Wednesday, July 22, 2009

sweet medicine, creams for the love of skin

Kiva Rose @ The Medicine Woman’s Roots is hosting this month's blog party. It is all about sweet medicine and the many delicious ways of preserving herbs from cordials to honeys, wines and meads.... Recipes, explorations, ramblings, photojournal entries were welcomed. Here's my ramblings on some sweet medicine, although not of the edible kind :)

There are just so many ways to incorporate our medicine into our daily lives.
While I am eagerly awaiting elecampane (inula helenium) harvest for a wonderful winter honey that supports my family's lungs, lately I have been playing with creams. Some may not consider this a medicine, or even a way of preserving our herbs as you would in vinegar or honey. I definitely feel it is a medicine in it's own right. Our skin is the largest organ and plays an important role in elimination and protection. The skin is also an organ of sense. It can reflect our inner state on both physical and emotional levels. So why not care for it with our own sweet medicine? A far better choice than store bought preparations that include harsh and harmful ingredients. Rosemary Gladstar states that "beauty seduces and induces people back to wellness, back to the that place of balance and harmony that is the soul of of life". I agree whole-heartedly. Beauty and magnificence in the outdoors, and beauty with in ourselves. We should embrace it all, and enjoy our own.

My first experience with cream started last year. I am a farmer and outside a lot. I forget to slather sunscreen as much as I should, and don't generally purchase skin care preparations. I am getting older, and my face was screaming for some loving care. So I started thinking on sun protection, wrinkles, and general moisture. I infused some lavender in sesame oil, as they both offer protection from harmful uv. I used a bit of coconut oil and added some patchouli e.o., a great equalizer when it comes to oily/dry skin and along with lavender, is great for wrinkles or damaged skin. I was expecting some trials and major mishaps...especially since i was using cucumber juice and rose water as my waters. My 'rose water' was really just a rose liniment, as it was steeped in witch hazel. I feel like this helped with the preservation. I was surprised that it came out perfect, with no separation or mold. It lasted well into May of this year unrefrigerated and mold-free.

My next experiences with cream are more medicine oriented. When dealing with a bad case of poison ivy in my four year old, I got onto making a salve. I used 2 parts jewelweed oil, 1 part chamomile oil, and 1 part echinacea oil. The chamomile and echinacea is great for inflammation, and helping work against the allergic response. The chamomile and jewelweed great for soothing the itching. When I took the oils off the stove I added some licorice tincture for that hydrocortizone effect, and black walnut tincture to help with echinacea against infection. I started thinking how much nicer a cream would be in this case. I incorporated some jewelweed dedoction into my original recipe and found it lovely. It was soothing for many hours, and aided in quick resolvement of the poison. I am excited to try it on all sorts of itching problems.

My mother is dealing with skin cancer. Here is where a loving medicine can bring us back to a place of balance and harmony within. Having had two 'spots' removed from her nose, she was told to stay out of the sun completely. This is hard to do in Florida. I used what was on-hand. I kept it simple. Violet, with it's high salicylic acid content, is a wonderful ally in cancers and especially when dealing with external cancers. It is also high in vitamin A, as an added bonus for the skin. I infused the violet in olive oil and then some lavender in sesame oil. I do love that combination for added protection against uv and for generally helping the skin look and feel younger. For the waters I could have used red clover infusion, but didn't get to picking that day. So I infused some calendula and rose for a few hours, added the vitamin e and completed the cream.
I am having fun experimenting with the many different combinations and possibilities.

So far, I am finding the creams easy and very open to play. I stick with a basic guide :
3/4c fixed oil
1c waters (distilled, tap can introduce bacteria and encourage the growth of mold)
1/2oz beeswax

I gently heat the oils and beeswax until they are just melted and combined, then put them in the blender. I wait for the oils to cool, leaving a thin rim of hardening wax around the edges. When this happens, I turn the blender on high speed. In a slow and even stream, I add the waters until the cream forms. At this point it is necessary to skim the edges of the blender with a chopstick or rubber spatula while adding the last of the waters. Be careful not to over-blend.

Even this basic recipe can be chopped up and amended, it is just important to keep the oil/water ratio even. Aloe vera can be included as a portion of waters and a shea or another butter could be included in the oils... I am finding limitless possibilities.

Creams have so many uses, from the face to the feet. Something about lathering oneself with a lotion boosts a little something inside ourselves. Whether it is esteem or knowing you are caring for your body, it feels good.


  1. With all the information about Vitamin D, I have been adding the liquid form to my creams. I really like the way it keeps my skin.

    Love the violet idea.

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