If you want to move away from health and beauty products with labels that look more like cleaning supplies than something you should be consuming or putting on your skin, read on.
I am cautious with using plants. Some of them contain very powerful components and it is important to know what you are doing. There are many books on using herbs for medicine and skin care. Do your research.
A great example is comfrey. It is soothing to the skin and promotes rapid healing. However, if you have a puncture wound, comfrey is not a good choice. It can lead to the skin healing over before the body is able to clear and drain properly an infection within. This can lead to an abscess. By leaving comfrey out of my healing salve, I make sure that no one who uses the salve can have that problem. I still use comfrey, but not in a general salve.
St John’s Wort Tincture:
St John’s Wort has long been used to lift feelings of depression.
I find it very useful for the draggy feeling of light deprivation which is a given here in Vermont. This plant appears in fields that are mowed once a year or so. It is a simple flower with tiny leaves. Both the flowers and leaves are used to make this tincture. It is harvested in mid summer.
Some sources say that St John’s Wort can cause photosensitivity (ie. you could sunburn more easily), but I have not noticed it. Perhaps that is because I typically take it in winter. It can also be used by people experiencing depression at all times of the year. So be cautious of sun exposure until you are accustomed to its effects.
NOTE: With all plants, do your research. And ask your doctor or naturopath. Some beneficial plants have poisonous look alikes. Some medicinal plants react badly with prescribed medicines.
Making a tincture:
NOTE: Make sure that you are gathering plant material from an area free of chemical treatments or contamination.
Gather the aerial parts (leaves, stems, flowers), wash and air dry as needed and place in a quart sized jar ( think spaghetti sauce sized ) about ⅔ full - roughly an ounce of plant material.
Put the plant material in a quart sized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. A canning jar works great for this.
Cover the plant material by filling the jar with unflavored, high quality vodka - minimum 80 proof, better yet 100 proof. Cheap vodka can leave an unpleasant taste in your tincture. A mid-priced vodka will do just fine.
Cover tightly with the lid and give it a shake. Store in a closed cupboard where you will see it daily and give it a shake. 3-4 weeks later, strain through a fine mesh sieve or an organic cotton cloth if the strainer allows bits to remain. Store in a dark cupboard in an airtight jar or individual dropper bottles.
2 - 3 droppers full once or twice a day as needed to lift the spirits.
Make sure you label your tincture with the ingredients and the date started.
½ cup coconut oil
2-3 Tablespoons of baking soda
2 small packets of stevia powder or equivalent liquid
15-20 drops of peppermint or cinnamon essential oil
Melt or soften coconut oil.
Mix in other ingredients and stir well. If you are using melted coconut oil, you may need to stir several times as the mixture cools to keep the baking soda incorporated.
Put mixture into small glass jar (I make separate ones for each family member)
Let cool completely.
To use: dip toothbrush in and get a small amount onto bristles. You can also use a small spoon to put on toothbrush.
Note: In really warm weather, the coconut oil can become quite liquid again. In winter, it can become quite stiff if your bathroom is very cold. Adjusting the amounts of baking soda / oil can help to create the perfect mix for the season you are in.
Vinegar for your skin
Put raw apple cider vinegar in a squirt bottle and use it on your skin at the end of your shower. Rinse it off. Your skin will feel the benefits. It helps to clear the skin of excess oils and soften the skin. Try it on your hair as a non-oily conditioner.
Oils for your skin
Olive oil is very healing as is coconut and both are said to have antibacterial effects. Both take a moment to soak in. Coconut takes the prize for its lovely fragrance and I love how soft it makes my face. I use it often in place of body lotion.