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A growing area of research is the use of herbs and essential oils to decrease the risk of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. [5.2] [5.3] [5.4]


  • 78 essential oils showed zones of inhibition. Lemongrass, Lemon myrtle Mountain savory, cinnamon and Lemon Balm had the highest level of inhibition. [5.4] 

  • Topical application of tea tree was shown to be as effective as standard treatment.
    [5.5] [5.6] [5.7] [5.8]

  • Oregano oil has the potential as a topical antibacterial agent against MRSA.
    [5.9] [5.10]

  • Copper has been shown to inhibit MRSA strains within 45 minutes of contact. Copper surfaces were shown to completely kill three of the most prevalent strains of epidemic MRSA in the UK than stainless steel. Authors recommend that copper surfaces should be re-introduced to hospitals in place of stainless steel [5.12]

    Key Points                                
Skin Conditions

Antimicrobials (antibiotics and antifungals) are commonly prescribed for a number of skin conditions including acne, eczema, impetigo, cellulitis, yeast infections, and others.  Although antimicrobials may be needed in some situations, factors that increase antimicrobial resistance include overuse of antimicrobials without addressing the underlying cause, using antimicrobials without prescription, poor standard antimicrobials, suboptimal hygiene and immuno suppression. [5.15]

From a naturopathic perspective, the health of a person’s skin is strongly determined by their immune health [5.23] [5.27] and digestive health [5.29] [5.28] as Hippocrates stated ‘all disease starts in the gut’. Certain gut bacteria have been shown to inhibit S.aureus and CA-MRSA in particular [5.14]. Skin is the body’s largest organ and it is also an organ of detoxification. To a naturopath chronic skin conditions represent an internal discord. The quality and location of skin conditions will help determine the causal factors and the appropriate treatment strategy.

Naturopathic Approach

Naturopathic treatment is individualized and dependent on determining the cause of the symptoms.  


It may include:

  • Diet & Lifestyle: Modifications to diet are generally part of the treatment regimen whether you require antibiotics are not.  The general dietary guidelines include identifying food intolerance, dietary imbalances, improving gut integrity and balancing gut flora 


  • Medicinal Foods: Honey has been shown to have potent antibacterial activity against S.aureus and CA-MRSA S.aureus strains. [5.11] [5.12]


  • Topical poultices are a paste of chopped, ground or crushed fresh or dried herb or other material such as clay and applied to the skin. They are used to relieve inflammation and pain, draw boils and abscesses, soothe burns and disinfect wounds. These are a traditional form of herbal medicine for which there is little scientific research. Most research is of the herbs or isolated constituents themselves. Traditional herbs used as poultices for skin infections (bacterial, viral and fungal) include: Calendula officinalis, Aloe barbadensis, Centella asiatica, Hypericum perforatum, Matricaria recutita, Echinacea spp. Thymus vulgaris, Plantago spp. Symphytum officinale.  Some recent research has been conducted on medicinal clays which have been shown to have wound healing and anti-bacterial actions [5.26] [5.38].


  • Light therapy: blue light therapy uses light to treat skin conditions.  In areas where the light can reach either on top of the surface of the skin or just underneath. Photodynamic therapy is when light sensitive medicines or herbs are activated via blue light (applied to target area and then light is used).  This has been largely to treat acne as it has been shown to kill the acne-causing P. acnes. Several studies have shown it to be effective at killing S.aureus too along with chronic fungal infections [5.34] [5.35] ​especially when used with light sensitive mediums such as resveratrol [5.36]. Several herbs are known to photosensitive and have skin healing and antimicrobial properties such as Hypericum perforatum [5.37] but research is lacking in regards to its use treatment for skin infections.


  • Neutraceticals that have been shown to help the skin heal include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Fish oils, Probiotics [5.14] [5.28] , vitamin E


  • Herbs that may be effective in the treatment of skin conditions include: 

    • Herbs that have been found to treat bacterial skin conditions include Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) [5.11], Lemongrass (Cymopogan citratus), Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) [5.13]

    • Herbs that have been found to treat fungal skin conditions include garlic [5.11], Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) [5.11], tabebuia, and in European herbalism, all herbs with strong essential oils (thyme, oregano, sage)

    • S. officinalis, E. globulus, C. forskohlii, A. uva-ursi, C. chinensis, T. diffusa, A. californica, A. sativum,  and  L. tridentata, Tea tree (Melaleuca sp), Thyme white essential oil, Lemon essential oil, and Cinnamon essential oil, Allicin (from garlic) + Silver nanoparticles [5.16] [5.17] [5.18] [5.19] [5.20]


  • ​Essential Oils: Tea Tree and rosemary oils exhibit antibacterial activity against the antibiotic-resistance acne isolates. [5.39]

  • Homeopathics 

  • Other recommendations:

It is always best to work with your naturopathic practitioner or other trained health professional to determine the best treatment option.

Skin conditions that are chronic relapsing and remitting, or that are caught early often respond quite effectively to naturopathic treatments. Acute and aggressive the skin condition, such as cellulitis may require antibiotics or other medical interventions.  


Skin symptoms and conditions can be due to a number of factors and may be inflammatory, bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal in nature. The naturopathic assessment approach is to identify and address as many factors as possible and to help determine the most appropriate treatment strategy.


The factors that a naturopathic practitioner will generally assess include:

  • Dietary and lifestyle factors. Food sensitivities can be the cause or an aggravating factor. Foods commonly associated with chronic skin symptoms include cow’s milk, eggs, sugar and food additives.

  • Skin hygiene is about ensuring that the skin is clean without becoming dehydrated or damaged and that the normal skin microbiotia is not disrupted. Skin hygiene tips include:

    • When washing or bathing use cooler water. 

    • Avoid frequent bathing or showers as they can dehydrate the skin.

    • Do not scrub or dry the skin too hard or for too long.

    • After bathing use a chemical-free, natural moisturizer.


  • Stress and other emotional states can worsen skin conditions and decrease the rate of healing.

  • Infections including bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal.

  • Reaction to environmental allergens and toxins that may be found in personal care products, cleaning products (such as hand soap or laundry detergent).

  • Over-the-counter medications and/or prescription medications


Naturopathic practitioners are able to assess both acute and chronic skin symptoms through the naturopathic assessment and diagnosis process. 

Prevention of skin conditions involves preventing the occurrence and worsening of skin rashes and conditions and it involves ensuring the healing of skin infections due to injury or trauma.

  • Ensure a healthy digestive and immune function (as above)

  • Ensure healthy skin function including a healthy microbiota [5.24] [5.31]

  • Hygiene including:

    • Hand washing [5.1]

    • Limiting showers and baths to once a day. Studies are needed too ascertain if chronic washing reduces skin defense by decreasing the re-population of skin-microbiota but this is a possibility [5.1]

  • Proper hydration both internally and topically.

  • Choosing personal care products that don’t contain alcohol, that have minimal chemicals and that are not harmful to the body in order to protect against decreasing skin integrity, changing the pH of the skin and causing skin microbiota imbalance. [5.31]


  • Be mindful of the sun and its effect on your skin.


  • Preventing infections involves proper and timely treatment of skin injuries including washing the wound, use of emollients and anti-microbials [5.31] [5.25] such as Borago officinalis (emollient), Althaea officinalis (emollient) [5.32] and Stellaria media (wound healing and emollient) which have been used traditionally and anecdotally and Aloe barbedensis (wound healing, antimicrobial and emollient). Iodine has been shown to be highly beneficial at disinfecting wounds [5.33] [5.21]. And then dressing the wound securely. Silver has been shown to have anti-bacterial actions and dressings impregnated with it have been highly effective at preventing infection [5.30] [5.21].

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