Oregon Grape Root and Skin Problems
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: January 27, 1999

I have had an undiagnosed skin problem for over 16 years. What started on the back of my arms as small bumpy pimples has eventually spread to my forearms, back and even a different version on my face. I have been to countless dermatologists who claim "there is nothing to treat it" and have used various creams over the years including retin a and cleocin cream to no avail. I exfoliate my skin regularly and take extra zinc supplements and drink lots of water. I have been taking Oregon grape root for one month and so far have seen no changes...but after 16 years I consider myself patient. Can you give any advice?

Michael Moore, in "Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" (Red Crane Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico) states "Oregon Grape is a stimulant to the liver and skin metabolism of dietary and blood proteins, and is helpful for those people who show signs of moderately or constitutionally impaired hepatic function. This shows as dry skin, poorly healing skin, delicate mucous membranes, contantly bad breath, coated tongue in the A.M. and difficulty digesting fats and proteins or even an aversion to them. Other symptoms are rapid shifts in blood sugar levels, a lifelong preference for sweets, salads, fruit and cola drinks, and a history of food or environmental allergies" with chronic constipation. For these people, he suggests 30 to 45 drops of the tincture three times a day for at least 2 weeks.

Skin problems can be related to stress, emotional imbalance, hormone imbalance, diet and digestion. When herbalists use Oregon Grape root (Berberis aquifolium) for skin problems, they usually add herbs to support elimination by means other than the skin: the kidneys, bowels and lymph glands and herbs to support imbalances in other systems where indicated.

Herbs that are useful in skin diseases that are related to the nerves are:

* Oats (Avena sativa) nourishes the nerves

* Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) relaxes the nerves

Improving the digestive system increases the absorption of nutrients that the skin needs: German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea is relaxing and improves the digestion. Linden flower (Tilia cordata) is relaxing, supports the digestive system and the blood circulation

Encouraging means of elimination other than the skin helps rid the body of toxins: Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is relaxing, anti-inflammatory and encourages cleansing through the lymph glands. Dandelion root supports the liver in its role of processing toxins, and encourages elimination by the bowel Dandelion leaf supports elimination by the kidney

Other useful skin herbs are:

* Viola (Viola tricolor) is anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, skin-nourishing and rich in zinc.

* Calendula is anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine. External application of Calendula cream or tincture helps skin tissue regeneration.

* Chickweed creams help to relieve itching.

Diet is important in skin problems. A skin nourishing diet is high in fresh fruit and vegetables, low on fatty foods such as dairy products and meat, and eliminates caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour products and junk foods. Six to eight glasses of water or herbal teas helps to cleanse the body. You might want to experiment with allergic causes by eliminating common food allergens such as dairy or gluten products from your diet to see if there is any improvement in your skin.

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