Author Archive

Figure this out: calculating herb concentrations

Folk herbalist Jade posed a question about how to calculate exact amounts of each herb in a multi-herb liquid (extract) formula blended in oil, for the purpose of properly labeling the bottles. Great topic that can be somewhat perplexing, for sure. To answer, I see two separate, but related questions: 1. What’s the resultant herb-equivalent dose of each herb in the oil and 2. What are the proper labeling requirements for commercial products? Let’s take these one at a time. First, the dosages, which must again be broken into two parts: a. Using Jade’s example of using 3 separate herbs, extracting each in a 1:2 ratio, what would be the total amount of each herb if they were equally represented in 1ml of liquid? In herb-speak, an extract with a “1:2” ratio means that, to have 1g-equivalent of a given herb, you need to take 2ml of the liquid. (Similarly, a 1:3 would mean that you need to take 3mls, 1:4 you take 4mls, and so on.) The lower the second number, the more concentrated the extract because you have to take less liquid to get a given amount of herb. Now, say you have 3, separate 1:2 extracts. For each one, 2ml of liquid has one g of herb. That means that 1ml of liquid has 1/2g of herb. What if you combine 3 herbs, each in 1:2 extracts, in equal amounts? For simplicity, let’s call this mixture the ‘formula’. Here’s how the math shakes out: 1ml of the formula contains 1/3ml each of the individual extracts. For each 1/3ml of extract, there is 1/3*1/2g of herb = 1/6g of herb = 0.1666g = 166.6mg Therefore, for each 1ml of formula, there is 166.6mg-equivalent of each herb in it. (Jade – you nailed it!) b. Now you’d like to evaporate the liquid off and blend the remaining herb-equivalent with oil: what is the concentration of each herb in the oil? To answer this you now must decide a new herb:oil ratio as you have a choice as to how much total herb you would like to add per given oil volume. For this example, let’s assume a 1:4 final ratio is desired, and that you ended up with 100ml of extract. From a. above, 100ml extract will have 16.6g herb-equivalent of each herb = ~50g-equivalent left after evaporation. Thus, to get a 1:4 overall ratio, use 200ml of oil for every 50g-equivalent herb. Note that the ratio for individual herbs will be 1:12 (200/16.6 = ~12). Got it? Honestly, that was the easy part. The challenging part is navigating all the FDA regulations for labeling ‘Dietary Supplements’. Let’s start with a few References that you should familiarize yourself with. The first is the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, which is the official document governing labeling of Dietary Supplements in the United States. More readable guides include FDA’s Dietary Supplements Guidance Documents and Regulatory Information, specifically, Chapter IV, Nutrition Labeling. Look for “Other Dietary Ingredients”, which is what herbs fall under since they do not come with a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). In Chapter IV, there are guidelines that specify how to label each individual ingredient – e.g., (fresh/dried) herb (1:X) in Y% ethanol. In terms of total amount of each ingredient (per dose), you may use the guidelines for ‘Proprietary Blend’, which allows you to avoid including specific amounts for each herb. Specifically (paraphrased from Chapter IV, Question 34), list the total weight of all “other dietary ingredients” in the blend. Then list each ingredient in descending order by weight. Use the footnote “Daily Value Not Established”. Review the remainder of this guideline for additional details on labeling. For your blended oil example, you might like to use ‘Proprietary Blend of XX, YY, and ZZ herbs, infused in oil in a 1:4 (or whatever you choose) ratio.’ Finally, a good way to know if you’re on the right track with labeling is to review other products on the market. Two companies that I value and trust, including with their labeling, include Herb-Pharm, and Herbalist and Alchemist. Shop around their online catalogues and select any herbal formula to view good examples of the labels. Both use the ‘Proprietary Blend’ method. Good luck! References: Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 (April 1, 2019) FDA, Dietary Supplements Guidance Documents and Regulatory Information (April 2005) American Herbal Products Association (September 17, 2019) Guidance: Federal Labeling Requirements for Herbal Dietary Supplements BIO: Donna Koczaja, M.S., RH(AHG) graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute) with a Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Clinical Herbalism. She earned Registered Herbalist status from the American Herbalists’ Guild in 2018. Originally educated as a mechanical engineer, she combines the rigor of her original scientific training with the traditional healing art of herbal medicine to partner with her clients to uncover the root cause of their underlying health issues. Also a Master Gardener since 2008, her primary interest is in inspiring others to improve their health and sense of wellbeing through the joys of gardening and the power of natural medicine. Donna currently practices as the professional herbalist at the MUIH Natural Care Center (410-888-9048×6614) in Laurel, Maryland, and can also do remote consultations from anywhere! Read more about her, what she does, and why she does it at www.greenhavenliving.com, or contact her directly at greenhavenliving@gmail.com or 240-353-8754.

Can a nursing mom do an elimination diet?

Danielle, a new, nursing mom asks how to go about eliminating foods from her diet to determine what is causing constipation. She also says that she is feeling run down and asks what can help her build energy. Hi Danielle. First, congratulations on the newest member of your family! Determining food sensitivities by eliminating foods is usually done with an elimination diet. This involves removing all potential trigger foods from your diet for a period of four weeks, then reintroducing one food every three days while keeping a record of how you feel. Foods and ingredients usually removed during an elimination diet include dairy, gluten, legumes, sugar, all processed foods and food additives. Sometimes soy and nightshades like tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and all grains are also removed. You’ll find a detailed description of how to do an elimination diet by naturopathic physician Dr. Bryan Walsh. Since you’re breastfeeding, your calorie needs and many nutrient needs are increased, so if you decide to try an elimination, diet I encourage you to do it under the guidance of a nutrition professional. Another option is to keep a food diary for three or four weeks. Record everything you eat, when you eat it, and your symptoms. If a pattern emerges and you suspect a particular food, remove that food from your diet for four weeks and then reintroduce it as described above. Food sensitivities can cause constipation, but there are other common causes and it would be well worth it to examine these. They include: Too little water Breastfeeding moms need more water. The USDA Adequate Intake (AI) recommendation for water in lactating women is 3.8 liters per day compared to 2.7 liters per day[1] for non-pregnant, nonlactating women. To little fiber This is a common problem for a lot of people, lactating or not, and like other nutrients recommendations for fiber intake are increased for lactating women – 29 grams/day compared to 25 for non-lactating women. Medications Several types of prescription and over the counter medications can cause constipation, so if you taking any medications check the side effects and discuss with your physician. Supplements Iron supplements can cause gastrointestinal upset, including constipation, so if you’re taking an iron supplement you may want to consider talking with your physician about switching to a ferrous bisglycinate form, which is often better tolerated than other forms. Liver support Some gentle liver support may be beneficial. Milk thistle is gentle, safe, and has the added benefit of supporting lactation. Milk thistle can be taken in capsule form, you should be able to find a good supplement at your natural health shop, or organic grocer. You could also sprinkle a teaspoon of the ground seeds on your food twice a day, they have a mild, neutral flavor and go well with a variety of foods. Being a new mom sure can be exhausting! Between the energy demands of producing milk, recovering from pregnancy and birth, and caring for an infant some level of fatigue goes with the territory. Remember to keep in mind your increased caloric and nutritional requirements and eat plenty of nutrient dense foods – lot’s fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and high – quality meats and fish. It’s unclear if you’re still at the stage where sleep deprivation is an issue, if you are a certain level of fatigue is expected. However, if you’re regularly getting 7-9 hours of sleep and you’re still feeling exhausted you may want to see your physician and discuss having your thyroid function evaluated. Women are more vulnerable to thyroid disorders postpartum and the condition is sometimes missed because exhaustion is a common feature of this life stage. To learn more about postpartum thyroid disorders read this article by midwife, herbalist and physician Aviva Romm. A daily serving of the following nutritive herbal blend will support you in recovering your energy. · ½ cup nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) · ¼ cup alfalfa (Medicago sativa) · ¼ cup raspberry leaf (rubus Ideaus) · 1 tablespoon rose hips (rosa canina) To prepare put the following herbs into a 1 quart mason jar or French press. Infuse covered, overnight (you can put it in the fridge once it’s cool enough) in 4 cups just boiled water. Strain and enjoy this highly nourishing tea throughout the day. I like to keep a bulk supply these herbs around to prepare nourishing infusions each day. About the herbs Nettles contain iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, boron, strontium as well as B vitamins, vitamins A, C, K, and beta carotene. Nettle also have anti-inflammatory activity and are commonly used to help restore vitality over time. Alfalfa – vitamins A, C, E, and K4; and minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and iron. Alfalfa also supports the production of breast milk. Raspberry leaf – B vitamins, vitamin C and several minerals, including potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and iron. And Raspberry leaf is a favorite uterine tonic and will help restore tone to the uterus. Rose hips contain vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium Hope this helps Danielle. Many Blessings to you and your family. Renata is a clinical herbalist with a private practice in Greenbelt, MD. She helps women build a solid foundation of wellness while working together to address their unique health concerns so they can live life with vibrance and vitality. She has a BS in Chemistry from University of Maryland, a MS in Therapeutic Herbalism, and a Post Masters Certificate in Clinical Herbalism from Maryland University of Integrative Health. Find her online at renalynn.com and on Facebook @renatalynnclinicalherbalist [1] This value includes water in foods and in other beverages.

Sorry–I don’t remember!

Is there any herbal support to help my memory? Thanks. Memory. We all have issues with our memory from time to time regardless of age, gender or how well we take care of ourselves. When our kids continually forget to take their lunch to school, we sigh and shake our heads. But if we constantly forget something, we think we are headed down the road to dementia or Alzheimer’s! The fact is that there are many reasons for memory lapses so let’s see what we can do about them. What can we do to have a better memory? 1) Lower stress. When under mild stress, our memory can actually get better as our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and two hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the body to help to stimulate the brain (and memory) really fast. Additionally, the adrenal glands (located on top of the kidneys or renal glands), release glucocorticoids, which are hormones that help keep glucose into the blood stream longer, so that the glucose can get to the brain to help it function faster. However, long-term stress can impair our ability to retrieve stored memories (1). When we are under constant stress, glucocorticoids are constantly being released, putting too much glucose into the body, thus ‘overwhelming’ the brain. The brains becomes less able to make neural connections or what is known as ‘long-term potentiation’ to help us retrieve past memories or even create new ones. Think of stress like jumping into cold water. Doing this everyone once in a while invigorates the body, but staying in cold water for long periods can cause it to shut down (hypothermia). Meditation is a great way to lower stress. So is supporting the adrenal glands with adaptogenic herbs, and taking herbs that help relax the nervous system. For more on these types of herbs, read Adaptogens by David Winston and/or Adaptogens, by Donnie Yance. 2) Watch our diet. Avoid sugar. When you eat something sugary, your blood sugar (the amount of glucose that is in the blood stream) spikes up, then drops sharply. This constant swing is detrimental to the body. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can starve the brain of nutrients thus impairing memory and cognitive function. Conversely, there have been several studies showing that excess sugar (hyperglycemia) in the diet of those with diabetes can actually cause brain cells to decay (2). This can even happen when the body reaches pre-diabetic stage so avoid eating too much sugar in any form. Eat healthy fats: fish oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. Trans fats have shown to damage the brain by indirectly causing amyloid plaque to build up which is a neuropathological hallmark for Alzheimer’s disease. (3) Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Both groups have shown to protect against age-related issues, including cognition and memory. 3) Take herbs. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, Lamiaceae family). Shakespeare called rosemary ‘the herb of remembrance” and in fact, the constituents in rosemary help keep acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain, from breaking down and thus keeps our brain (and memory) healthy. See below for a lovely tea recipe. Bacopa. Bacopa monniera, monnieri helps with improving memory, concentration and learning, particularly where stress is present (4). Bacopa is said to support brain function where there is a nervous issue due to injury, stroke, nervous exhaustion, behavioral disorders or anxiety. Bacopa must take be taken daily for months in order to see results and is best taken in pill form. Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica). Although one must take care in picking stinging nettles, nettles are very nutritive and considered anti-inflammatory as well. They are best eaten cooked, or can be dried to make tea. There is one study that showed that diabetics who took stinging nettles tincture had improved cognition. (5). Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is another herb that has been shown to help with cognitive issues. 4) Exercise. Although the mechanism of action is not clear, exercise has been shown to reduce age-related losses in cognitive function including learning and memory (6). 5) Avoid pesticides and insecticides as they break down cholinesterase, the enzyme needed for acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for brain and memory function. (7) 6) Sleep the right number of hours for your body. Harvard Medical research shows that people who are persistently sleep deprived are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and narrowed blood vessels. Each of these can decrease blood flow inside the brain thus impairing its ability to function. In another study, sleep-deprived mice developed more deposits of a protein called beta amyloid in the brain compared with mice allowed to sleep normally. This amyloid plaque has been linked to declines in memory and increased dementia in humans. (8) 7) Write it down! Carrying a notepad and jotting things down removes the stress of having to remember it. 8) Laugh at yourself. We all forget things, so don’t take it too seriously! Laughter releases other helpful neurotransmitter and hormone like substances that support healthier brain function. Memory tea 1 small sprig of rosemary 1 teaspoon holy basil 1 teaspoon gotu kola 2 teaspoons stinging nettles 1/4 teaspoon stevia leaf (for taste) 16 ounces of water. Boil water, pour over herbs and cover for 10 minutes. Strain and drink or served chilled. You can find bulk herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs or your local health food store. References: 1. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky 2. Too much sugar may cause “brain decay”; Janet Jankowiak, MD doi:10.1212/01.WNL.0000141255.98757.2f; Neurology August 24, 2004 vol. 63 no. 4 E9-E10 3. Nutr Biochem. 2012 Oct;23(10):1214-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2011.06.015. Epub 2011 Dec 29. Trans fatty acids enhance amyloidogenic processing of the Alzheimer amyloid precursor protein (APP). 4. Alternative Medicine Review ◆ Volume 9, Number 1 ◆ 2004 Bacopa Monograph 5. Metab Brain Dis. 2014 Mar;29(1):121-30. doi: 10.1007/s11011-014-9480-0. Epub 2014 Jan 17. Urtica dioica extract attenuates depressive like behavior and associative memory dysfunction in dexamethasone induced diabetic mice. Grimm MO1, Rothhaar TL, Grösgen S, Burg VK, Hundsdörfer B, Haupenthal VJ, Friess P, Kins S, Grimm HS, Hartmann T. , 6. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014 Feb 3;6:3. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00003. eCollection 2014. Exercise enhances memory consolidation in the aging brain. Snigdha S1, de Rivera C2, Milgram NW2, Cotman CW1. 7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Cholinesterase Inhibitors: Including Insecticides and Chemical Warfare Nerve Agents 8. Too little sleep, and too much, affect memory; POSTED MAY 02, 2014, 3:31 PM Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor; Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications Jayne Tamburello has a master’s degree in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) and is the founder of Invibe Herbal, your one stop shop for healthy, organic herbal tea blends. Please visit our website at: www.invibeherbal.com. Jayne is also a licensed nutritionist (LDN), a certified nutritionist (CNS) and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild, RH(AHG). She can be reached customercare@invibeherbal.com.

Flu season defense: Immune boosters

With the onset of fall weather comes the return of seasonal allergies as well as the desire to strengthen our immune systems in preparation for the upcoming flu season. Fortunately, there are myriad herbs that support both. Let’s take a look. For my money, two of the best immune strengthening herbs are astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceous) and reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum). Astragalus, part of the Fabaceae, or legume, family has shown increased phagocytic activity (destruction of microbials) and increase of various antibodies (IgA, IgG) that ward off and fight infection in animal and human studies (Bone, 1996). This is due largely to the polysaccharides and saponins contained in astragalus root. Reishi mushroom, also high in polysaccharides, stimulates macrophage, natural killer T-cells, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the body, all of which attack invaders. Reishi also demonstrates anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, adjunct properties that support immune system action (Stamets, 2002). Both of these herbs are affordable and can be taken easily in powder form sprinkled over food (applesauce, yogurt, oatmeal, in a smoothie). For a more convenient (but lower dose) option, I like Oregon’s Wild Harvest Astragalus Reishi capsules. For prophylactic support I recommend 2-3 grams of EACH per day, noting that both of these herbs are indicated for prevention of infection or speedier recovery, NOT for support in the acute stage (see echinacea or elderberry for that). That is, for best results start taking it at the beginning of the flu season (i.e., Now!) to build up in your system – expect that to take a month or two. Both herbs are safe to take over a long period, though traditional herbal wisdom suggests taking a break after a few months. Also, those who are allergic or sensitive to beans/legumes should use caution with astragalus, which is in the same family as previously mentioned. Moving on to allergy relief. To select appropriate herbs, first you must determine what your particular allergy symptoms are, for example: watery, itchy eyes; stuffy nose or post-nasal drip; difficulty breathing/chest tightness; sore throat; cough. Learn which herbs are beneficial for each of these cases in the latest post on my Green Haven Living blog. Good luck! References: Bone, K. (1996). Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press. Stamets, P. (2002). Mycomedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms. Olympia, WA: MycoMedia Productions. BIO: Donna Koczaja, M.S., RH(AHG) graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute) with a Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Clinical Herbalism. She earned Registered Herbalist status from the American Herbalists’ Guild in 2018. Originally educated as a mechanical engineer, she combines the rigor of her original scientific training with the traditional healing art of herbal medicine to partner with her clients to uncover the root cause of their underlying health issues. Also a Master Gardener since 2008, her primary interest is in inspiring others to improve their health and sense of wellbeing through the joys of gardening and the power of natural medicine. Donna currently practices as the professional herbalist at the MUIH Natural Care Center (410-888-9048×6614) in Laurel, Maryland, and can also do remote consultations from anywhere! Read more about her, what she does, and why she does it at www.greenhavenliving.com, or contact her directly at greenhavenliving@gmail.com or 240-353-8754.

Proper dosing of tinctures for children

I purchased a bottle of saffron extract to try for my son, and the liquid tincture contains 970 mg per 1 ml, but is equivalent to 330 mg dry herb per ml. Extraction rate is 1/3. If I wanted to give my son the clinically tested dose of 20-30 mg for a child, would I use the liquid measurement or the dry herb measurement? Hello and thank you for your question! Herbal extracts are produced by placing an herb (dry or fresh) in a ratio to extracting liquid (aka menstruum). From the information you gave and from my understanding, the extract was produced with enough herb to yield a resulting ratio of 1:3 (approximately 330 mg/ml). In order to do this, because the dried herb will be removed, manufacturers of herbal products will quantify how much of the dried herb will need to be used to yield the desired ratio of 1:3. In the case of this product, they used 970 mg of herb and added it to (macerated it in) the menstruum. After removing the herb from the menstruum, the resulting extract was found to be 330 mg/ml. To figure out how much to give, I divided the dose you need (20-30mg) by the dry herb amount (330mg). There are 20 drops in one ml and therefore the resulting dose would be a little over one drop of extract (1.2-1.8 drops to be exact). Since it isn’t possible to give less than one drop, I would recommend sticking to one drop per dose unless you have a way to measure volumes less than a milliliter. Hope this helps! Amani Amani is a licensed pharmacist who also holds a Masters Degree in herbal medicine. She currently resides in Dallas, TX where she’s a student at an Islamic seminary. When she’s not in class, she enjoys writing (combining her love of writing and herbs as a blogger on ATH), planting/gardening with friends, and learning all sorts of new things through reading and listening.

Persistent cough is nothing to sneeze at!

“My mother has a persistent, productive cough that keeps her up at night and wakes the entire house. Do you have any suggestions for what I can make for her?”
First, I’m sorry that your mother (and as a result the rest of the family) is suffering. Coughs can last a long time before they resolve. Fortunately, herbal medicine offers a wealth of options that can alleviate several of the symptoms that you are describing.
Let’s peel apart the scenario you described – different herbs are appropriate for different symptoms. At this point I will also assume that you have been to the doctor to rule out or address any serious infections.
A “cough” is typically thought of as having spasms in the lungs. Therefore, respiratory anti-spasmodic herbs are appropriate here, as are antitussives (cough suppressants).
“Productive” means that there is mucus being expelled in the cough. Sometimes known as a “damp cough”, herbs that are expectorant can help clear out and dry the mucus.
Because the cough is persistent I would imagine that the throat is dry, inflamed, and sore. In this case, demulcent (a fancy word for ‘slimy’) herbs are very soothing here as they coat the throat directly to provide topical relief.
Finally, while all of these herbs should help relieve the cough issues and thus help your mother sleep through the night, it would not be a bad idea to include some calming, even sedative herbs in the mix. (Review Judith Fox-Smith’s recent ATH post on sleepy herbs.)
In summary, below is a short list of herbs that possess some of these qualities:
1. Grindelia flower (Grindelia spp): broncho-spasmolytic, expectorant
2. Osha root (Ligusticum porteri): bronchodilator, expectorant, anti-bacterial
3. Elecampane root (Inula helenium): broncho-spasmolytic, expectorant
4. Coltsfoot leaf (Tussilago farfara): antisuttive, expectorant
5. Mullein leaf (Verbascum thapsus): expectorant, demulcent, anti-catarrhal (decongestant)
6. Wild cherry bark (Prunus spp): antitussive, astringent
7. Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis): demulcent, coating, soothing to mucus membranes
8. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): demulcent, expectorant, anti-inflammatory
9. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica): demulcent, expectorant, anti-inflammatory
10. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): nervine, spasmolytic, mildly sedative
For your mother, a nice combination for a bedtime tea might be: coltsfoot, mullein, wild cherry, licorice, California poppy – equal parts (totaling ~1 tbsp per dose) steeped in 2-3C boiling water for 15 minutes. Drink 30-60 minutes before bed.
Of course, there are numerous other combinations of the herbs, so do experiment and see what works best.
Good luck!
BIO:
Donna Koczaja, M.S., RH(AHG) graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute) with a Master of Science in Therapeutic Herbalism and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Clinical Herbalism. She earned Registered Herbalist status from the American Herbalists’ Guild in 2018. Originally educated as a mechanical engineer, she combines the rigor of her original scientific training with the traditional healing art of herbal medicine to partner with her clients to uncover the root cause of their underlying health issues. Also a Master Gardener since 2008, her primary interest is in inspiring others to improve their health and sense of wellbeing through the joys of gardening and the power of natural medicine.
Donna currently practices as the professional herbalist at the MUIH Natural Care Center (410-888-9048×6614) in Laurel, Maryland, and can also do remote consultations from anywhere! Read more about her, what she does, and why she does it at www.greenhavenliving.com, or contact her directly at greenhavenliving@gmail.com or 240-353-8754.

Looking for clearer skin.

Hello I’m a 58 year old woman. I want to know if there is an herbal treatment that can help me with Sebaceous Hyperplasia either orally, topically or both. Thank you.
What is sebaceous hyperplasia? The following is a link for more information on sebaceous hyperplasia: https://www.verywellhealth.com/sebaceous-hyperplasia-causes-symptoms-and-treatments-4144250.
But to answer your question in general terms, let’s look at a couple of factors. Hormonal regulation and the breakdown of hormones play a key role in many skin conditions. Therefore, making sure your hormones are in the right ranges and in balance is very important. You can ask your physician to help you with this. Let’s look at some other factors:
Diet. First, take a look at your diet and make sure that you are eating foods to help support the detoxification process which helps to remove toxins, both endogenous and exogenous. Excess hormones in the body can lead to unwanted problems, including numerous skin issues. Eating foods in the brassica family such as the ones listed here is very important: https://paleoleap.com/eat-brassicas-just-ones-know/.
Avoid transfats. Avoiding the known transfats is important for overall good health including skin, but did you know that any oil that is heated too high will change from a cis to a trans fat? So make sure that you are using the correct temperature for whatever oil you are using. https://www.thespruceeats.com/smoking-points-of-fats-and-oils-1328753.
Fiber. Make sure that there is enough soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet. Experts recommend about 25 grams of fiber a day. This will help with proper elimination of unwanted toxins as well.
Supporting the GI. Many autoimmune and inflammatory skin conditions can be linked to problems in the gut or the GI (gastro-intestinal). Therefore it is important to avoid any inflammatory foods and use as many natural anti-inflammatory herbs/foods/spices as possible. I highly recommend keeping a food diary. Here is a link to a number of anti-inflammatory foods: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.
Herbs to help skin. Herbs that support the skin by helping to clear toxins are known as ‘alteratives’. Herbs that help heal the skin are called ‘vulneraries’. I’ve also added herbs that are anti-microbial as they have been found to help the skin by removing/reducing pathogens. Here is a list of herbs and their actions that are often used to help with skin conditions that you may want to consider. Please note that it is up to each person to determine what herbs they can safely take and the amount as we do not give specific advice.
Actium lappa, burdock root. Alterative, liver and lower GI support
Apium graveolens, celery seed. Anti-inflammatory
Azadirachta indica, neem leaf. Anti-microbial
Berberis vulgaris, barberry root. Anti-microbial, liver support
Bupleurum spp, bupleurum. Anti-microbial, liver support
Calendula officinalis, Calendula. Alterative, vulnerary
Centella asiatica, gotu kola. Vulnerary, adaptogen
Mahonia aquifolium, Oregon grape root. Anti-microbial, liver support
Matricaria recutita, chamomile. Anti-inflammatory, vulnerary
Scrophularia modosa, figwort. Anti-inflammatory, vulnerary
Silybum marianum, milk thistle. Liver support, alterative
Smilax officinalis, sarsaparilla. Liver support, alterative
Stellaria media, chickweed. Alterative, vulnerary
Taraxacum officinale, dandelion root. Liver support
Zingiber officinale, ginger. Anti-inflammatory
Clays both internally and externally.
In addition to taking herbs, you can try clays. One clay that you can take internally is bentonite clay. My external routine for good skin involves using a loofa daily to gently scrub my body of dirt and impurities. I follow up with a french clay for those areas on my skin that need extra attention to pull out excess impurities and then use witchhazel (I used Thayers) as a natural astringent.
For more answers on skin issues, please visit our website “ask-the-herbalists” at www.herbalistqa.com. Also, reputable places to buy herbs include Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest and Frontier Herbs. Some of these can be also found on Vitacost.com.
Good luck! Jayne
Jayne Tamburello has a master’s degree in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) and is the founder of Invibe Herbal, your one stop shop for healthy, organic herbal tea blends. Please visit our website at: www.invibeherbal.com. Jayne is also a licensed nutritionist (LDN), a certified nutritionist (CNS) and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild, RH(AHG). She can be reached customercare@invibeherbal.com.

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