Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to treat a wide range of conditions from minor cuts and scrapes to life-threatening illnesses. Now modern research is confirming the validity of some of these ancient remedies, including some familiar herbs that have been used in treating common skin conditions, many of which are likely to plague us during the summer months.
Chamomile – Chamomile, which comes from the bloom of a plant from the daisy family, has been used for centuries to treat a number of health conditions. It has an incredible number of benefits, and none more so than for the skin. It reportedly reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by accelerating the healing process of the skin. And, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, chamomile helps clear up skin irritations such as eczema, acne, and allergies. It is also great to relieve chafing and even razor burn. Common ways to get the soothing benefits of chamomile are to apply a cooled cup of chamomile tea as a face wash, dab on an affected area of the skin with a cotton ball or apply chamomile tea bags onto your skin.
Witch Hazel – Produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel shrub, it is known for its significant antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, is an exceptional natural remedy for skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema and is also effective in treating blackheads and other blemishes. Witch hazel’s astringent properties help to tighten skin tissue and can reduce the appearance of dark undereye circles.
Witch hazel is also great for refreshing and rejuvenating healthy skin. For example, applying it to your face can help seal in moisture and refine the pores. Aside from improving your looks and providing anti-aging benefits, using witch hazel in this way can also guard against environmental pollutants and other external toxins.
Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera is another of the more popular herbs for treating the skin. The plant’s leaves contain a gooey, translucent gel that can be applied directly to an affected area of the skin. It is probably best known for the treatment of wounds, minor cuts, dry skin and severe burns, including sunburn. Like witch hazel, aloe vera is another important natural remedy in the fight against acne. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce pimple size while its anti-microbial properties kill bacteria. Aloe Vera is rich in Vitamin C, E and beta carotene which gives it its nourishing and anti-aging qualities. It can moisturize the skin without making it greasy, making it a great solution for those with oily skin.
Marigold – The Marigold or Calendula is another garden plant in the daisy family that, like Aloe Vera, chamomile and witch hazel, has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It also helps to heal wounds and soothe damaged skin, such as sunburn, cuts and scrapes. Calendula oil is also used to treat eczema. Compresses of calendula blossoms may be helpful for varicose veins. And results from recent animal and laboratory studies show that calendula may also have some anti-infective properties, particularly against fungal infections.
Calendula has a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as anti-oxidants in the body. Anti-oxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function.
Lavender – Lavender is an herb native to northern Africa and the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean. It may be famous for its relaxing effects of the mind, but it is also highly regarded for skin and beauty and is commonly used in fragrances and shampoos to help wash and purify the skin. It is rich in a compound called linalool that assists with skin healing while also preventing tissue degeneration keeping skin firm and preventing wrinkles. To make lavender even more of an anti-aging wonder, it encourages the growth of new skin cells due to its cytophylactic properties. Lavender also helps to heal wounds, scar tissue, acne, eczema and problem skin. Amazingly, it is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-toxic, anti-bacterial and an anti-septic. And according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, lavender oil may be effective in combating the incidence of antifungal-resistant infections.