Sunday, January 1, 2012

Home Made (DIY) Eczema Healing Salve/Creme

What follows is a recipe that is shared in the hopes that it can help those who suffer from eczema and psoriasis find some relief.  It helped my son when little else could to find some relief.

Quick note:  This recipe contains comfrey leaf infused oil.  There is debate that surrounds comfrey as the FDA banned it's use in internally consumed items (a good article to read that kind of sums up my stance on it can be found HERE).  I have read both sides of the debate surrounding comfrey and am still using it, BUT that is me.  If you do not feel comfortable using comfrey, I completely understand.  If you do not use it, I would just double up the calendula oil or the plantain oil.  The salve, while not having the regenerative skin aspect, would work almost as well.  I have personally doubled the plantain more than once just to give extra itch fighting power to the salve and it has worked fine.  Use your own judgement in this matter.  I'm sharing the recipe, but feel free to tweak it however you feel the need.  It's your choice.

A quick disclaimer.  I do not work for the FDA, I'm not evaluated by the FDA and wouldn't even know where to begin if I wanted to be.  I am not a herbalist or a naturpath and the only degree I hold is a marketing degree, so please do not assume by any means I'm an expert in this.  This is just something I've concocted through my own need for something to help my son's eczema and the research I've found through various sources.

Now, here's a list of base ingredients for you and why I used them.

1.  Calendula (aka pot marigold).  

This is the most mild and super moisturizing herb I could find when I researched the heck out of it.  I use it constantly in everything from soaps to salves for us around here.  Heck, I even made it into herb shampoo.  So, yes, I believe highly in this herb :).

2.  Comfrey

One of the most powerful topical healers out there, Comfrey has been known to do everything from help to knit bones to heal bruises faster.  It's a big one found in a lot of natural healing products.  Use for topical use only and try not to apply to open wounds.

3.  Plantain

The best anti-itching herb I've found to date.  This stuff is used as topical application to help itching from things like poison ivy and poison oak, so I figured it was hopefully strong enough to combat the surface itching with eczema.  And it does.  So well so that I'm currently letting a 2 cup batch of plantain oil cure and I'm going to add it to a misting bottle to coat my kiddo when he flares.

4.  St. John's Wort

A good anti-inflammatory herb, I added this in to help with the terrible red irritated spots that just needed something to help reduce inflammation.  And it seems to work, so it's staying in the salve for now :).

And now here's the process to make it...

Step 1:  Make your oils.  Take 1/4 cup of your herb and place in a mason jar and add in 1/2 cup of olive oil to the jar.  Let steep for two weeks, turning a couple of times a week (be sure to label your oils so that you know what they are).

Step 2:  Once your oils are done, strain them through a wire mesh strainer (in the case of comfrey and plantain I'd definitely suggest using some cheese cloth to strain out any tiny bits too).  I then add the now herb infused oils to pint sized mason jars and relabel them so that I have them labeled for later use and be sure to label the BOTTLE and not the top of the jar...if you get your lids confused it can lead to bad things...not that I'd know anything about that or anything *looks off to side and whistles innocently*.  And now we're ready to rock with the actual recipe.

Note:  The recipe calls for a small portion of unrefined shea butter.  This is NOT shea butter lotion or something from the store.  It's like a hard butter consistency.  You can order it through Country Soap Shack on Etsy or other places I'm sure, such as E-bay.  You can also use any butter really...mango butter, cocoa butter (although this would make your salve smell sort of like chocolate), etc.  You can also find  a lot of supplies, such as Calendula at All About Herbs, so don't think you have to order this all online if you don't want to.


Eczema Healing Salve/Creme

  • 1/4 cup Calendula Oil
  • 1/4 cup Plantain Oil
  • 1/8 cup St. John's Wort Oil
  • 1/8 Cup Comfrey Oil 
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Beeswax pellets or 2 TBSP grated beeswax
  • 1/2 teaspoon (about I just broke off a small chunk that LOOKED to be about 1/2 teaspoon) chunk of shea butter
  • 5 to 10 drops lavender essential oil, depending on preference
  • 2, 1/4 Pint Canning Jars (at least the stuff I made filled up two of them without any extra)
Place infused oils in a double boiler on your stove or in a big microwave safe vessel (I actually use my 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup for this) and add beeswax and shea butter.  Heat over low heat on stovetop until beeswax and shea butter are melted or microwave on high for 1 minute and then in 20 second increments until beeswax and shea butter are melted.  Add your essential oil and mix with a chop stick until well mixed and then pour oil mixture into your canning jars.  Let sit until cooled and if it's got a hard consistency to it, I usually take said chop stick and just mush the crud out of the salve until it's nice and smooth, but this salve turned out very well for me and required little manipulation to get it to turn into a soft and light Vaseline-like consistency.

This is some cool stuff.  It goes on super soft and the shea butter makes the salve just have this soft after-effect on the skin.  I love how it makes my son's skin feels after I apply it and the salve heals the eczema outbreaks super fast.  Now I just need to make an anti-itching tincture to counteract the internal effects of the eczema and I'll be set :).

Here's a picture of my son's foot and ankle 24 hours after I started using this stuff.  Picture the "before" picture being the same leg, but with scabs and some open bleeding from him scratching the skin off the top of his foot (mind you I waited until said wounds closed before I used anything on him)...

Even after a severely nasty flair up the last few days, his skin is already doing better and the nasty skin is flaking off.  I'm not easily impressed with salves and cremes, but this stuff, so far anyway, rocks the Casbah!

Wondering where I buy my herbs and stuff so you can make your own?  Well here you go...

  • Calendula:  You can purchase this by the pound, but only the full flowers (least that I found) at All About Herbs (a local Alaskan store). I order mine online through Jen's Enchanted Garden on Etsy right now.  I love that she goes by weight, not volume, so even 1/4 lb is a REALLY nice amount of calendula petals.  AND it's the petals, not the full flower, so you end up with more petals that way :).
  • Comfrey, Plantain, St. John's Wort:  I ordered mine through The Bulk Herb Store.  Love that place :).  By the way, 1/2 lb of Plantain?  Will last you forever.  Awesomely huge amount :).
  • Shea Butter, Beeswax beads:  Country Soap Shack on Etsy, but I know you can find them other places as well.  I know for sure that the Bulk Herb Store also carries the beeswax.  Country Soap Shack, I've found, just has great quality products and their beeswax is pretty darn cheap (1 lb of the stuff cost me 12.00 shipped and that'll be enough Beeswax to last me a long time :).
  • Lavender Essential Oil:  Cheapest place I've found essential oils, now that Fred Meyer stopped carrying them (I miss the sales on those oils *sniff*) is Amazon.com.  In SOME cases, such as Sweet Orange Oil, it seems like All About Herbs isn't too bad, but I've found that even through Marketplace sellers on Amazon AFTER shipping the oils are many times much cheaper than buying them through All About Herbs. 
And there you are folks.  One of the "projects" I've been up to lately.  Enjoy!  I'm off to make pork and sauerkraut for dinner (it's a Polish thing I picked up from my grandma and her husband for luck in the New Year).  Enjoy your evening!

EDIT:  Just a couple of answer to some quick questions I've gotten from people about the instructions.

1)  The olive oil used is just good old olive oil you buy at the store...nothing special about it.  I just buy mine at Costco or Three Bears in the big mondo jug as it's more cost effective.  Olive oil is used because it's like the only oil that naturally doesn't go rancid on you, thus is good for making health and beauty products out of.  It gives you a long shelf life.

2)  When I say, "turn the jar a couple of times a week" I don't mean to turn it over and leave it.  Sorry about that.  If you do that you're going to end up with oil all over your counter as mason jars do NOT vacuum seal unless you can them.  Just swish the contents in the jar enough to get the herbs and oil moving around and then put it right back on the shelf to steep some more :).

3)  YES, if you lose track of time you can steep the herbs and oil indefinitely.  Some people were concerned with the 2 week thing.  That's just a minimum amount of time you're going to want to steep your oils for so that they're effective.  Honestly the St. John's Wort oil and the Calendula oil I'm using right now *coughs* got strained at about a month because I didn't need them right away and lost track of time.  I, like you, am human, so don't sweat it :).

4)  You can mix the salve with metal or wood utensils, yes, but NOT plastic ones unless you want one heck of a oily coating on them.  I use the chop stick to mix because it gets into tight areas without issue and trust me you make salves a couple of times you'll learn to love the chop stick (once you try to stick a teaspoon into a thing of newly formed salve to mush it up and you'll quickly see what I mean :).  Just pick up some throw away sets at your store's sushi counter or ask for a couple of extra pairs the next time you get chinese food.  They come in very handy.

5)  1/4 pint mason jars are found at the grocery store.  You don't have to order them online or anything.  I was in this phase where I thought you needed "lotion" containers and ordered them online.  They were double walled plastic deals and were expensive.  They're nice containers, don't get me wrong, but I didn't like the cost involved, especially after handing out a couple of jars of salve to relatives and realizing I was going to have to reorder them.  I found that you can get 12 1/4 pint mason jars, even in off season pricing, at Fred Meyers for about 10.00, which was a LOT cheaper (I was paying that for 4 of the double walled plastic ones after shipping).  And the nice part about the mason jars if that you won't feel badly if you end up giving a couple away for people to try your new salve.  Just make sure you label your jars (labels come with the jars) so that you know what is in them as beeswax makes pretty much everything turn yellow, so it all tends to start looking the same.

If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me, Facebook the question or post it here (if Blogger will let you :).

NOTE:  This post is linked to Gluten Free and DIY Tuesdays on Allergy Free Alaska

Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  I am a proud Amazon.com associate, and if you order through the links on this post I get a small amount of money from Amazon as a way to thank me for spreading the word about their products.  The opinions and feedback about said products, however, are entirely my own.   

44 comments:

Tia said...

I like this content. Very useful to increase my knowledge. thank you.

LeanneK said...

I wish you WERE marketing this product! My hands are so bad right now! Itchy & dry!

Rachael said...

This is fantastic! I'm 23 years old, born with eczema and have had it all my life. It's cleared up in most spots, but my legs have always had patches. My fiance loves bringing me home new creams/lotions on the market to see if anything works. Can't wait to try this! Thanks for sharing! :)

Brownie said...

New to your blog, following you! What a great thing to share, my daughter has excema but only lightly. Can't wait to share with my brother who has it bad!

lbergstrome said...

Lovely, I've been scratching my skin off for the past few months - can't wait for winter to be over! Looking forward to trying this and reading in the future to see if you come up with anything for the itch!

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful to have this recipe. I have suffered with this for40 years and I am itching to death right now with a flare up. TYSM
Betty

Sarah said...

hi - thanks for the post. to make the plantain oil, do you cut the fruit up, or the fruit with the peel, or just the peel? I would appreciate knowing how you make this~~ thank you!

Sarah said...

me again...Plantain oil do you you use Plantain Leaf and steep in oil for two weeks? Or do you buy the Herb Pharm Plantain (but that has alcohol in it...so I'm guessing not) and St. John's Wort - steep each herb separately in oil or all in the same container?

Thanks for the recipe. I really want to do this correctly!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sarah again ~~~~ ok, now I see how to do it. I had skipped quickly to the recipe without seeing the previous part about how to make the oils——ordering herbs now-- can't wait to try this. Thx again.

Nancy said...

This sounds like a great recipe! Just a few things I've found after 20 years fighting eczema. Diet makes a difference. When I don't eat refined sugar, the flare-ups completely disappear. I use lotion regularly and always wear gloves when using detergents. Also, Calendula is super easy to grow yourself. In a pot or in the garden. I dry all my own to use. Plantain is a very common weed in the yard too that you can harvest for free. If you look at photos online, you will be able to find it. I also have read that comfrey is easy to grow, but I've never grown it myself. Just a bit of info to add to your post...I'll be pinning the recipe too! Thanks and blessings! Nancy

Michelle Graunke said...
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Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

And that is why I recommended to people first and foremost to get checked by an allergist. My son's eczema has greatly improved since we've cut the garlic, oats, peanuts and coconut from his diet and the only way we would have known that was to go to an allergist. I recommend this recipe to help people when their eczema flares if they just naturally have sensitive skin (like my son and daughter do).

I have had people with auto immune disorders such as psoriasis say that this recipe helped to alleviate their suffering, so I find it worth sharing.

My sister in law swears by this recipe too as she has very dry skin from having to wash her hands all the time in her profession as a massage therapist :).

Also, the reason I give places to buy the herbs for these recipes, easy to grow or not, is because I know many people (myself, sadly included) who have a black thumb and while in Alaska I could TRY to grow those herbs...I just plain don't have the time to do it, so I buy them. So, I wanted to give people that option. But, thank you for giving that advice as I'm sure a lot of people could grow those herbs with a lot of success :).

KA said...

Thank you so much for posting your recipe! I have made this recipe with one modification. I'm not sure if I am reactive to olive oil so I substituted jojoba oil which I steeped the herbs in for a few months.

Last week I had a bad eczema break out and I learned that I was allergic/sensitive to flax oil. It's unfortunate. Everytime I try something new to help my eczema, I break out very badly - from detox herbs, natural supplements, red beets, and oils. Anyways, the salve worked amazingly well! I have been on a steroid cream for 2 months and I needed something else to alternate it with because it was losing effectiveness. And this salve felt like it is as effective as the steroid cream. The small rashes have flaked off and the large patches have smoothed out.

My skin healed pretty quickly HOWEVER, my skin itches so much all day. So my skin is not completely healed because I am constantly scratching. I wonder if I am reacting to one of the herbs in this recipe. I am going to try to test by putting each herb&oil infusion on a bandaid and leave it on my arm for 24 hours. I doubt this is an effective method for testing sensitivity. Any suggestions?

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

I would try your method with the band aid first. If you don't react to any of the herb oils I'd try cutting out the lavender oil and see if that might be the culprit. OR, up the plantain oil in the recipe and cut back a little on the calendula oil, since plantain is the itching help (or just make your plantain oil a bit stronger by adding a bit more to your oil when you steep it, which is what I do). If you react to all the herbs, I'd try doing the same experiment only with like a cotton cloth and a small cotton pad steeped with the oils to make sure you don't have a latex allergy.

I hope that helps and I'm glad that the cream gives you SOME relief anyway :). Hope you can come up with something that works well for you.

Anonymous said...

Plantain is native to most of North America, and it grows in many yards. People that don't know what it is just consider it to be a weed. Growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and also being part Native American, I can tell you that this herb has been used by indigenous peoples for as long as oral history has been passed. As with any plant/herbs: if you do decide to grow/harvest your own, do your research. Know what that plant looks like , and read uses/warnings . I'd advise researching any herb before you use it, but I do agree that plantain can be used to aid the healing of skin ailments.

Kimberly said...
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amy frissom said...
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Anonymous said...

You could keep this in the fridge which would cool down the itch considerably - like a cold compress.

Anonymous said...

FYI, I found out my son's eczema was being caused by an external irritant, rather than diet. He is allergic to something in regular disposable diapers, when I switched to cloth/all natural disposables the eczema went away after about a week and a year later has not returned. I have a feeling it might be sensitivity to chlorine.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if essential oils could be used to make this faster. I can't wait a minimum of 2 weeks for relief! LOL Yeh, they're pricier, and I don't know if anyone makes a plantain essential oil, but...By the way, if this works for me, I owe you dinner.

Cindy said...

Is the comfrey part used the leaf or the root?

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

@ Cindy, I use the leaf.

@ the person asking about essential oils making the process faster...no that won't work. What you CAN do is use a heat infused method for the oils which you'd just need a crock pot or double boiler for. You just steep the oils over low heat in your crock pot for I believe 3 hours and then let cool and strain. The method has it's supporters and some say it allows for a better product, but since I don't HAVE a crock pot I've never tried it and the slow steeping method speaks to my lazy gene, so I do it that way :). I hope that gives you a quicker way to relief!

I hate to do this to people, but if you are going to make a negative comment it'll be deleted here. People really don't want to be lectured on their eating habits, whether or not they use the right type of diapers, etc. I shared this recipe to help those who are suffering with eczema and believe me I have gotten every irritant in the world away from my child, but he still suffers due to environmental allergies and I know he's not alone. So, please leave the lectures at home.

Also, to those who are promoting their site and/or products those links too will be deleted. I don't like anything linked from my site that I have not tried myself as I can not attest to the product and I just don't feel right letting my blog be an avenue for product placement. Sorry!

Thanks for all the feedback and I certainly hope that this recipe helps people.

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

I also deleted any comments asking if I'd be selling the cream whose recipe is listed here. It's not that I MIND you guys asking if I'd sell it, but I don't want you guys getting spam botted for it.

If and when I ever decide to sell eczema cream I will announce it on the blog and in a comment here, promise. I just plain don't have time, the money or other means to sell this stuff commercially. Sorry! I wish I could and help more people, but I hope that by sharing the recipe it'll at least help some.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I too wish you sold the product, but since you do not, I will try my hand at making this. I am new to this stuff but I have been reading lots of articles trying to work up my nerve to attempt making my own anything! My Granddaughter was born with eczema. I feel so sorry for her. She just digs at the patches making it worse. For my Maddie I will try anything and if I make a mess, who is to know. Thank you so much for your article!

Pamela Pettyjohn said...

Plantains? Like the banana kind of plantains? Really?

Anonymous said...

Not plantain the fruit, plantain the herb. Nothing alike. Google it, and you probably have some of it in your yard. I do, but hubby likes to spray for weeds all too often, so I will find some dried plantain at my local wellness store.

Dawn said...

do you think this would also work for psoriasis?? my daughter has it, and it seems we find something to clear it up, but I think she develops a tolerance to it and it doesn't seem to help anymore. she's used tea tree oil, alone, and also tried coconut oil.

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

I have a friend with rheumatoid psoriasis that I give this cream to. She swears by it and says it takes the itching away for a full 12 hours. That's about as much info as I can give you on that one. I'd give it a shot. I hope it helps!

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

And thank you anonymous for answering the above question. Yes, it's plantain the herb, not the starchy banana. I think that would be a weird one to work into an herbal recipe for sure :).

Elaine White said...

Hi,I am very interested in this recipe,I suffer with varicose excema and have really dry cracked skin on the lower part of both legs,I have been using steroid cream now for several months,although this latest is better than the one before I still the nasty looking cracked skin,Do you think this cream would work for this type of excema?

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

I honestly have no idea, Elaine. Wish I could help you there.

Pat Higgins said...

Hi, think I will try this recipe too, you can buy comfrey oil, I used it when I fractured four ribs and didn't need the morphine tablets lol! I live in the Uk so not sure what Mason jars are and is plantain grown here? Love all your recipes especially the Burts Bees lip balm one as I love his products too!

Anonymous said...

This sounds very interesting. I've tried all sorts of things, I do get some relief from Blu Emu, as it seems to keep the skin supple, but nothing rids it. On the plantain, being of Native American descent, my mom used to use it on us kids all the time. I've used it several times from the yard. Some make a poultice, I've used the leaves whole to draw out pus from boils. Gonna give this a try! thank you....

Criss Pep said...

fyi to eczema sufferers - try making your own laundry detergent. I make it for my son and I and it helps! Tipnut.com website has recipes - search laundry detergent there. I use recipe #9.

yaseuk said...

I have terrible eczema on my philtrum which when it flames up it A doesnt look nice on my face, and pretty much everything the doctors have even told me to use make it flare up, so im going to try and hint down these ingredients and give it a try!!

Erin said...

I've been making this recipe for a year now. Any reason why I can't measure out the proportion of herbs for one recipe and infuse them in the oil all together instead of in separate jars?

Sandi W said...

THANK YOU for sharing! After steeping for 2 weeks I just strained and mixed up a batch for my daughters. The one with worst flare ups just left to go back to school with her freshly made jar. Can't wait to see how it works for her. The older one wants to know why I couldn't have done this years ago when her eczema was really bad. Hope to post positive results soon.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get the oils to make it??

& said...

Hi. I love this recipe. Thanks! Just one question. Are you using comfrey leaves or roots?

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

I use comfrey leaf for this, myself, but I'm sure the root would work too.

Anonymous said...

Is the lavender oil just for scent? Have you tried another? My husband really dislikes it so I hate to smear it all over his baby girl! ;)

Anonymous said...

Just a quick reminder comfrey is known to be cancerous when too much is absorbed through the skin. https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/comfrey. Limit the use of comfrey to 10 days at a time and non morethan 4-6 weeks/year. And youre never toapply it to broken skin or children. Try using another anti-inflammatory oil instead.

Mandy said...

I don't get why this recipe would include comfrey if it's so dangerous to use! I made this recipe and I'm so disappointed to learn how toxic comfrey really is. I don't think ppl should be using comfrey at all on their children!!! Nor anyone for that matter!! So disappointed!!!

Erika @ Those Who Help Themselves said...

There are varying opinions on comfrey, on both sides on whether or not it should be used. I have not seen enough research that has convinced me not to use it, BUT that is me. If you feel that it should not be used in your cream, feel free to omit it. I just shared a recipe, you are allowed to tweak it however you see fit to. That is your choice.