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Herbs for Skin Problems with Ciara O'Meara

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

It's that time of year when we can suffer in particular from dry skin, our herbalist will be looking at treatments for this as well as treatments for other skin problems we encounter.

Ciara O'Meara
Ciara O'Meara is a practicing Medical Herbalist. Ciara completed an Honors Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. She spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK.
It was during this time that she took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in natural medicine. She also completed a four year honours degree in Herbal Medicine at Westminster University in London. This University has a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists and encompasses a walk in training clinic in the heart of London.
Ciara O' Meara has clinics in Thurles, Co. Tipperary and Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

For further information and contact details please see her website:
For information on the professional body of medical herbalist in Ireland (The Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists) please see

Herbal remedies for problem skin

What are the causes of skin problems:
. Genetic predisposition - family history
. Atopy - sensitivity to dairy, wheat, gluten
. Sluggish bowel habit
. Hormonal imbalances
. Stress
. Fungal infections
. Poor diet


Evening Primrose oil

The seeds of this plant contain valuable oil which has quantities of Gamma Linolenic acid or GLA. GLA can specifically reduce the effects of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. The supplement should have at least 8% GLA and the effective quantities to be taken are in the range of 2000- 3ooomg. EPO has proven effective in clinical trials as a treatment for atopic eczema.
Oats in the bath
Oatmeal has some very emollient properties. This is one which is especially effective for young children. Oats have a very soothing and softening emmolient effect on the skin and a well balanced pH.


1. Place a handful of oats in an old pair of clean tights or a muslin bag if you have one.
2. Leave in the hot bath water for at least 10 minutes, squeeze the bag in the water to allow the milky water flow out of the bag.
3. Wash the child in this water do not rinse off the milky water pat skin dry.

Calendula cream

Calendula cream is ideally suited to any dry skin condition which is also cracked or where there is a risk of infection. It has healing, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. You can buy it as an ointment for very dry scaly skin or as a cream for dry skin with a risk of infection. It is ideally suited to nappy rash, shaving rash or any slow healing cuts or scrapes.

Oily skin

This is more commonly found in young adults and can often have a hormonal cause. Where hormones (usually androgens- the masculinising sex hormone, found in men and women) are the trigger for these changes this need to be treated independently.


Witch- hazel water

this has a very astringent effect on the skin. It also contains phytochemicals called tannins which have the effect of tightening the skin and also have anti-inflammatory actions. This is useful where excess oil production has lead to blocked pores and spot formation. It is very gentle on the skin and kinder than alcohol based toners.

Rose Water

Rosewater also has an astringent effect on the skin and is particularly suited to aging skin. It is cooling and can help to restore the skins pH balance, it is ideal for sensitive skin. It has some anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties which can also make it useful for inflammatory conditions like acne rosacea.
It can be used as a facial spritzer any time and can be quite pleasant and cooling for menopausal flushing.

How to use Rose Water:
Witch Hazel and Rose water is used as a face cleanser, it can also be used as a toner, but not usually. Form a medicinal view point, it is used as a cleanser, last thing before night. It can be used by men and women. If one has oily skin, they should put nothing on after they use Witch Hazel and Rose Water.


Part of herbal treatment for this condition involves liver remedies to improve the quality of the detoxification processes of the body. We have got Oregon Grape (also known as Mahonia aquifolium ) This herb has been traditionally used for chronic skin conditions such as eczema and acne. It has a bitter taste and therefore has a stimulatory effect on the Liver. More recent research on this herb indicates its usefulness topically in the treatment of psoriasis.

Acne spots

Aloevera gel and Blue chamomile essential oil.

Mix 5-10 drops of Chamomile essential oil with 30g of aloe vera gel.
2. Place in a jar label and store in a cool area, you can optionally add 10 mls of rosewater or witchhazel water.
3. Apply directly to spots as required
Blue chamomile is a very gentle yet effective anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic. It is combined with aloe vera gel which will not clog the pores and will enhance skin healing.