Archive for Health and Skincare

Skin care miles

Alongside studying hard to qualify as a botanical skincare formulator I am working on my own range of skincare products.

I no longer use any mass produced skincare products on my skin. The more I’ve learnt about the make up of my skin, and how it absorbs and can be nourished by what is placed on it, the more excited I have become about creating something sourced from botanicals that give my skin the best care as I get older.

Alongside this I am looking at the sourcing of the ingredients. I have a belief that what grows together tends to work together. There are many really amazing beautiful ingredients sourced from all over the globe that contain many compounds that have wonderful benefits for the skin. However it is wonderful to find, when looking in our own gardens, just how many of our local plants also contain the very same amazing array of these beneficial compounds – but all local to us.

Does this mean I could develop a beautiful-feeling product that smells amazing and is effective, all from my garden? The vast majority of the active ingredients can come from plants that grow in the UK, although certain items such as carrier butters tend to come from more exotic climates,

In developing my range of products I am taking its environmental impact and how these ingredients interrelate into consideration. There is no need for me to source exotic oils when our more local oils are so brilliant for our skin. For ingredients that are not native to us I will only use those that we can sourced ethically and sustainably, thus contributing to the livelihoods of another culture in a sustainable way.

Setting these objectives at the start really excites me. Especially when I learn about the fantastic ingredients that I can use and spotlight for their wonderful benefits. My hands are a testament to just how good these ingredients are!

Sea Buckthorn in skin care

sea buckthorn for anti ageing

I wonder if you can relate to each of us in our family having a niggle of some kind with our skin? Eczema was such a big problem for our eldest son, when he was tiny, that he went through a period when the only way he could sleep was having wet wraps over his body when he went to bed (thankfully this is no longer the case!). For me, now I’m getting older, I am aware of my skin ageing. And, with 3 teenagers in the family, problems like acne become acutely embarrassing for them if it flares up.

With all this in mind I wanted to learn a more natural skincare solution that really worked and was kinder to us and the environment than many of the modern treatments.

So I am part way through a professional diploma to become a knowledgeable skincare formulator using all natural ingredients. This knowledge is informing the development of our forest garden. The more I learn the more determined I am that I no longer want to use products on any of our skin using artificial ingredients and it is really exciting to produce specifically formulated skincare products that meet our individual needs, that smell gorgeous, feel fabulous on the skin, and make noticeable improvements. The first of these products will be available later this year.

One of the plants added to our forest garden with this in mind is the sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn is an ideal choice for any anti-ageing blend and is said to help regenerate skin cells and have skin healing properties. It is also high in essential fatty acid and contains antioxidants. Sea buckthorn is part of the Elaeagnaceae family and has glaucous leaves and beautiful orange-berries.

If you would like to be one of the first to know when we have completed all our development and have natural skincare products available, do join our newsletter!

Calendula Tea

Calendula has to be one of the most popular medicinal herbs used today. It is in many ointments and creams for treating everything from minor grazes to fungal infections.

We grow it year round in our polytunnel and it is rarely out of flower. Its cheerful bright orange or yellow flowers lift the spirits!

Not only is it useful for skin conditions but it is also good for internal use. This simple tea recipe is one I make using fresh flowers picked and used immediately. It is good for digestive disorders or sore throats (or simply because you like herbal tea!)

Once the tea is made any left can be kept be refrigerated for a few days.

Teenagers may appreciate it if they are prone to acne. Simply pour a little onto a flannel and use some each night to wash your face.

It is also used in our family to treat athlete’s foot by adding it to a foot bath.

How to make:

Place 4 or 5 calendula flowers into a jug and pour hot water over them. Place a lid over the top to avoid losing volatile oils in the steam.

Leave to steep for 8 to 10 minutes until a suitable temperature.

Pour into a cup and drink.

Enhancing Natural Immunity with Echinacea Purpurea

Times like these make us all look at the world through fresh eyes.  As the news unfolds daily with the latest worries over the Coronavirus, more and more I find myself appreciating watching nature unfold this spring and observing our animals going about their daily activities with their usual bounce. 

With a fresh focus I’ve been drawn back towards a project we started just 12 months ago.

We wanted to contribute to the protection of a species of plants by taking on the collation of a national collection.  It is our way of doing our bit for the natural world.  As members of Plant Heritage we looked at what plant species would both fit into our forest garden and is not currently being looked after by anyone else. 

Immediately Echinacea Purpurea jumped out.  It is a stunning daisy type flower (not just purple) that we have always loved; it is grown both for its beautiful flowers that we love but also its reputation for health benefits.

This has now come into sharp focus.  I expect like many of you we keep Echinacea as part of our medicine cupboard, and at the first sign of a bug coming we take it.  It has more than an anecdotal reputation as being successful in fighting off colds and flu-like symptoms.

Echinacea works by stimulating the immune system by increasing immune cells in the blood, especially the part of your immune system that reacts to any infections, before it has had a chance to create antibodies specific to the threat. By doing this it reduces the severity of illness and gives the body more chance to create its own antibodies to a viral infection.

Echinacea has been shown to help with coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, through a cell membrane mediated mechanism. 

So can it be effective with this latest strain of coronavirus?

There has been a paper from a laboratory in Switzerland that has pointed to a promising trial. 

There have also been some past studies that have shown Echinacea purpurea to be successful against more common coronaviruses that have not spread from animals using some of the phytochemicals from Echinacea.
Please note that I do not come from a medical background and, although there may be some research that looks promising, I have also seen warnings that while there are reports that Echinacea might be good help towards the defence  against Covid-19, there are some people who should not take it.  This includes  people who take other medication without their doctor’s approval, those with existing auto-immune diseases and also those who have already contracted Covid-19 as it could overwork the immune system. 
When looking for an Echinacea product, make sure it is from Echinacea purpurea root.  There are other varieties of Echinacea but purpurea is considered the best source.