A Whole-Body Approach to Healing Eczema and Psoriasis
At Earthwise Beauty, our customers often reach out to us seeking advice on the right products for their unique skin concerns. While we’re always happy to offer specific product suggestions, I also feel that it’s important to treat skincare as one piece of a holistic whole. Many of the most troublesome skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, for example, are best treated with a whole-body approach that includes herbal remedies, dietary changes, and of course, the right skincare products.
Eczema and psoriasis are both medical conditions that can only be diagnosed by an MD, but herbalism can go a long way toward helping those who suffer from these uncomfortable skin conditions. One of my favorite resources on medical herbalism is David Hoffmann, a Fellow of Britain’s National Institute of Medical Herbalists and a practicing clinical phytotherapist with decades of experience. Hoffman has authored 17 books on the subject, and is a founding member and past president of the American Herbalists Guild. In his book Medical Herbalism, Hoffman notes that eczema and psoriasis can be especially difficult to treat if they are not approached from a holistic perspective. Both conditions can have both internal causes and external triggers, and a thorough plan to alleviate them must take both factors into account. While there are a number of herbs that can soothe the skin externally, ultimately topical remedies can only do so much—a truly effective treatment plan must include internal treatment as well.
After years of studying the work of Western master herbalists like Hoffman, as well as studying Traditional Chinese medicine, I’ve have had great success in my own practice helping clients to address inflammatory skin conditions from both the inside and out. In the case of eczema, I’ve found that it is most often related to malfunctioning immune and digestive functions. So to address it from an internal perspective, we need to focus on herbs that strengthen the immune and digestive systems, while watching out for and eliminating foods that may aggravate the eczema. Turmeric is an excellent choice for dietary support, and can be added to smoothies and juices as well as used in cooking. It’s also important to be sure to get at least one generous serving of cooked dark greens per day. Other herbs and teas that can be helpful include nettle tea, black tea, puerh tea, chai, green tea, high-quality cinnamon, which improves digestion and nutrient absorption, and Triphala tea (I recommend Banyan Botanicals powder). For more extreme cases, anti-inflammatory diets excluding corn, nuts, soy, and/or wheat can sometimes be helpful, as can regular Chinese acupuncture and Chinese herbs prescribed by an experienced acupuncturist.
To treat the inflammation externally, I recommend regular steaming with Selene Facial Steam, a blend of soothing herbs that can help calm irritated skin. After steaming, apply Magical Babassu Face Oil or Nap in the Meadow Face Serum to clean, dry skin. To spot-treat stubborn patches of eczema, try applying Thelma Lip Treatment to the affected areas. Some of our customers have also reported success soothing their eczema with Ferns and Moss Face Serum.
Psoriasis, which can cause raised, scaly lesions that are prone to bleeding, is also thought to be related to the immune system. Psoriasis is fairly common, affecting up to 3 percent of the US population, and can be extremely debilitating in some cases. Flare-ups can often follow respiratory infections or be related to stress, injury, or other environmental factors. Because there is so much that remains unknown about psoriasis, a holistic perspective can be especially useful in treating it.
I have found that customers with psoriasis respond well to anti-microbial and redness-reducing products such as Nap in the Meadow Face Serum, Catharsis Face Mask, and Tigress Face Balm. Regular masking sessions with Sungod Face Mask or Imhotep’s Balsam Face Mask can also help with long-term healing. Because psoriasis is often related to immune system issues, insufficient vitamin D, and some other nutrient deficiencies, I believe a comprehensive approach to treating it should also focus on immune-strengthening herbs and on boosting the diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and healthy oils, such as unheated extra-virgin olive oil. Regular sun exposure, vitamin D supplements, and a mineral-rich diet that includes seaweed and quality sea salt can be helpful as well. And again, I highly recommend Chinese acupuncture and consulting with an experienced Chinese herbalist for a customized herbal formula.
Of course, every case is unique and the right herbal treatments for you may vary, so it’s always best to discuss your own personal conditions with a qualified professional herbalist. But if you suffer from an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, I hope you’ll find these suggestions helpful. With the right skincare products, diet, and herbal support, you can find a holistic path to relief.