Our Herbal Aftershave ROCKS

Our very first product that I ever made was our Herbal Aftershave. I use this product every day. No, I don’t have a beard (yet….I am getting older). I use it for removing make up, zapping acne, cleaning cuts and scrapes, and treating skin irritations. Why would I use an aftershave for something other than what it was intended? Because of how it’s made and the ingredients in it.

We use WHOLE herbs in the preparation of this product; not extracts or distillates. The entire plant goes into a vat and steeps for a period of time so all of the beneficial properties of the entire plant are extracted and absorbed into the liquid. The whole plant contains all the healing compounds found in the herb. Sometimes a single herb contains hundreds of these compounds that work together in ways that scientists don’t always understand. The combined effects of the compounds found in a whole herb often provide exactly what the body needs to heal itself. The problem with isolating a single compound is that it may not work as effectively when it’s used by itself. Increasing the concentration of one compound may also lead to side effects that aren’t seen when using a whole herb. Another issue is that chemical solvents are often used to extract the desired compound (when making an ‘herbal extract’). These solvents include acetone, hexane, benzene, and methyl chloride. Besides the fact that residues of these inorganic solvents may be found in the finished herbal extract, these chemicals also harm the environment.

That’s the ‘how it’s made’ part. Now here is what’s in it and what those plants do.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): A powerful herb used topically to speed wound healing, and improve other skin conditions such as rashes and abrasions, calm inflamed skin. The name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Calendula has perhaps the longest history of use of any herb in skin care. The flowers help stop bleeding and promote healing. Calendula is also used for chapped and otherwise irritated skin, and is good for sensitive skin.

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): This herb is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen and is nourishing to itchy skin; improve skin’s texture and elasticity, as well as reduce signs of photo damage. It’s also so gentle that it’s used in many baby products.

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra): Elderflower is the oldest herb cultivated by man. It contains powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent free radical damage.

Bay (Laurus nobilis): Bay is able to increase the blood supply to skin, restoring the skin’s healthy appearance.

Rose (Rosa Centifolia): Rose is great for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries and shaving.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has cooling properties that reduce skin inflammation, skin burn and rashes In addition to soothing and calming skin, mint may also help out in another way. It contains a nutrient called perillyl alcohol, and studies have shown that it may prevent the formation of skin cancer cells.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ): Lavender numbs pain and heals wounds. Lavender is one of the most active essential oils against MRSA. Lavender is also moderately active against Propionibacterium acnes, one of the principal bacteria involved in acne. A Japanese study suggests that the regular use of lavender in skin preparations could suppress the aging effects of sunlight on the skin.

Lemon (Citrus limon): Lemon has Vitamin C which is responsible for building up collagen in our skin. Collagen is necessary to keep the skin firm and young. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can speed cell turnover and can improve skin’s ability to slough off dead cells and heal. Lemons are also highly acidic, making them effective antiseptics that can kill off bacteria on the surface of the skin.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A native North American shrub this plant was widely used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans, mainly to stop minor bleeding and reduce skin irritation.

Aloe (aloe barbadensis leaf juice): The ancient Egyptians were using aloe as early as 4,000 BC where it was known as the “plant of immortality”. It contains glycoproteins which are known to help in healing by reducing inflammation and stopping pain. Also polysaccahrides which help with skin growth and repair. It’s also believed that these two substances together help stimulate the immune system.

It took me a long time to come up with this formula using herbs growing in my garden, and there was much trial and error. But I still remember that “a-HA” moment nearly 20 years ago when I knew I had gotten it right. I love this stuff. Such a great ‘it does it all’ product.

How To Re-Grow Your Groceries (unless you have cats)

I’m going to eat healthier (how many times have I said THAT)? But this time, I’m going all out (well, my version of all out). I’ve committed to making 80% of my diet raw and vegan. Which means a lot of fruit smoothies and salads. And I want my produce to be organic, but organic can be pricey. So I decided to save a few bucks and re-grow my own.

The idea of re-growing groceries almost sounds too good to be true, so I had to see for myself if it was really possible. I had just cut up a head of romaine lettuce, but I reserved the very bottom (the “heart”). I read on line that all you had to do was place it in a pan of water and with a little time, it will eventually sprout a whole new head of lettuce, ready to harvest, eat, and repeat the process.

So I stuck the heart in a glass of water and placed it on my kitchen windowsill. For about two days, there was nothing. Then on the third day, I noticed some growth. Within a week I had several 2-3” leaves sprouting from my romaine stump. I changed the water every day (the stump gets slimy and a bit icky), excited about my little science project. Then early into the second week, I woke up and went downstairs to feed the screaming cats (they have dry food available all the time but act like they’ve been starved for weeks until I give them their portion of canned food). When I went to the sink to refill their water bowls, I noticed an empty glass on the windowsill. Half way across the kitchen, I saw the wilted sorry remains of my lettuce project. One of the feline brats must have snatched it up in the middle of the night and used it as a cat toy. I tried to resuscitate it, lovingly placing it back into its glass of water. But it never recovered. The lettuce was no more.

I plan on trying the process again, but need to find a place where the four-legged bandits won’t get to it. Incidentally, you can also re-grow green onions, ginger, celery, pineapples, potatoes and sweet potatoes. You can find how to articles and videos on line. Some stuff re-grows quickly (like celery and lettuce). Others, like pineapples, can take2-3 years to produce fruit. And if you live in a warmer climate, you can plant your re-grow projects right in the ground. Makes sense. Instead of throwing onion stumps and lettuce hearts onto the compost pile, why not bury them and watch them grow again? Just be sure to protect them from the deer and the groundhogs and the rabbits……

Top 5 Herbs For Glowing & Gorgeous Skin

This week I was going to write an article about herbs that are good for the skin, and I came across this. It is well-written, and I couldn’t agree with the author more. So I’m re-posting.

Written by By Daisy Raybould for MindBodyGreen

Everyone wants to achieve glowing, gorgeous and perfect skin. Often we go about it the wrong way and apply harmful chemical laden synthetic beauty products that end up causing more harm than good.

If you want to make a real and lasting change for your skin, opt for natural alternatives such as these magical herbal agents.

1. Chamomile Chamomile is one of nature’s miracles. It has an incredible number of benefits, and none more so than for our skin. Alpha-bisabolol – a compound found in chamomile – reportedly reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by accelerating the healing process of the skin while also possessing anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying a cooled cup of chamomile tea as a face wash or applying the tea bags onto your skin are two of the most effective ways to take advantage of chamomile as a natural skin healer.

2. Witch Hazel Produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel shrub, millions of people swear by witch hazel for its acne relieving properties. Witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce inflammation of pimples. It also clears away excess sebum without drying out the skin too much. Witch hazel is also an astringent meaning it helps to tighten skin tissue and can reduce the appearance of dark under eye circles.

3. Aloe Vera Aloe vera is another of the more popular herbs for treating skin. Applied most commonly as a gel, women use aloe vera gel prior to applying make-up to keep skin moisturized while men often apply to skin after shaving to rehydrate and treat small cuts. Like witch hazel, aloe vera is another important natural remedy in the fight against acne. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce pimple size while its anti-microbial properties kill bacteria. Rich in vitamin C and E – two of the most important vitamins for our skin – aloe vera is another of nature’s miracles for achieving healthy, gorgeous skin.

4. Calendula Calendula is a garden plant in the daisy family that, like aloe vera and witch hazel, has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It is also a vulnerary agent that helps to heal wounds and soothe damaged skin, such as sunburn, cuts and scrapes. Many have also used calendula oil to treat eczema.

5. Lavender Lavender may be more famous for its relaxing effects of the mind, but it also helps to soothe skin, too. It is rich in a compound called linalool that assists with skin healing while also preventing tissue degeneration keeping skin firm and preventing wrinkles. To make lavender even more of an anti-aging wonder, it encourages the growth of new skin cells due to its cytophylactic properties. Lavender also helps to heal wounds, scar tissue, acne, eczema and problem skin. Being anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-toxic, anti-bacterial and an anti-septic just serves to show how incredible lavender is for skin.

Our skin is the largest organ we possess so looking after it is of the utmost importance. Avoid harmful chemical laden treatments and instead turn to the wonderful herbs Mother Nature has to offer us.

Top Ten Signs You Have Gone Over the Garden Edge

I love gardening. I really do. To me, nothing is more therapeutic than being alone outside surrounded by beautiful plants and the serenity of nature. And after a long winter, I need my therapy.

I found this list from The Gardeners Network and it made me chuckle. I hope you get a laugh too.

Top 10 Signs you have gone over the garden edge:

10. Your favorite poem is “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue.

9. Your kids are named Rose, Violet, Daisy and Zucchini.

8. You have 8 X 10 family pictures of your Tomatoes and Peppers on your office shelf.

7. Your idea of Saturday Date Night is going out in the garden and hand pollinating the plants.

6. You think a cocktail is liquid fertilizer.

5. You rush home from work and go straight to the garden and hug your roses. (Ouch!) Then, you go in to your house and see you family.

4. On Christmas Eve, visions of “Sugar Peas” dance in your head.

3. After the first frost, you are seen holding funeral services in your garden.

2. You take your kids multiple vitamins from them to use as a supplement to your plants fertilizer.

And, the number one sign that you have gone over the garden edge is…

1. Every Spring your family files a “Missing Person’s” report. You remain missing all summer, and mysteriously re-appear in the fall.