The Herbalist’s Guide To Eczema

herbal medicine

Natural medicine.

You should pay attention to herbs.

Herbs can bust itches, heal your skin and repair your immune system even better than chemicals. And without side effects.

They are powerful little plants that can cure many different types of diseases, not to exclude eczema.

Herbs are slow and natural but they cure via the root cause, drugs are fast and magical but they temporarily mask the symptoms away.

Here’s a guide to improving your eczema using herbs.

How To Use This Guide

I’ve compiled a list of herbs that are helpful to eczema, but different herbs are for different aspects e.g. one could protect you against sun damage and another one will reduce inflammation.

This guide will give you all of the (known) essential herbs for eczema, and at the end with more information as well as 3 suggested combinations of skin pastes and herbal juice, here goes the list:

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera (Aaloe veraloe vera) is commonly used via its juice, as you can see the gel-like substance inside the leaves.

Helps with: acne, skin beauty, burns, cuts, insect bites, sunburns, wrinkles as well as constipation if ingested.

Aloe vera is highly used for its soothing properties, there’s even a research that proves it is better than 1% silver sulphadiazine cream for treating second degree burns.

2. Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicbasilum) is commonly used for air freshening and its taste but it isn’t just used for its aroma from the leaves and oil, there are other uses.

Helps with: aromatherapy (basil comes from the mint family), facial care, repelling insects, insect bites, memory/focus and warts.

In ayurvedic medicine, basil is used for: colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria.

3. Burdock

BurdockFlowerBurdock (Arctium lappa) has been an important ancient herb used for cleaning the liver and building the blood. If taken internally, it could get you sweaty and urinating. Think of burdock as a toxic elimination herb.

Helps with: acne, diabetes, eczema, pregnancy, psoriasis and it has anti-cancer properties.

The roots, seeds and leaves are all used.

4. Calendula

calendulaThe calendula (Calendula officinalis) isn’t just a pretty flower, its flower and oil has great skin healing powers and antifungal properties.

Helps with: acne, skin beauty, cuts, oral care (sore/infected gums), vision and insect bites.

One of the best eczema treatment creams derive from this herb called Calendulis cream.

5. Cat’s Claw

The ccats clawat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a common herb found in South America, it is not a herb that directly tackles with eczema, but it is extremely helpful with arthritis and the immune system (this is critical for eczema health).

Helps with: ulcers, immune system, lupus and arthritis.

The bark is used, the essential nutrients can be absorbed by the tongue but that will leach its benefits, therefore it is better to gulp down with water to ensure the nutrients successfully get to the stomach.

6. Chamomile

TChamomilehe chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a part of the sunflower family, apart from this fact, it is one of the core herbs in herbal medicine as it has numerous of benefits on the human body.

Helps with: anxiety, aromatherapy, burns, cuts, yeast, cramps, nausea, oral care, depression, digestion, ear, eczema, skin care, IBS, sleep issues, stress and sunburns.

It is often used via its flowers and oils which can be used for tea.

Allergies will occur to the ragweed family, and this herb thins the blood.

7. Chickweed

Chickweed (Stellaria mechickweeddia) is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties for the skin. Also, a traditional remedy for weight loss if being made into tea.

Helps with: constipation, weight loss, hemorrhoids, insect bites, psoriasis, eczema and skin care (cuts, dryness, burns…etc.).

The whole herb is used.

8. Cinnamon

cinamonCinnamon (Cinnamomum) is a core herb with multiple benefits, commonly used for blood glucose control (for diabetes), it has antibacterial properties and it aids digestion.

Helps with: air freshening, aromatherapy, athlete’s foot, yeast, colds, diabetes, digestion, flu, IBS, repelling insects and nausea.

It is normally used via its bark (dried) and the oil.

Avoid high consumption.

9. Cleavers

ClCleaverseavers (Galium aparine) have a long history on flushing toxins out from the body and purifying the blood, it is a diuretic.

Helps with: eczema, hair, hypertension, kidney, psoriasis and skin care.

The dried aerial parts are used and the juice.

10. Comfrey

Comfrey (Symphytucomfreym officinale) is one of the best healing herbs of all times, it has a long history of usage.

Helps with: bruises, cuts, eczema, ulcers, skin care, coughs, sore throat and sunburns.

Roots and leaves are used.

Not recommended for overconsumption (multiple times your body weight) that can give you liver damage (internal use).

11. Dong Quai 

dong quaiDong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is a common herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, it has been mainly used for women, but also helps with the flushing out of toxins from the immune system and the liver.

Helps with: amenorrhea, sexual appetite, bruises, cancer prevention, dysmenorrhea, regulation of female hormones, immune system, liver, menopause, menorrhagia, back pain and PMS.

The root is used.

Not for use during pregnancy.

12. Narrow-leaf Coneflower

Narrow-leNarrow-leaf Conefloweraf coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) has several similar variants, but they all provide the essential nutrients. It is most effective if taken before a cold or other infection symptoms.

Helps with: yeast, colds, ear, immune system, insect bites, sinus and sore throats. It has anti-inflammatory effects (research).

It’s more often used for the roots because they are the strongest, stems and flowers are weaker.

Do not use if you are allergic to ragweed.

13. Elderberry 

Theelderberry elderberry (Sambucus nigra) for its leaves has long been used for bruises, chilblains and various skin irritations. The flowers are used for bronchitis, colds and eye irritations.

Helps with: bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs, eyes, flu, sinus, constipation, diarrhea, rheumatism and sore throats.

The leaves, flowers and berries can be used.

The root and bark will cause vomiting.

14. Ginseng

Ginsengginseng (Panax ginseng) is one of the most valued herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, it has various benefits.

Helps with: alcoholism, fatigue, immune system, libido, memory/focus and stress.

Only the root is used.

There may be adverse effects if used during pregnancy or high blood pressure.

15. Ginger

The ginger (Zingiber officinaleginger) is one magical herb. It is extremely valued in traditional Chinese medicine, as it has numerous of benefits.

Helps with: amenorrhea, aromatherapy, arthritis, bruises, cardiovascular issues, cholesterol, blood circulation, colds, cramps, digestion, dysmenorrhea, fibromyalgia, flu, IBS, lupus and nausea.

In TCM, it is commonly used for colds and its toxic flushing powers. Here’s a research on the usefulness of ginger and turmeric.

Only the root is used.

It’s a blood thinner. Avoid during pregnancy.

16. Heartsease

Heartsease (Viola tricolor) is one oheartseasef the several variants of the violet (Viola spp), it isn’t just a pretty flower – also used for medicine.

Helps with: epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and eczema. And traditionally for respiratory problems e.g. bronchitis, asthma, and cold symptoms. It’s also a diuretic.

The flowers and the leaves are used.

17. Licorice

Licolicoricerice (Glycyrrhia glabra) acts like the body’s natural corticosteroids, similar to hydrocortisone, making it a very effective anti-inflammatory substance.

Helps with: anxiety, stress, bronchitis, yeast, colds, congestion, fatigue, IBS, psoriasis, sore throats and helps stop smoking.

Only the root is used.

It is not recommended to use licorice for a long period of time, because it promotes hypertension, kidney problems, diabetes and heart problems.

18. Milk Thistle

Milk thistlmilk thistlee (Silybum marianum L.) is best known for its healing powers for the liver. This herb helps regenerate liver cells and protects it against from toxic damages and viruses.

Helps with: addiction, alcoholism and the liver.

Its ripe seeds are commonly used.

There have been reported side effects of diarrhea.

19. Myrrh

myrrhMyrrh (Commiphora myrrha) has long been used as a cleansing agent due to its effective antifungal and antiseptic properties.

Helps with: aromatherapy, athlete’s foot, yeast, colds, cuts, oral care, hemorrhoids and sore throats.

The resin (the sticky substance) is used.

Not recommended for internal use during pregnancy, overuse can cause nausea or vomiting.

20. Oregon Grape

The Oregon grape (Mahonia aOregon-grapequifolium) is proven to be anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal.

Helps with: detoxification, diarrhea, parasites, psoriasis (slows down skin production), sinus, skin irritations and sore throats. Can be used as a laxative.

The root is used.

Avoid use if pregnant, has gastrointestinal irritation/inflammation. Limit use to a maximum of 7 consecutive days for adults and 3 for children.

21. Parsley

parsleyParsley (Petroselinum crispum) isn’t just used for its taste and smell, in fact, it is rich in nutrients and has great medical properties.

Helps with: digestion, gout, halitosis (bad breath) and the kidney.

Also, parsley has the ability to inhibit histamines in the body, meaning it can decrease the symptoms of allergies and inflammatory responses like eczema flare-ups.

Roots, leaves and seeds are all used.

Avoid concentrated doses for people with kidney problems or during pregnancy.

22. Purslane

PPurslaneurslane (Portulaca oleracea) isn’t normally classified as a herb but more of a weed, I included this plant in here anyway because it is a very powerful plant with characteristics extremely helpful for eczema sufferers.

This plant has the highest level of omega-3 essential fatty acids (helpful against inflammation) amongst all land-based vegetables and it is rich in vitamin E, making it a great skin booster.

Helps with: insect bites, skin care, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, intestinal bleeding and skin irritations.

The stems, leaves, flower buds can all be used.

23. Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolired cloverum pratense) is rich in isoflavones (estrogen-like substances) commonly used by women.

Helps with: bronchitis, cancer prevention, regulating female hormones, menopause, osteoporosis, chronic skin conditions and blood purification.

Its flowering tops are used.

Consume only in slight amounts during pregnancy.

24. Slippery Elm 

Slippery elm (Uslippery elmlmus fulva) is one of the best herbs for the easing and reducing of pain and inflammation. Its slippery fibre is very soothing, both internally and externally.

Helps with: bladder infection, burns, cuts, diarrhea, ulcers, sore throats and skin care.

The inner bark is used.

25. Sophora Root

The sopsophora roothora root (Sophora flavescens) has multiple variants; it’s called the Ku Shen in traditional Chinese medicine, it’s very commonly used.

Helps with: viral hepatitis, enteritis, cancer prevention, viral myocarditis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, eczema, psoriasis and skin care.

The root is used.

26. Stinging Nettle

The stinging nettle (Urtica dioistinging_nettleca) is a very powerful herb and it has been used for a long time. Also, it’s highly packed with multiple essential nutrients.

Helps with: allergies, alopecia (hair loss), amenorrhea, arthritis, asthma, bed wetting, regulating female hormones, fibromyalgia, kidney problems, libido, menorrhagia, osteoporosis, PMS and prostate issues.

Due to its natural anti-histamine properties, it is great for abnormal inflammatory responses including eczema flare-ups.

The leaves and stems, roots also but uncommon.

Some people may get allergic to the sting, but ironically, its juice can alleviate the rash.

27. St. John’s Wort

St. Johnst johns wort‘s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is commonly used for its antidepressant abilities, but it is also effective against pains and skin irritations.

Helps with: anxiety, aromatherapy, arthritis, bed wetting, burns, congestion, depression, fibromyalgia, flu, cold sores, lupus, back pain, PMS and skin care.

Its herb tops and flowers are used, especially in oil form.

28. Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) isturmeric under the ginger family but shouldn’t be confused with ginger itself. Turmeric is one of the most valued herbs, it has strong anti-inflammatory powers, as well as antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Helps with: arthritis, cancer prevention, yeast, cardiovascular issues, cuts, oral care, eyes, lupus, pain, psoriasis and helps stop smoking.

Additionally, turmeric helps with weight loss.

Used via its rhizome (rootstalks).

Consume small amounts if you have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

29. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel (Hawitch hazelmamelis virginiana) is commonly used for its good anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a natural acne fighter, good news for facial care. This herb is critical in skin care formulas.

Helps with: acne, burns, cuts, eczema, eyes, hermorrhoids, insect bites, psoriasis, skin care, sunburns and varicose veins (enlarged veins).

Used via its bark and leaves.

This herb is usually topically used on the skin. If taken internally, only in moderate amounts or else you may get an upset stomach.

30. Yellow Dock

Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is kyellow_docknown for its laxative abilities but it’s also traditionally used for skin irritations.

Helps with: constipation and skin irritations.

Its root is used.

Avoid high consumption at all times, or combination with other herbal laxatives at the same.

31. Gotu Kola

Gotu kola (Centellgotu kolaa asiatica (L.)) is best known for its blood vessel strengthening properties. It is also a diuretic. Also, it stimulates collagen synthesis which is good news for skin rejuvenation.

Helps with: burns, cellulite, cuts, eczema and memory/focus.

Used via its leaves.

Large doses may cause nausea.

32. Birch

Birch (Betula alba) is a common herb birchwith various benefits including: being a natural pain reliever, having antibacterial and anti-inflammatory powers. And it’s a diuretic.

Helps with: cancer prevention, eczema, skin irritations, kidney issues and alleviating pain.

Used vita its bark and leaves.

Not for people with blood thinning medications, who are pregnant or nursing. The herb as a whole can be used without problems, however its oil should only be used in dilution.

33. Sarsaparilla

SarsaparilSarsaparillala (Smilax sarsaparilla) has a pleasant smell. Also, it has phytochemicals that soothe skin irritations, by disabling toxins in the blood.

Helps with: gout, psoriasis, autoimmune disorders and arthritis.

The root is used.

Avoid overconsumption for people with kidney problems or diabetes.

Practical Herbal Mixtures

Here is a list of herbs that could be used for a topical paste, and a drink that an eczema sufferer would benefit from.

It is not realistic to use all of them in one go, because skin pastes are usually combined from only several ingredients. And tea made of so many different herbs will taste bitter (better call it herbal juice), but it’s the fastest and most direct way for recovery.

Topical Paste

  • Aloe Veraskin paste
  • Basil
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Chickweed
  • Cleavers
  • Comfrey
  • Narrow-leaf Coneflower
  • Elderberry Leaves
  • Heartsease
  • Licorice
  • Myrrh
  • Oregon Grape
  • Purslane
  • Red Clover
  • Slippery Elm
  • Stinging Nettle
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Turmeric
  • Witch Hazel
  • Yellow Dock
  • Gotu Kola
  • Birch

Herbal Juice

  • Basilherbal juice
  • Burdock
  • Calendula
  • Cat’s Claw
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Cleavers
  • Comfrey
  • Dong Quai
  • Narrow-leaf Coneflower
  • Ginseng
  • Ginger
  • Licorice
  • Milk Thistle
  • Oregon Grape
  • Parsley
  • Purslane
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Turmeric
  • Witch Hazel
  • Yellow Dock
  • Gotu Kola
  • Sarsaparilla

Notes

  • To absorb the most nutrients from the cat’s claw, it is recommended to release its acids inside the stomach rather than on the tongue. So, gulp down with water.
  • Avoid if allergic to ragweed: chamomile and narrow-leaf coneflower.
  • Elderberry roots and barks cause vomiting.
  • Oregon grape: avoid use if pregnant, has gastrointestinal irritation/inflammation. Limit use to a maximum of 7 consecutive days for adults and 3 for children.
  • Parsley: avoid concentrated doses for people with kidney problems or during pregnancy.
  • Yellow dock: do not combine with other herbal laxatives.
  • Blood thinning: chamomile, ginger and birch.
  • Avoid high consumption: comfrey, licorice, witch hazel (internal use), yellow dock and gotu kola.
  • Avoid during pregnancy: cinnamon , dong quai, ginger, myrrh, Oregon grape, red clover (slight amounts only) and birch (including during nursing).
  • Avoid if hypertension: ginseng and licorice.
  • Avoid if hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar): turmeric.
  • Avoid if kidney problems: licorice and sarsaparilla.
  • Avoid if diabetes: licorice and sarsaparilla.

To be realistic, you’re not going to try all of the herbs from the entire list, I suggest reading the descriptions and then combine yourself your very own herbal juice and skin paste. Here are 3 combos I’ve made for you, feel free to switch around.

Suggested Combo #1 (Bacteria-Fighter & Toxic Flusher)

Skin paste: myrrh, Oregon Grape, turmeric.

Herbal juice: burdock, ginger, milk thistle and cleavers.

Suggested Combo #2 (Skin Healer & Immune System Boost)

Skin paste: calendula, comfrey, and slippery elm.

Herbal juice: dong quai, cat’s claw, ginseng.

Suggested Combo #3 (Itch-Buster & Digestion Aid)

Skin paste: chickweed, aloe vera, witch hazel and licorice.

Herbal juice: parsley, chamomile and cinnamon.

Herbalism is about trials and errors in mixing. Don’t use all ingredients at once, use a small number. And effects don’t show up obvious and fast (call it 3 months) for herbal juice treatment, skin pastes will give you responses right away though.

Extra Herbal Resources

Traditional Chinese Medicine Wiki

Annie’s Remedy (herbal combos for eczema)

What herb is good for _____ disease? (a fantastic article that explains the number one misunderstanding between Western medicine and herbalism)

9 Reasons Why Herbs Might Not Work (I highly recommend you to read this)

To Eczema Sufferers

Eczema patients need to understand that modern medicine work fast but it’s all temporary and makes it worse for the long run and herbal medicine is slow but natural and permanent against eczema.

Starting today, don’t go to the doctors anymore, instead, go to a herbalist and get a personalized diagnosis and receive herbal treatment.

Now scroll back up and create your own personalized tincture!

9 Comments

  • comment-avatar
    dan 12/03/2014 (00:02)

    please email me all the relevant information to cure my atopic eczema

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 15/03/2014 (22:58)

      Hey Dan,

      Eczema is complicated, there’s much of the information you can find on the blog. The problem is very individualized, could you provide me with some details with your personal case?

      Cheers,
      Harrison

  • comment-avatar
    Sophie 08/04/2014 (03:52)

    Hey, I’ve had eczema since i was a child. I’ve been taking chinese traditional herbal medicine from a practice in london for 2 months and 2 weeks now, still continuing. I dont see any change apart from now my eczema has increased and refuses to go, when will i see a difference ? Is this normal?

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 12/04/2014 (18:24)

      Hey Sophie,

      Being a Chinese myself, and that I’ve heard stories of people recovering from various of problems from TCM, I still have doubts against the practice. Herbal formulas do have strong medicinal and healing properties, but one should also consider the body itself heals itself, the herbs are only supplementary, likewise in any other “medicines.” TCM will definitely help you healing progress (unless you have a sensitivity to one of the herbs), but if progress seems slow or almost none, chances are you need changes in your lifestyle to heal your body as a whole: dietary, stress, exercise and sleep. Of course, there are lots of factors to put in consideration, but focus on these four first!

      I recommend you to read: http://cureeczemaslowly.com/the-truth-about-dieting-for-eczema/

      and: http://cureeczemaslowly.com/first-step-in-fixing-eczema-where-to-begin/
      Cheers,
      HL

  • comment-avatar
    Dee 07/07/2014 (16:33)

    Hi
    i have recently tried to moisturise with hemp seed oil. my skin is tingling and painful. should i continue in the hope of some relief?

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 08/07/2014 (10:40)

      Hi Dee,

      If you use natural and organic (some products say natural but they still include certain chemicals – check the ingredients) hemp seed oil, it’s good because of its fatty acids content. Apart from the chemicals, if your moisturizer is in highly concentrated forms (not diluted enough), you might feel the stinging sensation. This is a very common cause just as with people who use apple cider vinegar as a topical treatment. So, dilute your cream. This effect will die off in generally about a week’s time assuming you use it every day as you build tolerance plus as you use weaker doses.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Harrison

  • comment-avatar
    Peter 03/07/2015 (20:42)

    Is Apple cider vinegar helpful in eczema. I was told drinking a solution and oral application(it burns for a while) does this care?

    Thanks and cheers,

    Peter.

    • comment-avatar
      Harrison Li 09/07/2015 (22:17)

      Hi Peter,

      I have personal experience in using ACV as part of the detoxification, due to its high alkalizing content (despite its acidic-sounding nature). While it is nutritious in that it is antibacterial and alkalizing, you won’t really be able to notice obvious effects from using it. See it as a booster that assists your recovery as part of the dietary approach which is key.

      The burning feeling is expected for its vinegar nature. Dilute for better consumption.

      Cheers,
      Harrison