Expert Answers to Your Health Questions


| January/February 2007

  • Creams that contain lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) can be helpful for eczema.
  • Pomegranates and other deep-red and blue fruits are rich in flavonoids and help strengthen the blood vessels.
    iStockPhoto.com/Zlatko Kostic
  • Gotu kola strengthens the connective tissue of the vascular walls.

Treat a Tough Eczema Case

About a year ago (I’m 60 now), I developed a patch of eczema on the inside of my left elbow, later the right. They itched badly and welted but have since disappeared. Now I have had it for more than eight months under my left breast, left armpit and in the groin area. It seems to be spreading, discolored and occasionally odorous. The itching is so intense it often disrupts my sleep. I’m taking evening primrose oil capsules but there’s been no real improvement.

F.R.
West Bethel, Maine

KARTA PURKH SINGH KHALSA RESPONDS: The skin is the body’s largest organ and an important part of the immune system. Its condition reflects the health of the body beneath it. When skin gets pimply, itchy, scaly or inflamed, we often take suppressive prescription drugs or douse the afflicted area with over-the-counter medications.

But from a natural healing point of view, inflammatory skin disease of all types is part of the same process. There may or may not be infection involved; there may or may not be hormonal factors. But virtually always, skin disease is an accumulation of waste at the cellular level causing inflammation. Eczema, psoriasis, acne and general dermatitis all are inflammatory skin diseases. They are given different names and express themselves in different ways in individual people, but in natural healing, they are considered to be idiosyncratic expressions of the same toxicity problem and are treated more or less the same.



Your case sounds like it involves infection, so that has to be handled first with oral antibacterial herbs, such as goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). I like a short, intense treatment of 15 grams a day, in capsules, until the symptoms subside, plus two extra days.

For an effective skin inflammation remedy, use Chinese violet (Viola yedoensis). A medicine that uses the whole plant (including leaf and root) of the perennial herb, violet targets inflammation and disperses heat that is stuck in the skin. In terms of clearing heat, detoxifying and reducing swelling and dissolving lumps, the herb is equivalent to dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), another classic herb for skin inflammation, with which it often is combined. Violet also has some antibacterial action, so it might be a particularly good match for you. Take violet as a tea. Start with a teaspoon of the dried herb, brewed, and work up to as much as an ounce of the dry weight of the herb, brewed, daily.



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