Its psoriasis! Its eczema! Well they are both inflammation of the skin. There may be more of an autoimmune piece to one but they are both inflammation of the skin. My skin had one of those, labeled at the time as contact dermatitis. Its all the same. Eleven. ELEVEN different prescriptions I was on for it. Pills, shampoos, and of course steroid creams. Nothing even touched it. Most things made it worse and it hurt.
Eight years ago I started my Master of Science degree program and I really started my own search through wellness practices and herbs to solve this problem. For most of these inflammatory skin conditions I really think there is a cure. Really?! Oh yes!
I started with using herbs internally to support my liver, some dandelion and burdock, later calendula. While these helped my body become stronger they were not really effecting my skin. My practitioner and I had chosen to start with them because in most traditional medical systems there is a strong connection between the liver and the skin. When there is a problem with the detoxification methods of the body it shows up in the skin.
So I targeted my eating habits to help detoxify my foods to reduce the load on my liver. Now I do not drink alcohol so my liver already was not working too hard and the gallbladder stimulation of burdock was helpful. I struggled to take it consistently because it was recommended I take a tincture. Looking back I should have taken it as powder for myself.
It is often suggested by doctors when steroids are not working that the problem is fungal so I approached using herbs topically. This was one of the things that led to the creation of The Dancing Herbalist. I developed a calendula cream. Calendula is a great anti-inflammatory for the skin and also helps to strengthen the bonds between skin cells. For many with inflammatory skin conditions, calendula either as an infused oil or cream can offer significant benefits.
When there is inflammation of the skin, the skin cells separate from each other slightly and particles that normally would not get into the body do. They can cause even more irritation and inflammation and looking back more than 10 years ago, I think this is what was happening when I was taking the steroid creams that were making my skin even worse.
When making my cream I quickly realized for my skin that I could not use essential oils on the rashes. They made it much worse than the steroids did. When I continued my research for manufacturing products for The Dancing Herbalist I came to learn why this was. Essential oils do a great job at ‘breaking the skin barrier.’ It does the same thing as the inflammation-breaks apart skin cells so that other molecules can get into the body, possibly causing additional irritation. This is great if you are trying to get medicinal herbs into the body but not great if there is already damage and inflammation to the skin. So I started avoiding essential oils and all things scented. Another step in the right direction.
Check my next post to see what happened next.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. Join her for live classes and The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online for more learning opportunities.