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Sunday, February 25, 2024

My Adventures of An Avocado Face Mask

 

Before Using The Mask
Welcome To my skin care adventures!

So, today after getting my hair done I wanted to test out a face mask! My skin felt like it was in dire need of a shot of moisture so I figured a mask would do the trick! Now I know that you can buy like 500 different kinds in the store, but I wanted to try something a bit more homemade and natural, so the only thing I bought at the store was a whole avocado and some coconut milk. When I got back home I set up my counter and got to crafting! I plan to share how I made this so follow along for the recipe! 

I don't know if you are aware or not, but avocados are one of the best fruits that you can eat, let alone put on your skin, unless you're allergic! Avocados are high in fatty acids, vitamins, phytosterols, carotenoids, and polyphenols which are a super powerhouse for your skin! So, what exactly do all of these things mean? 


What's inside the Avocado

Fatty Acids: Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid. These fats are crucial for maintaining the skin's lipid barrier, preventing moisture loss and keeping the skin hydrated.

Vitamins: Avocado contains various vitamins such as vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B vitamins. These vitamins contribute to antioxidant defense, collagen synthesis, and overall skin health.

Phytosterols: These plant compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to soothe and calm irritated skin.

Carotenoids: Avocado contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which contribute to its antioxidant properties and may protect the skin from oxidative damage.

Polyphenols: These are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to the overall health and appearance of the skin.

So how does avocado improve the skin and why did I put it in my mask? 

Good Question! You see avocados are magical and are perfect for a nice thick mask. They also mix wonderfully with clay and other ingredients that you might want to add to your mask. Aside from superior mixing, avocado has some killer skin benefits that you might not be aware of. Check out the list below to learn more!

Moisturization: Avocado is rich in healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats, which can act as excellent moisturizers for the skin. The fats help to maintain the skin's natural moisture barrier, preventing dehydration. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with dry or sensitive skin. 💦

Antioxidant Properties: Avocado contains antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids. These antioxidants help protect the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental factors like UV rays and pollution. Vitamin E, in particular, plays a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals and promoting skin health. 👀

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Avocado contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and phytosterols. These components can help reduce inflammation on the skin, making avocado beneficial for individuals with inflammatory skin conditions like acne or eczema. 🔥

Collagen Synthesis: Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis, a protein that provides structure to the skin. Avocado contains vitamin C, which may contribute to the maintenance and production of collagen. This can help improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 💆

Wound Healing: Avocado oil has been found to promote wound healing due to its ability to enhance collagen synthesis and reduce inflammation. The fatty acids in avocado oil also contribute to a healthy wound healing environment. 🩹

Sun Protection: While not a substitute for sunscreen, the antioxidants in avocado can provide some level of protection against UV damage. Vitamin E, in particular, helps protect the skin from oxidative stress induced by UV radiation. 🌞

Skin Tone and Texture Improvement: The combination of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids in avocados contributes to improved skin tone and texture. Regular use of avocado on the skin may help achieve a more radiant complexion. 👩

What else did I add to make my mask? 

Of course I didn't just want to just slop avocado all over my face! I mean it would make for a great mask all by itself, but I wanted to combine it with some of the other natural ingredients I have in my apothecary. I wanted a mask that did more than just supply my face with basic awesomeness, I wanted it to also clean and draw out impurities, support the anti-inflammatory quality of the avocado, flood my face with some serious hydration, and increase the blood supply to my skin. So, when I got back home with my avocado and coconut milk I stormed my apothecary for a few more ingredients to add to my mix! 

Don't worry I will add all the ingredients below so you can try making the mask for yourself right at home! So after some thought I decided on two different types of clay, hyaluronic acid gel, coconut milk; in a solid, turmeric powder, magnesium oil, aloe gel, rose essential oil, vitamin c powder, a little water, and a little guar gum to thicken it up just a bit. So let me get into the details on all this, because you're probably going "hua?"; and that's ok, but before I do that lets talk a bit about the ingredients so you know why I decided to use them. 



Kaolin Clay ~


Gentle Cleansing:
Kaolin clay has absorbent properties that help to gently cleanse the skin by drawing out impurities, excess oil, and dirt. It does so without overly drying the skin, making it suitable for various skin types, including sensitive and dry skin. 

Exfoliation: Kaolin clay has a fine and smooth texture, making it an excellent mild exfoliant. It helps to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote a smoother, softer skin texture. 

Oil Absorption: One of the primary benefits of kaolin clay is its ability to absorb excess oil from the skin's surface. This makes it particularly beneficial for individuals with oily or combination skin, helping to control shine and reduce the risk of clogged pores. 

Calming and Soothing: Kaolin clay has a soothing effect on the skin, making it suitable for those with sensitive or irritated skin. It helps to calm inflammation and redness, providing relief for conditions like acne or mild skin irritations. 

Mineral Content: Kaolin clay contains minerals such as silica, magnesium, and zinc. These minerals contribute to the overall health of the skin. Silica supports collagen production, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties, and zinc helps with wound healing and provides antioxidant benefits.

Sea Clay ~

Detoxification: Sea clay is rich in minerals such as silica, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These
minerals have natural detoxifying properties, helping to draw out impurities, excess oil, and toxins from the skin. The clay acts like a magnet, absorbing these substances and leaving the skin feeling cleansed.

Exfoliation: Sea clay has a fine texture that provides gentle exfoliation. It helps to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote a smoother complexion. This exfoliating action can improve the skin's texture and contribute to a brighter, more radiant appearance.

Oil Control: The absorbent nature of sea clay makes it effective in controlling excess oil on the skin. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with oily or combination skin, as it helps to mattify the skin and reduce the appearance of shine.

Mineral Nourishment: The minerals present in sea clay, including magnesium and calcium, can nourish the skin. These minerals are essential for various skin functions, including maintaining hydration and supporting the skin's natural barrier.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Sea clay contains minerals and trace elements that have anti-inflammatory effects. This can be beneficial for individuals with sensitive or irritated skin, as the clay helps to calm redness and reduce inflammation.

Hyaluronic acid gel ~


Hydration:
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it has the ability to attract and retain water. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. When applied topically, hyaluronic acid helps to draw moisture to the skin, providing intense hydration. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.

Plumping and Firming: As a result of its water-attracting properties, hyaluronic acid helps to plump and firm the skin. By retaining moisture, it temporarily fills in fine lines and wrinkles, giving the skin a smoother and more youthful appearance.

Skin Barrier Support: Hyaluronic acid contributes to the integrity of the skin barrier. It helps to strengthen the skin's protective outer layer, preventing moisture loss and environmental damage. A healthy skin barrier is essential for maintaining overall skin health.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Hyaluronic acid has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it suitable for soothing and calming irritated or sensitive skin. It can help reduce redness and discomfort associated with various skin conditions.

Wound Healing: Hyaluronic acid plays a role in the wound-healing process. It helps create an optimal environment for cell regeneration and promotes the repair of damaged tissue. This makes it beneficial for addressing minor wounds, cuts, and abrasions on the skin.

Collagen Synthesis: HA has been shown to stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that provides structural support to the skin. Collagen is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and preventing the formation of wrinkles.

Solid coconut milk ~

Hydration: Coconut milk is rich in water content, which provides immediate hydration to the skin.
Additionally, it contains natural oils that contribute to the skin's moisture retention. Hydrated skin appears plump, smooth, and healthy.

Nourishment and Vitamins: Coconut milk contains essential vitamins such as vitamin C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6. These vitamins play a role in skin health by providing nourishment, promoting collagen synthesis, and protecting the skin from oxidative stress.

Fatty Acids: Coconut milk is a source of healthy fats, including medium-chain fatty acids like lauric acid. These fatty acids have moisturizing properties that can help soothe and condition the skin, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Coconut milk contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, such as cytokines. These compounds can help reduce inflammation, making coconut milk suitable for soothing irritated or inflamed skin.

Antioxidant Defense: The presence of antioxidants, including vitamin C and selenium, helps protect the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental factors. Antioxidants contribute to maintaining skin health and preventing premature aging.

Skin Softening: The natural oils in coconut milk, such as coconut oil, can contribute to softening the skin. These oils create a barrier on the skin's surface, preventing moisture loss and promoting a smoother complexion.

Exfoliation: Coconut milk contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic acid, which have exfoliating properties. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote a more radiant and even skin tone.

Turmeric powder ~


Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
Curcumin, the primary bioactive compound in turmeric, has potent anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to reduce inflammation and redness, making turmeric beneficial for individuals with inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or psoriasis.

Antioxidant Effects: Turmeric contains powerful antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals contribute to premature aging and skin damage. By scavenging these free radicals, turmeric supports overall skin health and helps maintain a youthful appearance.

Wound Healing: Turmeric has been traditionally used for wound healing due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It may assist in the healing process of minor cuts, abrasions, or skin irritations.

Skin Brightening and Even Tone: Curcumin has been shown to inhibit melanin synthesis, the pigment responsible for skin color. This property can contribute to a more even skin tone and help reduce the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation.

Collagen Production: Curcumin promotes collagen synthesis, a protein crucial for maintaining skin elasticity and preventing the formation of wrinkles. Improved collagen production can contribute to firmer and more youthful-looking skin.

Oil Regulation: Turmeric may help regulate sebum production, making it beneficial for individuals with oily or acne-prone skin. By controlling excess oil, turmeric can contribute to a clearer complexion.

Exfoliation: Turmeric contains natural enzymes that can act as exfoliants, helping to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. This promotes a smoother skin texture and can be beneficial for individuals with acne.

Green Coffee powder ~

Antioxidant Properties: Green coffee extract is rich in chlorogenic acid, a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative stress on the skin. This may contribute to a more youthful appearance by protecting the skin from environmental damage.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Chlorogenic acid and other polyphenols in green coffee have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. This can be beneficial for individuals with inflammatory skin conditions, helping to soothe redness and irritation.

Caffeine Content: Green coffee extract contains caffeine, which has vasoconstrictive properties. When applied topically, caffeine may help reduce puffiness and improve blood circulation, contributing to a more vibrant and rejuvenated complexion.

Collagen Protection: Chlorogenic acid in green coffee has been studied for its potential to protect collagen, the structural protein responsible for skin elasticity. By preventing collagen degradation, green coffee extract may contribute to firmer and more supple skin.

Hydration: The polyphenols in green coffee extract may help support the skin's natural hydration. Hydrated skin appears plumper and more radiant.

Cellulite Reduction: Some studies suggest that caffeine, when applied topically, may have a temporary smoothing effect on the skin, making it a common ingredient in anti-cellulite formulations. It is thought to work by improving blood flow and temporarily reducing fluid retention.

Aloe gel ~


Hydration and Moisturization:
Aloe vera gel is primarily composed of water (over 95%). This high water content makes it an excellent natural moisturizer, providing hydration to the skin. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Aloe vera contains compounds like acemannan, which have potent anti-inflammatory effects. These properties make aloe vera gel effective in soothing and calming irritated or inflamed skin, making it suitable for conditions like sunburn, eczema, or psoriasis.

Wound Healing: Aloe vera has been traditionally used for wound healing due to its ability to promote cell regeneration. It contains various polysaccharides and growth factors that contribute to the acceleration of the healing process for minor cuts, burns, and abrasions.

Antioxidant Effects: Aloe vera contains antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as polyphenols. These antioxidants help protect the skin from free radical damage caused by UV rays and environmental pollutants, contributing to the prevention of premature aging.

Collagen Synthesis: Aloe vera stimulates the production of collagen, a protein essential for maintaining skin elasticity. Enhanced collagen synthesis can contribute to firmer and more supple skin.

Scar Reduction: Aloe vera may aid in minimizing the appearance of scars. Its ability to support wound healing, reduce inflammation, and promote skin regeneration contributes to a more uniform skin texture.

Acne Management: Aloe vera has antimicrobial properties that can be beneficial for managing acne. It helps reduce inflammation associated with acne lesions and can soothe redness and irritation.

Rose essential oil ~

Antioxidant Properties: Rose essential oil contains compounds with antioxidant properties, including
phenolic compounds and flavonoids. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which can contribute to premature aging and skin damage. Protecting the skin from oxidative stress promotes a healthier and more youthful complexion.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Some components of rose essential oil, such as geraniol and citronellol, have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may help soothe and calm the skin, making rose essential oil beneficial for individuals with inflammatory skin conditions like acne or redness.

Hydration and Moisture Retention: Rose essential oil is often used in skincare products for its ability to help maintain skin hydration. It can be used as a natural moisturizer, providing a barrier to prevent water loss from the skin. This is particularly advantageous for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.

Astringent Properties: Rose essential oil has a mild astringent effect, which can help tighten and firm the skin. This may contribute to a reduction in the appearance of pores and a smoother skin texture.

Aromatherapy Benefits: Beyond its direct effects on the skin, the aroma of rose essential oil is known to have calming and mood-enhancing properties. Aromatherapy can indirectly influence skin health by reducing stress, which is linked to skin issues like acne and premature aging.

Potential Collagen Boost: Some studies suggest that certain compounds in rose essential oil, such as ellagic acid, may have collagen-protective effects. Collagen is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. Protecting collagen may contribute to anti-aging benefits.

Magnesium oil ~


Magnesium Absorption:
The skin is capable of absorbing magnesium, and applying magnesium oil topically provides a direct method for the body to absorb this essential mineral. Magnesium is involved in numerous physiological processes, and maintaining optimal levels can contribute to overall skin health.

Muscle Relaxation: Magnesium is known for its muscle-relaxing properties. When applied topically, magnesium oil may help relax muscles, reducing tension and promoting a sense of relaxation. This can be beneficial for individuals experiencing muscle cramps, stiffness, or soreness.

Stress Reduction: Magnesium plays a role in the regulation of stress hormones, and its application on the skin may help promote relaxation and reduce stress. Chronic stress can negatively impact the skin, contributing to various skin issues, so stress reduction can indirectly benefit skin health.

Improved Sleep: Magnesium is involved in the regulation of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep. Using magnesium oil before bedtime may promote better sleep quality, allowing the body to undergo essential repair processes during the night, which can positively impact the skin's appearance.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit the skin. Inflammation is associated with various skin conditions, and reducing inflammation may help alleviate symptoms like redness and swelling.

Hydration: Magnesium oil is often used as a hydrating spray. While magnesium itself doesn't moisturize the skin, the application of a hydrating solution can contribute to maintaining skin moisture, especially if combined with other moisturizing ingredients.


Guar Gum ~

Hydration and Moisture Retention: Guar gum has hydrating properties and can help retain moisture when
applied to the skin. It forms a film on the skin's surface, reducing water loss and contributing to improved hydration. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with dry or dehydrated skin.

Emollient and Smoothing Effect: Guar gum's texture and consistency give it emollient properties, contributing to a smooth and soft feel on the skin. This can be advantageous for enhancing the texture of skincare products and providing a pleasant application experience.

Improved Product Texture: In skincare formulations, guar gum is often used as a thickening and stabilizing agent. Its ability to add viscosity and improve the texture of creams, lotions, and gels enhances the overall user experience and application of skincare products.

Film-Forming Properties: Guar gum can form a thin film on the skin's surface, creating a protective barrier. This film can help shield the skin from environmental stressors and pollutants, providing a layer of defense.

Let's Craft A Face Mask

I'll be straight with you before we get started, this is my first blend for a face mask that wasn't boring, one use, and overly simple. I tend to formulate things like serums and lotions over face masks, but I have been really thinking about how I could make one that I can jar up and use on a regular basis that won't dry out my skin while also clearing out my skin. So with that in mind, this recipe is what I like to call modifiable by selection and it totally leaves room for experimenting and changing so don't be discouraged if you use this recipe and it doesn't come out as expected. Work with it as a base and modify it as your intuitive self tells you. IE... using less of something, or more, than what the recipe said. You can't learn anything if you don't try and fail, so just have fun and see how it goes for you! Keep reading to see how mine turned out!

 As promised, it's time to let you in on my formula so you can try this out on your own! Here is what you will need, and feel free to modify it as you wish! 


First things up, go ahead and pop your avocado out of the husk and remove the seed in the center. Drop that into a glass bowl and mush it up a little. Add in your clay and powders, adjust as needed according to your personal preferences, and feel free to leave any of the ingredients out if you don't want to add them or change them if you want. 

Then go ahead and add the solid coconut milk to the bowl with the avocado and take a minute to blend with your immersion blender. Give it a good blend until it's smooth. After you have blended the powders, coconut milk, and the avocado together go ahead and add the aloe, hyaluronic acid gel, and other liquids to the bowl, and base the amount you use on the consistency that you're looking for. Be mindful that the guar gum will thicken the mix just a bit as you blend in the liquid parts. You will likely make way more than you need for one application so after making the mask you can store the left overs in a jar and place it in the fridge for future use, or you can make this for a facial party with your friends! Without a preservative the mix would last about 1-2 weeks in the fridge and longer if you add a preservative. The product should have a gel-like consistency that goes on smoothly and will dry somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes depending on how thick you decide to apply it to your face. This mask is a wash off not a peel off.

Finished product, tested and tried! 

After making the mask I was super excited to test it out! I wanted to see if it solved the dryness I was experiencing and brightened up my complexion. Let me tell you, man was I a happy camper! Ok, so I decided to put on a good size layer all over my face and then let it sit until it was pretty close to dry all over.

Some spots weren't totally dry but I don't think I had an even coat in every spot on my face so that is probably why i still had some moist spots left when i finally washed it off. However, the experience using the face mask was super delightful! The mask was wonderfully cooling to the skin and it felt like a massage. The scent was lovely and I just sat back and meditated a little while the effects of the mask relaxed my senses.

 I noticed that the mask seemed to open up my sinuses a bit which was totally new for me, because no other mask that I have tried has done that! I'm not sure if it was the rose essential oil that did it, or if it was the combination of magnesium and turmeric powder that were relaxing the muscles in my face. Either way it was divine! I didn't feel very much tingling, burning, or warning signs that I should wash it off, so I believe the formula was pretty close to workable for my skin type. I will likely modify it a few more times so that I can make it a daily mask, right now after using it I would probably use this once or twice a week. I usually have combination skin but since I have been living where I do I have been leaning a bit more on the dry side these days, or maybe it's because I'm over 40 so I was looking to see if the mask would resolve the dryness, clean my face, and plump up my skin in order to keep those fine lines and wrinkles at bay. 

After Removing the Face Mask
So, it finally came time to wash off the mask and I was unsure of how that would go. Would it be super hard to get off, or would it come off really easy? I was pleasantly surprised when the mask hit the water it bulked up a little like it was reabsorbing the water back into the face mask and smoothly washed off. It did take me a bit to rinse it away, but there wasn't difficulty in removing it. You know how some masks are just painful, or they don't come off well, that was just not the case here. The face mask was actually pretty nice to remove! It felt like a pleasant polishing, but it did feel a bit oily while I rinsed it off. My first thought was, damn it definitely resolved the dryness I was experiencing, but is my skin going to be as oily as this feels? I wasn't for sure so after I finished removing the entire face mask, I pat dried my face. My skin started to feel mildly warm and slightly flushed, but not to an excess, which indicated that the herbs I put in the mask were doing their job. Green coffee and turmeric are both warming herbs and they move the blood around, and if you remember from earlier I was also trying to bring better blood flow to my face so this was a good indication that I was on the right track to achieving what I was looking for. The warming effect didn't last very long, but my face felt way more plump then it did before I used the face mask so I was pretty stoked on the results! I went right over to the mirror to have a look to inspect my skin to see how well the mask actually worked. My skin feels nice and moisturized and not super oily like I had first thought, my skin didn't stay flushed for very long, and I would say that it helps a bit with the fine lines and wrinkles! 

In the end, I would likely modify the ingredients a little, but overall I really liked how this face mask came out! So now it's your turn! Check out the formula above, make some experimental changes if you wish and test it out on your skin! Of course if you aren't sure, or don't know if you have an allergy to anything, do a patch test before you put this all over your face to see how your skin reacts to the ingredients. If your skin feels like it's burning and not tingling, or you have a reaction, then this mask is just not for you. I hope you enjoyed my experimental adventures and hope you feel encouraged to make your own natural face masks at home! Have a blessed day, until next time! 😊







Monday, February 12, 2024

Extracting Oils: Intermediary Method

Hi fellow Readers! 

Today I am doing a throw back from one of my YouTube videos to help those of you who wish to get a good extract on your oils and are just tired of the wait it takes with the storage method. So I know that some of you have been a follower for some time now and I talked about the heating method in oil making years back, where you use a crock pot to do an 8 hour heated soak of your herbs in order to extract the herbs into the oil. Well, I haven't quit learning and came across a new way to craft up an oil that isn't quite short, but isn't 8 weeks long either! The reason I wanted to share this with you is because it super exceeds any of the other methods that I have run across in my prior years poking around in some herbs. Not to mention that it's now the only way I choose to extract my herbs if i'm going to make an herbal oil.

With that in mind, my friends, check out my updated YouTube channel below and join me as I show you a thing or two about the Intermediary method of extracting herbs into oils. I'll take some time below the video to write out a bit about how it works, and some of the things that I have run across when working this method. Also I'll touch on what you might also be told about working this method, and how you can modify what they say and still get a great extract!


Ok, so now with more than 10 years in the field, I'm still feeling pretty green and I was stoked when I stumbled on this extraction method. One day while I was scrolling through the Herbal academy's social group I landed on a post that was talking about this "Intermediary method" extraction, and the term kinda caught my eye right away, and I went on a search to learn more. I commented on the post like, um WTF is that and how come I don't know this kinda thing. I was informed that it was a way to use alcohol to extract higher concentrations of plant constituents from the plants you're working with. If you're like me and have been making oils for a minute, using the storage or heat method, you know that the end result of your oils is pretty flat and mostly one sided. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the methods, but I will tell you that both the heat method and the storage methods are just not going to get any part of the plant that isn't soluble is fats, or oils. So that means that you will be leaving behind quite a bit of the plant's constituents like the essential plant oils, the water soluble constituents, and the solvent soluble constituents. So, if you're looking for a power house oil then this method is likely going to be your best friend! 

So what exactly are we doing that's different? Well for starters, we are not soaking the herb in oil straight away because that defeats the purpose of what we want to do here. So, let's get into it. Go ahead and pick the herbs you're looking for and determine how much oil (or end oil extraction) that you're looking for. Then let's get into some math below.

For every herb part you will need four oil parts. So this looks like this, Example: 1 oz of herb = 4 oz of oil. You can cut it anyway you wish so long as the ratio is 1:4. 

It's always best to know how much oil you want before you start this process because it is a bit more scientific than the traditional folk methods of extracting. Doing this will prevent you from over making a product if you don't need a ton of oil extracted. Also I want to note here that if you want to make a formula oil extraction, you do not have to make like 5 different extracted oils to combine later after they are all done. You can combine the herbs together according to your formula and make the weight of the combination to the herb part as a whole. It makes for a much quicker end result, just be sure to write out all the herbs you put in the oil when you label the jar your using to work this process. 

The next thing I want to address is the various ways to actually do this. I have ran across a few people who basically saturate their herbs in an alcohol bath for a few days then add their oil and evaporate off the alcohol off the oil. Which to be honest seriously draws out the process like crazy and in my experience is not totally necessary and here is why.

1. You are only using the alcohol to crack open the plant's protective outer layer to promote the release of the constituents that you can't access when you're soaking the herb in oil. 

2. The process to heat off the alcohol, depending on how much you used, is a really long process that you have to do on super low heat. This is what you might hear called "the evaporation process", because there are a ton of people who ask about any leftover alcohol in the oil.   

3. So many oils, especially the oils that you use for your skin; that many of us use when we are extracting herbs anyway, have a short shelf life. That usually means that the oils will go rancid on us way quicker than you might expect, which means that unless you are selling your oils rather quickly you will be forced to make smaller batches. It's best to know the shelf life of the oil you're working with before you use it. Now why do I say that? Well because alcohol is a shelf stable product because it is a solvent. So having a little bit of alcohol in your oil extraction isn't going to cause any negative effects. In fact it will actually give your oil extractions a little longer shelf life, but some crafters are concerned with the drying effects of the added alcohol which is why they choose to evaporate off the remaining alcohol. In my personal experience using this method the way that I have shown it in the video has not caused any drying when i create products that are used on the skin. 

So there are a few things that I want to make a point of doing before you add your alcohol to your herbs in order to ensure that you get the best extraction possible. 

1. When you have selected your herbs and weighed out the amount that you intend to use Take some time to grind them into a powder, or close enough to a powder. I want to note that I don't use pre-ground herbs, or herbs that are bought as powders if I can help it, because contrary to what you might believe about herbs and shelf life, whole or leafed herbs in their original state dried have a longer shelf life than powders do. This is because when you grind up or powder the herb you are exposing more of the surface area of the herb and the herb being more exposed will die off, or have reduced medicinal properties quicker than one that is left in a whole state. The reason we are grinding or powdering the herbs that you selected is so the herbs are at their max surface exposure. This will allow the alcohol to penetrate the herb more efficiently. 

2. Use 190 proof alcohol and nothing less! A high alcohol content will extract all parts of the plant into the oil you are trying to make. 190 proof is 100% alcohol and has little to no water content in it. This level has the ability to extract the plant resins and essential oils and using a lower proof will not extract these constituents. Vodka and other types of alcohol are usually 80 proof or 40% alcohol. These alcohols have at least 60% water added to the alcohol. Using a lower alcohol proof can help if you want to also pull out some of the water soluble constituents, but will then convert your oil over to needing to evaporate off the remaining waters from the alcohol. Water and oil don't mix well without an emulsifier, so I like to use the 190 proof when I work this method and suggest that you do the same.

3. DON'T saturate the herbs with alcohol. It will just put an excessive amount of alcohol in the extraction and cause you to end up evaporating off the excess, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Alternatively slowly add the alcohol a little bit at a time and mix the herbs together to disperse the alcohol throughout the herbs you have in your container. Add ONLY enough alcohol to make the herbs moist. you don't need a puddle, and the powdered herb color will have slightly darkened when all the herbs are at the right moisture. This is key to knowing that you have just enough alcohol added to your powdered herbs. 

4. Cover your herb container with plastic cling wrap and wrap a string or rubber band around the jar neck to keep the wrap in place. Don't add any oil! Then write the date and ingredients. I like to sharpie the date, and ingredients on the plastic so I don't have to remove stickers or cross out any prior written content on my jar. 

Once you have all that done place your container in a dark, cool, location for 24 hours before you move on to the next step. This is crucial because you want to let the alcohol extract the constituents that you want your oil to have. You don't need to store longer, because you only moistened the herbs and you're not looking for them to completely dry out before you go on to the next step and you're not making a tincture. 

So now you're ready to make your oil! A day has gone by and you will want to go grab the jar you stored from the day before and measure out the correct amount of oil you need in association to the herb weight that you have, according to the 1:4 ratio set by the formula. 

So what's next? Take the plastic off and pour in your oil? Maybe not, we aren't quite there yet. If you have an immersion blender you will need it right about now, so go grab it. If not, you will need a blender that will hold the contents of the oil you plan to create. Once you have those, then move on to finishing your extraction.

1. If you have the immersion blender, go ahead and pour in your oil part directly into the container that you have your herbs in (make sure that the oil will fit and not overflow) and mix the herbs and the oil with the immersion blender for no less than 5 minutes. Once you have done that, set up your cheese cloth and another container to catch the oil that is going to be strained. I like to use one of those strainers under the cheese cloth so that I don't accidentally drop my herbs back into the extraction. It has saved my butt sooo many times!

2. If you have a blender, you will basically do the same thing, but you will want to scrape out your herbs from the container you had them in and into the blender you have before you add the oil you want to use. Once you have the herbs in the blender, go ahead and add the oil and cap the blender. Turn it on using the blend or macerate feature and let it go for 5 minutes. After five minutes set up your cheese cloth like I mentioned above and strain out your oil.

After your extract is strained you're done! Isn't that cool? Go ahead and label the container that you have and ensure that you date it too! 

This method you will notice right away is so much better. The oil will have a darker and more concentrated volume of plant constituents than you will ever get with other folk methods like storing or heating them. Try it out and comment below on how it went for you. What do you like about it and how does this change up the way you use oil extractions in your future formulas? 

Blessings! 
 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Sipping Serenity: A Deep Dive into Herbal Stress Relief for Balanced Living

 In the hustle and bustle of life, stress can feel like an unwelcome companion, throwing us off balance and affecting our overall well-being. But fear not! Nature, in its wisdom, has bestowed upon us a trove of herbal allies that can help soothe the nerves, reduce anxiety, and bring a sense of tranquility to our lives. Let's embark on a journey to understand not only the benefits of these herbs but also the profound impact that stress can have on our health, making it crucial to find effective ways to manage it.


Why Stress Management Matters:


Before we delve into the world of herbal remedies, let's shine a spotlight on why managing stress is more than just a quest for a calm state of mind. The physiological responses to stress are not limited to a fleeting feeling of unease. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on our health, contributing to conditions like heart disease, digestive issues, compromised immune function, and even mental health disorders.

Picture this: your body, designed to handle short bursts of stress, navigating a world where stressors are persistent and chronic. The constant release of stress hormones like cortisol can lead to elevated blood pressure, inflammation, and disrupted sleep patterns. The immune system takes a hit, making you more susceptible to infections. Mental health, too, is intricately linked, with chronic stress being a significant factor in the development of anxiety and depression.

So, addressing stress isn't just about feeling good in the moment; it's about safeguarding your long-term health. Now, armed with this understanding, let's explore the world of herbal remedies that can be your allies in this battle against stress.

Passionflower: A Symphony of Serenity:

Passionflower, with its delicate tendrils and mesmerizing blooms, isn't just a pretty face in the herbal kingdom. This botanical gem has a remarkable ability to elevate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural tranquilizer, reducing neural excitability and promoting a sense of calm.

But, like any remedy, Passionflower comes with its notes of caution. While generally safe, it's crucial to be mindful, especially if you're already on medications with sedative effects. Passionflower might just enhance those effects, leading to excessive drowsiness. Additionally, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, it's wise to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating Passionflower into your routine.

Skullcap: The Underrated Calm Commander:
Skullcap, often flying under the radar in the world of herbs, deserves a moment in the spotlight for its calming prowess. Rich in flavonoids, Skullcap interacts with GABA receptors, contributing to its anxiolytic effects. It's like a gentle hand guiding your nervous system to a state of tranquility.

But, here's the scoop – moderation is key with Skullcap. Excessive doses may lead to potential gastrointestinal upset, and for some, it might bring on a touch of drowsiness. It's all about finding the right balance that works for you. And, of course, if you have any existing medical conditions or are taking medications, it's wise to consult with a healthcare professional before adding Skullcap to your stress-relief toolkit.

Tulsi (Holy Basil): Your Resilience Revitalizer: Tulsi, or Holy Basil, isn't just a culinary delight; it's a powerful adaptogen that can help your body adapt to stressors more effectively. It's like having a personal resilience coach in plant form. The
unique blend of phytochemicals in Tulsi supports the adrenal glands, helping your body cope with stress in a more balanced way.

But, and there's always a but, Tulsi might not be the right match for everyone. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should approach with caution, and those with autoimmune conditions might want to consult with a healthcare professional. As much as we love our herbal allies, they're not a one-size-fits-all solution.




Tea Recipes for Tranquility:

1. Tranquil Sunset Blend:

Ingredients:

1 tsp dried Passionflower

1 tsp dried Skullcap

1 tsp dried Hibiscus petals

1 cup hot water

Instructions: Steep the Passionflower, Skullcap, and Hibiscus petals in hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy this vibrant blend that not only calms the nerves but also offers a visually appealing hue reminiscent of a tranquil sunset.


2. Citrus Serenity Infusion:

Ingredients:

1 tsp dried Tulsi leaves

1 tsp dried Skullcap

1 tsp dried Lemon Balm

1 cup hot water

Instructions: Infuse the Tulsi, Skullcap, and Lemon Balm in hot water for 8 minutes. Strain and savor the citrusy notes for a refreshing and uplifting experience, perfect for a midday pick-me-up.


3. Lavender Bliss Elixir:

Ingredients:

1 tsp dried Passionflower

1 tsp dried Tulsi leaves

1 tsp dried Lavender buds

1 cup hot water

Instructions: Steep the Passionflower, Tulsi, and Lavender buds in hot water for 7 minutes. Strain and relish in the soothing aroma and delicate flavors, creating a blissful elixir for moments of relaxation.


Feel free to customize these recipes based on your taste preferences, adjusting the herb quantities, add additional herbs, or adjust steeping times to suit your palate. Each blend not only harnesses the calming properties of the herbs but also offers a delightful sensory experience. Enjoy the journey of exploring these herbal combinations and finding your perfect cup of serenity!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Lavender: A Plant Monograph

Botanical Name: Lavandula Angustifolia  

Common Name: Lavender, Lavender bud, Lavender flower, Garden Lavender, French lavender

PARTS USED:  The Flowers 


PLANT FAMILY: The lavender is part of the mint family of Lamiaceae.  Lavender is native to the Mediterranean region but is also common in most of southern Europe. Lavender is also now cultivated all over the world. 


BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION: Lavender is a flowering plant that grows approx 60cm high in shrub like clusters. The flowers of the Lavender grow out from the shrub in triangular spike like blossoms atop of a narrow 10-15cm stem. The flowers have a varied color that ranges  from violet to blue in color. The flowers are small oval shaped and form clusters.


PLANT ENERGY: Drying and Cooling and mildly bitter. The taste is spicy

- Cooling Plant energetics: Are typically used when the body is hot or inflamed to bring the body temperature back to a suitable safe temperature, or to cool the body after exposure to excessive heat. This can also include tissue and temperament states. 


PLANT PROPERTIES AND CONSTITUENTS: Aromatic, Carminative, Nervine that also acts as an antispasmodic and antidepressant. Some of the Constituents include the flowers volatile oils, tannins, and Flavoids.


Volatile oils:
Linalool 20-50% (PDR, Herbal medicines), Linalyl Acetate at 30-40% (PDR Herbal Medicines)

Tannins: 13% combined between borneol, camphor, limonene, cadinene, coumarins, and ursolic acid.

- Flavonoids:  Luteolin


PLANT USES: According to several books, and the PDR for Herbal Medicines, Lavender flower is approved to treat by the Commission E. the Loss of appetite, Nervousness, Insomnia, problems with the circulatory dysfunction, and irritability. In cases of depression, I do not believe that internal use of Lavender proves helpful, as the brain system is in a depressed state of being in most cases. As a CNS depressant I believe that using Lavender while depressed may in fact make the problem worse.  


Defining terms:-

Aromatic: These are herbs that have a very fragrant sent to them. They are usually high in volatile oils, and have an affect on the senses. They are often used in cooking and aromatherapy. 

- Carminative: A carminative plant has the ability to move around internal gasses helping to expel them from the body. These types of plants work well in situations where bloating causes discomfort. 

- Nervine: A nervine plant has the ability to affect the central nervous system (CNS) of the body. That is that these plants have a sedative, or calming effect on the nervous system. Plants with nervine properties work well where there is pain, sleep disturbances, inflammation, and anxiety. 

- Antispasmodic: A plant with antispasmodic properties has the ability to restrict movement, or calm movement in excess. This would relate to muscles that contract repeatedly as in the case of cramps, or in irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) where the bowls contract painfully. 


CONTRAINDICATIONS: Using lavender internally while pregnant, or while breast feeding is not advised. Topical and bathing use have shown no effect in pregnant and breast feeding women. 


PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE REACTIONS, OVERDOSE: The internal use of lavender has the ability to cause drowsiness due to its affect on the CNS. There is a possibility of gastrointestinal disturbances in some cases. Consider the antispasmodic nature of the plant with regard to the digestive tract and it's ability to also sedate the CNS.  Topically the herb and the herbs essential oils may cause skin irritation, and one should not use the plant if they have an allergy to any part of the plant. All essential volatile oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before they are used on the skin. Internal essential oil use should be restricted and prescribed by a licence ND due to possible toxicity. Lavender has a strong effect on the CNS of the body and brain and therefore has prominent side effects in cases of overdose. These include constipation, respiratory depression, head ache, meiosis, vomiting, convulsions, and total CNS depression. 


For general purposes I will not be including the dose for any of the herb monographs for the safety of the reader. I will however post a link to a really great school for those who wish to dig deeper into the study of plants and medicine. 


PLANT MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Lavender has been used historically as a healing plant, in various types of healing rituals, sleep and dream magic, and is often made into satchels, or sewn into pillows to help the user sleep and deflect bad dreams that disturb sleep. This flower has also been used to draw or attract peace, love, and serenity into ones life. Lavender can also help protect a user while dreaming and by purifying the user, their tools, and spaces that are smudged with this plant.


HARVESTING GUIDELINES: It is suggested to harvest the tops of the plant (the flower clusters) before they are fully opened on a dry day. Harvest timing can be tricky, but if you aim your harvest for the time just
before the center section of the flower cluster begin to open your timing will be great. The PDR for herbal medicines states that the "most valuable part of the plant is the receptacle, the 10cm or so beneath the insertion of the spike." (3rd Edition)

DRYING TIPS: Cut stalks  just above the base of the plant, leaving the flowers intact on the stalk. Gather together in bunches and tie a string around the base of the stalk approx. 3 inches from the cutting location, leaving some string as a slack to hang the bunch with. Avoid tying the bunches to tight together as this may cause mold to form, rendering your harvest unusable. Turn the bunch herbs upside down with the flowers facing downward and attach the remaining string to a nail, or tie to a location that has airflow but isn't in direct sunlight. Leave for around a week, then check for moisture. Gauge the time based on your location.

More humid environments will take more time when it comes to drying your herbs/flowers.  An alternative to the tie method, use a small netted pop up hamper with handles. add your bunches with enough room to spread them out; be cautious of airflow and fostering mold, and hang the basket from a hook in a shady location. This can be outside so the wind can help with the drying process. Check every few days to see if your plants are dry before taking them inside to store them.

Note: avoid drying with heat as this can damage the essential oils of the flowers. 


STORAGE: Dried herbs are best stored in glass containers that are airtight and if possible in darkened containers to protect the herbs from sunlight, and bugs. Store herbs in a dry, cool location as heat can reduce the shelf life of your herbs, and moisture promotes the growth of mold and bacteria.  Lavender flowers stored correctly can last up to a year or longer depending on you. The rule of thumb for herb cycling depends on the color and sent of the herbs stored. If the herbs have lost their color, and their smell, it's time to compost whats left and replace your inventory, in this case, with fresh flowers. 


BUYING TIPS: Be aware that not all distributors are considered equal. Distributors that sell Lavender with a high level of stems and leaf material in their package may have mixed other varieties of lavender in with the buds. This makes the purchase a low quality purchase. Quality lavender will be mid violet to deep blue in color and have no, or very little stems or leaves in the bag when you buy them in bulk.  Pay attention to where you buy your herbs, because not everyone provides quality and considers the health of the soil, plant, and or person buying. Many people use lavender internally, topically, and around their home; and if someone has put pesticides on the plant prior to selling, and omits this information, the health of the person purchasing the product becomes a serious issue. Know your sellers and ask questions before buying!! Amazon is not a great location to get your herbs unless you know the dealer is a known supplier that can prove the quality of the plant your buying. This especially important if you intend to use the product in skincare products, or internally. I will list a few places you can buy quality tested herbs, as well as my personal store link at bottom of this post. Be aware that the links not associated with my store below require a larger purchase amount to order.  



ADDITIONAL USES FOR LAVENDER: We all know and love the smell of these tiny flowers, but if not for its medical quality what else can you use lavender for. Below are some different things to consider using your flowers for. Cut your flower down at the base of the stem and collect the whole stalk. Wrap the stalks in with wild, white, or desert sage to make your own smudge sticks for your home. Combined with the sage this herb helps to bring about a calm vibration to your home. Add the flowers, or ESO, to your bath/ bath salts, or bath bombs to help you ease into a restful state of mind before bed. Add flowers to a candle spell, offering, or satchel to bring calming to your situation, dreams, or state of mind.  


REFERENCES, LINKS & BOOKS 

Gruenwald, J. PHD. Brendler, T. BA. Jaenicke, C. MD. (2004). English Lavender Lavandula Angustifolia.

PDR For Herbal Medicines. (3rd ed,. pp. 285-287). Published by Thomson PDR Montvale, NJ. 

Tierra, M. OMD. (1998). Lavender. The Way of Herbs. (pp. 150-151). Published by Pocket Books New York, NY. 

The Herbal Academy. (2011) Beginner & Intermediate courses in Herbalisim. Location Boston, MA


Store links for Lavender:

- The Green Witches Corner: One ounce Lavender package 

- Starwest Botanicals: 4 ounces Organic Lavender 

- Mountain Rose Herbs: Lavender & More 


Herbal School for Herbology 

- The Herbal Academy: School herbal Courses 


Books

- Handbook on Growing Lavender: Lavender Lovers Handbook 

- Growing Lavender: Lavender How to Grow  

- DIY working with lavender: 50 Self Care Recipes  






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