SKIN SERIES | Topical Support for Inflammation
By now you know that too much inflammation is bad, but you might not be quite sure how to proceed when it comes to topical products. In this post, we are going to take a look at anti-inflammatory oils, herbs, and plants, but keep in mind that antioxidants are also a great mechanism for combating inflammation and oxidative stress.
There are so many skin care products lining the store shelves claiming to contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, but a quick scan of the label is likely to leave you disappointed. Most conventional products contain very little of the ingredients that they are advertising on the front of the box. Additionally, conventional cosmetic companies often use a synthetic form of the active plant ingredients rather than the real thing. This could be for ease, money, consistency, or any number of reasons I don’t claim to know. That’s where natural beauty has a leg up. A product claiming to contain anti-inflammatory ingredients will likely contain a number of the lovely plants listed below. Plant power baby!
Let’s take a closer look at some of my favorite anti-inflammatory plants:
- German Chamomile – You’ve likely heard of this one. It’s a fan favorite with a lovely grassy scent. Additionally, it has the most beautiful blue color courtesy of its high content of anti-inflammatory azulene. In one study, ointment containing German chamomile was more effective than 0.1% hydrocortisone in reducing dermatitis. (A word of caution – avoid chamomile if you have ragweed allergies.)
- Calendula – One of my favorites, this beautiful yellow-orange flower has historically been used in compresses for healing everything from bruises to rashes to dermatitis.
- Turmeric – This anti-inflammatory, golden root is a relatively new player in the skin care game, but expect to see it popping up everywhere!
- Aloe Vera – You know aloe. You love aloe. It’s the best. Aloe is often used in the treatment of minor wounds, burns, and inflammatory skin disorders.
- Marshmallow Root – This one might be a little less familiar to you. It has slippery, soothing properties that make it a great treatment for eczema and dermatitis. One study demonstrated that an ointment containing 20% aqueous marshmallow root extract was effective at reducing UV radiation-induced irritation.
- Oat – Though you may not have taken a bath with oatmeal before, you’ve likely heard of it as an effective remedy for rashes. During a pharmacological trial, colloidal oatmeal was shown to protect the skin from irritation induced by sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Comfrey Root – Growing wild throughout Poland, this herb is quite powerful and often used to treat skin inflammation. In fact, studies have demonstrated its efficacy at treating redness following UV-B exposure.
- Yarrow – Another blue beauty, Yarrow contains high levels of anti-inflammatory azulene and is often used for the treatment of minor wounds and mild skin irritation.
- Evening Primrose Oil – An effective treatment for PMS when taken internally, evening primrose oil is also a wonder remedy for inflammation when applied topically. A number of studies have demonstrated evening primrose oil’s effectiveness at treating atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis.
- Fenugreek Seed – I stumbled across fenugreek seed when I was researching ways to increase my milk supply, but little did I know that it has a longstanding use in traditional medicine as a treatment for eczema, ulcers, and skin irritations!
- St. John’s Wort – This herbal gem is quite the anti-inflammatory star. Not only has it been shown to improve skin condition in patients with moderate atopic dermatitis, but it also reduced colonization by Staphylococcus aureus in these patients. Impressive.
- Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil – When taken internally, Black Cumin Seed Oil has been shown helpful in alleviating symptoms related to food allergies. It is a boon for sensitive skin when applied topically with a knack for attenuating skin’s histamine response.
(1) Heart of Gold Avant Gardener Cream
(2) Laurel Anti-Inflammatory Serum
(3) Earthwise Beauty Nap in the Meadow Serum
(4) Living Libations Grapefruit Cellular Renewal
(5) AMBAR Soothing Moisture Fluid
(6) Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum