I’m often asked to explain the difference between herbal oils and essential oils, and to recommend which is a better or more effective therapeutic choice. The answer is that there is no simple, straightforward answer. Herbal oils and essential oils can both provide tremendous health benefits when used properly and safely. As a matter of fact, healing herbal oils and therapeutic essential oils have both been used safely and effectively for thousands of years to treat various health concerns. However ... although they are both valuable remedies, they are two very different compounds with two very different methods of use.
Herbal oils contain many medicinal healing properties that are beneficial to our health and well being. Just Skin Food handcrafts our Organic Healing Herbal Oils in-house so that we can control the richness of these healing properties through various infusion methods. Organic olive oil is our preferred carrier because it has the longest shelf life of any oil, and we infuse it with only the finest organic plants and weeds through one of the following methods; digestion, cold, or heat infusion.
Proper infusion can take several weeks using each of these methods. Digestion infusion and cold infusion differ only in the type of herbs used. In digestion infusion, dried organic herbs are used. In cold infusion, fresh organic herbs are wilted for twelve hours, then chopped and infused. Heat infusion is exactly how it sounds – a heat source, such as the sun or a double boiler, is used to extract the medicinal properties from either fresh or dried organic herbs. Once the infusion is ready, one of two things occurs – either the herbs are removed, leaving just the infused oil behind or the herbs are left in the oil and continue to infuse, creating a stronger, more potent herbal oil.
At Just Skin Food, our Organic Healing Herbal Oils are also used in the crafting of many of our other products, most notably in our curative Healing Salves. Herbal oils can generally be utilized on a daily basis without any adverse reaction, are found in many herbal teas, salves and tinctures that we use regularly, and are safe for ingestion in therapeutic doses.
Now lets talk a bit about essential oils.
Essential oils are oils that are extracted directly from plants and weeds. Steam distillation is the most common method of expression and extraction of essential oils because of it’s cost effectiveness. In this process, the plant is exposed to steam, causing the essential oils in the plant to evaporate. Once cooled, the condensation of water vapor and oil separates, making it easy to extract only the essential oil and package it into the lovely smelling little bottles we all have stored somewhere on our shelves. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little aromatherapy :)
Simple, right? Not so much...
You see, while essential oils have many beneficial properties (the ability to influence the brain through our sense of smell is tremendous!), they definitely require more caution with their use, especially around children, the elderly and our pets. Undiluted essential oils have incredible therapeutic powers but should only be used under the guidance of an herbalist/naturopath/homeopath who is familiar with each oil’s healing properties in relation to an individuals specific health needs. These oils are actually so potent that only one drop is required per every 2 - 3 ounces of carrier oil. It is also not recommended to use essential oils on a daily basis. When improperly used or ingested, they can cause a host of problems ranging from negative skin reactions and upset flora in your gut, to actual internal tissue damage.
As always, knowledge is power. Herbal oils are, for the most part, safer and easier to use but we shouldn't overlook the amazing therapeutic properties of appropriately administered essential oils. So stay informed ... and when in doubt, seek the advice of a professional.
It seems the last few weeks many sites have been writing on this little weed called Plantain. So we decided to write about it as well, but we have plantain in stock and can offer it on our site and it is USDA certified organic.
Used for hundreds of years and brought to the United States by settlers from Europe, plantain has a number of therapeutic properties that can aid in healing both inside the body and out. Known as being a very common weed that will grow just about anywhere, plantain has short, egg-shaped leaves, yellow roots, purple-green flowers and small buds that can be used in topical ointments, tinctures, salves or for a tea. High in vitamin K, vitamin C, beta carotene and calcium, plantain may even be growing in your very own backyard.
Topical Commonly used in topical products, plantain can work wonders on scrapes and cuts and even irritation caused by things like burns, rashes and bug bites. Just a couple of applications reduce redness, pain, irritation, itch and promotes healing. This is the case with our Herbal Infused Plantain Oil. Years ago, settlers used plantain for snake bites, wild animal bites, bee stings, poison ivy and much more thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Plantain draws poison and foreign matter out of wounds and then heals from the inside out. Many of our herbal salves contain Herbal Infused Plantain Oil such as our Therapeutic Skin Salve, Vein Relief Salve and Poison Ivy Salve.
When consumed in tincture form or as a tea, plantain is an expectorant and can have really beneficial effects on upper respiratory conditions like asthma, allergies and cough.
We recently made a plantain tea for a friend of ours, who was having issues with a lingering cough. She came back to us shortly after and reported that the intense chest pressure and pain she was having after her recent overseas trip to France showed great improvement after drinking plantain loose herb tea. She even went on to recommend the remedy to a sick friend who experienced benefits as well (Terri Amig 2016 – artist).
Internal When taken orally (can be eaten), plantain can assist with a variety of internal health conditions that include: -Poor digestion -Indigestion -Diabetes -High Cholesterol -Liver Issues
Plantain is one of those really great therapeutic weeds that can be used in its entirety. The leaves, stems, seeds and flowers can all be combined together to make a variety of products. It can also be combined with other herbs, like comfrey, peppermint and marshmallow, to increase its benefits. There is more information on plantain and other similar herbs on out Just Skin Food website. All of the herbs used in our products, including plantain, are USDA certified organic. Also environmentally friendly and made locally, Cape May sunshine is infused into every item!
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Haaaaaaa.... Summers is here and yes so are all the bugs! Unfortunately, bugs can often be a nuisance and force you back inside where you are safe. Traditional DEET repellents are quite toxic but luckily there are some more natural and safe ingredients that can help keep bugs away when applied to the skin. Just Skin Food has three kinds of bug protection, that when used together help keep you safe.
Mosquito-b-Gone, as you already know, is comprised of a number of herbal ingredients like peppermint leaf, catnip mint, neem oil, lemongrass, lemon balm and eucalyptus. These ingredients all work together to keep your skin nourished while protecting you from bites.
But did you also know that yarrow, an herb plant that is very common and found almost everywhere in the wild, could be applied as an insect repellent? The leaves and the flowers both have powerful properties that not only repel bugs but also stop bleeding and disinfect. Yarrow also has antispasmodic qualities as well.
We have read that at some point in olde time past the U.S. Army found yarrow to be a highly effective insect repellent. If you find yourself with lots of yarrow plants in your backyard, here is an article that details more on yarrow and provides a simple recipe in making a yarrow tincture.
While yarrow is not an active ingredient in our repellent, it can be used in addition to our Mosquito-b-Gone Lotion Bar.
Just Skin Food has Organic Yarrow Infused Oil and Organic Yarrow Essential Oil ,which can be combined together and applied to the skin to repel bugs thanks to their scent. They are also useful if you happen to get bit and need some disinfecting relief, as yarrow is known as nature’s Neosporin. All of these products and ingredients are safe to use together and only increase the bug protection level that you are looking for.
Yarrow is an all around beneficial addition to your holistic medicine cabinet and it will ensure that you can fight off the bugs that are in your backyard all summer long.
For more information on OG yarrow essential oil, OG yarrow infused oil or our Mosquito-b-Gone Lotion Bar, you can visit the Just Skin Food Website. Our Mosquito-b-Gone and organic yarrow infused oil can also be found at some of these establishments.
It is so beautiful to know that Spring on the East Coast is almost here. With Spring just around the corner we will be filled with flowers and weeds. Weeds, as are flowers, play an important role in our daily herbal life.
Most of us think of weeds as bad but they are so important to us that we should not remove them from our gardens. Take this weed for instance yarrow.... most would not think of it as a weed since it flowers, but it is a weed and we like seeing it and having it around.
Before the commonplace drug store existed, our forebears found helpful medicinal compounds in the plants that grew around them. Since store shelves today are stocked with medicines of every kind, it’s easy to forget that many of those medicines were first discovered in wild plants. Yarrow plant is also referred to as Nature’s Neosporin in the herbal community. The flowers are rich in chemicals that are converted by steam distillation into anti-allergenic compounds, of use in the treatment of allergic catarrhal problems such as hayfever. The dark blue essential oil, azulene, is generally used as an anti-inflammatory, or in chest rubs for colds and influenza.
It should provide a sense of comfort to know that common injuries and ailments can be treated with common plants. One of the best of these medicinal plants is yarrow.
Yarrow, also known as millefoil, is a pretty foliage that is native to Europe but can now be found throughout North America growing in many meadows and fields. Many indigenous people like the Shakers began to use yarrow for its medicinal properties many years ago. This plant flowers from the month of June through October.
The yarrow plant also has a long history as a powerful “healing herb” used topically for wounds, cuts and abrasions. The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds. This medicinal action is also reflected in some of the plant’s common names, such as staunchweed and soldier's woundwort.
While yarrow was once used as a divine plant to assist with furthering spirituality it now has a number of uses in the herbal world. Yarrow can help a wound stop bleeding, which is why it was used in the military years ago for battle wounds during World War I and the Trojan War. The active components of yarrow include lactones, tannins, flavonoids, amino acids, sterols, coumarins and saponins.
Yarrow herbal oil has much healing potential and in addition to its ability to stop the flow of blood this herb is also a great antiseptic, it is antispasmodic and has antibacterial properties. Yarrow oil can even be used on the hair follicles to help stimulate growth. You can also find yarrow in dried herb form, and as a tincture.
Yarrow is a very beneficial ingredient to keep on hand as part of a holistic and homeopathic medicine collection. You can find more information on certified organic herbal infused yarrow oil by visiting the Just Skin Food website. All of our herbal infused oils are USDA certified organic and they are made of organic herbs and an organic carrier oil (olive). All of our herbal oils are also used in our salve products as well.
In my last blog post you learned all about the differences between homeopathy and herbalism. I discussed a number of topics and product types including essential oils and infused oils. Many people believe that infused oils and essential oils are relatively the same thing. In reality, the way these products are made are very different.
Infused Medicinal Herbal Oil
An oil infusion is a mixture of medicinal herbs in a fixed oil menstruum- (A solvent, especially one used in extracting compounds from plant). Olive oil is usually the solvent of choice for most oil infusions because it has a much more stable monounsaturated chemical structure, which provides a good level of stability when at room temperature. Olive oil is far more preferred than say almond oil or flax seed oil. Jojoba oil is being used more recently but it carries a higher price point making it often undesirable.
The process of infusing herbs into an oil can be done in a couple of different manners. Dried herbs can be used, as can fresh herbs. Dried herbs are infused by way of the digestion method, the cold method or the hot infusion method. Each of these processes (which are all used in the process of making Just Skin Food products) let the herbs infuse long enough that the medicinal properties are captured. Cold infusion (or fresh herb infusion) allows the herb to wilt for about 12 hours and then they are chopped up. The heat is what is used in order to extract the medicinal properties of the item.
Double infusion can also take place, which means that after infusion is done the first time, it is done again in order to incorporate new herbs and make the infusion stronger. No matter what method is used for infusion, the herbs typically sit for a few weeks at a time for proper infusion. At that point the herb or plant is removed, leaving behind only the oil. There are times where the herb is left inside of the oil to continue to infuse, and the longer the infusion, the stronger and more potent the oil.
Herbal oils are beneficial because they require very little plant material to make while an essential oil consumes large amounts of plant material. Also, the infused oils that are created for medicinal purposes can be used to make other products such as salves in order to reap the benefits that way. This is not the case for many essential oils, which can be toxic if consumed and many essential oils also cause skin irritation when used topically.
An essential oil is quite different. This oil comes directly from the plant or herb that it is made out of and there is no carrier oil involved. This means the product is much more concentrated.
There are three basic methods by which essential oils are produced and they include steam distillation (the most common and most affordable), expression and also extraction. During the process of steam distillation the plant is exposed to steam. This heat causes the essential oil in the plant to evaporate. When the hot vapors are cooled, this results in condensation of water vapor and the oil. These two products do not mix together so they can be easily separated. A few drops of the concentrated oil is then supposed to be diluted into a carrier oil. It is always best to use essential oils with the help of a homeopath, naturopath or herbalist who can direct you on the right way to use a product. 1 drop of peppermint essential oil is like drinking 30 cups of peppermint tea. Caution must be taken.
Undiluted essential oils have an incredible healing ability when used properly and sparingly without causing any harm. We use them in some of our products as well since essential oils will reinforce therapeutic affects by adding more power to the finished product but never in any of our Infused Herbal Oils.
More information on organic infused oils and essential oils can be found on the Just Skin Food website. Currently nine different certified organic herbal oils are part of the Just Skin Food product line and they are all made with certified organic herbs as well as organic olive oil. Four organic essential oils are available as well.