Archive for the ‘herbs’ Category

Lavender Essential Oil

Monday, February 24th, 2014

lavender essential oil Lavender Essential Oils

When it comes to using essential oils in products, lavender is one of the most popular ones selected.  Used throughout history, lavender has made its mark in the cosmetics, medicinal, and perfumery industries.

This is true for two reasons; first lavender is one of the most recognized scents worldwide.  And second, with such an array of skin and health benefits from lavender, it is easily a front runner for induction in to products.  There is only one problem though.  As with any essential oil, it is very difficult to get an identical essential oil each time.

Any essential oil can fluctuate greatly in scent for many different reasons.  These differences can be due to lots, varying seasons of harvest, the environment in which the plant was grown, soil conditions of the area, cross pollination of the plant, and even the distillation process of the essential oil itself.  Any one of these factors can change the essential oil.

There are different lavender essential oils available in the market.  Natures Garden currently carries two various forms of lavender essential oil.  These essential oils are Lavender Essential Oil 40/42 and Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil.

What is Lavender Essential Oil 40/42
This Lavender Essential Oil carries the botanical name Lavendula angustifolia, which is also known as “true lavender”.  This name is also synonymous with English Lavender.   When it comes to scent, this type of essential oil is produced to have what is traditionally (and commercially) accepted as the lavender aroma.  More specifically, lavender 40/42 is the sweet flower smell of lavender.

The number 40/42 at the end of the essential oil name signifies the amount of linalool and linalyl acetate in the essential oil.  Linalool is a natural occurring organic compound (terpene alcohol) which is responsible for the floral scent of a plant.  Linalyl acetate is also a naturally occurring chemical compound found in many “flowering” plants.

When it comes to the creation of Lavender Essential Oil 40/42, it is commonly achieved by the combination of varying distilled lavender oils.  These lavender oils are not only selected by their species but also by their economical cost.  The natural lavender oils are then integrated together to yield an essential oil that contains 40% linalool and 42% linalyl acetate.  These percentages allow the two biggest components of the traditional lavender scent, and also make for an essential oil that is cost effective and can be replicated time and time again with very little scent difference.

Both Linalool and Linalyl acetate are important factors for this essential oil because it helps to ensure a dependable aroma.  Because essential oils can vary from batch to batch throughout the year, these amounts of linalool and linalyl acetate can help to produce a more consistent essential oil.  For this oil precisely, a lavender essential oil with its very distinctive and well known flowery aroma.

What is
Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil
This essential oil which carries the botanical name Lavendula hybrid is a cross breeding of two different lavender plants; the angustifolia (English) and latifolia (spike).  The resulting oil has comparable attributes to angustifolia, however, due to its distinctive and differing chemical content the essential oil has separate features.  This essential oil is a refreshing more camphor like scent that does not focus on the floral aspect of lavender like Lavender 40/42 essential oil.  As one of the 39 species of lavender, lavandin grosso has camphorous notes that are more evident in the essential oil as opposed to its counterpart 40/42.  This is because lavandin essential oils contain a higher percentage of terpenes (particularly camphor) in it.  This scent is long lasting and sharp, especially in soaps and lotions; unlike Lavender 40/42 which is considered a more sweet and subtle aroma.

The actual essential oil itself is produced by the distillation of the flowering tops of the plant lavender grosso.  These plants blossom later than the Lavender angustifolia.   Another advantage of these plants is that they yield a larger volume of essential oil; up to 3 times the amount of Lavender angustifolia; making it cost effective too.

Although there are some differences in these two lavender essential oils, they both maintain a plethora of wonderful skin and health benefits.  If you are interested in reading about all of the wonderful benefits that lavender (herb or essential oil) provides to your products, please click on this link.

Natures Garden sells our essential oils for external applications only.  In the above post, we discussed the differences between Lavender 40/42 Essential Oil and Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil.  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.

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.

Shea Melt and Pour Soap

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

shea butter melt and pour soap It is really easy to make Shea melt and pour soap!

Melt and Pour Soap is one of the easiest and most fun ways to make a homemade product.  This type of soap making is an ideal venture for many reasons.

Melt and Pour soap projects are a great family activity to do with children; creating an enjoyable family time crafting together.
These soaps are a remarkable and memorable treat to give out as party favors, or gifts for loved ones and friends.
And, the fact that melt and pour soap is so easy to work with; no matter what your skill level you can create extraordinary works of art that are fun to wash with too.

So, regardless of the reason for making Melt and Pour Soap, one thing is for sure; you will love how the finished product leaves your skin feeling clean, soft, and supple.

Shea melt and pour soap differs from store bought brands in that it is not drying or harsh on your skin.  This soap base is detergent free, SLS free, and gluten free.  The Shea Butter melt and pour soap base is filled with superb skin loving agents like:

  • Shea butter which is ultra conditioning and nourishing.
  • Coconut oil which provides a wonderful bubble filled lather.
  • Sunflower oil, which acts as an amazing moisturizing agent for your skin.  In fact, sunflower oil also adds an even bigger element of a rich, creamy, and bubbly lather.
  • Glycerin, which works as an astonishing cleansing emulsifier.  It helps to lift dirt, oil, and impurities up and away from your skin.  This allows the everyday dirt and grime to easily be whisked away.  Plus, glycerin is also a humectant.  This means that it can actually drawl moisture from the air and pull it to the skin.

Besides all of the healthy and nourishing aspects to Shea melt and pour soap; there is also a beautiful artistic side to it too.  The adventure as to where you take your soaps is defined only by you; the crafter.  Shea melt and pour soap is fool proof.  It can be heated time and time again, without losing its integrity.

You can cater your soap to your specific like through shape, color, and scent.  You can even take your soap making skill to the next level by the addition of other skin loving attributes or additives.  Natures Garden carries all of the ingredients you need to add luxurious elements like rich cocoa butter or antioxidant packed vitamin E.  Through the addition of herbs like oatmeal, calendula flowers, rose petals, lavender flowers, paprika powder, or poppy seed, you can provide natural exfoliation.  Not only will your soap bar benefits exceed expectations, but you will also be adding a unique look, feel, and dimension to your soaps.

If we have you super excited about the possibility of making Shea soap or possibly other body products; but you still have unanswered questions, Natures Garden is here to help.  You can visit our website for free creative recipes and tips that have been tried and tested.  We also have in depth classes with step by step instruction for beginner soap makers.  And, you can always contact us via email, or connect with us on Facebook.

Hippie Hair Conditioner

Friday, January 17th, 2014

happy hippie hair conditionerThe hippies may have stumbled upon something with their love of patchouli.  This natural herb does wonders for your body.  Not only is it amazing for your skin, promoting a lustrous glow, but it also has many antiseptic properties.  Besides the skin benefits, patchouli can also help in the hair department.  Patchouli can actually be used in the fighting of dandruff.

In order to best harness the anti-dandruff powers of patchouli, we decided that a patchouli oil infusion was in order.  This would then allow all of the medicinal anti fungal benefits of patchouli to be transferred through infusion into an oil.  Now, this oil, as opposed to the herb, was something that we could easily work with for a hair conditioner recipe.  Sometimes, as awesome as an herb is, the form that it is widely available in does not always suite it in the means of bath and body products.  For these types of situations; where an herb is needed, but not physcially desired in its form, the solution is an herbal oil infusion.

There are various ways to make an herbal infusion.  To see these different ways, please click here.

Please Note:  For this Hippie Hair Conditioner Recipe, you will need to make your patchouli oil infusion 4 weeks prior to making the hair conditioner.  Allowing the patchouli to steep for 4 weeks will permit the strongest oil infusion possible.  With oil infusions, the longer the herb is allowed to steep, the stronger the oil infusion will become.

To view all of the steps to make your very own homemade patchouli oil infusion, please click here.

Now, once you have your patchouli infused oil, you are now ready to make your very own Hippie Hair Conditioner.

Here are the ingredients you will need:
20 grams of your Patchouli Infused Oil
25 grams of  VEGETABLE GLYCERIN
25 grams of BTMS 25 Emulsifier
5 grams of OPTIPHEN – Preservative
5 grams of VITAMIN E OIL (Tocopherol T-50) Natural

For this recipe, temperature will be very important.  This is especially true for the step that includes adding the optiphen.  To best monitor this, we suggest using a THERMOMETER.

For an amazing natural scent, we will be using both Patchouli Essential Oil, and Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil.  You will need 5 grams of Patchouli Essential Oil and 10 grams of Lavandin Grosso Pure Essential Oil for this recipe.

For packaging once the hippie hair conditioner is made, we suggest:  8 oz. Clear Boston Round Bottles with Black Lotion Pumps 24/410 for easy use of your product.  This recipe will make a total of (2) 8oz. bottles of hippie hair conditioner.

Other equipment that you will need for this recipe:
425 grams of Distilled Water
Scale- to weigh out your ingredients
Stove- for heating purposes
(2) Small Pots
Large Pot- for double boiler method
Large Mixing Bowl
Stick Blender- highly recommended for best emulsion.
Spatula

And now, the steps:

As when making any formulation for bath and body products, it is very important to have a clean and sanitized work area.  You also want to have all of your equipment out and ready for when you need it.

The first step in making this recipe is the water phase.  Get your distilled water and weigh it out.  Once you have the correct amount, transfer the water into one of your small pots.  Place the pot onto one of your stove top burners and begin to heat.  You want your water to reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Use your thermometer to monitor this.  Once you reach this temperature, you will want to continue to heat your water for an additional 20 minutes.  This ensures that your distilled water is bacteria free.  When the 20 minutes has expired, turn off the burner, and carefully remove the pot from the heat source.  Set aside.

The next step is what is considered the oil phase.  For this phase, we will be using the double boiler method to heat our ingredients.  Now, get your large pot and place at least 3-4 inches of tap water into it.  Set this pot onto one of your stove top burners.  Turn the heat temperature on a lower setting.  While the tap water is heating up, it is time to weigh out your ingredients.  In the other small pot, weigh out the BTMS, vegetable glycerin, vitamin E oil, and finally the patchouli oil infusion.  Once all of these ingredients are in the small pot, carefully place the small pot into the larger one.  Once all of the ingredients are in a liquid state, once again get your thermometer.  You want the temperature of the ingredients to reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once you have reached this degree, check the distilled water temperature.  You want your distilled water temperature to be around 140 degrees as well.  The two temperatures must be close to one another for the next step to occur.

The next step in this recipe is the Mixing Phase.  Once the degrees of both the ingredients and the water are close to one another, it is safe to mix.  Please note:  You will want to move quickly for this phase.  In your large mixing bowl, place both the ingredients and the water together.  Get your stick blender and start to mix it.  You will want to periodically use your spatula to clean the sides of the bowl.  Continue to stick blend until you notice your mixture is starting to turn white.  This means that the conditioner is starting to emulsify.  It is now time to check the temperature again.

For the final step or cool down phase you are looking for the magical degree of 120F.  This is the safest temperature to add the optiphen.  Once you hit this degree, weigh out and add your optiphen preservative.  Next, add your essential oils.  Mix well with your stick blender, and do not forget to scrap the sides of your bowl with the spatula.  Once the conditioner has been thoroughly blended, allow it to cool at room temperature.

Once the hhippy hair conditionerair conditioner has cooled, it is safe to bottle and lid.

Your Hippie Hair Conditioner is now ready to use.  Enjoy!

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 Recipe

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

herbal oilHerbal Infusion Recipe

This is the basic recipe for making patchouli infused oil to be used in the creation of various bath and body products.  For this recipe we are going to be using the double boiler method.  There are various methods to choose from when making an herbal oil infusion.  To view other processes of infusing herbs for bath and body products please click on this linkPlease note:  Depending on the herb/herbs that you are selecting to infuse, will determine whether you go with a hot method or a cold method route of infusion.  Some herbs are very heat sensitive.  Therefore, if heat is introduced for the infusion, some of the medicinal benefits may be lost.

With oil infusion, a key to remember is the longer that the herbs are allowed to set in the oil, the stronger the herbal infusion will be.  Our herbal infusion sat undisturbed for 4 weeks (after the double boiler method) before we strained the herbs out and introduced the infusion to a recipe.

We selected sweet almond oil because it readily absorbs into the skin and has a non-greasy feel to it.  There are however other oils you can choose from.  For the selection of your solvent (liquid you are infusing the herbs into), you will want to pick an oil that has a low rancidity rate.  Some other great solvents that can be used are: vegetable glycerin, apricot kernel oil, and olive oil.  Each oil has various skin loving attributes to them, so it is very easy to cater the oil infusion you want to make to the specific need you are looking for.

Although there are other herbs you can select for oil infusion; for this recipe, we wanted to make an oil infusion that was great for dry skin and promoted a healthy and radiant glow.  Besides being an astringent, patchouli is also known for its antimicrobial, anti inflammatory and antiseptic properties.  Plus, since Valentine’s Day is coming, and patchouli is known for its possible APHRODISIAC properties, we found patchouli to be a good herb of choice.

For this infusion, you will need:

patchouli oil infusionPatchouli c/s
Sweet Almond Oil
a pint sized canning jar with lid
2 pots (one smaller with lid, and one larger)
Water
Stove top
Scale

Here are the steps for making patchouli infused oil (double boiler method):

Using a scale, weigh out 45 grams of patchouli c/s.  Place the herb into the smaller pot.  Next, weigh out 392 grams of Sweet Almond Oil.  Pour this over the herbs in the smaller pot, set aside.  Next, place some water into the larger pot.  You want to have at least 3-4 inches of water.  Next, place the large pot onto the stove top on the lowest setting of heat possible.

making patchouli oil infusion

Then, place the lid on the smaller pot and then place the smaller pot into the larger one.  Although it is essential to keep the small pot lidded the entire time it is heated, you will want to monitor the oil infusion and stir it occasionally.  You will want to let the oil infusion simmer slowly for 30 minutes to an hour.  Do not allow water to get into your infusion.

double boiler herbal oil infusion

Once this time period has passed, remove the smaller pot from the larger one.  Allow the oil infusion to reach room temperature and then place the oil infusion into a pint sized canning jar and lid.

herb in oil

Although technically, once the herbs have simmered, you may strain them out and use the oil infusion once it reaches room temperature.  We however wanted a very strong patchouli oil infusion so we let the oil infusion set and steep for an additional 4 weeks after double boiling.  While the herbs were steeping, we took advantage of the sun and placed the jar in the window sill during the daytime.

Once four weeks had passed, the patchouli herb was strained out of the oil using cheesecloth.  Please note:  When you are ready to strain out the herbs, do not forget to apply pressure to the drenched herbs to get out as much oil as you can.  Finally, after tons of anticipation our oil infusion was ready to be put to use.

In the End
The patchouli oil infusion smelled amazing!  Not only was this recipe super easy to make, but it was fun too.  The addition of the oil infusion to our formulation allowed our end product that extra boost in the moisturizing category, and our skin was soft and supple after use too.

Happy Homemade!

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.

Patchouli Uses

Friday, January 10th, 2014

patchouli herb cut and siftedPatchouli Uses

Traditionally, patchouli has always been a valuable element to the eastern Asia and India incense industry.  However, it was not until the 1960’s that both patchouli oil and patchouli incense rose in popularity in Europe and the United States.  This climb in demand was majorly contributed to the hippie movement of that time.

Because the hippie movement focused on a more natural and simpler way of living, many hippies wore the scent of patchouli because it signified nature.  Although it may be argued patchouli was worn to cover up the smell of weed.  This pungent yet unique aroma has a heavy musty and earthy odor that was easily distinguished.   Hippies wore this scent to stand up to the conservative environment of that time.  They saw this scent as a way of marking themselves as new age thinkers; a then outside of the box notion.  Not only did the aroma embrace the new age thinking, but also the sought after change for the world.  Patchouli however, is more than just the time capsule scent of the hippie era.

Patchouli has an array of versatile uses. It is used in the medical, skincare, perfume, home scenting, dietary, and even cleaning industries.  Depending on how you plan to use patchouli, the form differs in the type of patchouli you need.

Patchouli is available in many different forms.  You can use patchouli as an herb.  The herb is readily available in whole leaf form or in the c/s form which means cut and sifted.  Patchouli is also available as an absolute and an essential oil.  Synthetically, patchouli is accessible as fragrance oil as well, and you will be able to also find varieties of the fragrance too like Sweet Patchouli fragrance oil for example.

A vital component to the perfume industry, patchouli is considered a chypre.  A chypre is regarded as a group of related fragrances with specific top notes, middle notes, and bases notes denoting them.  This group is distinguished as a contradiction of a citrus accord (typical the top note- first one smelled) and the woody base (the anchor for the fragrance).  A very popular fragrance group for both feminine and masculine smells, patchouli is considered fundamental in various scents.

Perfumery/ Scent Industry:

This widely used scent is a foundation for many perfumes and fragrance oils.  It is considered a base note from which many different fragrances are layered and formulated.  Because of the fact that patchouli oil actually improves with aging, many perfumeries favor working with the eldest oils to ensure a full bodied, longer lasting scent in their end aromas.

One of the best attributes of the scent of patchouli is that it easily blends with a variety of other fragrance notes.  These other scents are basil, geranium, vetiver, cedarwood, clove, rose, lavender, myrrh, sandalwood, bergamot, juniper, and pine; just to name a few.

In India, authentic Indian shawls carried the prevalent scent as well as Indian ink.  Some examples of items in the United States that have been scented with patchouli are:  paper towels, laundry detergents, herbal sachets (in oil form and herb form), candles, incense, bath and body products, cosmetics, and even toys.  A little fun fact about patchouli: Mattel, a large toy company, once used patchouli oil in their product line to scent an action figure character named Stinkor.

Medicinal/Healing:

The amazing medical advantages of patchouli have been used by the people of the Orient for millennia.  Patchouli has long been used as an insect repellant (insecticide), aid in digestive conditions (digestive aid for nausea, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhoids), combat infections (anti-infectious, natural anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic), and is even used for snake bites (antitoxic).  Patchouli can even help to speed up the time it takes to heal a wound, or insect bite.

Patchouli can be used as an excellent diuretic.  Not only does it help the body to release excess fluid and water retention, but it can also be used to assist in weight loss.  It is believed that the aroma of patchouli even helps to reduce appetite.

It is also believed that by simply inhaling the aroma of patchouli, it can help to reduce hypertension.  This method works by sending the brain messages through the limbic system which can directly control the nervous system.  Through means of aromatherapy, patchouli can help to control heart rate, blood pressure, and can moderate breathing.

Patchouli also works as a feel good tonic.  Affecting the overall health and well being of a person, patchouli assists in the feel good mood of a person.  But, patchouli powers don’t stop there, it also assimilates toxins as well and helps to remove them from the body with it diuretic ability.

The scent of patchouli is also documented and believed to help fight anxiety and depression.  This is because the aroma supposedly helps to relax the mind and keep it in the present.  Patchouli is considered to clarify thought and release mental anguish of the uncontrollable while balancing the emotions.

Skincare/ Body Care

Patchouli is quite popular in skincare products because of its versatility.  Patchouli helps to inhibit wrinkles and sagging in the skin.  This is because patchouli oil is actually a very effective tissue regenerator.  The use of the oil on your skin encourages the growth of new skin cells, which then replace the damaged ones; keeping your skin looking healthy and youthful.  It is due to these same benefits that patchouli oil can even assist in the fading of scars, and can even help with the reduction of cellulite.

A powerful astringent that even tones the skin, patchouli works to eliminate any surplus of fluids from the body’s tissues.  Plus, with patchouli’s antiseptic powers, it is able to find the source of inflammation, and cool it down.  This is why patchouli is a compelling substance in fighting and preventing mild acne occurrences, even lessening the changes for a return breakout.  The same can be said for other skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Becoming ever so popular in the 1960’s as a deodorant, patchouli works great at masking body odors.  Patchouli essential oil can even be to eliminate scalp disorders like dandruff.

Natures Garden provides this information about patchouli 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.

Patchouli

Friday, January 10th, 2014

patchouli essential oil Facts about Patchouli

In America, when most people hear the word patchouli, they immediately think of hippies, universal love for one another, and tie dyed peace signs. But patchouli is so much more than that and has quite an interesting history.

Deriving its name from the Tamil language (the official dialect of Singapore and Sri Lanka), patchouli means “green leaf”.  A robust and extremely fragrant plant; especially when rubbed, patchouli’s scent has been used for centuries in perfumes.

Belonging to the genus Pogostemon, patchouli is a green, leafy herb that is in the mint family.  Growing best in hot, tropical climates; patchouli thrives when it is not in direct sunlight and has the potential of reaching a height of 2-3 ft.  Contrary to common belief, patchouli is more than just leaves; the plant also has flowers that bloom in late fall.  These flowers produce seeds that can be harvested to produce even more patchouli plants.

There are two ways to grow patchouli.  The first is to attain cuttings from the mother plant.  These cuttings are then rooted in water and will cultivate additional patchouli plants.  The second way to grow patchouli is to plant the seeds of the flowers.  The only hesitance with this way is that patchouli seeds are very small and have to be handled with great care.  These seeds are extremely fragile and can be easily crushed, deeming them useless.

When it comes to harvesting patchouli, the leaves of the plant can be collected several times in one year.  However, the strongest scent/oil comes from the top 3-4 pairs of leaves in the patchouli plant.  In order to attain the extraction of patchouli essential oil from these leaves, the leaves must go through a steam distillation process.  This is typically achieved with dried patchouli leaves.  However, there are some claims that to achieve the highest quality of patchouli essential oil, fresh leaves should be distilled.  Ideally, close to where the leaves are harvested, ensuring true freshness.

There are other ways to obtain patchouli essential oil.  One is through a fermentation process.  This process involves bundling the dry patchouli leaves and allowing them to ferment for a long period of time.

The essential oil of patchouli is a rich, earthy aroma with a woody yet minty undertone.  One of the most notable characteristics of this essential oil is that it actually improves over time.  The two most sought out components of patchouli essential oil are patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.

Although, it is true that patchouli essential oil is vital to the perfume industry, patchouli also had another massive worth in history.  Patchouli is believed to be an insect repellent.  It was common place for silk traders of the oriental to pack the valuable silk that they were trading with dried patchouli leaves.  Not only did the leaves prevent the mating of moths on the traders’ silk, but also hindered the moth from laying eggs on the precious silk as well.

This practice, which had started as a means of protection for the silk, ended with patchouli being considered an affluent scent.  Historians now hypothesize that due to the fragrant nature of patchouli; much of the traded silk acquired the aroma during the long travel.  Before long the distinguished scent of patchouli marked authenticity in traded fabric goods although the vast majority did not know what it was called.

One of the possible explanations as to why patchouli was considered an upscale scent to Europeans of that time is due to a notable historical conqueror.  The infamous Napoleon Bonaparte attained some of these patchouli scented cashmeres, through his vast travels to Egypt.  He then brought them back to France.  This mysterious scent of patchouli and its origin were kept secret, and it was not until the year 1837, that the smell and the source were identified to the remainder of the western world.

Bath Bombs

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

bath bomb A bath bomb (also called a bath fizzie) is a skin softening bath product that produces “fizz” when it comes into contact with water.  Bath bombs contain citric acid and baking soda, although the more elaborate bath bomb recipes include luxurious butters, oils, colors, fragrance, and herbs.  In order to get bath bombs to form a shape, witch hazel is gently sprayed into the bath bomb mixture until it is crumbly.

Making your own homemade bath bombs is really easy to do.  With a few essential ingredients and fillable plastic ornaments, you are able to create any number of different bath bombs. In fact, even if you don’t have the fillable plastic ornaments, you can use other things like silicone molds or even leave the bath bomb in a loose form that you can scoop into your tub.

Bath bombs or bath fizzes can introduce many great elements to tub time. Some examples of this are the wonderful aromatic or healing capabilities of herbs and/or essential oils.  You can even make bath bombs bright, colorful, and fun by introducing fragrance oils and soap colorants to the mix.

Knowing how stressful the holiday season can be for many of us, we recently sought out to make some soothing and relaxing themed bath bombs.  Anyone with a chaotic and busy schedule can relate that sometimes, it is necessary to take a step back, breath, and focus on relaxing; even if it is just for a short period of time. The recipe that was created was inspired by the goal of relaxation; and are called Lavender Sage Bath Bombs.  These enjoyable fizzes are just what you need to take the edge off.

Some of the key ingredients used in these fabulous lavender bath bombs are:

Bentonite Clay Powder- used to help clean impurities on the skin
Lavender Flower Powder- a natural relaxant, is also used for the soothing of irritated skin as well as healing.
Castor Oil- a humectant that draws moisture to your skin.
Rose Petals- great for relaxation but also have antiseptic, antiparasitic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Citric Acid-  reacts with baking soda and water to create fizz.  Citric acid is a natural water softener.

To view the complete Lavender Sage Bath Bomb Recipe click here.  To view other free bath bomb recipes simply click on this link.

When you are ready, here are the steps to use a bath bomb:

1.   Tell your family you are out of commission for 30 minutes.
2.   Run your bath water.  Do not add any bubbles to the water.
3.   When you are ready to get in the tub, hold your bath bomb above water.  Do not let it get wet.
4.  Gently get in the tub and finally place your bath bomb in the water.
5.  Set back, relax, and enjoy your peace and quiet while also enjoying the delightful fizz, calming scent, and tranquility of the moment.

Hint:  If you make bath bombs that contain herbs, but you do not want those herbs floating around your tub, you can always place the bath bomb into a nylon, cheesecloth, or gauze prior to putting it into the water.