Topical Chinese herbal medicines that benefit epidermal permeability barrier function

Exciting stuff huh! Firstly, let me very briefly explain what the skin barrier is and why it is so important. The skin barrier acts as the bricks and mortar of the skin, it protects and provides homeostasis of the inner and outer workings of the body. If the skin barrier becomes damaged and ‘leaky’, a high ‘TEWL’ trans epidermal water loss can occur. Skin can then become dehydrated and susceptible to inflammation and what I like to term malnourished.

There are countless detrimental internal and external factors that can contribute to degrading of the skin barrier. Hereditary, diet, stress, medications, UV exposure and ill matched cosmetics, just to name a few.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, the skin is the organ of the Lung, but it can be influenced by any of the Zang Fu organs and the nature of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. So from the very superficial layers which are under the influence Wei Qi, the protective energy, the Lung which oxygenates Qi through the breath, to the Heart organ system which pumps the blood and nutrients to all tissues, the Spleen and Stomach provide nutrients through the food and drink they process, the Liver provides smooth flow of Qi and cleanses the blood, and the Kidney, a reflection of our Jing and heredited energy. The Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang in balance provide warmth, cooling, nourishing and protecting attributes to all cells, to promote vitality and homeostasis.

 The article I am referring to was published in 2015 and featured in Dermatological Sinica. The authors were Lizhi Hu, Huibin Man, Peter M. Elias and Mao-Qiang Man, and the full article name was Herbal medicines that benefit epidermal permeability barrier function.

 The overall conclusion of the article demonstrated that herbal ingredients had beneficial action on the varying function of the epidermis. My focus was definitely on the benefits of Chinese herbal medicines.

Chi Shao, Huang Bai, Ze Xie, Dang Gui and Tu Fu Ling in combination, were shown to benefit barrier recovery and lipid production. 

 Another study showed a topical application of 0.1% apigenin from Jin Yin Hua accelerated barrier function recovery. Zi Cao lowered TEWL and increased stratum corneum hydration. He Zi had a positive effect on barrier function, TEWL, stratum corneum hydration, as well as a reduction in melanin index.


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