Raise your hand if you know your body’s largest organ. Come on, not that one. Think it’s your brain? OK, maybe you can make that claim, but for the rest of us, like it or not, it’s the skin.

Sure, it’s big, but its condition also reflects the health of the body underneath it. Of course you want your skin to look good, but consider that it is the barrier between you and the hostile world, so it’s pretty darn important to keep your skin strong and healthy, too.


When your skin gets pimply, scaly, or inflamed, what can you do? You might be tempted to try over-the-counter medications. However, natural treatments often work much more effectively. They last longer, heal more deeply, and are safer.

According to the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda, the skin has six layers, and they are not just superficial, but extend to the deeper levels of the body—so a “skin” disease is not just skin deep. In fact, in Ayurveda, inflamed skin is called “that which comes out from the inner part to the outer part.” A natural approach focuses on reducing inflammation in the skin and eliminating the source of the irritating toxins through the liver, kidneys, and large intestine.

Respected for centuries in Asia for its skin-healing abilities, gotu kola benefits a host of skin conditions, including acne and dermatitis. This herb is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, increases blood supply to connective tissue, and increases protein growth in the skin. Gotu kola will actually promote the growth of new skin, gently closing and repairing even long-standing lesions. A 2012 study supports this; in a test tube experiment, a water extract of gotu kola caused wound-healing cells to grow.

Recommended dosages range from 1 to 3 oz. per day. For inflammatory skin disorders, gotu kola works much better in higher dosages. Gotu kola is available in extracts or capsules. Try: Nature’s Way Gotu Kola capsules.

Sipping rose tea may give you a rosy complexion. Taken as tea, roses are popular medicine in the Middle East and India for soothing inflamed skin. Try: Organic India Tulsi Tea in Sweet Rose. It’s made with organic rose petals.

Oregon grape root is a favorite for calming skin eruptions, and is getting new attention as a treatment for dermatitis. Several studies have shown that creams and ointments containing this root improve skin health. Try: Solaray Oregon Grape Root extract.

We associate hops with beer, but this herb is becoming a star in skin care. Researchers have discovered that hops extracts inhibited five major acne-causing bacteria. Hops extracts are widely available in capsules. Try: Reserveage Organics Fast-Acting Hops Science.

You probably know echinacea as an infection fighter, so it’s reasonable to think of this herb to treat acne bacteria. In a 2010 study, echinacea extracts killed acne bacteria and also normalized inflammation in skin cells. The researchers concluded that the remedy could provide a safe, two-fold benefit for acne sufferers. Try: Gaia Herbs Echinacea.

Enough suggestions? In theory, the herbal approach to skin health is pretty simple. In practice, some effort is required. Be patient—your skin will thank you for it.

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