Eczema blog part 3 – Can herbs help to alleviate the symptoms of eczema?
Traditional herbs for eczema
Traditionally herbal treatment of eczema would be two fold an external preparation to alleviate symptoms and an internal medicine to ‘cleanse the blood’.
Traditional blood cleansers would have been dandelion, burdock, yellow dock and nettle.
Modern herbal medicine treatment is very similar, although we now know that the blood cleansers are allowing the liver to detoxify, reducing circulating metabolites, decreasing inflammation and inflammatory markers.
An easy and safe remedy to try at home
An easy and safe remedy to try at home is nettle leaf tea. You can either gather your own (in the spring or summer) or buy the tea bags at a health food shop or supermarket.
I recommend drinking three cups a day.
External treatments for eczema
External treatments for eczema are many and varied but they usually consist of herbs that are antimicrobial (to stop infection within the eczema site), anti-inflammatory herbs (to alleviate the redness and swelling at the eczema site), and often an anti-pruritic (or anti-itch).
A study of 72 patients with moderate eczema showed that when half of the patients were given a chamomile cream, and half were given a hydrocortisone cream, they were equally effective.
Chamomile is one of the key herbs that I use in my practice for eczema. A cold, used, chamomile tea bag can be effective and relieving the itch and inflammation on very irritated eczema where the skin is completely broken.
Another study showed that St John’s wort when used topically on eczema can reduce inflammation and the condition of skin in the area. A study of 28 patients with moderate eczema used the St John’s wort cream in comparison to a plain cream. The St John’s wort cream was more effective and decreased the eczema symptoms.
Other herbs that have been studied clinically and found to be effective at reducing eczema symptoms are: gotu kola, Oregon grape, liquorice and pansy.
Could herbal medicine help you?
If you or a someone you know suffers from eczema, I recommend they go and see a medical herbalist. A medical herbalist can make an individual prescription, for both the external and internal symptoms.
Find a qualified herbalist through any of these lists.
- Association of Master Herbalists
- The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy
- The National Institute of Medical Herbalists
- The Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners