Herbal medicine approaches the skin from the inside out. Unless there is an external irritant, skin issues are usually considered to be due to an internal imbalance that must be corrected. This can be caused by food choices or food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, or a buildup of what is considered ‘toxins’ in the blood.
The idea of toxins in the blood usually refers to some impurities that are causing an imbalance in other areas. This can be the cause of breakouts or can affect other organ systems. These toxins may be chemicals that one is exposed to environmentally or through the foods they ingest. It may be that they eat foods that are not healthy (such as high in hydrogenated fats, sugars, or other inflammatory foods) and the body cannot properly process them. It may be excess hormones circulating through the blood, or many other things.
Many herbs used for skin health affect the skin based on the idea of first purifying the blood or supporting that process in some way. Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet that works with your body is most important for skin health. However, incorporating herbal tinctures into your skin care regimen can restore the balance you may need to change the health of your skin.
The following herbal tinctures can be great for your skin care regimen. Use as directed on the tincture bottle, or if there are more concerns, then consult a professional herbalist.
Astragalus, Astragalus membranaceous, helps to strengthen the immune system in fighting infections, but it is also considered an immunomodulator which makes it helpful for those with autoimmune conditions. It is used to for skin conditions such as eczema due to its anti-inflammatory and blood purifying effects.
Sarsaparilla, Smilax spp. is more commonly known as a flavor for beverages such as root beer. It is a widely used tonic in the areas surrounding Central America, and can be found in the ‘root tonic’ drinks from there. It is also anti-inflammatory and cleansing to the blood, removing impurities that can manifest as skin breakouts. It is supportive for chronic skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and general skin sensitivities or irritations. Sarsaparilla is considered an alterative, meaning it is used to support and bring balance back to all systems of the body.
Red Clover, or Trifolium pratense, is a sweet flower that can often be found in fields and is used as a cover crop in gardens and farms. As an alterative and blood purifier, red clover has been traditionally used in chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and especially indicated in children’s skin conditions.
Burdock, or Arctium lappa, is a root used commonly in Japanese cooking. It has many health benefits, and can be used as a tonic for general overall wellness. It is especially used for scaly skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. While it should be used internally for these conditions, the dried or fresh plant matter can be used as a poultice to relieve skin irritation externally as well.
Burdock is a bitter herb that stimulates bile secretion, digestive secretions, and the liver. In western herbalism, if the liver is considered sluggish, this can manifest in skin breakouts or skin disorders. When there are skin eruptions due to hormonal issues, we often use an herb such as burdock to support the liver in helping to return the balance, as it can help to flush out any excess of hormones.
Vitex, or Vitex agnus-castus, is also called chaste tree berry. It is primarily used to help bring balance back to the hormones by acting on regulation of the pituitary gland. Vitex is one of the favorite herbs for many different female hormonal imbalances, and can therefore be beneficial for acne outbreaks that happen as part of a woman’s cycle. If outbreaks occur during the same part of your cycle each month, it is a good indication that it could be due to hormones. Vitex should not be taken by women who are pregnant.
Yellow Dock, or Rumex crispus, is a standard herbal remedy for skin health. It is used for chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and also acne or other skin eruptions. Yellow dock is another herb that helps to bring balance to the systems of the body. It also works to support the liver, aiding in moving unwanted toxins from the body, stimulates the gall bladder in the production of bile, and acts as a mild laxative. Yellow dock helps in eliminating any congested excess from many systems, which can be considered a cause for skin conditions.
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