Herbal Therapy for Burns

Herbal Therapy for Burns

Eighty percent of burns occur in the home. Common causes are overexposure to the sun or direct contact with a hot oven or cooking surface, hot water or steam, electricity, or certain household chemicals. The following burns require immediate medical attention:

  • Burns that have been caused by electricity or chemicals
  • Burns that look severe and involve parts of the body where the skin is thin, such as the face, neck, shoulders, elbows, hands, genital area, ankles, or feet
  • Burns that have left the skin charred, white, or brownish yellow, and leathery—even if there is no pain

Most burns, however, can be treated effectively at home. First, cool the burned area with cold water or ice. After the pain subsides apply an antibiotic cream (available without prescription) or an herbal remedy (see below) to aid the healing process. During this time (usually from 3 to 5 weeks), drink plenty of juice and water to help hydrate the skin. The internal herbal remedies included here may also help promote proper healing.

Herbal Therapies

Herbs can speed wound healing, reduce the risk of infection, and possibly prevent scarring. Make teas with 1 teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures are preparations made from alcohol (or water and alcohol), containing an herb strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent.

Topical uses:

  • Apply gotu kola (Centella asiatica) to the burn site daily to help prevent scarring and to promote skin healing.
  • Make a strong comfrey leaf (Symphytum officinalis) tea (use one heaping teaspoon herb per cup), let cool, and cleanse the burn area with the tea.
  • Combine powders of slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), marshmallow root (Althea officinalis), goldenseal, and comfrey root. Apply to burns to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.

Internal uses:

  • Combine equal parts of tinctures of coneflower (Echinacea purpura) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Take 30 to 60 drops every three to four hours to stimulate the immune system and reduce the risk of infection during the period right after the injury.
  • Combine equal parts of the following in a tea (drink 4 to 6 cups a day) or tincture (30 to 60 drops three to four times a day): yarrow (Achillea millefolium), cleavers (Gallium aparine), prickly ash bark (Xanthoxyllum clava-herculis), marigold (Calendula officinalis), plantain (Plantago major), and ginger root (Zingiber officinalis). This remedy promotes healing by enhancing blood circulation to the skin.


Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Review Date: June 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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