty of lesser known natural wonders that have huge benefits when it comes to skincare.
“Often they’re thought of as weeds, but actually contain some amazing properties,” says Sami Blackford, apothecary, alchemist and creator of all natural skincare brand FreyaLuna. She shares her top natural skincare ingredients…
“Nettle has long been used for skin and health complaints, from eczema, to arthritis, to haemorrhoids. A tea made from the plant helps stimulate circulation – and due to its iron content, is great for women in their menstrual years, renewing iron levels within the body.
“I use it as an ingredient in shampoo as it’s been used for centuries to stimulate hair growth. The ingredient can be helpful as hair loss prevention as well as to remedy dandruff. As well as all of that goodness for the scalp, nettle can also improve the feel and quality of dry and lifeless hair, making it softer and shiner.”
“Horsetail contains high levels of silica – an ingredient used used to build collagen – so is of great benefit to our skin, helping keep it supple and elastic, as well as our hair and nails.
“Again, I use this as a hair care ingredient in one of my shampoos. And I’ve really noticed my fingernails have become a lot stronger and healthier since using shampoo with horsetail in, simply from the action of massaging the shampoo into my scalp.”
“Native Americans have long used burdock root for medicinal purposes – from purifying the blood to treating skin infections. Whether taken internally or applied externally, the root is a very a cleansing, eliminative remedy to a number of ailments.
“For this reason, I use burdock in my Facial Cleanser – formulated for spot-prone skin. It helps to remove dirt, make-up and any toxic build-up, while its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities help soothe and heal inflamed spots and blemishes.”
Trudie DavidsonGetty Images
“Traditionally known as ‘knit-bone’, comfrey has a reputation for speeding up the healing process of bone fractures. This is probably due to its allantoin content. Comfrey is also helpful for arthritic joints, bruises and sprains.
“Due to its high carbohydrate content, comfrey helps rejuvenate the skin, and for this purpose I use it in one of my hand creams, as well as my hydration serum. Comfrey has healing, soothing and moisture-retaining properties which are helpful for rough and damaged skin. It’s also said that over time, comfrey can help to alleviate wrinkles and improve the elasticity of skin tissue, meaning skin looks and feels more supple.”
To learn more about Sami and how she turned her talent into turnover, pick up a copy of Country Living’s September issue. On sale now.
These are the Top 10 Herbs for Hair Growth
There is no denying that nature has been a source for beauty solutions since the beginning of time. Herbs are a natural way to treat a variety of ailments from an uneven complexion to a dry scalp. But herbs can also aid in your hair growth hair goals! Here are the top ten herbs for hair growth.
1. Gingko Biloba
This herb is known to stimulate blood flow and improve circulation. It can help with increasing the blood flow follicles need to encourage new growth at the root level. It can be used topically, but is more commonly used in the form of a tea since the benefits are attainable through digestion, as with most herbs. It can also be taken as a supplement and is especially useful for people suffering from deficiencies that affect the follicle. According to research published in International Journal of PharmTech Research, this herb leads to “hair regrowth, through combined effects on proliferation and apoptosis of the cells in the hair follicle thus suggesting potential as a hair tonic.”
Often used as an oil, either combined with olive oil or by itself, this herb can help with circulation to aid in growth. It has the added bonus of stopping premature graying as well! It is also super moisturizing so it can be used to treat a dry, flaky scalp which may stand in the way of new growth occurring. One study published in Phytotherapy Research Journal found that the topical use of rosemary on mice showed an improvement in hair growth by blocking excess testosterone production.
Peppermint is another herb that offers healing to the scalp to help with growth. It not only moisturizes and soothes an irritated scalp, it also stimulates hair follicles. A healthy scalp is the bedrock of hair growth so don’t underestimate herbs that work solely to heal the scalp as a means of growth. This herb is often used as an oil applied directly to the scalp, as an ingredient in hair products like the EDEN BodyWorks Peppermint Tea Tree Conditioner, but may also be consumed as a tea. According to a Toxicological Research study performed on the use of peppermint oil for hair growth, the results show that by the end of four weeks, 92% of patients showed hair growth.
4. Aloe Vera
The gel of this plant is often used in stylers, like the Ecoco Eco Curl Activator gel. The gel can restore the pH balance of the scalp which helps to encourage growth. It is also a great way to moisturize the scalp since it is super hydrating. You can apply this gel directly to the scalp and massage for the best results or create an aloe vera rinse. The International Journal of PharmTech Research reports that aloe vera “gel is used traditionally for hair loss and for improvement in hair growth following alopecia.”
One of the lesser known herbs, this is actually one of the most widely used in hair products. It is known to improve the strength of hair, as well as bones, thanks to the ingredient silica. It also helps to make hair less brittle to retain hair which is great for hair loss. It can be taken as a supplement or used in a product that already has it as an ingredient. It is important to drink plenty of water with this herb since it is a diuretic. University of Maryland Medical Center reports, “Be sure to drink enough fluids when taking horsetail preparations by mouth.”
This popular herb has antibacterial properties so it will leave the scalp free of anything getting in the way of generating growth. If your scalp has a lot of parasites, fungus, or other less than desirable things, it will be almost impossible for growth to take place. This herb is commonly used as a topical in the form of an oil, but can also be made into a tea. Additionally, many hair care brands incorporate lavender into their products, like JessiCurl. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, “In one study of 86 people with alopecia areata (an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out, often in patches), those who massaged their scalps with lavender and other essential oils daily for 7 months experienced significant hair regrowth compared to those who massaged their scalps without the essential oils.”
Packed with essential fatty acids and phytosterol compounds, burdock can help with an irritated scalp while also reversing hair loss. It can help generate new growth thanks to these two elements, and is often found in many hair care products aimed at restoring hair. In fact, the fatty acids in this plant can even be used to treat psoriasis. University of Maryland Medical Center reports that in a study of 40 people with psoriasis, those who took fish oil rich in the same fatty acids found in burdock with their prescription medications had better results than those taking just their medicine.
8. Stinging Nettle
This herb helps block the over production of DHT which leads to hair loss. While it may not create new growth, it does stop hair loss while helping to restore balance to the hormones that create hair growth. It also has strong antibacterial properties. A study, published in Phytomedicine and Therapeutics Journal to determine this aspect of stinging nettle, found that this result, “may be attributed to the presence of agglutinin, a lectin, and other active compounds in the plant.”
Another herb commonly found in hair care products, this herb is known to stimulate the circulation needed for hair growth. It can also work to make strands stronger to help with retention of hair. A study conducted in Europe PMC, shows that ginseng extracts have a positive effect on recovery of hair follicles.
10. Saw Palmetto
Working to stop the imbalance of hormones that stand in the way of growth, this herb is similar to stinging nettle. In fact, for the best results, you can combine the two together as a topical to get better results at both stopping air loss, and improving growth. It also works to control overproduction of DHT. According to this study, “Saw Palmetto extract inhibits the binding of DHT to receptors, thus blocking DHT’s action and promoting the breakdown of the potent compound.”
Photo: Getty Images
For centuries people have relied on nature and nature alone for their beauty needs, with herbs being the answer to dry skin, dull hair, blemishes, and more. While there are now countless non-plant-based products to choose from—many which are safe and effective—don’t go thinking that herbs have lost their luster. After getting some tips and DIY recipes from Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, chief medical officer of Well & Being, we’re eyeing mother nature to address a range of grooming matters. These are a few of her favorite herbs for beauty and her recommendations for how to use them.
Sunflower Seed Oil for Dry Skin
“Sunflower seed oil your skin maintain its natural barrier function,” Dr. Low Dog says. “You can make your own amazing moisturizer by filling a pint-size jar 3/4 of the way full with calendula flowers and covering them with organic sunflower seed oil. Let the jar sit for two weeks, shaking it daily. Strain the flowers out and measure the liquid. For each cup, add 1/2 to one teaspoon of your favorite scented essential oil. The moisturizer can be used in the bathtub or directly on the skin after bathing.”
Rosa roxburghii for Dark Spots
“I love Rosa roxburghii for dark spots. This beautiful, flowering bush grows throughout Asia, and its fruit is rich in vitamins A, C, and E and essential fatty acids that help soothe irritation and inflammation that contributes to hyper-pigmentation. It can be found in a number of popular skin care lines , often in combination with licorice, which also has good evidence for naturally lightening dark spots.”
Chamomile, Rosemary, Nettles and Cocoa Nibs for Hair
“I love to use herbal rinses on my hair. Chamomile and calendula flowers are generally used for light colored hair, while rosemary, nettles, and cacoa nibs are used for dark hair. To make a hair rinse, simply steep one cup of herbs in four cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain into a quart-size jar. You can add an essential oil if you like—5-10 drops of lavender or rosemary for instance—along with two teaspoons of baking soda. Shake well and allow to cool. In the shower or bath, pour it over your hair and gently massage it into your scalp. Leave it on for about five minutes and then rinse. Try doing this once a week—you’ll be surprised at how soft and luscious your hair feels!”
Arnica, Calendula, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Neroli to Enhance Massages
“Herbs and essential oils extracted from plants enhance the beneficial effects of a massage. For example, arnica oil is often used to relieve sore muscles and calendula oil is good for dry skin. Lavender is great for easing tension and eucalyptus opens the sinus passages. Neroli calms and lifts the spirit.”
Green Tea, Tea Tree Oil, and Lemongrass Oil for Acne
“A simple toner can be made at home that is both inexpensive and highly effective. This is the vinegar green tea toner that I make: Bring six ounces of water to boil, turn off heat, and add three organic green tea teabags. Steep covered for 20 minutes. Remove teabags and add one ounce of organic apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil or lemongrass oil. Refrigerate for 7-10 days. Apply a bit to the neck to make sure you don’t have any sensitivity, then use morning and night after washing your face. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which acts as a natural exfoliant for the skin, removing dead skin cells and dissolving the oil that can clog pores. Green tea improves acne by decreases sebum production, and tea tree oil reduces inflammation.”
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