Although mainstream media virtually ignores herbs and other natural treatments for any medical condition, the World Health Organization says that about 80 percent of the world population uses medicinal plants to treat all kinds of health problems, including skin problems such as eczema. Many pharmaceutical companies use various herbs as a base for their drugs, even though they won’t tell you that.
Eczema is an inflammatory disease of the skin that is often found on the scalp, neck, wrists, elbows, and knees, but it can occur anywhere on the body. Eczema can be identified by its extremely dry patches of itchy, crusty skin. In extreme cases, eczema can even bleed or ooze a watery discharge. In addition to the itchy skin some people say that they feel a stinging or pins and needles type of sensation or that the area breaks out in pimples.
Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown some people believe that it results from an allergic reaction. Although there are some over the counter remedies that are designed to help ease the symptoms, they can be filled with toxic chemicals and be quite expensive.
Many people find relief from their eczema through herbs from Mother Nature. The following list of herbs has been proven to offer effective relief from the pain and itching.
Sometimes referred to as marigold, calendula is super effective when it comes to fighting dermatitis or eczema. You can find creams and ointments that contain calendula in many drug stores or natural remedies stores. Alternately, you can also apply moistened calendula tea bags to the affected area or, remove the leaves from the tea bags and apply it directly to the affected area and put a bandage or dressing over the moist leaves to hold them in place.
Actually, this isn’t a single herb but a combination of 5 herbs in a capsule form. Researchers have created this formula which contains the root bark of peony trees, Japanese honeysuckle, peppermint, the root of atractylodes herb as well as bark from the Amur cork tree. In a 2007 study done in China found that subjects who took pentaherb had a reduced need for conventional products such as steroid creams and generally had an improved quality of life. Why these herbs? Evidence suggests that all of these herbs contain anti-inflammatory compounds which help to reduce eczema.
3. Witch Hazel
You might think witch hazel is only for acne or for use as an astringent, but witch hazel has numerous benefits for the skin besides stopping pimples. Recent studies show that this old fashioned remedy works just as well as other treatments for eczema. One study involved 22 subjects with eczema. On one arm, subjects used a standardized witch hazel salve and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory cream on the other. After 3 weeks, researchers found that both arms had improvements in redness, itching, and scaling. Studies like these show that this age-old remedy works as effectively as many pharmaceuticals.
The leaves from the burdock plant have been found to help stop the scaling that it often found in those with eczema. Some say that burdock seeds work better than the leaves. If you should decide to use the seeds, mix them with some crushed garlic and glycerin for best results. Many people drink burdock root tea as a means of cleansing the blood. Scientists have found that burdock root not only detoxifies the blood, but improves blood circulation to the surface of the skin as well, which can improve the texture and quality of the skin. Burdock root also has antibiotic and antioxidant compounds. You might want to try making a poultice out of the leaves or seeds, and then drinking a few cups of burdock root tea for optimal results.
5. St. John’s Wort
This is another herb that is often used for another purpose, in this case for depression, but often helps in other areas. When used topically, St. John’s Wort is an effective remedy for eczema. Researchers in one study compared a cream that had St. John’s Wort extract to a placebo cream that did not contain any herbal ingredients in 21 subjects who had mild to moderate eczema. The participants were told to put the cream on one part of the body that had eczema, and the St. John’s Wort cream on another part of the body that also had eczema. Some people saw a small amount of improvement with the placebo, but the cream that contained St. John’s Wort far exceeded the results achieved with the placebo.
6. Evening Primrose Oil
As far back as 1989, evening primrose oil has shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of eczema. In a meta-analysis of randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trials showed that this oil had significant effects for those who suffer from this skin disorder. In a recent testing and re-analysis of more than 25 clinical studies that included more than 1200 patients confirmed again that this herb had very beneficial effects on the crusting, itching, edema, and redness.
All subjects showed improvement within 4 to 8 weeks after treatment. Try applying ointments that contain primrose oil, or squeeze out the oil from primrose capsules, and apply it liberally to the affected areas throughout the day, before going to bed, and after bathing.
German chamomile is perhaps one of the most overlooked herbs for relief from eczema. Back in the early 1980’s, a survey of 2,500 doctors who prescribed a chamomile based cream for their patients with eczema reported that 95 percent of those patients had good results and all of them tolerated the cream well with no side effects noted. Chamomile decreased inflammation levels, which led to reduction in the level of topical steroids that were needed to control symptoms.
Another study involved 161 patients who had eczema on their forearms, hands, and lower legs. Researchers studied the effects of a chamomile based cream versus other steroidal and non-steroidal skin products over a period of 4 weeks. Chamomile showed that it offered similar results as hydrocortisone. In fact, chamomile cream worked far better than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory cream or the steroid preparation.