Lichen planus is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder of your skin or mucous membranes. If you have this disease, you may experience itchy, crusty patches on your skin, and painful, burning sores in your mouth and vagina. Doctors don’t know what causes lichen planus, but allergies and certain drugs and chemicals can trigger an outbreak, and stress can worsen it. Herbs may help relieve your symptoms naturally. Consult your health care provider for a diagnosis before starting herbal treatment.
Herbs for lichen planus work in different ways. Anti-inflammatory herbs may inhibit the immune response that triggers inflammation. Analgesics can reduce pain. Antioxidant herbs will counter oxidative stress and help your body fight damage from free radicals that can worsen autoimmune disorders. Nervine herbs will relieve stress and help prevent or control the disease. Check with an experienced practitioner for advice about dosage and preparation of herbs for lichen planus.
Oats, or Avena sativa, are a Mediterranean annual with a long history of medicinal use. Herbalists use the seeds and the aerial parts to treat nerve pain, skin conditions and nervous exhaustion. Applied topically, oats will relieve the itchiness associated with lichen planus. Oats can also reduce stress and help prevent an outbreak of the disorder. In their 2009 book “Medicinal Plants of the World,” botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk and biologist Michael Wink explain that the calming action of oats may be due to an indole alkaloid known as gramine. Do not ingest oats if you have a gluten intolerance.
Valerian, or Valeriana officinalis, is a perennial herb found throughout the world. Botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk and biologist Michael Wink call it one of the most important sedative herbs. The rhizomes and roots contain essential oil and valepotriates, and herbalists use valerian to treat insomnia, nervous disorders, PMS and menopausal symptoms. As a calming herb, valerian may help relieve and prevent symptoms of lichen planus, which is related to stress according to a report in the November 2008 issue of the “International Journal of Dermatology.” Do not combine valerian with other sedative or antidepressant drugs.
Tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia, is an Australian tree used medicinally for centuries. The leaves produce an essential oil that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil may help relieve lichen planus symptoms associated with both your skin and mouth. Ben-Erik van Wyk and Michael Wink note that, topically, tea tree oil is a remedy for skin rashes and infections, and the diluted oil is a mouthwash for mucosal inflammations. Do not combine this herb with other antibiotics.
- “Medicinal Plants of the World”; Ben-Erik van Wyk and Michael Wink; 2009
- “International Journal of Dermatology”; Psychological Stress, Endocrine and Immune Response in Patients With Lichen Planus; D. Krasowska, et al.; November 2008