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.
Comfrey and plantain are two more very critical participants in the natural medicine world. You will find both comfrey and plantain in salves, creams, oils and also tinctures. While these two products have their own distinct healing properties they can also be used together for maximum healing potential.
The history of the Comfrey plant being used as a natural remedy actually stems back over 2000 years thanks to the healing levels of vitamin C and calcium that are in the leaves. Allantoin in comfrey leaves is also very effective as an anti-inflammatory. The Chinese used these leaves in the bath to treat a number of conditions that we still treat with comfrey today including:
*Bone injuries *Pain *Wound Healing *Feminine issues
Used topically, as in our salves or in our organic medicinal herbal oil comfrey is an excellent healer. Please refer back to my last blog on how infused medicinal oils are made. Unfortunately, ingesting comfrey in the raw has created a bit of controversy in the past century or so due to the findings that it may cause liver problems, because of toxicity related effect of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the leaves.
But used homeopathically it has many benefits. Comfrey root is macerated in alcohol and then potentized homeopathically which allows for no side effects. Symphytum Officinale (comfrey) remedy as it is known homeopathically, is used in 2 specific situations. The most often is when someone has a broken bone of any kind. Symphytum is given to assist healing. It is also used for injury to the eye. So if someone has been hit in the eye give Arnica first then follow with Symphytum. Think little league situations. These remedies are taken orally.
The ancients as well as the Native Americans used plantain to heal wounds and was taken orally to treat health conditions associated with:
*Bites from wild dogs *Snake bites *Bites from other venomous creatures *Throat conditions *Lung conditions *Glandular issues *Epilepsy *Jaundice
Today, plantain is used topically most often for things like bee stings, insect bites and rashes associated with things like poison ivy. The entire plantain plant is utilized in homeopathy as the leaves, seeds, stem and tops can all be used for tinctures, oils, salves and more. In homeopathic form Plantain is a popular remedy for toothache. Arnica is usually given during tooth extraction and for pain but Plantain has also been used successfully.
You can also take plantain orally in combination with a number of other herbs such as flax, marshmallow, peppermint and more to treat very common ailments such as:
*High cholesterol *Digestive issues *Diabetes *Liver problems
Comfrey And Plantain Together
Comfrey can actually be formed into a poultice with plantain and placed on a part of the body that has a broken bone underneath the skin. This is extremely effective on a body part that perhaps has been left to heal on its own such as a toe or a finger. The product is usually placed on the area of the broken bone or wound twice each day. This not only speeds up the healing process but it also helps with inflammation and pain.
Both comfrey and plantain are beneficial ingredients as part of a holistic and homeopathic medicine arsenal. You can find more information on both of these plants as well as certified organic herbal infused oils by visiting with Just Skin Food Website. The USDA certified organic herbal infused oils that are currently featured on the site are completely made of organic herbs as well as organic olive oil. You can find other products on the site that utilize these organic herbal oils in our salves such as our Therapeutic Skin Salve (an all purpose salve) and Vein Relief Salve.
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.
Homeopathy as well as herbal remedies are both natural forms of medicine. They have common factors such as their use of herbal extracts but homeopathy uses herbs as well as many other natural sources for its practice of healing such as minerals and other animal products. While many people may believe these two practices are similar they actually have many differences including how alternative remedies are prepared and what types of products are available.
Homeopathic medicine is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It regulates the manufacturing and sale of homeopathic medicines. The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States was written into federal law in 1938 under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, making the manufacture and sale of homeopathic medicines legal in this country, and most are available without a prescription.
Preparation and Products
Homeopathy uses dilution methods to eliminate the toxicity of an herb and also to increase its benefits. Herbalism administers herbs directly to the patient often without dilution. Most commonly you will find homeopathic remedies to be in pellets, liquid tinctures or in ointment cream form. Some homeopathic liquid tinctures are added to herbal salves as well. Herbal remedies come as pill form, extracts, infused herbal oils, herbal salves, essential oils and teas in general.
Infused Oils and Essential Oils
Herbal infused oils are beneficial and can be used in the practice of homeopathy. Herbal salves are made of infused herbal oils and applied directly to the skin as skin is extremely absorbent and healing can be promoted in an affected area by way of these types of products. These infused herbal oils and salves can be used topically for a number of issues such as burns, rashes, injuries and also for pain. Infused herbal oils are very gentle whereas essential oils are a much more concentrated product that can actually be dangerous to use directly on the skin or to inhale directly without proper instruction or advisement.
Coming up in my next blog article you can read much deeper into the differences between infused herbal oils and essential oils including how their production methods are different. I will also talk about the benefits of infused herbal oils as well as the dangers of using essential oils improperly.
For more information on any of the topics discussed in this article including the use of herbal salves and infused herbal oils you can visit www.justskinfood.com. Nine certified organic herbal infused oils are available on the website as well as herbal salves, essential oils and many other products that will help aid you in the process of living a much healthier and happier lifestyle.
Calendula and arnica are very important when it comes to natural medicine. Both of these commonly used homeopathic ingredients are included in a number of products including tinctures, creams, oils and salves for first aid use. Both of these products look very similar and may be hard to differentiate by the untrained eye but they are very distinct when it comes to their healing properties.
Calendula is also known as the marigold flower, which is very easy to grow and once established it spreads quickly. The medicinal ingredient that is within the calendula flower is called saponoside and it is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. Essential fatty acids, etheric oils and carotene are also part of what makes calendula so beneficial. It works best when applied to a cut or wound rather than taking it orally and it is extremely gentle to use. As a complement to calendula you can also use arnica.
Some uses for Calendula:(external only)
- Bed sores
- Open wounds
- Slow healing wounds
- Skin abrasions
- Skin and nail fungus
Arnica is much more rare to find out in nature than say calendula. It grows most commonly in the Alpine regions of the world and it has muscle relaxing properties as well as anti-spasmodic qualities. In addition, arnica is a natural antibiotic and a natural anti-inflammatory herb. Arnica is not intended to be used on an open wound but rather on a bruise or healed cut to help relieve discomfort, reduce swelling and bruising.
Some uses for Arnica:(external only)
- Joint Inflammation
- Muscle strain
Calendula and Arnica Together
The two of these holistic treatments have the potential for being used together for ultimate healing qualities. Calendula is placed on a fresh, unhealed cut to help prevent infection and promote healing. After the initial healing has taken place, if there is a bruise or pain remaining, arnica can then be applied topically to further help during the healing process.
Calendula and arnica are both very beneficial and common ingredients when it comes to a holistic-based medicine cabinet. For information on these herbs or to purchase them in a certified organic herbal infused oil form you can visit Just Skin Food. The newly released line of USDA certified organic herbal infused oils are made entirely of certified organic herbs along with certified organic olive oil as a carrier. These oils are also used in many of our other products including our skin salves and body butters.