Remedies for Burns, Sunburns & Radiation

Here’s a few ideas for burns, including those from radiation:

In my recent post on scar treatment, i discussed Ching Wan Hung burn ointment . It’s wonderful for burns of any kind, including radiation. It contains many blood moving herbs with heat clearing properties, to keep the blood circulating in the area, and menthol to clear the heat. It also treats insect bites and hot, red rashes and hives. My patients love it for all of these uses. 

In A Handbook of Traditional Chinese Dermatology,Liang Jian-Hui recommends decoction 60g of licorice root and applying it topically to the area with cold compresses. In Dermatology in Traditional Chinese Medicine Xu Yihou suggests making licorice oil by soaking 10g of licorice root in 100ml of vegetable oil for 24h. then cook on a low heat until the herb turns dark yellow. remove the licorice and use the oil. TCM herbalists often use sesame oil for topical balms, pastes and salves. In my Flying Dragon Liniment for muscle and joint pain, i use a combination of organic sesame, olive, castor and peach seed oils.

For radiation burns some practitioners suggest calendula gel or ointment, or honey. Manuka honey is highly regarded for its anti-bacterial properties. Tai Lahan’s, author of Integrating Conventional and Chinese Medicine in Cancer Care: A Clinical Guide uses Spring Wind Burn Creme, citing successful case studies of it’s use in her book. Spring Wind Burn Creme is being clinically studied by hospitals to document it’s effectiveness in treating radiation burns.

Xu Yihou suggests making aloe cream by first pounding 45g of aloe to extract the juice. Gradually add 10g of gum arabic until the solution becomes milky. Lastly stir in 4.5g of eucalyptus oil. The creme can be applied 2-3x/day.


For ulcerating legions, Xu suggests making egg yolk oil, by heating 10-15 hard boiled egg yolks in a pan over low heat with 1t vegetable oil until a black oil separates. Apply the oil 2-3x/day. 

A colleague, Carrie Denaro, LAc of Blue Lotus Center for Health in San Diego, created this essential oil blend for a patient with favorable results. She says “It greatly relieved the pain and healed the skin”:

Blend of 50% emu oil and 50% coconut oil in a 2-ounce jar (+)
10 drops of Blue Tansy essential oil
10 drops German Chamomile essential oil
10 drops Helichrysum essential oil
10 drops Niaouli essential oil
15 drops Lavender essential oil

It will stay solid if the room temperature is fairly cool.  If not keep it in the fridge to keep it solid and it becomes a nice cool soothing balm.

I would add that tamanu oil could be substituted for the emu oil, to avoid using an animal substance.


Xu says mild cases of radiation burns have a favorable prognosis with treatment, but severe cases are difficult to cure.

For sunburns, in Dermatology in Traditional Chinese Medicine Xu Yihou suggests decocting up dandelion (pu gong ye), purslane (ma chi xian), licorice, and a Chinese chrysanthemum (ju hua, flos chrysanthmi indici) applying as a compress 3-5x daily for 15-30 minutes. Manual of Dermatology in Chinese Medicine suggests a similar formula: ju hua, purslane, wormwood (qing hao, herba artemisiae annuae) and a Chinese herb long kui (herba solani).                    


TCM herbalists use a combination of topicals and internal formulas to treat burns. for first degree (redness) and superficial second degree burns (blistering), external treatments may suffice, depending on the intensity of pain. for more severe burns, internal formulas will also be required.     KB

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