Calendula: Gentle and Effective Skin Healer

Considered a first-aid all-star, Calendula (Calendula officinalis) bears the nickname “mother of the skin.” It’s been used for health remedies and spiritual rituals dating back to ancient Egypt and early Christianity. Boasting antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, calendula is still used to help heal skin inflamed by chafing, blisters, bites, and burns, as well as in treatment for dermatitis, eczema, wounds, and diaper rash. Calendula is found in a variety of cosmetics, as well as medicinal lotions, creams, and ointments applied to the skin to help reduce pain and swelling and encourage new tissue growth.

Medicinal Calendula has fiery red and yellow petals and is from the Marigold Asteraceae family, not to be confused with common garden marigold from the Tagetes group. In addition to topical applications, calendula flowers and leaves are used in capsules, oils, teas, and tinctures. A Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine which form of calendula is best to treat specific health concerns.

There are a few precautions for using calendula: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may use calendula topically, but should not take it by mouth. Calendula may interact with other medications, resulting in drowsiness. Since it’s part of the ragweed family, people sensitive to or allergic to marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemums should not use calendula products unless under a doctor’s care. Be sure to consult with a Naturopathic Doctor if any of the above situations apply to you.

References
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Healing Eczema and Psoriasis with Naturopathic Medicine

When those painful, itchy patches of eczema and psoriasis erupt, Naturopathic doctors ask, ‘what is causing this condition to present at this time?’ The Greek translation of eczema means “to boil out,” so the question makes sense: Naturopathic doctors look for the underlying root causes that bring about these skin eruptions. Although they create similar discomforts for the people afflicted, psoriasis and eczema are different in important ways.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that results in an overproduction of skin cells. As the dead skin cells build-up, they form thick, scaly white patches that are visible on the skin’s surface. The skin itches terribly and is inflamed.

Eczema (aka atopic dermatitis) also can be chronic, but it tends to come and go in response to certain triggers (e.g., weather changes, irritating cosmetics, or an allergic reaction). Eczema is common in infants and children, and may even go dormant for a time. Some people, however, suffer terribly throughout their lifetime. When eczema is active, skin is inflamed, dry, peeling and may blister.

From the naturopathic medicine perspective, root causes of eczema and psoriasis include:

  • Food sensitivity/ allergy
  • Deficiency in one or more minerals
  • Low-quality diet (high in saturated fats, processed foods, sugar, etc.)
  • Poor gut health/ Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Emotional/ Mental Stress
  • Exposure to toxins and/or inadequate ability to detoxify

Conventional treatment plans typically use steroids to simply manage symptoms (i.e., itching); however, there are harmful side effects, such as suppressing overall immunity, that must be considered. Naturopathic therapies, on the other hand, work to correct the underlying imbalance that caused the body to react in the first place, offering relief without the unwanted side effects of steroid treatments. One or more of the following natural therapies may be part of an individualized holistic treatment plan:

  • Dietary changes to include more nutrient dense, clean foods
  • Remove foods from the diet that cause inflammation
  • Nutritional supplements to restore balance or deficiency (e.g., zinc, vitamin D/ E/ A)
  • Balance gut flora using probiotics and other approaches
  • Increase intake of Essential Fatty Acids, which are important to skin health
  • Provide support for mental/emotional stress
  • Identify and minimize toxin exposure
  • Support liver function, the body’s detox organ

Additionally, to temporarily soothe symptoms, Naturopathic doctors may recommend nourishing the skin with herbal salves and creams that are specific to your individual needs. Some common botanical ingredients are calendula, lavender, chamomile, rose, Manuka honey, tea tree, among many others.

Psoriasis and Eczema can quickly become chronic and severe and the wrong treatments can make things far worse. Consult with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor to identify the appropriate therapies for you or your loved one.

References
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Healing The Gut with Marshmallow Root

There’s much more to that sweet, fluffy treat we enjoy melted in a s’more or sprinkled atop hot cocoa. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an ancient herb whose Greek name, Althainean, means “to heal.” Ancient Greek and Egyptian healers used Marshmallow flowers and leaves in salads to support healthy digestion. A secretion, known as mucilage, from its roots and stems, was used to soften the skin, treat sore throats, and ease congestion. Naturopathic doctors use Marshmallow Root (aka “mallow”) for these purposes and in treatment preparations for:

  • inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • digestive issues including diarrhea stomach ulcers, constipation
  • inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders
  • skin conditions such as eczema
  • bloating and water retention
  • dry coughs and colds
  • bacterial infections and respiratory infections

A key healing property of Marshmallow Root is the ability to soothe inflammation of the mucous membranes throughout the body. When food sensitivity/allergies, illness, or other factors interfere with healthy digestion, a person can experience upset stomach, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Mallow forms a thick protective coating in the digestive tract, which helps reduce the burning and tame other symptoms of digestive distress.

With tall stalks topped by a lovely five-petal white blossom with purple center, Marshmallow Root makes a striking addition to a garden – especially if you enjoy harvesting for herbal tea. Supplements come in different forms including powder, tea, extract, ointments, and capsule. While considered safe for most adults and children, do ask your La Mesa naturopathic doctor which preparations of are best for you.

References
Contact our office for more information

Journey of Health Medical Clinic

619-772-1164