Cellulitis is a skin condition most often effecting the arms and legs, but occasionally spreading to the lymph nodes. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that it is caused by inflammation from a bacterial infection, usually streptococcus or staphylococcus. Conventional medical treatment includes prescription antibiotics. There are also a few herbs which may help relieve symptoms and fight infection. However, always consult a health-care practitioner before trying herbs are other natural therapies.
Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is one of the most common natural antibiotics used today. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that it helps strengthen the immune system. It can either be taken internally, in capsule or tincture form; or applied topically with lotion to treat skin irritation and inflammation.
Echinacea is also considered a blood purifier. According to the Clayton College of Natural Health herb guide, it moves "white blood cells into areas of infection," and can be used to treat a variety of infections, boils as well as swollen lymph nodes. It does warn, however, not to use echinacea long term as the body can become adapted to its effects.
Burdock root is used in herbal medicine to enhance liver function, improve circulation to the skin and promote the flow of lymph. Herbalist Paul Bergner of the North American Institute of Herbal Medicine recommends taking burdock root as a tea, up to four cups per day. He especially recommends burdock for boils, and notes its immune-enhancing properties. While this herb has been used for centuries by herbalists, very little scientific evidence exists to support its use in conventional medicine.
Calendula, or the common marigold, is a flowering herb used to treat burns, bruises, cuts, minor infections and other skin irritations. The University of Maryland lists it among the herbal treatments for cellulitis. It states that calendula "has been shown to speed healing of wounds--possibly because it increases blood flow to the affected area." Calendula ointment is considered safe when applied topically, up to three to four times per day; but is not recommended for internal use.
Fresh pineapple contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain. It is naturally anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal. The University of Maryland states that it not only reduces swelling and bruising, but may also improve healing time and pain following surgery or other physical injuries. UMM cites studies, which suggest that bromelain may be useful in removing dead tissue from third-degree burns. Bromelain can be obtained from eating fresh pineapple, or taken in capsule form, 500 mg, up to four times per day.
Goldenseal is another flowering herb used to treat bacterial infections. The Clayton College herb guide notes that it has shown to be effective against a number of infection-causing bacteria. It is naturally antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic. Herbalists use goldenseal to treat ulcers, liver disorders, cancer, colitis, sinus infections and vaginal infections. The herb guide does warn that when taken internally, it can reduce blood sugar levels and should not be used by hypoglycemics. Goldenseal root also has antiseptic properties. It can be made into a paste and used topically to treat cellulitis and other skin infections.