Friday, July 4, 2014

Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars - Part 4

Hello Everyone!  It's the 4th of July and summer is finally in full swing here in Maine.  My red Russian and Toscano (blue dinosaur) kale plants are ready for harvest (yummy in raw smoothies!); "flashy troutback" lettuce is coming along nicely; and the rest of my veggies (excepting the winter squash and pumpkins), will be ready in about a month.  My red and yellow raspberries, as well as the wild blackberries, will produce a bountiful harvest in late August, if all goes well. If only the weeds weren't so prolific!  With organic gardening, you have to take the good with the bad . . . weeding keeps me sane, though . . . it's a good way to de-stress and get my mind off my heavy writing and book touring schedule.

Today, I'll conclude the "Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars" series by sharing with you a recipe that -  if you love the aroma of lavender and cocoa butter - will have you reaching for this creamy product over and over again - it has myriad uses other than to help prevent and /or soften existing scar tissue, which are mentioned in the BONUS section below. This recipe and many other topically-applied healing remedies can be found in my best-selling book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies".  Enjoy!

Skin-Be-Smooth: Lavender & Cocoa Butter Balm

Lavender essential oil and cocoa butter have long been used to help prevent scarring after an injury in which the skin is abraded, cut, or scraped. This formula combines these traditional herbal ingredients into one potent blend with antiseptic, vulnerary (tissue healing), anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and skin-cell-regenerating properties that will aid in healing the injury and rejuvenating the skin so that scarring is minimized.  It is gentle enough to be used on children over 6 years old.  The blend has a lovely lavender-cocoa cream smell and is readily absorbed into the skin upon application. The final consistency will be that of a firm balm - if you want it softer, add another tablespoon of jojoba oil. Remember, though, that cocoa butter melts at skin temperature.

Note:  This is an extremely mild, yet aromatherapeutically concentrated formula, so use as directed.

To Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy: This balm acts as an effective stretch-mark preventive, but for safety's sake, please omit the lavender essential oil or use at your own discretion. Many women use lavender essential oil during pregnancy, as it is one of the absolute safest essential oils to apply to your body during this sensitive time, but I will not recommend it. Typical use for essential oils is a 2% solution, or 12 drops per ounce of carrier oil. This is a 2-ounce recipe. Some pregnant women would only use 12 total drops of lavender in this recipe - but, once again, it's your call.

Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons cocoa butter
- 2 tablespoons jojoba base oil
- 50 drops lavender essential oil


Equipment:Very small saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, 2-ounce glass or plastic jar or tin


Prep Time: 20 minutes to make the balm, plus up to 36 hours to synergize and thicken


Yield: Approximately 1/4 cup

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application: 2 times per day

Directions: Combine the cocoa butter and jojoba oil in a very small saucepan (a 3/4-quart, or smaller, works great) or small double boiler, and warm over low heat until the cocoa butter is just melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the lavender essential oil and stir again to thoroughly blend. Slowly pour the liquid balm into the storage container. Cap tightly and label.

This particular blend of ingredients can take up to 36 hours to synergize and properly thicken, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. If after 36 hours, it has not thickened to at least a soft salve consistency, then give it a good, gentle stir and place the container in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove the container after that time, and allow the product to return to room temperature before use.

Application Instructions: If possible, immediately after incurring an injury, clean the area and then massage a small dab (or more depending on the size of the injury) of this formula into the surrounding skin. Massage a small dab into the entire wound 2x per day as it begins to heal to prevent or at least minimize the potential for scarring.

BONUS USES: This gentle yet highly effective balm is wonderfully healing for minor to moderate cuts and scrapes, blisters, and poison plant rashes. I also like to apply a dab to each fingernail at night to gently condition my nails, soften cuticles, and encourage growth. It also makes a fabulous, rejuvenating "neck cream" when lightly applied to neck and chest after your evening cleansing. The lavender aroma encourages a good night's sleep, too.
 
 

NOTE:  This article is written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her best-selling book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies" (Storey Publishing c2012). The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendation are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in the connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars - Part 3

Late Spring Greetings To All!  I just returned from another Mother Earth News Fair - this time in Puyallup, WA - where I presented talks on Herbal Hair Care and Herbal Remedies For Pain Relief.  Turnout was wonderful!  When at such a large fair (nearly 20,000 people attending), I walk A LOT and this time suffered from a couple of painful blisters on my feet - but as luck would have it - I happened to have today's recipe that I will be sharing with you, "Calendula & Calophyllum Rejuvenative Drops," in a tiny bottle with me.  I've been using it, among other of my herbal oil-based formulas, to help fade the 6" scar on my left hip resulting from last October's total hip replacement surgery.  It also works fabulously on new blisters to help them heal quickly!

Today's blog is the 3rd in the series of Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars.  The recipe is simple to make and has multiple healing uses - as do most of my formulations.  Hope you find it of value and a good addition to your herbal medicine chest.

Calendula & Calophyllum Rejuvenative Drops

Homemade calendula-infused oil is frequently (as is rosehip seed oil) my go-to herbal remedy base for treating injuries that have the potential for scarring.  With calendula and calophyllum oils, along with carrot seed and lavender essential oils, this formula has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and skin-cell-regenerative properties, and an amazing ability to assist the skin in successful rejuvenation while restoring elasticity and suppleness.

This recipe calls for only a small amount of calendula-infused oil.  If you have some homemade Simple Calendula-Infused Body Oil (see page 162 in my "Hands-On Healing Remedies" book for the recipe), great.  If not, then purchase a small bottle from your local health food store or herbal supplier (www.mountainroseherbs.com and www.jeansgreens.com are good sources).  But I do recommend that you always have at least a cup of this multipurpose infused oil on hand - fresh and homemade is best, and much less expensive!

Ingredients:
- 15 drops carrot seed essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- 3 tablespoons calendula infused oil
- 1 tablespoon calophyllum base oil

Equipment:  Dropper, dark glass 2-ounce bottle with dropper top of screw cap

Prep Time:  15 minutes, plus 24 hours to synergize

Yield:  Approximately 1/4 cup

Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application:  2 times per day

Directions:  Add the carrot seed and lavender essential oils drop-by-drop directly into a 2-ounce storage bottle.  Add the calendula and calophyllulm base oils.  Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend.  Label the bottle, and place in a dark location that's between 60 and 80 degrees F. for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.

Application Instructions:  Shake well before each use.  If possible, immediately after incurring an injury, clean the area and then massage several drops (or more, depending upon the size of the injury) of this formula into the surrounding skin.  Massage several drops into the entire wound twice daily as it begins to heal to prevent or at least minimize the potential for scarring.

BONUS:  When applied by the drop, this blend speeds healing to minor cuts and scrapes, blisters, bruises, dermatitis, and dry eczema, plus it soothes and moisturizes patches of severely dry or cracked skin anywhere on the body.

NOTE:  This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies" (Storey Publishing 2012). The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational use only.
 



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars - Part 2

Hello Everyone!  Hope you are enjoying spring's warmth and getting your fingers dirty in your organic gardens or at least you're potting some veggies and herbs.  Nothing like garden fresh food to nourish deep down and tantalize your taste buds!  With the help of my boyfriend's 3 kids, I just prepped a new garden plot in which to plant some asparagus crowns.  I've never planted this succulent veggie before, so, according to the planting instructions, I should have a bountiful crop in about 2-3 years . . . can't wait!

Today, I'll continue with Part 2 of my series on "Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars".  The formula has a lovely lavender/rosemary aroma and a reddish-gold color from the rosehip seed base oil.  If you've recently cut yourself or had surgery with a resulting incision, then I think you will find this oil quite therapeutic in minimizing potential scar tissue.  This recipe, and more topically-applied herbal remedies, can be found in my book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies" (Storey Publishing, 2012).

Rosehip & Rosemary Recovery Oil Blend

Rosehip seed oil, rich in essential fatty acids, is highly regenerative, promoting the growth of fresh, healthy new skin.  With continued application, it dramatically increases the elasticity of the skin and stimulates the formation of new collagen fibrils (versus using animal-derived collagen), resulting in a smoother, more toned appearance.  Combined with skin-conditioning wheat germ oil, plus rosemary and lavender essential oils, this blend synergizes to form a superior scar-preventive treatment when applied to new injuries and a scar-fading treatment when applied to existing scars less than 2 years old.

Ingredients:
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- 15 drops rosemary (chemotype verbenon) essential oil
- 3 tablespoons rosehip seed base oil
- 1 tablespoon wheatgerm base oil or jojoba oil

Equipment:  Dropper, 2 oz., dark glass bottle with dropper top or screw cap

Prep Time:  15 minutes, plus 24 hours to synergize

Yield:  Approximately 1/4 cup

Storage:  Refrigerate; use within 6 months

Directions:  Add the lavender and rosemary essential oils drop by drop directly into the 2-ounce storage bottle.  Add the base oils.  Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend.  Label the bottle and place in a dark location that's between 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.  After 24 hours, refrigeration is required.

Application Instructions:  Shake well before each use.  If possible, immediately after incurring an injury, clean the area and then massage several drops (or more, depending on the size of the injury) of this formula into the surrounding skin.  Massage several drops into the entire wound twice daily as it begins to heal to prevent or at least minimize scarring.

Additionally, twice-daily application for at least 6 months can dramatically fade and soften existing scars that are less than 2 years old.  Consistency with application is key.

Bonus:  This remedy can be applied twice daily by the drop to areas of your face and neck where you notice new wrinkles/fine lines forming as well as to deeper, existing wrinkles to help plump, tone, and nourish the underlying tissue.  If you are consistent with application and proper care of your skin, expect to see noticeable results within 6 months.

NOTE:  This article was written by Stephanie Tourles, Lic. Esthetician, Author, Certified Aromatherapist, Herbalist, and Nutrition Consultant.  Portions of this article were adapted from my book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies", Storey Publishing, (c) 2012.  The information in this article is true and complete to the best of my knowledge.  All recommendation are made without guarantee.  I disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.

 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars - Part 1

Top of the Morning To Everyone!  Perhaps spring is finally going to reach my eternally frozen state of Maine . . . the sun is out, the wind is from the south (albeit chilly), the snow has nearly melted, the Robins have arrived, and a pair of rarely seen American Woodcocks are poking deep into my lawn pulling up tasty spring worms.  Supposed to be 50 degrees today . . . yahoo!  My bones and mental attitude sure could use a shot of warmth and healing sunshine!  Gardening seasoning is just around the corner . . . can't wait to taste the season's first peas . . . my favorites!

Today, due to lots of requests, I'm going to begin a new blog series called, "Natural Herbal Remedies For Scars".  If you're an outdoors person, as I am, are physically active, accident prone, or use your hands a lot while crafting/cooking, then you've probably injured or cut yourself a few times and possibly have a scar or two to show for it - probably wishing you had had a scar remedy on hand at the time so that those pesky lines on your skin weren't so obvious now.

Well . . . healing herbs and aromatic essential oils can come to the rescue . . . softening your skin and speeding skin cell regeneration so that your scar tissue can fade and the surrounding skin become radiant, smooth, and well-conditioned.  I'll begin today's series with the definition of what a scar is and tell you about a new product (the first of many) that I'm now making available for retail sale.  It's called Herbal Skin Revitalizer by Stephanie Tourles Herbal Skin & Body Care, LLC (my newly formed company).  I've had sooooo many requests over the years from blog followers and readers of my books for an herbal, totally natural product that will help fade scars, condition skin that is environmentally damaged, minimize the appearance of wrinkles, and deeply moisturize normal-to-dry skin and mature skin.  I'll tell you more about it later in the blog and tell you where to get it if you're interested.

SCARS - What Are They Exactly?

A scar forms as your skin repairs a wound that has penetrated the dermal layer or second layer of your skin.  Scars can result from cuts, scabbing diseases such as chickenpox or acne, minor to major burns, or a severe rash.  They are part of the natural healing process of your body.  Scars can be raised or flat, long, short, or round, and flesh-toned, pink, purple, or brown in color.

Some people are more likely than others to develop more pronounced scars.  A scar's formation and appearance depend on general health, age, skin type, condition of skin, skin color, location of the injury (body or face), and the particulars of the initial trauma.  The degree to which a scar develops greatly depends on the severity of the damage to the skin and the length of time it takes to heal.  The longer the healing process and the greater the damage to the skin, the increased likelihood of a noticeable scar.

A hypertrophic scar is elevated above the surface of the skin, and the tissue forms in direct proportion to the size of the wound.  A keloid is similar to a hypertrophic scar, except that the scar tissue forms out of proportion to the amount of scar tissue normally required for repair and healing.  In other words, it extends beyond the boundaries of the original wound site and into the surrounding skin.  Black skin and those with dark, east Indian skin are particularly prone to the development of keloids.

To avoid scars entirely, you'd need to live in a bubble.  Life happens.  Once you do have an injury, the best way to minimize scarring is to begin proper care of the wound at once and avoid further injury to the wound site.  It pays to keep skin in tip-top shape by conditioning it regularly with nourishing oils, body creams, and lotions and by eating a whole-foods diet to ensure that the skin remains flexible, elastic, and able to heal rapidly.

When treating scars with home remedies, keep in mind that everyone's skin is unique and reacts differently to different products.  For additional assistance, consult with your local pharmacist about nonprescription topical scar treatments.  Scars older than a year or two, raised scars, surgical scars over a joint - such as the knee or a knuckle, major burn scars, or those that develop and deepen over time, such as acne and chickenpox scars, can be difficult to treat with home remedies and should be addressed by a dermatologist if they cause discomfort or negatively impact your self-esteem.

Herbal Skin Revitalizer - Just what is this product and what will it do for you?

Okay, as I mentioned earlier, let me tell you a bit about my first product . . . Herbal Skin Revitalizer.  I actually formulated it nearly two decades ago and have sold it in limited quantities over the years - so it's not really new, but it has been newly re-formulated and now I'm making it available to a larger audience via online sales and through a catalog. 

Herbal Skin Revitalizer is a beautiful, light, blue-green oil that is my personal skin-care favorite.  It is a blend of 14 organically derived and/or wild-harvested, low-heat processed base and precious essential oils from around the world.  This formula will help revitalize, retexturize, and renew skin scarred by acne, damaged by the sun and other environmental factors, slack, crepey, mature skin, devitalized/dull skin, and prematurely aging skin exhibiting fine lines and wrinkles.  Also, it is excellent as an aid in healing bruises and everyday scrapes and scratches.  It contains antibacterial properties to prevent infection.

The ingredients actually penetrate the skin's layers - with no oily residue - to nourish deep-down and encourage regeneration of the supportive collagen and elastin matrix, so necessary to young, taut, firm skin.  Highly beneficial to use after chemical peels and microdermabrasion, on burned tissue and expression lines.  One of the main ingredients is rosehip seed oil.  It is extremely high in essential fatty acids, flavonoids, riboflavin, and betacarotene and helps regulate hydration of the tissues.  The 1/2 ounce bottle should last 2-3 months by using only 4-6 drops twice per day.  A little goes a long way.  The aroma is intoxicating, by the way - warm, earthy and green.  I've frequently been asked to formulate a perfume with the same scent! 

The ingredients are:  organic base oils of sunflower, rosehip seed and calphyllum; essential oils of lavender, helichrysum, neroli, peppermint, thyme linalol, rosemary verbenon, carrot seed, myrtle,  galbanum, Moroccan chamomile, and niaouli.

Currently, my Herbal Skin Revitalizer is available from an experienced, knowledgeable, herbalist friend of mine, Holly Applegate, who is the owner of a lovely herbal product store called "Jean's Greens", in Castleton, NY.  You can order her delightful catalog by calling (518) 479-0471 or (888) 845-8327.  Her website is:  www.jeansgreens.com.  My product is $45.

I hope you decide to give the product a try . . . I'm sure you'll love it.  If you do buy a bottle, please let me know what you think.  Until next time . . . be well, be happy, and be whole.

NOTE:  Portions of this blog were adapted from the book "Hands-On Healing Remedies" by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, c2012.  The information is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedies - Part 4: Warming Bath Oil

Hello Everyone!  As I sit down to write, on this frigid, windy, yet sparkling sunny, northern Maine, almost spring day, my blasted back deck thermometer says it is only 22 degrees outside, and a mere -5 if you take the wind chill into account!!!  Unbelievable . . . it seems I live in the land of eternal winter.  I must have hope that spring is coming soon . . . hope, hope, hope . . .

Today, as promised, I will wrap up the 4-part, Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedy series, by sharing with you a recipe for a warming bath oil and sweat session that will detox your sick body and make your sore, achy flu or cold-ridden being feel better fast.  Yes, though it is late winter, the flu virus and myriad cold germs still abound.  Do not let your guard down yet, my friend.  If you're feeling sick or think you're coming down with something, partake of the following bath therapy as soon as you can, then don some cozy PJ's, and climb into bed.  Nothing like a good night's rest to restore health to your sick cells.  Enjoy and be well, my friend!

Surround Me In Comfort:  Warming Bath Oil

Feeling all stuffed up?  Got the chills, aches, pains, and general misery of a cold or flu or feel like you're about to succumb?  Then a detoxifying sweat session with this bath oil is just the thing you need to ease your symptoms, open your sinuses, warm your core, and relax your entire body so that you can sleep soundly and get the healing rest you so desperately need.  Ginger, thyme, lavender, palmarosa, and pine essential oils deliver antiseptic and antiviral properties, stimulate sluggish circulation, induce perspiration, relieve muscle tension and aching joints, and even relieve headaches due to congestion.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  DO NOT partake of this heating therapy if you are running a fever, sweating, have high blood pressure, or are extremely weak and debilitated, as it will exacerbate your symptoms.

Ingredients:
- 20 drops ginger essential oil
- 15 drops palmarosa essential oil
- 15 drops thyme (chemotype linalool) essential oil - the "skin friendly" thyme - not as irritating
- 15 drops Scotch pine essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 cup jojoba base oil

Equipment Needed:  Dropper (for measuring essential oils), dark glass 8-oz. bottle with dropper top or screw cap

Prep Time:  15 minutes, plus 24 hours to synergize formula

Yield:  Approximately 1 cup

Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 2 years

Application:  1 or 2 times per day

DIRECTIONSAdd the ginger, palmarosa, thyme, Scotch pine, and lavender essential oils drop-by-drop directly into a storage bottle.  Add the jojoba base oil.   Cap the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes.  Label and date the bottle and place in a dark location that's between 60 degrees and 80 degrees F for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONSThis healing, detoxification process can be performed in the morning, if you are staying home for the day, and also again at night before retiring.  First, you'll need to turn up the heat or stoke the woodstove (get the house nice and toasty) and make a mug of fresh ginger root, cinnamon spice, or decaf chai tea, or just make a cup of plain hot water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice.  Run a hot bath, with the bathroom door closed, trapping the steam.

When the tub is nearly full, add 1-2 tablespoons of bath oil under running water and swish to blend.  Ease into the soothing bath and lie back for about 20 minutes while you sip your tea or hot lemon water.  Sweating helps release toxins from your pores.

Following your soak, gently pat yourself dry, and apply my recipes (found in the previous blogs in this "Cold and Flu" series) for "Winter Defense Oil" to your entire body and "Raven's Wings Foot Balm" to the soles of your feet.  Put on pajamas and socks, and climb under the covers.  Do this once or twice daily for a few days, until you are well.

Regarding diet while ill . . . don't forget to eat plenty of veggie/garlic soup or organic chicken/veggie/garlic soup and drink plenty of green smoothies made with raw kale, spinach, or arugula (add a banana to disguise the "green" flavors if you don't like them).  These foods will stoke your immune system.  Be sure to avoid any foods that can constipate and/or form mucus:  dairy, cheese, yogurt, eggs, butter, cold/icy drinks, nuts and nut butters, citrus drinks, refined flours/sugars/white rice, fatty meats.

Here's a wellness tip:  At the end of this summer, make all 4 of the recipes in this Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedy Series so that you are ready to fend off the onslaught of next winter's nasties!  Perhaps you'll be able to sail through winter with nary an illness!  Take care all you health seekers!


NOTE:  Portions of this article were adapted from Stephanie Tourles' book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies",  (Storey Publishing, c2012) - and used with permission.  The information is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedies - Part 3: The Ancient Secret

Greetings To All!  I've enjoyed a brief 1-week respite from the bone-chilling cold and heavy snowfall as of late.  I say brief because it will be in the single digits again by mid-week . . . brrrrr . . . and Maine springtime is still a long way away!  Because all this cold, dreary weather is planning on hanging around for a while (here and elsewhere in the northern USA), that means that there's still a chance to succumb to a nasty cold or the flu.  So, for that reason, I will share with you yet another herbal cold and flu recipe to add to your arsenal of illness-fighting remedies.

Today's recipe is a variation on a very old formulation - used by herbalists around the globe for centuries. You can find it in my latest book, Hands-On Healing Remedies (pages 122-23).  It works quite nicely as a cold and flu preventive, and if you do get sick, will help get you back up and running quickly.  Because the herbal extraction process takes a full month, I suggest you make this formula now so that you can have some ready by late March and still have plenty left over for next winter.  Enjoy and be well my friends!

THE ANCIENT SECRET (Formulated for topical use only.  Should you decide to take it orally, do so only after educating yourself as to the properties and safely of each herb in the recipe.  Remember, it does contain consumable alcohol, so be judicious with intake and keep away from children and pets.)

A potent antiviral, antibacterial cold and flu preventive called the "Thieves Formula" has been bandied about by herbalists for centuries.  Its herbal ingredients change a bit, as does the menstruum (extracting liquid), depending on who is concocting it and whether it's intended for topical application or oral intake.  Some herbalists like to brew it in vinegar, some in ethyl alcohol, and some in oil.  This particular formula uses vodka.  The original Thieves Formula, as written in older herb texts, included highly protective essential oils and herbs said to have been used by thieves (orally, topically, and as inhalants) during the bubonic plague or "Black Death" of the Middle Ages to avoid contracting infection.  Supposedly, even though nearly the entire population was dying of the plague, the thieves who stole valuables from the dead and dying never got sick.

Use this strongly aromatic remedy before, during, and after cold and flu season as a protective agent and a topical healing liniment spray if you do succumb.  The benefit is derived via inhalation of the herbal properties as well as absorption into your bloodstream through your pores.  NOTE:  This formula will sting raw skin or open wounds.

Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted lemon balm leaves (To "freshly wilt" an herb means to take a fresh herb that you have recently picked or purchased (stems, leaves, and/or flowers) and allow it to wilt for 24-48 hours.  This process does not dry the herb, but simply allows it to become limp and soft - indicating that some of the moisture has evaporated - which is what you want.  To do this, I place a double layer of paper toweling or a soft, clean bed sheet on top of a table in my house or else on the back seat of my car and then spread the herbs in a thin layer atop.  I check the herbs in a day or so and if they are nice and limp or soft and leathery, then they are ready to process in this recipe.)
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted lavender buds
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted peppermint leaves
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted rosemary leaves
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted sage leaves
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted yarrow flowers & leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, crumbled, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon cloves, crushed, or 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 15 drops eucalyptus (species radiata) essential oil
- 5 drops clove essential oil
- 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
- 3-4 cups unflavored, 80-proof vodka (any brand - inexpensive is just fine)

Equipment:  1-quart canning jar, plastic wrap, fine-mesh strainer, fine filter such as muslin cloth or coffee filter, funnel, glass or plastic spritzer bottles

Prep Time:  10 minutes, plus 4 weeks for extraction

Yield:  Approximately 2 1/2 cups

Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 2 years

Application:  2 or 3 times per day

TO MAKE:  If you are using any freshly wilted herbs, strip the leaves, buds, and flowers off and discard the stems. Cut, tear, or gently mash the herbs using a mortar and pestle to expose more surface area.  Place the lemon balm, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, yarrow, cinnamon, lemon peel, and cloves in a 1-quart canning jar.  Add the eucalyptus and clove essential oils, along with the glycerin.  Pour the vodka to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.  The herbs should be completely covered.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar (to prevent the metal lid from coming into contact with the jar's contents), then screw on the lid.  Shake the mixture for about 30 seconds.  After 24 hours, top up with more vodka if necessary.  The herbs will settle a bit in the jar, but that's okay.

Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks so that the vodka can extract the valuable chemical components from the herbs.  Shake the jar at least once a day for 30 seconds, and two or three times per day if you've included cinnamon and clove powders, as they will settle into a paste.

At the end of the 4 weeks, strain the herbs through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin fabric or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then strain again if necessary to remove all herb debris.  Press or squeeze the herbs to release all the valuable herbal extract.  Discard the marc (or spent herbs).  Pour the liquid into spritzer bottles, then cap, label, and store in a dark cabinet.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:  Shake well before each use.  Spray the formula onto your hands, then rub the liquid onto your throat, the back of your neck, your chest, your ears, and your temples.  Do this two or three times daily.  Massage the formula into your feet prior to bed and again before getting dressed in the morning.  The aromatic medicinal properties extracted from the herbs will penetrate your nasal passages as well as the thousands of pores in your skin and feet and be absorbed into your bloodstream.

I recommend keeping a small spritzer bottle of this formula handy during the height of cold and flu season, so you can sanitize your hands frequently throughout the day.

BONUS:  Keep a bottle by the sink to spray on hands to eliminate the lingering odor of garlic, onions, or fish; it also acts as an everyday hand sanitizer.  Applied by the drop to fingernails and toenails, it will help get rid of fungus, and it can be used as a spot treatment for acne blemishes and other minor skin abrasions and/or infections.


DISCLAIMER:  This blog was written by Stephanie Tourles, Lic. Esthetician, Herbalist, and Aromatherapist.  Portions were excerpted from her book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies" (c2012), with permission from Storey Publishing.  The information in this article is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedies - Part 2: Winter Defense Body Oil

Hello My Fellow Health Seekers!  I hope everyone is warm and well during this unusually cold winter season!  As promised in my last blog, today I will continue with Part 2 in the Aromatherapy Cold & Flu Remedies series of recipes.   I will be sharing with you my recipe for Winter Defense Body Oil that comes from my latest book, Hands-On Healing Remedies (Storey Publishing, 2012).  I hope you find it useful in your arsenal of herbal cold and flu preventive medicines. 

Winter Defense Body Oil

Traditional healers around the globe have used sage for centuries.  With sage growing in your garden, you have an elixir of good health right outside your door.  Their soft, gray-green leaves will be at the ready for making this potent, aromatically earthy, warming infused oil. 

When massaged into the skin from head to toe on a daily basis, sage-infused oil aids in strengthening the body's immune system, supporting its defenses against outside invasion of the three main sources of disease:  bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  The oil conditions the skin, too, keeping it soft, elastic, and healthy.

I can hear you thinking, "If I put sage oil on my skin, won't I smell like Thanksgiving stuffing?"  No worries. The fragrance may be rather potent in the bottle, but it becomes quite subtle upon application.

Note:  I prefer to use the stovetop method of extraction (versus the slower, canning jar - solar method of extraction ) for this formula, as I feel that the resinous sage leaves release their best medicinal properties and strongest aroma when processed in this manner.

Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cup dried or 3 cups freshly wilted sage leaves (To wilt fresh-picked sage leaves, you simply spread them out on a clean cloth in a dry, warm, low-lit area for 24-72 hours so that they become limp and soft, but not dry.  This process removes a great deal of moisture from the leaves prior to putting them into the oil for extraction.)

- 3 cups extra-virgin olive, organic soybean, or almond base oil (use almond or soybean oil if you want a lighter fragrance and texture)

- 2,000 IU vitamin E oil

Equipment Needed:  2-quart saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, candy or yogurt thermometer, fine mesh strainer, fine filter (such as a coffee filter), funnel, plastic or glass storage containers

Prep Time:  4 hours

Yield:  Approximately 2 1/2 cups

Storage:  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application:  Once daily

Directions:  If you are using freshly wilted sage leaves, first cut or tear the slightly leathery leaves into small pieces to expose more surface area to the oil.  Combine the leaves and base oil in a 2-quart saucepan or double-boiler and stir thoroughly to blend.  The mixture should look like a thick, pale green herbal soup.  Bring the mixture to just shy of a simmer, between 125 - 135 degrees F.  DO NOT let the oil actually simmer - it will degrade the quality of your infused oil.  DO NOT put the lid on the pot.

Allow the herb to macerate (or infuse) in the oil over low heat for 4 hours.  Check the temperature every 30 minutes or so with a thermometer and adjust the heat accordingly.  If you're using a double-boiler, add more water to the bottom pot as necessary, so it doesn't dry out.  Stir the infusing mixture at least every 30 minutes or so, as the herb bits tend to settle to the bottom.

After 4 hours, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  While the oil is still warm, carefully strain it through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then strain again if necessary to remove all debris.  Squeeze the herbs to extract as much of the precious oil as possible.  Discard the marc (or spent herbs).

Add the vitamin E oil and stir to blend.  The resulting infused oil blend will be a rich medium to dark green in color, depending on which base oil you chose.  Pour the finished oil into storage containers, then cap, label with product name, creation date, and ingredients, and store in a dark cabinet.

Application Instructions:  For maximum benefit, massage this infused oil into slightly damp, warm skin - fresh from the shower or bath.  Apply daily for at least a month prior to cold and flu season, and continue to use it throughout the winter.

Bonus Uses:  Sage oil makes a terrific diaper rash preventive and is wonderful added to salves and balms to help heal minor skin afflictions, respiratory infections, and dry rough skin on the feet, elbows, and knees.

Quote:  "Why should a man die when sage grows in his garden?" - popular medieval saying


NOTE:  The recipe in this blog was excerpted from the book "Hands-On Healing Remedies" (c2012, Storey Publishing, Stephanie Tourles-author) and reprinted with permission from Storey Publishing. The information in this article is true and complete to the best of the author's knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.