Lichens planus is a very common inflammatory skin condition that affects mucousal areas like the inside of the mouth and also other parts of the body especially the genital areas. The skin is usually red and inflamed with lesions. These can be shiney red, whitish or brown patches, thickening of the skin or flat lesions that resemble some forms of lichen hence the name; Lichens planus - planus meaning flat.
In some cases it can affect the nails that discolour with ridges. The cause is unknown but it may be linked to certain viruses and often appears when the immune system is run down. I had a patient recently whi had been diagnosed with Lichens planus of the mouth by her dentist. She was very worried as the dentist told her there was no treatment for it.
Having seen this condition and it's varying forms many times in clinic I was fully confident the herbs would work well for her. Many people are put on antibiotics for this condition with no positive results. As herbalists we have a number of fantastic anti-inflammatory, vulnerary (skin healing), immune stimulating, antibacterial, antiviral, anti everything herbs you can take as tinctures or teas internally and also many herbs we use externally as creams, oils and ointments to tackle the lesions affecting the genital areas or any other areas of the body. These herbs include the amazing Hydrastis, Myrrh, Yarroe, Calendula. Berberis, Comfrey and Chickweed. This patient was made up a mouthwash of 5 herbs including our own grown Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) pictured here which we harvest every year to make tincture and dry. As nutrition is always an important aspect of treatment the patient had to cut out and include different foods bring down inflammation, boost the immune system and aid healing to the mucosa. In this case she was also asked to take a vitamin A and zinc supplement. She used the herbal mouthwash for 3-4weeks before returning to the dentist. He was shocked at how it had cleared so fast and asked her where he could get the remedy to give to other patients! Unfortunately herbal medicine isn't quite so black and white. Every patient I see with Lichens planus gets an individual herbal mix depending on their unique circumstances, underlying cause and how the condition presents. But I must say the fabulous Hydrastis canadensis is one of my top 3 herbs for Lichens planus.