Archive for the ‘herbal tea’ Category

Lavender

Friday, February 21st, 2014

lavender in bath productsLavender Flowers

This amazing herb does wonderful things when introduced as a skin care ingredient.  Whether it is used in flower form, powder form, or in the form of an essential oil, lavender can be a go to ingredient for aromatherapy needs, antiseptic benefits, or even relief from pain and discomfort due to skin irritations.  This beautiful herb is also cherished for its decorative nature in both the body care industry as well as food and beverage industries, especially when it comes to the realm of teas and desserts.

The name lavender comes from its scientific name lavandula which is actually derived from the Latin word lavare which means to wash.  In fact, lavender was often heavily used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for its antiseptic benefits for the skin, healing powers, and as an aromatic perfume.

There are several ways to use the wonderful benefits of lavender in your homemade skin care and body wellness products.  The very aromatic herb lavender is available for purchase in several different mediums at Natures Garden.

Lavender Flower Whole Select-  In this shape, it can be used directly in items like bath teas and soaps.  This form of herb can be steeped to make an oil infusion which then can be used in a plethora of bath and body products like: skin toners, lotions, body creams, perfumes, shampoos, etc.

Lavender Flower Powder-  In powder form, lavender can be used directly in your formulations and this even includes body powders.  The only precaution to remember when using this herb is that as with any powder, it is prone to clumping if not made into a paste first.

As an essential oil, lavender is available as Lavender Essential Oil 40/42 or Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil.  Either of these essential oils can be used to scent your products for aromatherapy needs or to take advantage of all of the skin care benefits lavender provides.

The scent of lavender is one of the most well known aromas worldwide.  No matter where you live, chances are you have smelled this distinctive scent.  Often used in aromatherapy and in body care products as a natural antidepressant; lavender will ease stress and tension by promoting relaxation.  Lavender works as a nervine; calming the nerves and reducing irritability of the mind and body.

As an analgesic, this herb can actually help to reduce pain from skin issues and aliments like acne, boils, eczema, and psoriasis.  This herb is even beneficial for treating burns, sunburns, insect bites and stings.

As a natural air freshener, lavender also works to fight against air borne viruses.  You can achieve this by simply steeping lavender buds in water and letting the aroma fill the air.

Lavender has an array of uses; to read the full class on all of the benefits of lavender, please click on this link.

To view some wonderful bath and body recipes that contain the amazing herb of lavender in flower form or in powder form, please check out the links below:

Lemon Lavender Bath Melts Recipe
Lavender Sage Bath Bomb Recipe
Fizzy Milk Bath Recipe
Sensual Massage Oil Recipe
Lavender Luxury Cold Process Soap Recipe
Relaxing Eye Pillow Recipe
Lavender Apple Sugar Scrub Recipe
Lavender Vanilla Body Powder Recipe

Natures Garden sells our lavender flowers herbs and essential oils for external applications only.  In the above written blog post, we briefly discussed the wonderful benefits of lavender and the some of its uses across various industries.  Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice.  Please consult your doctor before using any of this information for treatment purposes.  We provide this data for educational purposes only.

Firming Facial Mask

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

make your own facial maskFirming Facial Mask

Whether you are looking to spend some quality time with the girls, or just wanting to treat yourself; using a homemade facial mask is the route to go.

Not only is making a facial mask super easy, it is also a great way to tone, firm, and even revitalize your face.  There are a variety of herbs and clays that you can use to make your very own facial masks.  Each herb or clay has its very own distinctive skin loving benefits that you can introduce into your facial masks.  The herb and clay that you select is dependent upon what you want the end results of your mask to have.

For this firming facial mask recipe, the herb that was focused on was Hibiscus.  This includes both hibiscus flowers and hibiscus flower powder.

Hibiscus is quite the amazing flower and has even been affectionately named “the botox plant”.  Used in skin and hair care for thousands of years, this amazing herb is a natural source of alpha hydroxy acids (Vitamin C).  These acids can gently exfoliate your skin while encouraging the replacement of dead and dull cells with new ones.  This herb also has anti aging properties with the capability of soothing, smoothing, and firming the skin.

As for the main ingredient for the firming facial mask, Red Moroccan clay was selected.  This clay is one of the purest forms of cosmetic clays available.  With the ability to draw out toxins and impurities, Red Moroccan clay also acts as a moisturizing agent for your skin.

To help to keep the skin moisturized vegetable glycerin is also used in this recipe.  Vegetable Glycerin  is a humectant.  What this means is that this ingredient will help to draw moisture to your skin and keep it there.

If you want to make this recipe, all ingredients can be found at Natures Garden.

Now, on to the firming facial mask recipe:
This easy homemade recipe will make 2 facial masks.  The total time the masks take to make is about 45 minutes.  Game on wrinkles!

Step 1:  In a pot, weigh out 120 grams of distilled water.  Then, place the water on the stove top and heat it until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once you hit this temperature, allow the water to hold for an additional 20 minutes.

Step 2:  Weigh out 2 grams of Hibiscus flowers.  Place the dried flowers into an empty tea bag and tie it shut.  Place the tea bag into a coffee cup.

Step 3:  When the 20 minutes have elapsed, remove the water from the heat source.  Now, carefully pour the hot water into the coffee over.  Using a spoon, hold the tea bag down into the water until it is completely saturated.  Then allow the tea bag to steep for about 10 minutes or so.  Occassionally while the tea bag is steeping, use a spoon to press the tea bag.  This will ensure you have a nice and strong Hibiscus Tea.

Step 4:  In a small bowl, weigh out 23 grams of Red Moroccan clay and 3 grams of Hibiscus flower powder.  Break up any clumps you may have.  Then, gently stir these two ingredients together.

Step 5:  When your hibiscus tea is finished steeping, in a separate bowl, weigh out 18 grams of the tea.  To this add 6 grams of vegetable glycerin.  Stir.

Step 6:  Now, carefully scoop the clay/flower mixture into the tea/glycerin bowl.  With each scoop that is added, stir well to fully incorporate.  Keep adding the clay/flower mixture until it is all in the tea/glycerin.    Keep stirring this until there is no visible powder left.

Note:  If you plan on selling this mixed facial mask, you will need to add 1% optiphen preservative to the mask at a temperature that is not higher than 140F.  This will help prevent bacterial growth.  If you are making this recipe for self use, but do not plan to use all of it at one time, place the remainder in the refrigerator up to 1 week.  Throw away after 1 week if the mixture is not properly preserved.

Now, to use your firming facial mask:

Once the mixture has cooled, start applying it generously to your face.  Once the mask is completely applied, allow it to fully dry.  This drying process will take about 20 minutes to complete.  As the mask dries, you will notice a color change in the mask itself.  Your face will also begin to feel tighter.

When the mask has dried, wash it off with warm water.  Then, pat your face dry with a towel.

Please Note:  Hibiscus WILL stain your clothes/towels.  It is advisable to wear clothes and use towels that can be stained.  Also, there will be a slight stain left on your face once the mask is removed.  This stain will disappear after an additional wash or two.

Natures Garden is not responsible for the performance of any of the recipes provided on our website. Testing is your responsibility. If you plan to resell any recipes we provide, it is your responsibility to adhere to all FDA regulations. If there are ingredients listed in a recipe that Natures Garden does not sell, we cannot offer any advice on where to purchase those ingredients.

Herbal Infusion

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Herbal InfusionHerbal Infusion

Many times the herbs that we seek out to use in a bath or body recipe may be a little too coarse for our skin.  This is the point where typically a conundrum lies.  The battle that is at hand is the great skin loving nutrients and benefits that herbs are able to provide versus the rigidity and awkwardness of the herbs physical form.  This is especially true for herbs that are cut and sifted.

There is however great news to share.  An herbal infusion is the problem solver in this situation.

What is an Herbal Infusion:  The true definition of the action of infusion is a procedure of withdrawing various nutritive compounds of an herb into a solvent, and allowing them to linger in the solvent for a period of time.  Basically, an herbal infusion is the method of extracting the medicinal benefits of herbs and steeping them to allow the transfer of herbal benefits into another medium.

There are different kinds of herbal infusions that can be made.  They all vary according to what medium is used.  The different solvents or mediums that can be used for an herbal infusion are water, oil (such as olive oil, apricot kernel oil, or sweet almond oil), vegetable glycerin, vinegar, propylene glycol, or alcohol.  Typically, herbal infusions made with alcohol or vegetable glycerin are referred to as tinctures or extracts.  The difference between extracts and tinctures is the amount of herb infused in the alcohol or glycerin.  An extract is considered 1 part herb to 1 part alcohol or glycerin.  A tincture is considered 1 part herbs to 3 parts alcohol or glycerin.

Infusions are necessary with some herbs due to their delicate nature.  Typically the fragile parts of the plant are used for infusions; this would be the parts that are above ground.  These parts would include:  leaves, flowers, stems, or aromatic pieces.   It is important to know your herbs and understand their nature before deciding the best infusion route to take.

Hot infusions:
Hot infusions will bring out vitamins, and enzymes.  This type of infusion will also allow the aromatic notes of the herbs out, which are also known as essential oils.  This method works best for the herbs that are a little more reluctant to forgo their medicinal characteristics.  This is generally the herbs in the form of barks and roots; although all portions of the plant can be used.  Herbal tea is the most popular example of a hot herbal infusion.

Cold infusions:
Cold infusions are best for herbs that have a heat sensitive nature.  Using the hot method with these types of herbs may eliminate some of the remedial properties.  This process is best for these types of herbs because through steeping (allowing a plant material to set in a medium undisturbed), they will release their medicinal attributes without being forced to do so with heat.

It is believed that the best types of herbs to use for an infusion are dried ones.  This is because nourishing minerals and phytochemicals that are naturally in herbs are best accessed by the drying out of the herb.  However, fresh herbs may also be used.

Depending on the method of your herbal infusion, it will vary the strength of the infusion itself.  Another deciding factor with infusion is the time that your herbal infusion will take as well as the deadline of your need for the infusion.  There are several different ways varying in strength and steep time that you can infuse herbs.

solar herbal infusionSolar Infusion:  This method involves the placement of your herbs and your solvent into a covered glass jar.  Make sure the cover is on tightly.  Then you allow your jar to set undisturbed in a warm/sunny area of your home-under a skylight or in a window sill. Allow this mixture to set for at least two weeks.  For more potent infusions, allow to set for 4-6 weeks.  After the time has passed, you may strain the herbs out with cheesecloth and use.  To make an even stronger infusion with this method, after straining, add another round of herbs to the same oil and allow it to set and steep again for two additional weeks.  Solar infusions typically use oils as the medium.  NOTE:  While sun tea can be made this way, it is important to understand that water can grow mold and bacteria within days.  Therefore, refrain from allowing sun tea to set in the sun more than a day before using or before refrigerating.

Oven Extraction:  The best method to use if you have selected a heat sensitive oil as your solvent and you are in a time crunch.  This method involves placing your herbs and solvent in a glass jar.  You will also want to make sure that you have it covered with a tight fitting lid.  Once sealed, select a deep cake pan and fill it with water.  The water level should rise to cover about half of your jar.  Then, simply place your deep cake pan into the oven and allow it to heat for several hours.  You want to make sure your oven temperature is on its lowest setting.  Once the time has passed, strain the herb out and allow the infusion to reach room temperature before using.

Hot water herbal infusionHot Water Steep:  This herbal infusion can be done if water is your selected solvent.  To do this method, place your herbs in a glass container.  Then, boil water.  Once your water is at a boil, turn off the stove top and carefully pour the boiling water over the herbs and into the jar.  Once the hot water has been added, quickly lid the jar tightly.  Allow the herbs to steep for 4-10 hours before opening the container to strain the herbs out.  Allow the infusion to reach room temperature before using.  A recipe for this hot water tea infusion:  Place 1 cup of dried herbs into a quart jar.  Pour hot water over the herbs.  Lid.  Set for 4-6 hours.  Strain.

Double Boiler:  This method is done by placing the herbs and oil in a lidded pot with the tightest lid possible.  Herbal Oil Infusion Recipe:  45 grams white sage leaves  + 392 grams of apricot kernel oil.  Next, take a second bigger pot and place water into it. Then, place the bigger pot on the stove top and set it on a lower temperature setting.  Next, place the smaller lidded pot containing your herbs and oil into the bigger one.   Allow this to simmer slowly for 30 minutes to an hour.  Throughout the time, continuously check your oil to make sure it is not overheating, and stir.  After the time has elapsed, strain the herbs out using a cheesecloth.   Allow the infusion to reach room temperature before using.

Tips for Infusions:
You can add extra scent to your infusion by adding fragrance oils or essential oils.

You can place the herbs that you will be infusing into a teabag or cheesecloth to help make the straining process easier.

No matter which method of infusion you are doing, a tight fitting lid is essential to the process.

You can combine herbs to make creative herbal infusions.

Uses for Infusions:
Water infusions can be used as a hair rinse.  This rinse can be left on the hair until the next time you shampoo.

Water infusions can be ingested as a tea (hot or cold) as long as the herb is safe for consumption.  Some herbs cannot be ingested at all, and can be deadly if consumed.   Check with your doctor before ingesting any herbs.  Honey can be added to make the taste of the tea more favorable.  If you have remaining infusion, refrigerate to slow spoilage rate.

Herbal infusions can be applied directly to the skin.  Oil infusions can be used for oil based bath and body products like massaging oils.

Herbal infusions can be inhaled for aromatherapy purposes.

Oil infusions can be bases for salves and balms.

You can use an oil infusion for emulsion products like sugar scrubs, lotions, and soaps.

For all natural herbs that you can use to make your own herbal infusions, shop Natures Garden’s Herbs.

Natures Garden sells our herbs for external applications only.  We are providing this information for herbal infusions for educational purposes only.  Nothing we mention should be construed as medical advice or for medical treatment purposes.   Please consult your doctor before using any herbs for treatment or other medicinal purposes.

White Sage Uses

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

white sageWhite Sage was considered a Holy herb by the American Indians who used it for smudging ceremonies, for bathing, for deodorant, and for medicinal purposes.  Natures Garden sells our white sage for external applications only, but in the following article, we will discuss how this wonderful herb has been used throughout history.  Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice; consult your doctor before using any herbs for treatment purposes. We provide this data for educational purposes only.    

White Sage (Salvia apiana) is an evergreen shrub that grows to 4-5 feet in height.  White sage grows well in climates that provide lots of sunlight, well-drained soil, mild winters, and little water.  Over-watering white sage can kill the plant. The leaves of white sage contain essential oils and resins that provide a wonderful aroma when rubbed together.  White sage’s scientific name is salvia apiana (apiana refers to the fact that bees are attracted to this plant); salvia means salvation.

The American Indians referred to white sage as the king of all sages, and frequently used this herb for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.  In fact, it is believed that the term “Holy Smoke” originated from the American Indians “smudging” white sage to rid people and places of unwanted evil spirits, and to protect themselves from those spirits.  In addition, they believe that the smoke of sage attaches itself to negative energy found within a person, and removes it from their body.   

White sage is still used today for smudging purposes.  The smudging process involves lighting the tips of dried sage leaves, blowing them out, and allowing the smoke to escape into the air.  Smudging is typically done using a sage wand (smudge stick), but loose white sage leaves can be used instead.  Sage wands are sage leaves wrapped tightly together.  To burn a smudge stick, light the tip of a few leaves and blow it out.  You can either wave the stick in air or place stick in a fire-safe container that contains salt or sand. The salt or sand will allow the smudge stick to stand erect while burning. To extinguish the smudge stick, place smoking end of the stick into the salt or sand and smolder. The smoke created from burning sage produces a calming effect on those who inhale it.  (Always use caution when burning sage, as anything that is on fire can potentially catch other things on fire.  Also, keep anything that is burning away from children and pets).

In addition to smudging, white sage may be used for topical applications by preparing teas, poultices, and/or oil infusions.  White sage is used in these applications because it has anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, calming, deodorizing, and healing properties.  White sage contains diterpenoids, which are compounds which have been shown to fight bacterial infections, and reduce allergy symptoms.  It also contains cineole, which acts as an anti-inflammatory/anti-bacterial agent.  Tannic acid content provides anti-fungal properties.  Sage is also used as an antipyretic; used as a sweat bath to reduce fever. White sage has a calming effect on the body and soul.  This is likely due to its miltirone content (a compound which performs similar to valium to reduce anxiety).  Finally, white sage contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds very similar to the female hormone estrogen.  Herbalists have used white sage to help treat the hot flashes that accompany menopause.

 

White sage tea is prepared by steeping sage leaves in hot water.  Care is taken not to add white sage leaves to boiling water, as boiling water will destroy some of its medicinal value.  Once this tea is made, it can be used to make natural lotions and creams, soap, and hair care products.  The American Indians used white sage tea as a “soapless” shampoo.  Since white sage has deodorant qualities, sage tea can be used as a fabulous hair rinse that leaves your hair soft and manageable.  Sage tea can be used in place of plain water to make wonderful homemade soaps.  Natural lotions and creams can also be made using white sage tea in place of plain water.  This tea can also be added directly to your bathtub for a relaxing herbal bath.  Due to its tannic acid content (which has anti-fungal properties), white sage tea can be used as a foot bath to treat athlete’s foot.  White sage tea can also be used as a refreshing, natural vaginal deodorant.

White sage can be infused into oils to make fabulous massage oils, ointments, body butters, salves, lip balms, ect.  To prepare a white sage oil infusion, crush 1 cup dried white sage into 16 oz. olive oil (or another light oil such as sweet almond oil or sunflower oil), warm it gently in a double boiler for about 1 hour covered, pour the solution (including the herbs) into a jar and lid.  Allow this to set for 4-6 weeks; strain and use.  Your oil infusion will have a shelf life of about 1 year.  This white sage oil infusion can be used to make soaps, lotions, massage oils, ointments, salves, deodorants, creams, lip balms, scrubs, and other body products.

Finally, it is reported that white sage can be used internally (in small amounts) in the form of a tea for an array of medicinal treatments. Never should sage essential oil be ingested.  Before ingesting any type of herbs, you should consult with your doctor first. Herbalists use white sage as a tea, for soothing sore throats, for relaxation, for hormonal imbalances, for diarrhea, for indigestion, for ulcers, and for treating congestion in the respiratory tract.  Since white sage is a natural deodorant, it can be used to make natural douches.

White sage contains a compound known as thujone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this compound increases your heart rate and causes mental confusion. It can also lead to vomiting, restlessness and kidney complications when used in excess. Hence, you should exercise caution when using white sage.

A study performed at the University of Arizona in 1991 demonstrated that Salvia apiana has potential antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Candida brassicae.   It was also published in March 2005 in “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” that scientists at the University of Southern California found white sage to contain eucalyptol, or cineole.  This compound is known to kill bacteria and can help clear a sinus infection. 

Coloring Cold Process Soaps with Herbs

Monday, September 30th, 2013
Picture1

Adding herbs to your soap not only provides great skin loving benefits, but also can naturally color your soaps as well.

If you are looking for a way to naturally color your cold process soaps, herbs may be your answer.  The addition of herbs to your soaping recipes not only can provide your skin with different skin loving benefits, but can also give your soaps beautiful color as well.

There are basically three ways to incorporate herbs into your soaping recipe they are:

1.  As is.  If the herb you are adding is in a powder or small leaf/seed form, they can be added when your soap batter has reached trace.
2. Herbs in tea form.  This is done by steeping the herbs in water to create a tea, and then this “tea” is used as the water portion of your soap recipe.
3.  Oil infusion.  If you are selecting to infuse your herbs this way, you must make your herb oil infusion several weeks before using it in a soaping recipe.  The selected herbs are placed into one of your oils (that will be used in your soap recipe) and allowed to set for 4-6 weeks.  Then, strain the herbs out and use the oil in your soap recipe.  Please Note:  This process can also be done by adding the herbs to the melting pot as you wait for your soaping oils to melt.

The choice of how you would like to infuse your herbs is up to you and testing.  It is important to keep in mind what the end goal of adding the herb is before choosing your herbal addition method.  The answers as to why some people prefer different methods over others various based on easiness, time frame, best color production, or even strongest herbal infusion.  However, if you are simply looking to add herbs to your soap recipe for natural color, the herbs are added to your soap batter at trace.

It is also important that you test for discoloration in a soap recipe before adding an herb for colorant.  Natures Garden has a list of every fragrance oil they carry and how it preformed in cold process soap.  It is on their website under each fragrance oil’s page in the Fragrance Tested area, or for a complete list click Fragrances Tested in CP Soap Results.  You want to be prepared when adding herbs to soaping recipes, so knowing a little about how the fragrance oil reacts will only prepare you more for what to expect, especially when it comes to colorants!