The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1001: Natural Approaches to Summer Skin Care

A wide range of natural products can be used effectively to help prevent or heal summer skin problems.
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Natural Approaches to Summer Skin Care

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People have been using plants to take care of skin problems for hundreds or thousands of years. Which natural products really work?

Our expert guests discuss the power of a fresh aloe vera leaf to help soothe a burn, including a sunburn. You’ll also find out how to prevent sunburn naturally. Some plants (tomatoes, chocolate, or the South American fern Polypodium leucotomos) can be eaten for modest protection, while other plant products (shea butter, for example) can be smeared on the skin. Our African ancestors used natural clay to keep their skin from burning.

Fighting Inflammation:

Find out about the benefits of calendula as an anti-inflammatory herb and what plants could be helpful against psoriasis. Pennyroyal oil can be used to prevent insect bites, and sassafras leaves can ease the itch from chigger bites.

Herbal Oils:

The herbal oils in Listerine probably explain why it is so popular as a home remedy for a wide range of skin ailments. Learn how lavender and chamomile oils can also be used for healing.

This Week’s Guests:

Daniel Mark Siegel, MD, MS, is Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate and head of Dermatologic Surgery. He is a former president of the American Academy of Dermatology. His website is

David Pompei, PharmD, RPh, is a New York area pharmacist with expertise in pharmacy management, product development, compounding and clinical research.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I find for any kind of skin issue like itch, pimple, mosquito bite or sunburn – what helps a lot is I put a few ounces of white vinegar into a bowl of water and wipe the affected area with that mixture and let it sit for a minute or two – then just rinse with water.

I was intrigued by the brief discussion about calendula in the show. Following up with other sources, I concluded that calendula gel/oil/cream might be useful to me, but when I went looking to buy some, I discovered that there were *hundreds* of choices, with no obvious way to quickly find something simple with one main ingredient–calendula. Any advice?

Some of my horses suffer from itching themselves raw, mane and tail swollen and they rub hair off if tails from midges (aka no seeums).What herbal remedies will help both internally and topically that are safe for horses?

Why is it that so many moisturizers have removed the SPF from their products? The only general moisturizer I can find that contains a SPF is Aveeno. I live in South Florida and have already dealt with basal cell carcinoma so SPF protection is important to me. I also need to find a product without any type of tree nut oil as I have allergies. What is a shea nut? I don’t really want to spend up to $10/bottle to try a product to see if I am sensitive to shea nut oil/butter. Gold Bond was my favorite and I have not seen it with SPF in 2 years. Can’t find it in Lubriderm, Vaseline Intensive Care, Neutrogenia or any other product. Using sunscreen as a moisturizer doesn’t always work either as I find it just sits on top of my skin and is not absorbed, and who wants to smell like coconut oil anyway? My dermatologist sells their own brand of moisturizer but the cost is prohibitive. Most of the time it is too warm here to wear long pants and long sleeves in order to be protected so I am looking for alternative ways to save my skin and possibly prevent a recurrence of basal cell or worse. Any ideas?

Mary, the Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion has broad spectrum SPF 30, non-Comedongenic, approved for sensitive skin. It’s a light cream. I’ve been using for at lest 15 years. It’s available at Walmart, but you have to look closely to find it.

I used the prescribed drug Arava which is an alternative to methotrexate for ra and began having rectal bleeding. When I advised my rheumatologist of this, she had me stop the drug immediately. She said she advised the FDA about this but has heard nothing about a recall..

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