Plants for the skin

Nature provides us with many skin care remedies. Some herbs are in fact rich in substances that can alleviate the main dermatological disorders and treat blemishes.

In nature there are many skin care remedies. Some herbs are in fact rich in substances that can alleviate the main dermatological disorders and treat blemishes.

Science and tradition get along well for once. Plants and flowers offer a mine of useful substances for the skin. From the most active, such as those contained in some essential oils, precious for their regenerating and disinfectant power, to the most homemade remedies such as those obtainable from the familiar chamomile or fragrant lavender.

Ancient recipes that come from popular tradition and more and more often find scientific confirmation of their effectiveness. Offering an interesting alternative – as well as cheap, which does not hurt – to industrial cosmetics products.

For a more beautiful skin…

Delicate, reddened, weather-sensitive skin? Chamomile and calendula are a panacea for all ages.

The first (Chamomilla recutita) has an anti-inflammatory action, due to the flavonoids contained in it, and a slight antiallergic action that make it an excellent remedy to calm skin irritations, protecting it from external aggressions.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is studied and appreciated above all for its anti-inflammatory action. Its extract is also able to promote tissue healing as it stimulates the activity of fibroblasts, the cells that ensure firmness and elasticity to the skin and the production of hyaluronic acid, essential for its hydration.

Precious allies are also oatmeal, used for its calming properties and to soothe itching, or bran, which enters the composition of soaps or masks to carry out a light peeling.

A real panacea for dermatitis is then the gel obtained from the pulp of Aloe vera, a plant rich in juice with an emollient action.

It has recognized anti-inflammatory, soothing, calming, moisturizing, healing, antibiotic properties that make it suitable in case of skin irritation and burns, sunburn, insect bites, itching, abrasions, but also before and after exposure to the sun.

Due to its high anti-inflammatory activity, due to the polysaccharides of which it is rich, it is also often used to treat dermatitis caused by radiotherapy.

… and younger

For older skin, the novelty of green anti-aging is Bacopa monieria, a plant from the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia and rich in compounds that protect against the action of free radicals, cause of oxidative damage and therefore aging.

But in general all extracts rich in antioxidants have an excellent anti-aging action; For example, those based on green tea, grape seeds, ginkgo biloba, sea buckthorn and lemon balm.

To nourish mature skin one of the most effective remedies is the oil extracted from rosehip, (Rosa affinis rubiginosa) rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and in particular retinoic acid that prevents photoaging.

While to try to prevent the red veins of couperose – and in general to strengthen the microcirculation – blueberry, ruscus, witch hazel and red vine can be used.

Small dermatological pharmacy

A useful disinfectant to keep always at hand is tea tree oil, a natural antibiotic very well tolerated, effective against bacteria, fungi and even some viruses such as Herpes symplex. It can also be used to treat acne in the form of oil or gel.

The other plant that should not be missing in the home pharmacy is hypericum ( Hypericum perforatum), also called St. John’s wort because its flowering reaches its maximum around June 24th.

It is used in the form of oil to treat light burns, small wounds, fissures, eczema and sores. In some cases it is used in combination with lavender oil to exploit its regenerating properties.

Many essential oils, especially those from clove, thyme , Savory, oregano, and juniper, have good antiseptic properties.

Recent studies also indicate that Licorice , in powder or infusion, has an effective anti-inflammatory action and can be used to treat psoriasis , eczema and atopic dermatitis. And others, finally, report the effectiveness of tincture of lemon balm against cold sores.

If the problem is the smell

Nature also provides us with solutions against bad smells: a plant with good efficacy, also used in soaps and deodorants , is sage. With a decoction of this herb you can also make anti-odour footbaths.

And then lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon nardus) can also be used which, thanks to its fresh scent, also has invigorating and stimulating effects.

Green cuddles

Finally, for a nice massage or an anti-stress or stimulating bath, perfumed essences can be used to enrich a natural oil (olive, almond or wheat germ) to be used for relaxing or stimulating massages.

For an invigorating effect, fresh aromas such as mint and rosemary or citrus fruits will be chosen, while chamomile and lavender have a relaxing effect.

The same essences can also be used in a hot bath to be prepared by diluting a few drops of oil in a glass of milk and then pouring it all into the bath water.

Some precautions to take It is always better to use plants or extracts from organic crops, or at least of certain origin (on the market there are also essential oils of chemical synthesis and plants from uncontrolled crops which may contain traces of pesticides or other pollutants).

Before using a plant, especially if you use essential oil, which is a concentrate of active ingredients, it is advisable to verify that you are not allergic, asking your doctor or herbalist for information if in doubt. In general it is good to limit the use of essential oils during pregnancy and in children.

It is usually best not to apply them directly to the skin but diluted in oils or creams. Many essential oils, moreover, such as bergamot, but also walnut and many others, are photosensitizing and therefore should not be used if you plan to expose yourself to the sun.

Mini dictionary

Term Meaning
Essential oil Substance extracted from plants by steam distillation
Plant extracts Term commonly used in herbal medicine to define preparations concentrates obtained by the action of a solvent. They can be solid, pasty or fluid.
Mother tincture Substance that is prepared by macerating the fresh plant in a hydroalcoholic solution and diluting the resulting liquid ten times, a procedure that allows preserve intact the active ingredients
Hydrosol aqueous solution Preparation obtained by distilling parts of plants (among the most common we mention rose water and orange blossom water)
Oleolite Preparation that is prepared by macerating the plant or its fresh or more frequently dried parts in vegetable oil
Decoction Preparation obtained by boiling the parts of the plant from which the active principles are to be extracted for approximately 2 – 15 minutes.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *