Here is how looking after kidneys, liver and bowel can take care of eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis


Skin problems are some of the most common and most complicated issues I see in clinic.

Skin problems are some of the most common and most complicated issues I see in clinic.

I see a whole manner of different people complaining of various skin problems on a weekly basis.

One of the interesting things about helping people manage skin disease is how different the herbal approach is to that of conventional medicine.

My university degree involved clinical observation alongside both herbalists and dermatologists on a dedicated dermatology ward.

Me and my fellow students would sit with the herbalist in the morning and sit with the dermatologists in the afternoon.

Watching the different approaches to common conditions like eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis was fascinating.

The thing that struck me most was how orthodox medicine would use a similar approach for all patients, with moisturisers, topical steroids, anti-histamines and immune suppressants.

My approach and that of a herbalist, is very different. Instead of treating what we can see, we look deeper at the underlying influences.

People with skin problems often benefit from supportive herbs for the kidneys, liver and bowel.

During my training at the hospital, I didn’t see a single person leave the herbalist with the same medicine as another, despite them walking in with very similar complaints.

Despite this, I still keep a small arsenal of herbs that can be useful for most of the iconic symptoms associated with skin problems. For hot, red conditions, I recommend calendula.

Calendula is anti-inflammatory and it helps to improve the health of your lymph.

Lymph is responsible for moving fluid around the body and taking immune cells to the places they need to be.

If your lymph is sluggish, the skin tends to suffer, with swelling and redness.

You might notice that the affected areas of your skin are slightly raised compared to the rest.

This, along with redness, is a sign that your skin has become inflamed.

I use calendula as a default skin remedy if someone comes into my shop to ask for a quick recommendation.

It works for most skin problems, due to its anti-inflammatory action, but in stubborn conditions, it works slowly.

A couple of years ago, I was visited by a lady requesting help with her skin, which was hot, red and itchy.

Calendula seemed like the most obvious choice and since it’s cheap and simple to use, I suggested she try it.

It worked, but it did take some time.

Eventually, we became impatient and blended her some of my own calendula with herbs that acted on the liver, histamine levels and her kidneys. Her skin cleared up rapidly.

This is one of the reasons that a one size fits all approach, isn’t really appropriate for treating skin problems.

If you call me and I get the impression that you won’t mind a few questions, here’s some of the information I’m likely to ask about.

How often do you poo? Not exactly a conversation for polite company, but a person’s bowel habits tell me a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes.

Light stool, constipation and a history of IBS type symptoms, all tell me that we need to work on the gut to get your skin to clear up.

In traditional herbal literature the skin is described as the third kidney.

It’s believed that if your body is not getting rid of waste through the usual exit routes - like the liver, bowel and the kidneys - your skin will take up the slack.

Drink water to hydrate the bowel and ensure the kidneys are getting the water they need to function healthily.

I use dandelion for supporting the liver and kidneys. The root helps with liver function and bile flow, acting as a gentle laxative to support all your eliminatory functions related to digestion. The leaf helps the kidneys, supporting the eliminations of waste through the bladder and if calendula isn’t enough, dandelion can often fill in the blanks.

So if you’re tired of a one size fits all approach, consider contacting a herbalist who can help you look at the underlying issues affecting your skin. As I always say, tackling the cause is much better than hiding the symptoms.

For more information on herbal approaches to skin health, contact Nicola at Health and Herbs on 01524 413733.