Chamomile, calendula, comfrey, chickweed, plantain leaf, and slippery elm bark are all fantastic herbs for healing itchy skin. I would suggest infusing a few of these herbs in a base oil, then mixing it with some aloe vera (which reigns supreme for alleviating itchy skin) and adding a few drops of pure lavender essential oil. Apply this on your skin like you would a lotion. You can also make a salve out of the infused oil and add the essential oil and aloe. I don’t think I have a post up yet about how to make salves, so here is an incredibly informative video on how to make them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqDq_VnZ8Ok
First of all, please see your doctor to check out the bumps and make sure it’s nothing serious. That said, elderflower, chickweed, calendula, and yarrow are all wonderfully healing herbs for for clearing up skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. Try infusing these some or all of these herbs in the oil of your choice (extra virgin olive oil works best) and using the oil on your skin like you would any moisturizer. For more on how to make oil infusions, see this post!
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Parts used: Flowers and leaves
Benefits and uses: Yarrow is a beautiful and incredibly useful plant that grows practically everywhere. If hikers and other avid outdoors people knew only one plant, yarrow should be it. When fresh plant material is placed on an open wound, it stops bleeding almost instantly. It can also increase circulation when taken internally or used externally to promote blood flow in bruises or varicose veins.
Yarrow’s healing abilities have been known for an immeasurable amount of time and have even been made famous in Greek myths of Achilles; yarrow, also named Achillea, is the magic potion said to have protected Achilles so well. Also called woundwort and other similarly devised names, yarrow has been used on battlefields to heal soldiers’ wounds as far back as we have sad tales of war. Yarrow is probably growing wild somewhere in your backyard, but during the dormant season, keep enough dried on hand for whatever emergencies may arise. It can be powdered and sprinkled on wounds, not only to stop bleeding but also to dull pain, and as an antiseptic herb to prevent infection.
Yarrow’s abilities are not limited to wounds however. Taken internally, it can open pores for cleansing and to release a fever. Yarrow is frequently used as a tea at the first sign of a cold or flu. The tincture or tea can be used for bladder infections. Yarrow is anti-microbial, astringent, anodyne, and reduces inflammation.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Parts used: Leaves and flowers
Benefits and uses: We have only just begun to uncover the many uses for rosemary outside of the kitchen! It has long been renowned as a memory aid and for its beneficial effects on hair and skin, but it is also one of the best herbs for circulation, strengthening the heart and reducing high blood pressure. Drinking rosemary tea in the morning (especially during fall and winter) helps to stimulate circulation, bringing energy to the brain and all parts of the body. Tossing a few fresh sprigs into a bath makes for an invigorating and uplifting soak that gets everything in your body moving! If you feel sluggish, fatigued, or down-and-out, a rosemary bath shifts things to a new place and enhances spirits since it is toning and calming for the nervous system as well.
Studies also show that rosemary is effective in slowing the growth of several bacteria that are involved in food spoilage. Rosemary has proven more effective in food preservation than many common food preservation additives. Additionally, rosemary is a wonderful hair and skin tonic. Pouring room temperature tea on your hair stimulates circulation to the scalp, helps with dandruff and oil, and makes your hair shiny. You can also make an extra cup of tea and gargle with it if you have any canker sores or gum inflammation! This humble kitchen herb is now a multipurpose body care product!
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Parts used: Flowers, buds, leaves
Benefits and uses: St. John’s Wort blooms around the summer solstice, bursting forth stunningly sunny flowers. I was amazed the first time I squeezed the flowers between my fingers to see a purple stain left behind! Another trick of St. John’s Wort is the perforated leaves, which you can see when held up to the light of the sun - these tiny holes are the oil glands. This in an all around magical plant that is such a joy to work with!
St. John’s Wort is commonly associated with depression, although many herbalists feel that it is best suited to mild cases of the blues, especially when related to seasonal affective disorder or lack of healing energy from the sun. I first think of St. John’s Wort as being a nervous system restorative. Besides lifting the spirits, St. John’s Wort brings relief to painful and even infected nerves - an oil or liniment can be used on nerve pain such as sciatica. It’s also a fabulous match for viruses that attack the nervous system such as in the case of cold sores and shingles.
Externally, it has wonderful healing abilities against rashes, burns, and wounds. Some people even use the oil to prevent sunburns and an external wash to heal sunburns! Taken over time, St. John’s Wort can ease insomnia and promote restful sleep. Note: Well-made medicine from this plant turns a brilliant dark red color that amazes me each time I see it!
Reblogging this from myself because this was my first-ever post. :)
Burdock is a nourishing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid in the healing of everything from acne to cancer. It is commonly referred to as an alterative, which is loosely defined as altering the body towards health. Burdock root is so effective because it is a super food that is jammed-packed with essential nutrients.
You may be familiar with burdock and the large burrs that this plant produces in the fall. Burdock is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle. The root is typically harvested for medicine in the fall of the first year. You can identify a burdock plant in its first year by the large leaves and absence of flower stalks and the burrs. The root grows deep into the earth and prefers hard rocky soils, which can make it a challenge to dig up. However, the effort put into gathering this tenacious plant is well worth it!
Common uses for burdock:
- Diabetes, syndrome X, insulin resistance, and other blood sugar disorders.
- Strengthening the liver and kidneys (burdock is very high in iron).
- Skin eruptions such as psoriasis, eczema, herpes, acne, and boils.
- Commonly paired with red clover as a duo that has been used for thousands of years to slow or eradicate tumors.
Note: Because of its high inulin content you want to limit the amount of fresh burdock you eat and cook it well. Inulin is a valuable substance, but it is difficult to digest and will cause excessive gas if not cooked thoroughly. Burdock is a strong diuretic and is not appropriate for people with low blood pressure or excessive urination.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Parts used: Flowers
Benefits: Red clover is another wonderfully healing plant that grows commonly as a weed. Its vibrant soft fluffy flowers are a delight to harvest, each one delicately popping off the stem. Drying red clover can be a little tricky, so pick your red clover when they’re vibrant, and immediately lay them out to dry on screens or drying racks. Spread them out thinly so they do not touch. When buying dried clover look for clover that is vibrantly colored reddish or purplish, never brown.
Red clover is safe for children to use and has been employed frequently for dry spasmodic coughs like whooping cough. It can also be used or childhood or adult eczema. Drink red clover as an infusion and use externally as a poultice in the case of skin disorders. Red clover also has a long tradition of being used for tumors, swollen glands (especially saliva glands), and other growths. When using it for this purpose, Dr. Sharol Tilgner recommends using it externally and internally in large frequent doses.
Red clover is generally thought of as an alterative, restoring health and vibrancy by cleaning up metabolic wastes. Some women also use red clover tincture or infusion to help cool hot flashes associated with menopause. Although safe to use for many people, red clover’s ability to thin the blood makes it a bad choice for pregnancy and for those already on blood thinners. Regular use of this plant should also be stopped before surgery. Besides being a medicinal plant, red clover can be an addition to your dinner table - at the whole flowers on salads or fry them up as fritters.
- Acne - Burdock, calendula, garlic, lavender, lemon, nasturtium, rosemary, sage, St. John’s Wort, tea tree oil, thyme
- Age spots - Horseradish, lemon
- Blotchy skin - Aloe vera, horse chestnut, St. John’s Wort
- Chapped Skin - Cucumber, geranium, marsh mallow root, rose, slippery elm bark
- Dark circles - Hops, nettles, witch hazel
- Dermatitis - Aloe vera, benzoin, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, patchouli, rose, ylang-ylang
- Dry skin - Cucumber, rose, slippery elm
- Eczema - Chamomile, geranium, marsh mallow root, lemon balm, rosemary
- Fragile capillaries - Chamomile, juniper, neroli, rose, witch hazel
- Irritated skin - Aloe vera, chamomile, calendula
- Itchy skin - Aloe vera, chamomile
- Oily skin - Burdock, eyebright, honeysuckle, sage, witch hazel, yarrow
- Pimples - Echinacea, garlic, lavender, parsley, peppermint, tea tree oil
- Puffy eyes - Chamomile, cucumber
- Rash - Aloe vera, calendula, chamomile
- Sensitive skin - Calendula, chamomile, jasmine, neroli, rose, St. John’s Wort, witch hazel
- Sunburn - Aloe vera, benzoin, bilberry, chamomile, echinacea, horse chestnut
- Wrinkles - Chamomile, cypress, frankincense, ginseng, gotu kola, horsetail, neroli, rose, sandalwood
Calendula is my go-to herb for all skin-related issues! For more information on calendula, see this post. Elderflower and chickweed are also wonderful for soothing dry, irritated skin. Try infusing calendula, elderflower and chickweed in a small amount of organic cold-pressed olive oil (for how to make oil infusions, go here.) Combine the infused olive oil with jojoba oil, which acts like a second skin, providing protection and emolliency while still protecting the skin. It is one of the best oils for dry & damaged skin, but herbs don’t infuse well in it. Smoothing this on daily after a shower will work wonders on yr skin!
I will be posting some information on making creams & lotions in the future, so you could definitely make a nice thick cream from the oil if you wished. If you wanted to experiment, try adding coconut oil to emulsify the oils and add rosewater for the ultimate soothing sensation.
Lavender (Lavendula spp.)
Parts used: Flowers
Benefits: Lavender, oh lavender, how I love thee! If I could only use one herb for the rest of my life (I know, that’s a terrible thought), I would choose lavender because of it’s so versatile, both medicinally and culinary-wise. Lavender is the queen of nerve tonics, allowing you to respond to stressors of life in a less stressful way. It helps with irritability, restlessness, depression; calms anger and agitation; and invokes an uplifted feeling of well-being. It’s even useful for headaches and migraines! Lavender has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and astringent properties as well. Therefore it makes an excellent topical healer for skin conditions such as athlete’s foot, rashes, eczema, and psoriasis. Soak in a lavender bath when you are mentally or physically worn out or have aches & pains. Lavender is effective in nearly every form - tea, tinctures, oils, salves, vinegars, liniments, baths. Decide what works best for you!
Let’s not forget the versatility of lavender in the kitchen. Whip up lavender-infused oil and add it in your pesto, soups, stir-fries, sauces, and marinades. Steep lavender in vinegar and add it to drinks, dipping sauces, and salad dressings. Rub meats with lavender-rosemary salt or dazzle people with lavender lemonade! Seriously, go plant some lavender!