Eczema, Psoriasis and skin problems.

Skin problems, eczema, and psoriasis tips to accompany "Problem Skin" Salve on products page.  If you are an herbalist with additional input, I'd love to hear from you. 

This information is intended for educational purposes only. Statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, prescribe or prevent disease. Results may vary, and it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.  

Eczema can be confused with contact dermatitis.  Contact dermatitis can be caused by contact with industrial solvents, dyes, nickel and other metals, leather tanning chemicals, some soaps, fabric softener, wood, ragweed and a number of other things.  Though eczema is caused by an internal problem, these contact dermatitis irritants can irritate those with eczema or psoriasis as well. 

“Eczema is the final result of a complex series of internal reactions to exposure to such allergens and irritants. It often accompanies other allergic diseases such as hay fever and asthma, but may also occur alone.”  - David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

David has written a fantastic article about eczema, if you need help “translating” any of it, please let me know by using my email address below.

“Treating the symptoms of eczema is much more complex than the use of short-term solutions, such as steroid creams or medications, phototherapy, and moisturizing lotions.  Diet is one of the first places to start; the skin is a reflection of our inner health and sometimes specifically the liver or immune system.   Don’t just buy a topical remedy to help the symptoms, please focus on diet and use teas as well. “

To emphasize the importance of diet and skin… “Researchers are finding large amounts of transglutaminase, (aka meat glue), in diseased tissues (ed. such as eczema) within the body.  Transglutaminase must be noted as an ingredient on a food label. It can be listed in many forms including: transglutaminase, TG enzyme, enzyme or TGP enzyme. If a product uses meat glue the label should also read formed or reformed such as formed beef tenderloin.”

Some foods that will help the liver and therefore the skin are:  burdock root or gobo, carrots, sweet potatoes, salmon, watercress (which you can easily find growing in creeks), dark leafy greens and apples.   If you would like tips on how to dig burdock root, please email me.  It can be a little challenging.

When cooking, be generous in your use of rosemary and turmeric.  I even put turmeric powder in my water, it’s a very mellow spice that goes well with seafood, potatoes, corn and lentils. 

A traditional tea for skin problems is made of burdock seeds.  Grind around 40 seeds and steep in a cup of boiling water until cool enough to drink.  Take by the half cupful up to six times a day.  “Oolong tea can also soothe stubborn eczema. Researchers from the Shiga University School of Medical Science in Japan discovered this when patients undergoing treatment for their eczema began drinking oolong tea three times a day. Their skin health improved in as little as one week. After a month, 65 percent of the 118 participants showed significant improvement.” – Mother Earth Living

 You can make a strong infusion of cleavers or dandelion leaves to help as well.  Some have found tremendous relief eating half a cupful of cooked stinging nettle daily or drinking 2 cups of nettle infusion a day for 6 – 10 weeks.  An infusion is made when water just off of boil is poured over about a handful of plant material per quart of water, quickly capped and left for 4 hours or overnight. 

Because we are exposed to so many ingredients and chemicals in our life, it can be hard to know what the triggers are for an allergic or hyper-immune reaction, like eczema or psoriasis. Check into an elimination diet to see if anything you are eating could be a trigger.  When I was a child my Mom found that I was allergic to chicken by doing an elimination diet, so even uncommon things can be triggers.    Also consider switching laundry detergents to one that is all natural like Charlie’s and getting rid of fabric softener.  We use a splash of white vinegar in the rinse for fabric softener and it works well. 

Adding probiotics to your diet is another great place to start.  They can be found in the cooler section of many health food stores, but if that is not an affordable route, consider real fermented sauerkraut or Kim Chee with most meals.  Some health food stores have the real fermented products (must be from the cooler section and say raw or unpasteurized), but making at home is very easy, all you need is a crock, some salt and time.  They are age old superfoods and loaded with good bacteria for the gut, therefore assist with skin conditions.  “Like yogurt, the fermentation process makes cabbage healthier and more digestible than the plant in its original form. In addition to creating a naturally occurring probiotic supplement, fermentation adds other nutritional benefits as well.   Another 'bonus' of eating sauerkraut is that it is higher in B vitamins than cabbage, particularly in vitamin B12.” - .  Some have found relief using a kids chewable probiotics from Bellyboost though I would hope everyone would focus on the food sources first.

The term healthy fats is an oxymoron to many people.  We’ve been taught that fat is bad and many people use margarine or eat fake cheese.  Real fat is tremendously healthy to the skin, brain, hormone production, hair and nails, and helps us absorb and store fat soluble vitamins like D; whereas “fake fats” are at the root of numerous health problems including obesity and skin problems.  Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fatty acids. Dr. Weil suggests extra virgin olive oil, expeller-pressed organic canola oil, nuts (especially walnuts), avocados and freshly ground flaxseeds at 5-7 servings per day.  If you have to have butter, use real butter not margarine (though organic butter from free range animals would be the best choice because chemicals like pesticides and growth hormones the cow ingests are concentrated in the butter and these could be triggers).  I’d highly suggest removing all fake and bad fats from the diet immediately.   Heated hydrogenated fats (bad fats) are used in deep fried foods like fried chicken, fish, and chips, and have been associated with cancer and heart disease.

Some believe that avoiding foods that cause an inflammatory response is the best route in eczema.   Please note that most of the advice on fats and meat apply to factory farmed, not grass fed or free range animals.   There is a huge difference.  “Foods to avoid: animal fats including dairy fats(full fat milk and cheese), egg yolks(contain arachidonic acid), organ meats, processed meats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.  Inflammatory foods to limit: red meat, fruit juices (eat the fruit!), vegetable oils (other than olive oil), cereals and grains, other high glycemic index foods” - From

Ingest lots of omega-3 fats. Steer clear of trans-fats and foods that contain gluten.  “You can try eating fewer foods that may be tied to inflammation, which include meat, cheese, and anything containing saturated or trans-fat. And you can increase your intake of omega-3s while navigating around your allergies. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are concentrated sources of omega-3, although they're not quite the same type—nor as potent—as those found in fish. Add one tablespoon of the oil or the freshly ground seeds to your food daily. An allergy to seafood may not rule out a fish oil supplement; check with your doctor.” -  David L. Katz, MD

Dr. Weil has an anti-inflammatory food pyramid on this link that shows which foods to eat more or less of:  though I would not encourage the use of unfermented soy such as soymilk or tofu except with moderation.  To ingest soy products, I suggest using fermented soy like miso (a soup paste), tamari (instead of soy sauce) or tempeh (a meat substitute).

“In our factory farmed food universe today, where animals aren’t grass-fed and free-range, but are fed on cheaply grown grains and other unnatural feed heavy in omega 6 fats, the fats from those animals are in turn deficient in omega 3 fatty acids and heavy in omega 6 fatty acids. Thus, factory farmed dairy, beef, and their derivatives, as well as vegetable oils made from cheaply grown grains, are overloading our diet with omega 6 fatty acids, and we are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids. These factory farmed meats and dairy are considered inflammatory in part because omega 6 fatty acid is used to make inflammation molecules. For example, the prostaglandins that are produced by the body after insulin spikes are made out of omega 6 fatty acid.

So a diet high in high glycemic index refined starch like butter, cheese, bacon, fatty meats, vegetable-oil based mayonnaise, is basically inflammation-on-a-plate. Each junk food/comfort food meal that is heavy in refined or dense starches, that are flavored with fats as Americans do when they cook, is an ideal way to feed inflammation as it contains both the insulin triggers for inflammation and the omega 6 fatty acids to make the prostaglandins with.

A natural healer or nutritional healer would simply say that to avoid inflammation, one way is to stop eating so much of the omega 6 fatty acid containing foods (i.e. cut out the factory farmed meats and dairy and vegetable oils), switch to healthy oils in a moderate-fat or low-fat diet, and switch to anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables and spices to flavor your meals with instead of fats.

By moving away from the starches-fat-sugar-salt paradigm underlying bland, heavy comfort food cooking and learning to eat more fruits and vegetables, and learning to flavor your foods with herbs, spices, fresh fruits and veggies instead of fats, you can reduce the toll of chronic inflammation in your life.” –

One way to find relief from eczema or psoriasis is by adding chamomile herbs or flowers to a warm bath to soothe itching and inflammation.  Some have found relief by stopping the use of regular soap and using a pure glycerin soap, one that is unscented and rich in natural moisturizers, like a mild honey and oatmeal soap or one that contains coconut oil. Also, avoid hot showers and baths.  Warm water will make your skin much happier. Contrary to what may seem logical, a pediatrician recommended a long 20 minute soak in warm water with no soap until your skin is wrinkled, then slather your skin in safflower oil (not sunflower), or coconut oil.  This has provided tremendous relief for some. 

Taking a soothing semi-warm oatmeal bath can help as well. Oatmeal contains avenanthramides and phenols which have anti-inflammatory properties. It's easy to prepare at home and pre-packaged, expensive oatmeal bath powder isn't necessary. In 4 cups of water, cook 1/2 cup of non-instant, regular oatmeal for the normal amount of cooking time.  Pour the water and cooked oatmeal into a strainer that is sitting on top of a big bowl to save the liquid.

Take an old tube sock (one with loose elastic is easier) and scoop the strained oatmeal into the sock. I found it a bit less messy to fold down the top of the sock leg about an inch or two before starting.  Then, if the scooper touches the side of the sock, any oatmeal that stuck would be inside of the sock when it is folded back up. The less oatmeal in your bathtub, the better.  Fold the top of the sock back up and tie a knot. Pour the reserved liquid into your bath water and put the sock in as well. You can skip doing the sock and just use the liquid if it's too much trouble.   This also works great for poison ivy and chigger bites. 

Squeeze the water-logged sock right over trouble spots and let the goo ooze over the irritated skin. After the bath or a shower apply an eczema herbal salve or safflower oil.

Some triggers for eczema are "extreme heat and cold, vegetable juices (onions and potatoes are the worst so when cutting use gloves, but don’t allow the hands to sweat), harsh soaps, detergents with enzymes (use a baby free and clear detergent with no enzymes, dyes or perfumes), anything extremely drying like folding dry clothes or doing a lot of paperwork, anything topical with perfumes, even if it claims to be hypoallergenic. Perfumes use alcohol as a fixative, and alcohol is drying." -

  Other triggers are sunburn, menstruation, hot foods and beverages, spicy foods, and caffeine. Though it’s hard to believe, applied topically aloe vera can sometimes irritate people with eczema, though some find relief using it.  Drinking aloe vera juice is very soothing to the gut though.   Vegetable juices might be irritating, but eating vegetables is very important!!

Wear loose fitting cotton clothes next to the skin rather than irritating fabrics such as wool or artificial materials like polyester.  Eczema is often triggered by what makes contact with your skin - and if you’re wearing something with rough fibers, it will irritate. By opting for loose, light-weight clothes, you are giving your skin a chance to breathe. 

Rinse clothes well after washing them with detergent. Reduce the number of dust mites in your homes by regularly cleaning and vacuuming with particular attention to bedrooms, mattress, and bedclothes.

Stress can be a big trigger.  Learn deep breathing exercises and try meditation.  I have a post on my old blog about exhaustion and some of the techniques there may also help remedy stress -

Mother Earth news recommends “dry brushing the skin with a natural-bristle brush to exfoliate the build-up of dead skin cells. (This may be painful for some psoriasis sufferers; don’t use this treatment if it hurts.)  Begin at your feet and work your way up over your legs, torso and arms using smooth, upward strokes,” she says. “Then hop in the shower to wash all of the dead skin away.”

For an even more effective treatment, follow your dry brushing with a bath containing Dead Sea salts. High in magnesium, potassium, calcium and iodine, a double-blind controlled study of 23 patients by Israeli researchers found that Dead Sea salts significantly reduced psoriasis symptoms.”

Future batches of our herbal “Problem skin salve” will include wild carrot seed, ironweed and rosemary oil which will be ready over the next few months.  All future batches will also be infused in safflower oil only instead of olive oil so that it can be used on the face by those who are prone to break outs.  Future batches will no longer include extracts unless requested.  So if this batch doesn’t help your specific skin problem, our future batches might. 

Current ingredients for July/ August batch of “Problem skin salve” are:
Evening primrose, comfrey, monarda, sage, chickweed, cleavers, white violets, and self-heal infused olive oils; red clover and yarrow extracts (very little); juniper essential oil (very little) and vitamin E. 

·         May use with Fumitory strongly brewed as tea and applying it to the affected area with a cotton ball three times daily. 

·         Can also drink a regularly brewed Fumitory tea. “For internal use, the leafy alteratives are often considered the closest we have to specifics for this often intransigent condition. These are also often diuretics and lymphatic remedies. Herbs that would be included in this group include: Fumaria officinalis (fumitory)” – David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

·         Try drinking red clover and marshmallow tea during the day and chamomile tea at night.

·         Some suggest red clover 5 ml (1 tsp) of extract three times a day. 

We have dried fumitory, red clover, marshmallow and chamomile tea available while supplies last.  Otherwise, have a local health food store order in bulk for a discounted price.  If you are a Lebanon or Competition, MO local, I would also be willing to order in bulk for you and sell you a smaller amount to try.  For health food stores I use when ordering in bulk, see our website under Health & Garden/ Natural Ozark Businesses. 

If you have any observational information you would like to add to this flier, please email me.  If you have comments about our Problem Skin salve, we’d love to hear from you.