Summer is a time when we want our skin at its glowing healthy best. It is also a time when our skin is exposed to the environment and more prone to bites, stings and rashes. Some people have flare-ups of eczema in the heat, while others overindulge in the wrong foods and get more spotty and pimply than usual. Whatever the issue, the herbal medicine cabinet has potent herbs for creating rich balms to soothe the skin, calm inflammation, and promote the healing and repair of tissues.
The star of any skin story when it comes to herbs has got to be Calendula. The humble garden marigold, companion plant extraordinaire, is naturally rich in carotenoids that feed and nourish the skin and aid repair. You can tell a good calendula ointment or balm by its rich golden colour. It also contains compounds which reduce irritation and inflammation, and is naturally antiseptic. Calendula is excellent for use on all tissues, no matter how sensitive:
For more chronic skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, we have some stellar traditional and native herbs which research and clinical use have proven to be effective for improving skin health. New Zealand natives Poroporo and Kawakawa both offer significant anti-inflammatory activity, reducing redness and irritation and targeting underlying inflammatory processes. These two herbs are also anti-microbial, keeping bacterial overgrowths at bay which can complicate other skin conditions such as eczema. Burdock is a fantastic aid for reducing itchiness, whatever the cause. When used topically on the skin it not only soothes the itch but also promotes and improves tissue healing and repair. These herbs are powerful but gentle, making them appropriate for all ages for relief of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or any inflamed or irritated skin.
If acne or pimples are a problem for your skin, you’ll know that the solution has to come from the inside and the out. What we eat and our hormonal balance both contribute greatly to acne, but the right topical preparation can make a world of difference. New Zealand native plants Manuka and Totara are extracted and used in a gel form as a clinically effective treatment for acne, either as a spot treatment or an overnight mask. These plants contain powerful antibacterial agents that target skin bacteria, and also reduces the associated inflammatory responses that create the lesions of acne. Additionally, the astringency of the herbs helps to tone the tissues, drawing them together to speed the repair process.
So if you have some summer skin that is needing some attention, look no further than the offerings that can be made from the botanical world. No medicine cabinet is complete without a little jar of Calendula Ointment for all occasions. I often tell people that such ointments are wonderful for the fact that they are useful for anything, can be used anywhere, and by anyone! The beauty of natural treatments is that they support and nourish the skin, strengthening it for the future.