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Archive for June, 2008

BE WARNED: THIS POST CONTAINS A PICTURE OF DAMAGED FLESH AND BLOOD!

One of the first herbal products I created was born of necessity. It was my Herbal Healing Wash, a product that is a constant in my medicine cabinet.

It came about because, as the mother of three small children, I was constantly doctoring minor cuts and I was never really comfortable using alcohol and triple antibiotic ointment on my little ones. In my search for an alternative, I stumbled across a basic recipe in a fantastic book called, “Back to Eden” by Jethro Kloss. I whipped up my first batch and was pleased with the results, but in time I knew it just wasn’t good enough.

So, I made some modifications. What I ended up with is my Herbal Healing Wash. What I didn’t know at the time was that I had created something that would go far beyond cleaning simple cuts. In the ten plus years that we have been using this, it’s helped speed up the healing of everything including those simple cuts, deep wounds that had the meat spilling out, bruises, sprains, strains, bumps, cysts, acne and so much more!

While I do wish that I could take credit for the awesome healing abilities of this wash, the truth is, it’s all about the ingredients.

In the beginning, I used a bottle of Everclear pure grain alcohol as a base. It works great, but the downside is that it burns like hell! So, I found a suitable alternative. T.N Dickinsons’s Witch Hazel is gentle but highly effective for toning and cleansing.

Goldenseal

I absolutely love this herb and it is one that I use in many of my healing products. Goldenseal is a plant native to North America that contains antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties far above those of most other herbs, which has contributed to its status as endangered (and extremely expensive!). It contains calcium, iron, manganese, Vitamins A, C, E and B-complex, as well as other nutrients and minerals. Berberine, a chemical contained in goldenseal, is said to have the ability to fight infection caused by some bacteria, fungi, and yeast. This herb is also known for its ability to stimulate the immune system, which allows the body to heal itself.

Echinacea

Like goldenseal, echinacea is a wonderful immune booster that has been used for more than 500 years. It contains a wide array of chemical compounds including polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids. While it is well-known for its ability to help fight off the common cold, few people realize its value in treating wounds, acne and other skin issues.

Cayenne Pepper

The healing effects of cayenne pepper are often overlooked, but are truly phenomenal. Used internally, it is known to stimulate the entire system and is profoundly valuable for diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, colds, cancer and many more. It contains capsaicin, which is a powerful pain reliever and antioxidant, and helps with itching. It also contains high levels of Vitamin C which are known to help stimulate the immune system and ward off infections. Cayenne helps stop bleeding while preventing clotting…a bit of an oxymoron, but it works!

Plantain

Yes, this is the same plant that probably grows wild in your front yard. A common weed, if you will. What you probably didn’t know about it is that it was called ‘life medicine’ by American Indians. It can be used as an antibacterial, antidote, astringent, anti-inflammatory, atniseptic, antitussive, , demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic, laxative, ophthalmic, poultice. What does all that mean to you? It means that it will stop bleeding, ease pain, reduce swelling, fight infection, cleanse and promote healing, not to mention helps with a whole host of complaints when taken internally. It also contains a chemical called Acubin, which is listed in the Journal of Toxicology as a potent anti-toxin.

Still, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and while all of the ingredients that go into this wash are supposed to work, the real question is, do they?

Always one to experiment whenever I can, my son provided me the perfect opportunity when his hand went through a window last week. Here’s the results:

Day 1: The wound was rather deep (about 1/8″) and the hospital recommended stitches, which we politely declined. The meat was exposed and the skin was loose and jagged. The two puncture wounds to the side, while not as large, go straight down and we removed shards of glass appx 1/4″ long. As you can see, this happened on June 9, 2008.

Day 3: The wound was healing up nicely. The meat was no longer exposed and a clean,soft scab had formed.

Day 5: The wound is almost completely healed with little more than a hard scab to show it was there. Notice, too, the smaller wounds to the side have healed up quite nicely.

We are on day 8 and he has little more than a scab to show the wound was there and he has full use of his hand. Not bad, considering the doctors in the ER told us to expect it to take 2-4 weeks to heal.

Please keep in mind that this was hardly a scientific experiment. We applied the Healing Wash and fresh bandages twice a day and did little else, but I hope it gives you a good idea of how wonderful these herbs are for treating wounds!

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Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, spiders, chiggers…all sure signs that summer is in full swing. Of course, they can’t just exist in peace with us humans. They far prefer to bite every inch of exposed flesh and leave us running for the bug spray and benadryl.

But, the bug spray and Benadryl come with their own set of problems. Here’s a few alternatives that will help you deal with these critters more naturally.

Load up on the garlic. Insects hate it, especially the biting ones. Besides being a natural immune booster that helps protect you from several health problems like high cholesterol and the common cold, it wards off biting insects because they don’t like the taste of it. A clove or two a day is all you need!

Then, we have the miracle liquid…apple cider vinegar. I cannot even begin to list all the amazing benefits of organic apple cider vinegar. It flushes your system, it boosts immunity, it helps with arthritis…and it wards off biting insects. As with garlic, it builds up in your system and insects can’t stand the flavor. A teaspoon twice a day and you’ll feel like a new person…one that is free of bug bites!

There are also several essential oils that make wonderful insect repellents and are much easier on the entire body than commercially available products. Here is my recipe for a natural bug spray:

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I prefer olive or sesame, but just about any of them will do)

1/2 cup distilled water

4-5 drops each of the following essential oils: rosemary, basil, pennyroyal, peppermint

7-10 drops of citronella essential oil

Spray on liberally and you are ready to go!

Of course, the occasional bug is going to find its way to your tender flesh and it will sink its mean little teeth in. When that happens, I grab my Bite and Sting ointment. It contains ingredients that are known for drawing toxins from the skin, reducing inflammation, calming the itchies and healing damaged tissue. Check out some of these ingredients:

Burdock promotes the healing of wounds and is a classic remedy for skin conditions which result in dry, scaly skin and cutaneous eruptions (eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, boils, carbuncles, sties), relieve bruises and inflamed surfaces generally. It restores smoothness to the skin and contains a good amount of several vitamins (especially A and B2 – thiamin) as well as minerals, especially iron, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, zinc, and potassium. It is alleged to neutralize and eliminate poisons in the system.

Black Walnut Hulls contain natural chemicals that are astringent, which helps improve the firmness of the tissues. These chemicals are also active against inflammation, can balance sugar levels in the blood, and detoxify your body. It has the ability to fight against fungal infections, and acts with an antiseptic property which helps fight bacterial infection. It cleanses the system of toxins and poisons.

Basil is a detoxifier, stimulting sluggish and congested circulation of the skin and can be used for acne and minor skin infections. It is also reputed to have antiseptic value and to neutralise the toxins of bites and stings.

This ointment isn’t just good for bites, though. It works wonders on stings from bees and wasps. When one of us inevitably gets stung, we pinch off the site to keep the venom from circulating through our system and lather on the ointment. Within minutes, the pain is gone and, if we catch it right away it doesn’t even leave behind a red mark on the stung area. This ointment is a total necessity in our house!

That’s not all, though.  The most amazing thing ever about this fantastic ointment?  You know those nasty spider bites?  Two of my customers ended up with some ugly, oozing holes in their skin from a brown recluse.  After antibiotics and painful scrapings that did no good, they tried this ointment.  I’m proud to report that after 3 weeks, the bites completely healed.  The scarring was minimal, the pain was gone and they now keep a tube of ointment nearby…just in case!

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It happens to the best of us.   Commercial shampoos, harsh hair treatments, poor eating habits,  environmental pollutants…they all wreak havoc with our hair at one time or another.  You know the symptoms, don’t you?  Brittleness, frizzies and split-ends are just a few of the problems that commonly pop up.

If you are like me, you’ve probably tried everything from hot oil treatments to salon therapy.  Some of them work a time or two.  Maybe three.  Then, nothing.

It’s frustrating.  Aggravating.  Discouraging.  Sometimes, it makes you wanna just chop those locks off and start over.  Before you do something drastic, you might consider trying a natural solution.

There are so many natural ingredients available that work wonderfully on damaged hair that it would be nearly impossible to list them all.  These are a few of my favorite stand-bys, all of which are available in my Hair Therapy and Rinse Combo.

~Honey ~

For the hair?  Absolutely!  Honey is a natural humectant, which means that it has the ability to attract and retain water, a valuable  characteristic if your hair is parched and dry.  Honey also contains natural antioxidant properties that make it ideal for helping to protect your hair from environmental damage including harsh UV rays and pollutants.

It doesn’t end there, though.  Honey also contains a wide range of B vitamins including B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3, as well as copper, iodine and zinc.  These vitamins and minerals are fantastic when you are dealing with hair loss, dandruff and graying.

Don’t forget honey’s natural  soothing properties and anti-bacterial action, which are wonderful for helping with an itchy scalp.

~Sesame Oil~

Besides being antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant, Sesame oil quickly penetrates the hair and skin, attracting toxins that can then be carried out of the system as waste.  It also has the ability to protect the hair from future damage and helps regulate cell regeneration, which can lead to better hair growth and less graying.

~Grapeseed Oil~

This wonderful oil is high in antioxidants, vitamins A, B & C, polyphenols and resveratrol, which makes it a powerful antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial oil.   As a protectant, it adds moisture and lightly coats the hair to add a beautiful shine without being heavy.

~Shea Butter~

This rich, luxurious butter has been used for centuries to nourish and protect the hair.  It absorbs quickly into the hair and scalp to provide moisture and protection without clogging pores.  It is particularly good for repairing dry, brittle, damaged hair.  It has long been used as a natural hair conditioner because of its ability  to soften the hair without leaving it heavy or oily.

~Catnip~

This is one ingredient that always draws comment from my customer.  The most asked question is ‘will this make my cat attack my hair’.  The answer is no.  What it will do is promote hair growth and add luster to dry, dull locks.

~Rosemary~

This wonderful kitchen herb has been used for ages to promote strength in weak hair, to stimulate the hair follicle and to help promote a healthy scalp.  It has also been reported to help with graying and dandruff.

~Apple Cider Vinegar~

This is by far one of my favorite hair care ingredients.  It helps regulate the natural pH of both the hair and scalp, adds amazing softness and manageability, promotes hair growth and cleanses the hair and scalp of dirt and toxins.  It is a natural anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial and is full of potassium which is essential for healthy hair.

So, before you head back to the salon for your next hair treatment, give some of these natural ingredients a chance.  You might find that you can cancel that appointment…

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