Your Skin-Care Routine

When it comes to skincare, it’s not about using the best and most expensive brand. It’s about the ingredients and what they do to the skin. By following a good skin-care routine, you can really change the surface of the skin. It does take time for certain ingredients to work in the skin, but with enough patience and dedication, you have the ability to repair and improve your skin. If you have no skin concerns, for now, you can start a preventive skin-care routine that will make sure your skin stays looking good for longer. Because the reality is that our skin does age, just like our body. It takes 10+ years for sun damage effects to show up on the surface of our skin—brown spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and broken veins. Check what is already in your cabinet and see which things you need to add to your routine. Start making more time for your skin today!

Cleanser: To cleanse the skin and pores, lift off dirt & makeup, and prepare skin for further product absorption. Gel cleansers are best for normal/oily skin types; milk cleansers for normal/dry skin types. Oil-based cleansers can be used for all skin types, especially when used as the first cleanse in the evening, removing makeup, and prepping the skin for a second cleanse.

Toner: To make sure all remains of cleanser are off the skin and brings the skin back to a natural pH level.

Serum: The most penetrating product due to molecule size, serums are usually where you will find active ingredients such as vitamin A and C, peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHA, and BHA. Choose a serum with ingredients that are best for your skin type.

Eye Care: The eye area is the most delicate part of the skin and needs to be treated with care. Apply a pea-size amount of eye cream or eye gel around the eye bone with ring finger.

Moisturizer/SPF: If your moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF, make sure you use one on top of it or apply makeup containing sun protection. SPF blocks the UV radiation from the sun, which is present all year long.

Night Moisturizer: Specific night moisturizers contain more active ingredients than day creams. As your skin is sleeping, it is regenerating so what you apply before bed does count.

Exfoliator: Once or twice a week its important to slough away dead skin cells that have built up on the surface of the skin. By removing these dead skin cells, the skin becomes brighter and smoother.

Face Masks: Once or twice a week, apply a mask. There are clay masks for oily/acne-prone skins, and cream or gel masks for drier/aging skins. They really plump and refine the skin, leaving the skin glowing. For best skin results do an exfoliation before applying a face mask, and leave the mask on for as long as possible or sleep with it on overnight.

lavender spa products

Herbal Skin Care Recipes for Your Face

Try herbal skin care recipes such as Lemon Lip Balm and Rose Petal Facial Toner to freshen your skin and make your face glow.
Your skin says a lot about you. Treat yourself well and your skin should reflect your spirit’s rosy health—but a little herbal skin care never hurts.

Skin and Body Care

We know that what’s on the inside is what counts, but beauty on the outside is also important. It’s what signals that we are fulfilled, joyful, and happy with life. Glowing skin is not the result of cosmetics (though the toners and moisturizers in this chapter can help rejuvenate tired skin), but it is the culmination of a life well lived, a spirit well fed.

As the skin is our largest organ (and an organ of elimination, at that), it needs constant care and nurturing for its continued health. Your skin says a lot about you (as does the health of your hair): Is it tired, dry, and papery?

Greasy, sallow, and pitted? These conditions indicate an imbalance in your body that can be addressed by any of the remedies outlined in the previous chapters. These conditions (and usually the imbalances that cause them) are reversible and can always be resolved using natural methods that heighten your energy and nourish your life.

The skin, hair, and body treatments that follow can be enjoyed by most teens, men, and women. Let the making of these remedies be fun activities that you do frequently, as these products tend to have short shelf lives. Use them often and enjoy your radiant (and healthy) skin and hair.

Facial Care

Herbs and flower preparations have been used for centuries for both men’s and women’s facial care. Since Maria Prophetissa discovered distillation techniques and created what we call the “bain-marie,” chemists and boutiques have sold flower waters and essential oils for beauty applications.

These lovely waters were favorites with ladies throughout the Middle Ages and have never lost their popularity.

With facial care, we generally consider two applications: drying (toning) and moisturizing. Determine your skin type and use whichever remedy will achieve the effect you need. Scent them as desired (lavender is a traditional and lovely facial scent), and enjoy.

Lavender Facial Wash

Yields approximately 1 cup

This is a simple-to-make facial astringent that soothes, tightens, and tones the skin. Follow it with Red Clover Whipped Lotion (the recipe follows) for a rich moisturizer.

1/2 cup fresh lavender flowers
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup distilled witch hazel
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
2 to 3 drops lavender essential oil

Combine the dry ingredients and the witch hazel in a 1-pint glass jar; steep overnight or up to two weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid; add the glycerin and essential oil. Using a cotton ball, dab the facial wash over your face using upward motions. (After straining the liquid out, try gently scrubbing your face with the flowers and oats instead of throwing them out; they will remove dirt and grime from the crevasses of your skin and exfoliate. Follow with the facial wash. Delightful!)

Red Clover Whipped Lotion

Yields 2 to 3 cups

Make a tiny batch of this lotion at a time, perhaps for special occasions when you want your face to glow. It’s extremely rich and, depending on how much water you add, can be dense or light as a cloud.

1 cup fresh red clover blossoms
1 cup of cocoa butter
1 to 2 cups distilled water or rose water
1 to 2 teaspoons jojoba or sweet almond oil (optional)

Place the herbs and cocoa butter in a bowl. Without heating, use a spoon to mix the blossoms into the cocoa butter. Cover and store in a dark cabinet or pantry. Steep for two weeks.

In the top of a double boiler, gently heat the cocoa butter just until you can strain out the blossoms. Discard them and pour the melted cocoa butter into a deep soup pot (this is to reduce splattering). Using a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer, slowly add the distilled water by the tablespoonful, whisking constantly, until you have the desired consistency. Add the oil if desired, and whisk together. Scrape the lotion into a small container. This lotion lasts several weeks when refrigerated.

Rose Petal Facial Toner

Yields 2 cups

This is a simple and delightful astringent for the face.

1 cup packed fresh rose petals
1 cup distilled witch hazel
1 cup distilled water
Rose water or vegetable glycerin (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a 1-pint glass jar. Steep overnight or up to two weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid. If desired, dilute it with additional distilled water or rose water, or whisk in a few drops of vegetable glycerin. Apply this toner with a cotton ball, using upward strokes.

Dandelion–Elder Flower Blemish Lightener

Yields 2 cups

Adapted from old wives’ recipes, this classic blemish lightener uses buttermilk. Many old recipes call for tansy flowers, but I find elderflower to be just as lovely.

1 cup fresh elderflowers
1 cup fresh dandelion flowers
2 cups fresh buttermilk

Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar. Steep overnight in the refrigerator (refrigeration is important!). Strain and reserve the liquid. Using a cotton ball, apply the lotion to your face in upward movements. Once your face is covered, lie down and rest for 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

Store this lotion in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Lemon Lip Balm

Yields 1 cup

Lemon is a luscious, summery fragrance, and many of our beloved herbs offer that scent: lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemongrass, and wood sorrel (Oxalis) leaves and seedpods. Pick your favorites to infuse in the oil for this lip balm.

1 cup fresh lemon balm (or herb of your choice), chopped
1 cup vegetable oil (such as canola)
1/4 cup beeswax
2 to 5 drops lemon essential oil or high-quality culinary lemon extract

Follow the instructions in chapter 4: Medicine-Making Methods for making an herbal salve. Once the wax has melted, pour the mixture into small lip balm tubes or into 1/4-ounce tins. Because these small containers absorb heat easily, do not keep them in pants pockets or in a hot car.

 

 

The Apothecary for Skincare

THE APOTHECARY

  • AVOCADO OIL (Persea gratissima) – A nutrient-packed fruit is loaded with good fatty acids, proteins, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins A, D, and E. Especially helpful for mature skin. Organic.
  • BEESWAX (Cera Alba) – Protectant, helps keep moisture in the skin, high Vitamin A content. Raw, Organic.
  • ALOE (Aloe barbadensis) – Plumps and soothes skin, Vitamin & mineral rich. Organic.
  • AHA’S (Alpha hydroxy acids) – Exfoliator, increases blood flow to skin, balances and evens skin tone.
  • BLACKBERRY (Rubus fruticosus) – Blackberry is a rich source of Vitamin C which can help in collagen production and in reducing the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. It has an impressive amount of naturally occurring Vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids to deeply support the skin. It’s beautiful darker color is attributed to naturally occurring polyphenols.
  • BLUEBERRY (Vaccinium corymbosum) – Antioxidant. Helps promote the health of capillaries located just beneath the epidermis. Can help minimize redness.
  • CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis) – High Vitamin C content, collagen building. Organic.
  • CHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla) – Anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) – anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • CRANBERRY (Vaccinum macrocarpon) – Contain resveratrol, high Vitamin C for collagen-building, antiseptic properties. Organic.
  • COCONUT (Cocos nucifera) – Soothes, reduces water loss in the skin, packed with nutrients.
  • COCOA BUTTER (Theobroma seed butter) – High in fatty acids, hydrates the skin deeply. Raw, Organic.
  • DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) – membrane stabilizer, improves skin tone. Vegan.
  • GERANIUM (Pelargonium asperum) – Helps improve skintone. Organic.
  • HONEY (Mel) – Moisturizing, antibacterial, raw and unprocessed from the Bodyceuticals Apiary. Non-treated hives. Certified pollinator is friendly.
  • HYALURONIC ACID (Sodium hyaluronate) – Helps to keep tissues hydrated and plump.
  • JOJOBA (Simmondsia Chinensis) – Soothing, gentle and deeply moisturizing for most all skin types. Organic.
  • KUKUI (Aleurites moluccana) – High in essential fatty acids,  readily absorbed, very moisturizing.
  • LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) – Helps tissues to heal, lessens scarring. Organic
  • OLIVE (Olea europaea) – Highly effective transdermal carrier.   Organic, Kosher.
  • FRUIT STEM CELLS (Apple) – Help to rejuvenate aging skin and lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Clinical trials show that with use, the skin has a more youthful and radiant appearance. Organic.
  • MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) – Helps to build collagen, assists with cell hydration.
  • NEEM (Azadirachta indica) – Often used for itchy, irritated skin, has antifungal properties and can provide improvement with scars and hyperpigmentation.
  • OAT STRAW (Avena sativa) – Rich in minerals. Organic.
  • PINK GRAPEFRUIT (Citrus paradisi) – High in Vitamin C, builds collagen. Fresh cold-pressed.
  • POMEGRANATE (Punica granatum) – contain sun protective compounds, helps reduce breakouts, show to improve hyperpigmentation.
  • ROSE (Rosa damascena) – Middle note, “flower of love”, farm-grown. Organic.
  • ROOIBOS (Aspalathus linearis) – Antioxidant, Anti-fungal.
  • RASPBERRY (Rubus Idaeus – Contain a high amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and rich in antioxidants. Can help tone skin. Organic.
  • ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Contains vitamin & minerals such as calcium, has cell regenerative properties, helps tighten sagging skin.
  • SEA BUCKTHORN (Hippophae rhamnoides) – High Vitamin C content and carotenoids, amino acids, minerals, vitamin E, polyphenols and omegas. Can help with redness and swelling. Organic.
  • SEAWEED (Laminaria digitata) – Rich in minerals and trace elements, high vitamin content, helps build elastin in the skin.  High quality from France.
  • SPEARMINT (Mentha spicata) – Pure, refreshing, restorative properties. Organic.
  • TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia) – Antibacterial, Antifungal. Organic.
  • VANILLA BEAN (Vanilla planifolia) – A source of B Vitamins, antibacterial, helpful in hair care, smells amazing.
  • STRAWBERRY (Fragaria Vesca) – Contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which prevents collagen destruction—one of the major causes of wrinkle formation. Has a photoprotective effect. Organic
  • VITAMIN C – Naturally found in Calendula, protects and builds collagen.
  • VITAMIN E – Natural preservative, soothes sensitive skin. Non-GMO.

Mellow Mood Ritual, Anatomy of a Ritual

Emotional balance and emotional intelligence are two common terms we hear these days, a simple google search returns hundreds of articles written about how to be a more emotionally intelligent person. It’s no surprise that we’re searching for answers, even the most intelligent, well-adjusted person experiences periods of emotional turmoil. Our moods are like the weather, ever-changing and sometimes unpredictable. We can’t avoid emotions, nor would our lives be satisfying if we did, but we can learn how to let them be a part of our lives without running them.

The path towards emotional balance is as simple as it is difficult, a lifelong journey of discovery. As you practice being with your moods instead of being ruled by them, remember the old adage – this too will pass. That reminder is important with both difficult and enjoyable moods, no matter what you’re feeling it will eventually change. That simple reminder can help us through difficult times as well as help us practice gratitude for the times we feel wonderful.

There are a few things we can do that can help us be more balanced in our feelings, we’ve outlined the important ones below.

  1. Practice Knowing Your Feelings

This may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Many of us have a tendency to ignore what we’re feeling if emotion isn’t overwhelming enough to command our attention we often think it’s unimportant. When we push feelings aside to focus on whatever task is at hand, they have a way of coming out in less healthy ways later. Practice identifying your emotions when you are feeling them, and give them some room to express themselves. Simply sitting with any given emotion for a few breaths can give it room to be expressed and released.

 

  1. Identify Your Feelings

Just giving an emotion or mood a name can help us to find our inner balance. Practice saying to yourself, ‘I am feeling anxious’ or ‘I feel joyful’ when you are in those moods. If you have a difficult time identifying the mood, you can often find your way to understanding through your body; stress or anger often expresses themselves through tightness in the neck and shoulders, love and joy are often felt as a warmth in the heart, sadness can manifest as a tightness in the chest, and fear or worry can show itself as a heaviness in the belly.

 

  1. Be With Your Mood

We often think of our emotions as lasting for hours or days, but research tells us that without reinforcement our feelings only last for a few moments. By sitting with our moods and letting them be, resisting the urge to feed the feelings with memories or reinforcement of irrational thoughts, we can allow them space to exist and then gracefully let them go. When you’re feeling fear, for instance, simply sit with it for a few moments and reflect on what it feels like. Be aware of the physical sensations and resist the tendency to recall every time you’ve felt fear, instead simply be with this fear right now. Chances are, it will pass relatively quickly and let you move on with your day instead of becoming mired in a feedback loop.

 

  1. Use Essential Oils and Breath To Regulate Moods

Conscious breathing exercises and aromatherapy are two great ways to help regulate emotions. By simply breathing better we can reduce our stress and improve our focus which helps with emotional balance. Essential oils are another great way to find balance, many of the compounds in essential oils are exactly what our bodies need to jump-start our calm. Essential oils come into direct physical contact with the limbic center of our brains (the part that regulates emotion) immediately upon smelling them, which means they can help us feel. Here are a few of our favorite essential oils and how they can help us change our moods:

 

Be Relaxed

Lavender is the master of mellow moods, its sweetly herbaceous scent can relax and restore a sense of calm with just a few breaths.

Bergamot is a gentle and bright oil that calms our moods. An excellent alternative for those who have an aversion to Lavender but crave calm.

Orange has also been shown to calm moods, and its sweet and bright scent is almost universally loved. Orange is safe for kids, pregnant moms, and sensitive folks of all ages.

 

Be Balanced

Rose Geranium will help you find your harmony, its full floral scent helps us find that sweet spot of equanimity.

 

Be Focused

Rosemary is a full-bodied scent that brings us into the present moment. Also known for its ability to boost memory, Rosemary makes a perfect work companion.

Eucalyptus is a refreshing scent that clears the air and helps clear our minds. If your head is feeling foggy, use a little Eucalyptus to clear things up.

 

Be Awake

Grapefruit is a bright and stimulating way to start your day. Its sweet and tangy scent is perfect to awaken your mood.

Peppermint has been used to stimulate and brighten moods for ages, and its bright scent makes it a perfect pick-me-up when you need a little boost.

Have a relaxing day, friends, and enjoy your moods!

The Fundamentals of Growing Gorgeous Lavender

Growing tips for this fragrant, easy-care plant that thrives in sunny locations

Lavender, an herb with many culinary uses, also makes a stunning addition to borders and perennial gardens, providing sweeping drifts of color from early summer into fall. With its silvery-green foliage, upright flower spikes and compact shrub-like form, lavender is ideal for creating informal hedges. You can also harvest it for fragrant floral arrangements, sachets, and potpourri.

COMMON TYPES OF LAVENDER

English
Botanical name: L. angustifolia
Zones: 5-8
Bloom time: June to August
Height:  2 to 3 feet
Flower colors: Lavender, deep blue-purple, light pink, white
Despite its Mediterranean origin, English lavender was so named because it grows well in that country’s cooler climate and has long been a staple in English herb gardens. The gray-green foliage and whorls of tiny flowers make this one of the most attractive lavenders in the garden. It’s one of the most cold-hardy varieties and the best for culinary use because of its low camphor content.

French
Botanical name: L. dentata
Zones: 8-11
Bloom time: Early summer to fall
Height: 36 inches and larger
Flower colors: Light purple
Also called fringed lavender, this showy variety is distinguished by narrow, finely-toothed leaves and compact flower heads topped by purple bracts. While the flowers have less aroma than English lavender, the fleshy leaves are more fragrant, with an intoxicating rosemary-like scent.

Spanish
Botanical name: L. stoechas
Zones: 8-11
Bloom time: Mid to late summer
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Flower colors: Deep purple
This variety is prized for its unusual pineapple-shaped blooms with colorful bracts, or “bunny ears,” that emerge from each flower spike. Although the flowers are not especially fragrant, the light-green leaves are very aromatic.

Lavandin
Botanical name: L. ×intermedia
Zones: 5-11
Bloom time: Mid to late summer
Height: 2 to 2½ feet
Flower colors: Dark violet, white
This popular hybrid combines the cold hardiness of English lavender with the heat tolerance of Portuguese lavender (L. latifolia). It typically starts blooming a few weeks later than most English lavenders and features long spikes of highly fragrant flowers. Although not considered edible (due to high camphor content), the flowers and foliage are often added to sachets and potpourris.

Although all lavender (Lavandula) is native to the Mediterranean, there are many varieties offering a vast selection of bloom times, colors, flower forms, and sizes. “Bloom time can vary drastically between different locations—where one lavender blooms at the start of June, only 20 miles away could be a very different outcome,” says Kristin Nielsen, president of the Lavender Association of Western Colorado.

Contrary to the name, not all lavenders are purple. Some hybrids come in other lovely pastel hues such as violet-blue, rose, pale pink, white, and even yellow. The leaves can also vary in shape and color. To extend the bloom season as well as the color palette, consider planting several varieties.

CLIMATE CONSIDERATIONS

Lavender is a tough, dependable woody perennial that will last for several years under the right conditions. Because of its Mediterranean origin, lavender loves the blazing hot sun and dry soil. If your lavender doesn’t thrive, it’s most likely due to overwatering, too much shade, and high humidity levels.

English lavenders and their hybrids are the best varieties for cooler climates since they are cold hardy north to Zone 5. However, they will grow best in a sheltered location with winter protection. For southern gardens in extremely hot, humid climates, Spanish and French lavenders are more tolerant of the moist conditions but should be spaced apart to allow good air circulation.

If your winters are too harsh or your soil is heavy and dense, consider growing lavender in containers. They will flourish as long as they receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight a day and are planted in a high-quality potting mix with good drainage. In winter, bring your container plants indoors and place them in a sunny window. Learn more about growing lavender in containers at Everything-Lavender.com.

PLANTING, PRUNING & WATERING TIPS

All lavender varieties require well-drained soil, especially during the winter months. To ensure good drainage, mix some sand or gravel into the soil before you plant lavender or grow the plants in mounds, raised beds, or on slopes. Instead of applying moisture-holding organic mulches, consider using rock or stone, especially in humid climates.

Once established, lavender is very low-maintenance and requires minimal watering or pruning. If the stems become woody as the plant matures, prune it back by about half its height in the spring to promote fresh new growth and robust flowering. Plants that aren’t pruned also have a tendency to sprawl, leaving a hole in the middle. In the summer, clip faded blooms to encourage repeat blooming throughout the season.

Justin Claibourn of Cowlitz Falls Lavender Company in Randle, Washington offers the following advice:

  • Check your soil’s pH. “If it’s too acidic you can kiss your lavender goodbye,” he says. They will look great at first, but after a few years, you may notice plants dying off randomly. Once the roots grow out into the native, un-amended soil trouble can begin. Most universities will check your PH relatively cheaply or some hardware stores for free. You can amend your soil with lime to better accommodate your lavender plants.
  • Don’t overwater. “As a large-scale grower we typically irrigate twice a year—that’s it,” states Claibourn. Give your lavender a long soak to promote root growth, short and frequent watering cycles result in unhealthy roots that may rot.

DESIGN IDEAS FOR LAVENDER

  • Use lavender along walkways and garden paths where you can enjoy their scent and where they can benefit from the heat reflected off the pavement.
  • Plant in formal or informal herb gardens, where the cool, gray-green foliage sets off other green herbs and plants.
  • Create aromatic hedges or borders along fences and garden walls.
  • Use lavender as a natural pest repellent near patios and porches. The scent deters mosquitoes, flies, fleas, and other problem insects while attracting butterflies and bees.

IDEAS FOR USING LAVENDER IN THE KITCHEN

A member of the mint family, lavender has been used for centuries as a versatile, unexpected flavoring in both sweet and savory foods. English lavenders are the best varieties for culinary purposes, and both the buds and leaves can be used fresh or dried. Because the flavor of lavender is strong, use it sparingly so it won’t overpower your dishes. The buds are best harvested right before they fully open when the essential oils are most potent.

  • Immerse a few dried lavender buds in a jar of sugar to give it a sweet aroma. Use the sugar for baking and in desserts.
  • Chop the fresh buds and add to a cake batter or sweet pastry dough before baking.
  • Add flower buds to preserves or fruit compotes to give them subtle spicy notes.
  • Sprinkle fresh lavender on a salad as a garnish.
  • Use fresh lavender to infuse teas, cocktails, and other beverages.
  • Use chopped buds and leaves to flavor roast lamb, chicken, or rabbit.
  • Make Herbes de Provence by blending dried lavender with thyme, savory, and rosemary.

Check out the original article https://www.gardendesign.com/plants/lavender.html

Tips for Successful Lavender Growing

TIP 1: Lavender needs full sun; a minimum of 6 to 8 hours.

TIP 2: Lavender does not like “wet” feet, so give it a good soak and then let the plant go dry. If your soil is heavy and slow to drain, create a hospitable place for lavenders by amending your beds with plenty of organic matter. Compost will promote soil aeration and help keep the plants from succumbing to root rot. Growing them in fast-draining raised beds is another workable option.

TIP 3: Plant spacing for English lavender (L. Angustifolia) is  30” spacing and for Lavandins (L. x intermedia) it is 36” between plantings.

TIP 4: Lavender likes pH between 6.5 or 7.0.  If you have low pH add dolomite lime and organic compost.

TIP 5: To maintain nice tight mound and prevent woody growth, prune regularly.   Year one of planting lavender, remove any new flowers and give your lavender plant a good “haircut”, using your pruning shears cut 2” inches above softwood in a mound type shape.  This will promote growth and begin to develop your desired shape. By year two your lavender will double in size.  When flowers bloom, harvest your stems.  By year three it will be even larger, continue to harvest stems during bloom. Pruning a lavender to the point where it has no foliage will most likely kill it, so prune back only in small increments. In spring, cut the foliage back by one third to stimulate new growth. Then, after the new foliage has grown in, cut that back by one third to stimulate new growth at the base of the plant. If new growth does break at the base of the plant, prune the plant back to just above the new growth. Never prune out old wood unless it is completely dead. During the cooler seasons, limit your pruning to the removal of spent blossoms and dead branches and avoid cutting into live woody stems. Cutting back plant material will promote a growth response. This is especially important to remember when it comes to pruning lavender since their new growth is particularly sensitive to cold temperatures. If lavender is prematurely pruned in fall or winter, the pruning stimulates the plant to waste energy as it produces new growth.  The result is tender new growth is damaged or killed by frosty temperatures, and the plant loses vigor or may die since its energy reserves are spent.

Tip 6: A lavender’s size and habit determine its use: 1) Smaller-growing, mound-forming English lavenders make great edging plants or can be massed to create a large silvery bank topped with hundreds of short lavender spikes. 2) Low-growing lavenders make good edgers or front-of-the-border plants. 3) Tall-growing lavandins make fine hedging plants. And since their foliage is larger and their flower stalks longer than those of their English lavender cousins, they catch the wind and provide movement in the garden, much the same way ornamental grasses do.

Basics of Lavender

Just getting started learning about Lavender?

Download this Fact Sheet from the Colorado State University Extension Office that will help you with the basic understanding of what it is, how it grows, what it needs, and what to watch out for.

Growing Lavender

Propagation

Lavender can be propagated by seed, layering or stem cuttings.  We recommend using stem cuttings or layering because you can guarantee your new plants will not be a hybrid version caused by cross-pollinating.

By Stem Cutting.  To propagate by stem cutting, first prepare a container with well-draining, sandy soil.  Then harvest a 2-3 inch healthy growth from a well-established lavender plant (2-3 years old).  Place the newly cut stems into the moist, sandy soil approximately 1 inch deep and 3-4 inches apart.  Keep the soil moist.  Propagation time depends on the variety and growing conditions.  There are mixed thoughts on adding rooting hormone to the cuttings.  Do what you prefer.  Once the roots are pronounced, you can transplant your new plant into your garden or pots. *some varieties of lavender have royalties and propagating those plants is illegal.  Make sure you do your research and ask your garden center or plant supplier (where you got your original plants from) if there are any propagation restrictions.

By Layering.  Layering is done by covering low-lying stems with soil until they root.  If you choose to propagate by layering, choose healthy stems.  Remove all the leaves from the part of the stem that will be covered by soil.  If the soil doesn’t hold the stem in the ground, use a landscaping staple or a similar device to ensure it won’t pop out of the ground.  Leave the new plant attached to the ‘mother’ lavender until the following year, when you can carefully cut the stem and replant the new ‘child’ lavender.

Pruning

The harder you prune the more rapid regeneration your lavender will undergo.

Those are hard words when you are afraid to cut too much or after watching all this growth happen in one summer to face knocking it all down.  But pruning is what you must do for your lavender plants to thrive and live longer.

There are some great videos on YouTube that will show you how to prune, but what does that mean?  I have a little plant in my hand ready to go in the ground, now what?

Prune it before you plant it.  Just a little off the top, making sure to remove any stems that have developed.  This is to help the plants energy to focus on the roots.  In this first year, you will see some stems and blooms.  Cut them, let them grow.  You will hear a variety of opinions but most agree to prune.  So in July,  August or September (you have to decide by your plants and this is where the YouTube videos will let you compare size) prune your plant about two inches above the lower woody branches of the plants.  You never want to cut into the wood as this retards the growth.  Yes, you will be cutting off about 1/3 of the plants, but having tried to grow lavender before and after I knew about pruning I can attest that my pruned plants grew where my non-pruned plant did not.

The following spring your plants might need a trim to shape it if it was blooming late in the fall and the rule of thumb seems to be don’t cut the plant too late into the fall. No, I don’t have a specific date, as again, it depends on your area.  It would be great to see some research on results of pruning in different months, but that is beyond what I can do.  So year two you will see more blooms.  When you harvest these this is a good time to prune again cutting back about 1/3 of the plant and never cutting into the wood.

Now you have mature plants and this is where pruning can vary.  You can prune in the spring or the late summer.  One way is to prune when you harvest shaping the plant as you go.  Some growers admit to not having enough time to spend on pruning.  If you prune in the summer you may need to do a trim in the spring to those ever-bearing varieties that produced stems all the way until frost.

The second thought is when you harvest, not cutting too deep so you don’t have all the leaves to contend with the leaves on your stems.

Then you will prune in the spring shaping the plant.

How much do you take off when you prune mature plants?  Enough to shape it, plus a little. In other words, you don’t have to take a 1/3 of the plant like you did when they were little.  Just remember aggressive pruning extends the plants life and you get better regeneration.

Here in southeastern Utah, we haven’t been growing for 10 to 15 years so we can’t compare pruning styles yet.  Someday we will and will see if the spring pruning made a difference compared to late summer pruning.

What tools do you use to prune?  In the first few years hand clippers work great, but when your plants are mature unless you are looking for a good hand workout you want to change tools.  Hand shears work and so does a 20-inch electric hedge clipper.  So far those who use the electric clippers have not seen damage due to tearing.

Year: 1
Spring: trim the plants as you put in the ground
Late Summer: prune 1/3 – 2 inches above wood and shape plant

Year: 2
Spring: trim left over stems
Late Summer:  prune 1/3 and shape plant

Year 3 option 1
Spring: trim leftover stems and shape.
Later Summer: prune as you harvest

Year 3 option 2
Spring: prune and shape
Later Summer: harvest

Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizing, question everything I say and seek further information if what I present raises questions in your mind.

In a study from the Egyptian Journal of Horticulture, optimal yields of aerial parts of lavender were observed following fertilization with urea at 88 lb./ acre. The best yields of essential oil were observed following application of ammonium chloride (N source) at 44 lb/ acre (ElSherbany et al. 1997)

Fertilizing is talked about in Lavender: The Grower’s Guide, The Lavender Lover’s Handbook and Dr. Swift’s excellent article Soil Preparation for Lavender.

Soil Test:

Need to know if the soil is deficient in nutrients Adding nutrients when not needed can cause imbalances and do more harm than good Older plants could show signs of nutritional stress if the soil is poor.

Three Main nutrients: Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium

Nitrogen: main function to promote foliage growth Can help boost plant establishment when plants are first starting out (first 3 years) Too much nitrogen will boost leaf production at the expense of flower production Nitrogen application could increase stem length for cut-flower production Once plants are established using a low nitrogen fertilizer could help establish stronger roots and overall health of plants Probably want to avoid blood meal and fish emulsion on established plants as they are usually very high in nitrogen.

Phosphorus: main function to help root development and overall plant health Can be beneficial to add right before blooms begin to give the plant an extra boost Natural sources are bone meal and bat guano (need to check which kind of bat guano)

Potassium (also known as potash): key nutrient to boost plants’ tolerance to stress such as varying temperatures or long periods of drought Some growers use higher percentages of potassium to strengthen plant through winter Natural sources include composted fruits and vegetables and kelp meal

Phosphorus and potassium, however, move very little in most soils from their point of application, so it’s better to work them into the soil before planting to make sure they’ll be within the plant’s root zone.

Types of fertilizers:

Composts Good for adding organic matter to soil; Course composts can increase the porosity of the soil to facilitate the movement of oxygen and water to the plants roots Nutrient content not always known and usually not very concentrated.

Organic sources such as manures, guano, kelp, bone meal, etc. Need to be sure, not high in soluble salts Usually low percentage so if the soil is really deficient have to use large quantities.

Man-made sources – pellet or liquid Not organic certified Usually more concentrated than other sources.

Methods of Application:

In order to get maximum benefit from manures and fertilizers, they should not only be applied in proper time and in the right manner but any other aspects should also be given careful consideration. Different soils react differently with fertilizer application. Similarly, the N, P, K requirements of different crops are different and even for a single a crop, the nutrient requirements are not the same at different stages of growth. The aspects that require consideration in fertilizer application are listed below:
1. Availability of nutrients in manures and fertilizers.
2. Nutrient requirements of crops at different stages of crop growth.
3. Time of application.
4. Methods of application, placement of fertilizers.
5. Foliar application.
6. Crop response to fertilizers application and interaction of N, P, and K.
7. Residual effect of manures and fertilizers.
8. Crop response to the different nutrient carrier.
9. Unit cost of nutrients and economics of manuring.

Fertilizers are applied by different methods mainly for 3 purposes:
1. To make the nutrients easily available to crops,
2. To reduce fertilizer losses and
3. for ease of application.

2. The time and method of fertilizer application vary in relation to
1) The nature of fertilizer.
2) Soil type and
3) The differences in nutrient requirement and nature of the crops.

Application of fertilizers in solid form: It includes the methods like:
I) Broadcasting: Even and uniform spreading of manure or fertilizers by hand over the entire surface of the field while cultivation or after the seed is sown in standing crop, termed as broadcasting. Depending upon the time of fertilizer application, there are two types of broadcasting:
A) Broadcasting at planting and
B) Top dressing. The term side dressing refers to the fertilizer placed beside the rows of a crop. Care must be taken in top dressing that the fertilizer is not applied when the leaves are wet or it may burn or scorch the leaves. Side-dressings could be washed from the crop in run-off or leached below the root zone.

‘Fertigation’ is the technique of supplying dissolved fertilizer to crops through an irrigation system. When combined with an efficient irrigation system nutrients and water can be manipulated and managed to obtain the maximum possible yield of marketable production from a given quantity of these inputs. Continuous small applications of soluble nutrients overcome problems of the fertilizer being washed away or going too deep, save labor, reduce compaction in the field, result in the fertilizer being placed around the plant roots uniformly and allow for rapid uptake of nutrients by the plant. To capitalize on these benefits, particular care should be taken in selecting fertilizers and injection equipment as well as in the management and maintenance of the system. Can get soluble fertilizers as either organic or man-made Need to make sure that the sources of nutrients are compatible with the plants being fertilized and with the water being used Modern fertigation should be able to regulate:
 quantity applied
 duration of applications
 proportion of fertilizers
 starting and finishing time The selection of the correct injection equipment is just as important as the selection of the correct nutrient. Incorrect selection of equipment can damage parts of the irrigation equipment, affect the efficient operation of your irrigation system or reduce the effectiveness of the nutrients.

The three usual methods of injection are:
1. suction injection
2. pressure differential injection
3. pump injection.

Most common Pluses and minuses to each method of injection The effectiveness of fertigation is often dependent on the effectiveness of the irrigation system. The full advantages of irrigation and fertigation only become evident if the correct irrigation design is employed to meet plant requirements and to distribute water and fertilizer evenly. Because of the corrosive nature of many fertilizers, the components of the irrigation system that come into contact with corrosive solutions should consist of stainless steel, plastic or other noncorrosive materials. Fertigation increases the number of nutrients present in an irrigation system and this can lead to increased bacteria, algae and slime in the system. These should be removed at regular intervals by injection of chlorine or acid through the system. Chlorine injection should not be used while fertilizer is being injected into the system as the chlorine may tie up these nutrients making them unavailable to the plant. Systems should always be flushed with nutrients before completion of irrigation. Before commencing a fertigation program, check fertilizer compatibilities and solubility.

During the irrigation season it is important to monitor:
 pH effects over time in the root zone
 soil temperature effect on nutrient availability
 corrosion and blockages of outlets
 reaction with salts in the soil or water.

When and How to Use Foliar Fertilizers

Foliar fertilizers are dilute fertilizer solutions applied directly to plant leaves. As with soil application of fertilizer, the goal of foliar fertilization is to supply plants with the nutrients needed for good growth. There are many products on the market that can be used as foliar fertilizers, but are they really needed? Is there any advantage to the foliar application instead of soil application?

When It’s Not Such a Great Idea

 The major pathway for nutrient uptake is by way of the roots. Leaves have a waxy cuticle, which actually restricts the entry of water, nutrients, and other substances into the plant. To limited extent nutrients applied to leaves can be absorbed and used by the plant, but for the major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) the quantity absorbed at any one time is small relative to plant needs. That means that foliar application of these three nutrients can only supply a very small fraction of the total needed by the plant, so a foliar application should be considered only a supplement to regular soil application of these nutrients. If the plant already has plenty of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, a foliar application will not have any beneficial effects. In fact, if concentrations of nutrients in the foliar spray are too high, then leaf damage can occur and in severe cases may kill the plant.
 When liquid fertilizer is sprayed on foliage some nutrients are absorbed through the leaves and light, frequent applications would constitute true foliar fertilization. However, with heavier spraying there will be considerable runoff from the foliage and the liquid fertilizer will soak into the soil. In this case, there would be some nutrient absorption through leaves, but the majority of the nutrients used by the plant would actually be taken up by roots. From the plant’s perspective, this is essentially the same process that occurs when dry fertilizer is added to the soil. It will be more expensive and time-consuming than a dry fertilizer application. Phosphorus and potassium, however, move very little in most soils from their point of application, so it’s better to work them into the soil before planting to make sure they’ll be within the plant’s root zone.

When It’s a Pretty Good Idea

 An appropriate time to consider foliar fertilization is when a specific nutrient shortage is evident based on visual symptoms or soil analysis. If a deficiency exists, then the foliar application would be one means of providing a quick but temporary fix to the problem. Certain soil conditions such as high pH, low pH, drought, excessive moisture, or cool temperatures may cause some nutrients to be unavailable for uptake by the roots. If anyone of these conditions exists, the problem may be more effectively corrected with foliar applications than with soil applications.
 A classic example of effectively using foliar fertilizers is for micronutrients such as iron. At high soil pH levels, iron is not available to plant roots even though high levels of iron may be present in the soil. Under high pH conditions, iron chlorosis or interveinal yellowing occurs on young leaves. A way to alleviate the chlorosis temporarily is to apply inorganic salts such as iron sulfate or chelated forms of iron directly to the leaves. Chelates are chemical compounds that help iron stay in solution over a wide pH range.
 The cuticle on leaves of most plants will cause water to bead up and prevent good penetration. So, for all foliar-applied products, it is important to include a wetting agent or surfactant to allow for full coverage of the leaf. If rain occurs shortly after an application, most of the spray will be washed off the leaves and reapplication will be necessary.

Important points about foliar fertilization:

1. Routine use of foliar fertilizers without a documented need is not recommended.
2. Foliar fertilization is unable to meet the total plant requirements for the major nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
3. Foliar fertilizers are most effective when soil problems occur that restrict nutrient availability such as iron availability in high pH soils.
4. Foliar fertilization should not be used as a substitute for good soil fertility management. Have your soil tested and fertilize according to soil test recommendations.

Can Essential Oils Reduce Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins or spider veins can arise from aging, pregnancy, or sitting down for too long. They also tend to run in families. Along with medical treatments, a person may want to try home remedies for varicose veins, including essential oils.

Varicose veins are larger-than-normal veins that commonly appear in the legs. They are raised and often twisted veins that can be blue, red, or flesh-colored. Sometimes, these veins can ache, swell, or itch.

There are several studies to suggest that essential oils, such as grapevine, lavender, or yarrow, may be able to reduce or shrink the appearance of varicose or spider veins. However, more research is needed in this area.

In this article, we look at the best oils to use and the evidence behind them. We also look at the causes and prevention of varicose veins, and other methods for reducing varicose veins.

Causes of varicose veins

Varicose veins on the leg.Varicose veins are common in the legs because veins in the legs are under the greatest pressure when returning blood to the heart.

Veins are responsible for returning blood that does not have oxygen back toward the heart. There are tiny valves periodically throughout the veins to stop the blood from flowing backward.

However, if these valves weaken or are damaged, blood can flow backward and pool. The result can be varicose veins.

Varicose veins most commonly appear in the legs because the leg veins are under the greatest pressure to return blood to the heart.

Several risk factors increase the likelihood a person will have varicose veins. These include:

  • getting older, as the valves in veins start to weaken over time
  • genetic history of family members with varicose veins
  • pregnancy, as the growing uterus places extra pressure on a person’s veins
  • being overweight
  • sitting down for long time periods
  • sun exposure, which mainly causes varicose veins on the face

Although varicose veins are not usually a major cause for concern, they can be irritating and sometimes painful. Sometimes, a person may experience sores or skin ulcers related to poor blood flow in the legs.

Five best essential oils for varicose veins

Essential oils are derived from plants, including flowers, herbs, or trees. These oils are often used for alternative therapies. The dosages and instructions that come with them are not regulated, so a person should talk to a doctor before they use essential oils.

Some of the essential oils that have been studied in relation to varicose veins and their symptoms, such as leg swelling, include:

1. Lavender essential oil

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL IN BOTTLE WITH FLOWER TO TREAT varicose veins.Lavender is a popular essential oil that may help to manage the symptoms of varicose veins.

Smelling lavender has been shown to help reduce pain, according to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Lavender is thought to affect brain chemicals, such as serotonin and GABA, which are associated with pain relief.

Applying lavender to the skin may reduce pain and the size of skin ulcers when massaged on the feet or other affected areas.

2. Horse chestnut essential oil

Horse chestnut seed extract (HCSE) can be prepared as a topical gel, oral tincture, or tablet. It may be useful in reducing swelling, pain, and itchiness.

According to an article published in the journal Advances in Therapy, topical applications of HCSE helped to reduce varicose vein symptoms, including leg swelling, leg pain, itching, and heaviness.

While the method of action is not known exactly, HCSE is thought to keep the small sections of veins known as capillaries from breaking down.

3. Sea pine essential oil

Research has suggested that sea pine essential oil could reduce swelling, or edema, in a person’s legs.

Research from 2018 shows that sea pine bark essential oil, also known as maritime pine oil has anti-inflammatory action.

This study also found that sea pine bark oil was superior to horse chestnut extract for reducing edema related to chronic venous insufficiency that can cause varicose veins. However, this study only tested 40 people, so more research is needed.

4. Grapevine essential oil

Grapevine essential oil may reduce swelling in a person’s legs, including swelling related to varicose veins.

According to a study published in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology, taking red grapevine extract at dosages of 360 to 720 milligrams a day helped to reduce lower leg swelling related to weak blood flow through the veins, also called venous insufficiency, which is a common cause of varicose veins.

5. Yarrow essential oil

Essential oils extracted from the yarrow plant have been used traditionally for treating varicose veins. When a person applies yarrow to the skin above varicose veins, it may help to reduce their symptoms.

Other treatments

There are other treatments for varicose veins besides essential oils that people may wish to try.

Other treatments for varicose veins include:

  • Compression stockings. These are a common treatment for varicose veins as they improve blood circulation in the affected areas. People can buy them over the counter or online, and a doctor can prescribe stronger compression stockings when necessary.
  • Sclerotherapy. This treatment involves injecting chemicals into varicose veins that cause the veins to swell and seal shut. The veins may require several treatments to make sure they go away permanently.
  • Laser treatments. Laser treatments can help to treat varicose veins that are smaller than 3 millimeters in size.
  • Endovenous treatments. These methods are usually performed at a doctor’s office and involve inserting a small catheter into a vein and using heat to close off the affected vein. Because the varicose vein does not work well, to begin with, sealing it off does not usually cause significant side effects.
  • Surgical treatments. If varicose veins are very large and bothersome, a person may require surgery. This involves removing the veins in a procedure known as ligation and stripping.

Doctors are frequently inventing new treatments to treat varicose veins. However, varicose veins are normal, and if they are not causing a person significant symptoms and have no side effects, they usually do not require medical or invasive treatment.

Preventing varicose veins

Man walking dog outside on street.Exercising regularly and stretching the legs may help to prevent varicose veins.

Because genetics and hormones play a role in the development of varicose veins, it is not always possible to prevent them from forming. However, there are some steps a person can take to reduce their risk for varicose veins.

Possible steps for preventing varicose veins include:

  • Exercising regularly to improve circulation and promote the return of blood to the heart.
  • Dieting and exercising to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoiding crossing the legs if sitting for long periods, as this can reduce blood flow to the legs.
  • Taking frequent “walk breaks” to stimulate blood flow in the legs and throughout the body.
  • Wearing support stockings, which provide mild pressure to compress the legs and encourage blood flow to return.
  • Avoiding excessively tight clothing around the waist, groin, and upper legs, as this can restrict blood flowing back toward the heart.
  • Cutting back on salt, as excessive sodium can lead to swelling.

Risks of essential oils

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate essential oils. However, these oils do fall under the “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS classification.

To be safe, essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil before use. Put 3 to 5 drops of the essential oil in 3 tablespoons of sweet almond oil, coconut oil that has been warmed up, or olive oil and apply gently to the skin.

Essential oils do not often cause significant side effects, though they can be toxic when swallowed, leading to nausea and vomiting.

Applying essential oils to the skin may also cause allergic reactions or skin irritation in some people. A person should always do a patch test before they use the oil. This involves applying a small amount of essential oil to a small patch of skin and waiting overnight to test for swelling or allergic reactions.

Lastly, a person applying citrus oils may find that their skin becomes more sensitive to the sun.

Unless varicose veins cause medical problems for a person, they do not usually require invasive treatments.

If adding essential oils and leg massages do help a person experience reduced symptoms, then this can be of benefit.

A person should always talk to their doctor about using essential oils to treat varicose veins, and about other treatments if essential oils are not effective.

How to Make Aloe-Based Sweet Basil Hand Cleanser

Have you ever touched a surface that felt a little sticky or dirty, and then been unable to fully relax until you washed your hands or used a hand cleanser?

Sweet Basil essential oil knows the feeling!

For Sweet Basil, cleanliness and peace of mind tend to go hand in hand. It’s good at both inspiring mental clarity and helping to reduce germs so you feel healthy. You can make a hand cleanser with aloe vera gel and Sweet Basil essential oil that accomplishes both of these things, and use it anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to run and find the nearest sink!

This recipe also includes Tea Tree and Clary Sage essential oils. It has a clean, fresh, herbal scent.

Sweet Basil’s Super Fresh Hand Cleanser

  • 1 oz (28 g) aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 6 drops Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum linalol)
  • 9 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 3 drops Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Make this blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) bottle. Combine the aloe and essential oils, shake well, and use a small amount to rub into your hands and cleanse them, even when you don’t have a sink and soap nearby.

Aloe-based hand cleanser is so convenient, and it doesn’t tend to dry out skin as much as alcohol-based cleansers can. You can even make a version of this blend for kids—it’s very easy for children who are over five years old to use, and can help them stay healthy at school or daycare.

Here’s a version with a low kid-friendly drop count:

  • 1 oz (28 g) aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 2 drops Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum linalol)
  • 3 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 1 drop Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Once you’ve made your first aloe-based hand cleanser, you might get inspired and want to make more!

Essential Oil Hand Cleanser for Kids

This essential oil hand cleanser uses skin-nourishing ingredients, including aloe vera gel, so it’s gentler than alcohol-based hand sanitizers you can find in stores.

I know a lot of parents and caretakers who are big fans of this hand cleanser. They like that it’s natural and that kids can keep it with them and use it on their own without having to ask a grown-up. It’s so empowering for kids and it helps keep their hands clean—a great combination!

This recipe is just right for kids who are at least five years old. You can make it in a 2 oz (60 ml) PET plastic bottle, which is small enough to fit in a child’s backpack or bag without taking up too much space. The PET plastic is very strong and won’t break with rough use. (PET plastic is known as a non-reactive plastic that doesn’t leach. In cases where glass isn’t ideal, PET plastic is a good choice.)

My Hands Are Clean!

  • Just under 2 oz (60 ml) Aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 2 ml Solubol dispersant
  • 4 drops Tea Tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 4 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 2 drops Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)

To make it, combine all the ingredients together in the PET plastic bottle. Screw on the lid and shake it gently.

To use it, just spray some essential oil hand cleanser into your palm, and rub your hands together. It feels so good when your skin is dry! I like to use my aloe-based hand cleansers as moisturizers too. (I love that so many Aromatherapy products we can make have multiple uses!)

For kids younger than five, or if you don’t want to use essential oils, you can make a hand cleanser with pure hydrosols.

My Little Hands Are Clean Too!

  • 1 oz (30 ml) Peppermint hydrosol (Mentha x piperita)
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Lavender hydrosol (Lavandula angustifolia)

This one doesn’t double as a hand moisturizer . . . but it can double as a surface cleaner in a pinch! It’s great to have “on hand” (haha!) when you’re eating at a restaurant and want to wipe down the table top.

There are different approaches to using essential oils with little children. The Aromahead Approach for kids under five is extra cautious. For topical use, we prefer to use hydrosols, butters and carrier oils.

Babies’ and young children’s skin can be so sensitive that essential oils can easily become overwhelming for them. Hydrosols, butters, and carrier oils can often give a child the nudge they need toward rebalancing their health

I recommend making these blends fresh every few weeks.

Lovely Lavender for the Nervous System

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and other species)

There are many species of lavender, and any aromatic species can be used. I grow Lavandula angustifolia in my garden for harvesting and usually grow a few different varieties to experiment with. Lavender is not a herb that grows wild in the northeastern United States.

Lovely lavender calms the nervous system, heals burns on the skin, and disinfects harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. You can drink the tea, wash burns with it, cook with it, and even put it in your bucket to wash your floors and walls. This will not only act as a disinfectant, it will smell lovely and bring a peaceful vibration into your home.

Lavender is a physical ally in so many ways. Scientific research has shown that it contains a class of molecules called monoterpenes. One of these is perillyl alcohol, which has been shown to help stop cancer cells from dividing. Lavender is also a spiritual ally, helping bring ease and sweetness into our lives.

USES:

Use dried lavender flowers and leaves for teas, infusions, baths, oils, sprays, honey balls, or as part of a smoke blend. You can make a soothing lavender bath by adding a half-gallon of lavender tea into your bath water, or grinding dry leaves and flowers and mixing them with sea or Epsom salts. Add one tablespoon or more of this mixture to a bath. Do what’s pleasing to your senses in terms of how strong or mild a lavender aroma you like.

If you are adding essential oil of lavender to a bath, make sure you add it (5-10 drops) after the bath is filled so that it doesn’t dissipate and waste the oil. You can also make your own fresh lavender flower and leaf infused oil. If you use that in your bath, add about a tablespoon when the bath is about half full, and swirl it around to blend it in. It creates a fragrant, beautiful blend and helps in situations on the whole continuum from simple calming to post-traumatic stress healing.

Lavender tea is pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing, anti-depressant, and helps to soothe an aching or breaking heart. For any of these last purposes, it can be used alone or combine it with oat straw.

Lavender helps with tension headaches and anxiety. Herbalist Kiva Rose shares this observation and advice: “Lavender is appropriate as a nervine when a person is anxious, confused and has a wrinkled forehead that can’t relax. The forehead will give it away every time.”

Another lovely way to use your lavender is an infused honey. This helps with agitation, the blues and bitter grief.

Lavender tea helps ease insomnia. It is a relaxing, restful sleep herb. It’s theorized that chemicals in lavender in lavender interact with the reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain that controls the wake-sleep cycle to induce restful sleep. That may be—or it may be the lavender-hued woman who rises up out of the plant to stroke your hairline like a loving mother (probably right over the area of your reticular activating system) who soothes you to sleep. Or perhaps it’s both, and they are different expressions of the same effect!

You can put a small bag of dried lavender under a pillow, and spray lavender water onto pillows and other bedding for restful sleep and especially to relieve nightmares. I’ve had very good results using lavender for children and adults with nightmares. Here is an easy spray recipe:

Lavender Spray – Variation II

  • Dried lavender flowers
  • Quart Jar
  • Spray bottle
  • Water

Put 1/8 cup of good-quality dried lavender flowers into a quart jar. Cover with boiled water. Cap and steep for 20 minutes. Decant promptly, squeezing the flowers to retrieve the past of their oils. Fill your spray bottle with the lavender infusion. Keep refrigerated with not in use to prolong the shelf life of this preparation. You can also add one drop or more of the essential oil to help preserve it.

This spray is an indispensable aid when traveling, whether by plane, bus, train or in your own car. I carry a bottle with me almost everywhere. In any public place, your lavender spray will calm and refresh you, and lift your spirits. Its antiseptic oils will help to disinfect germs. You can spray it on your hands and face. It’s very lovely, and people almost never object to it. In fact, more often than not, they ask for some too. I’d love to hear what creative applications you come up with – share your ideas with me in the comments below.

Source:

Healing Magic, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living

Hungary Water, Lavender Washes and More…

Lavender Antiseptic Wash.
This is a favorite treatment for eczema, cuts, acne and minor burns.
Take a good handful of the flowers and boil together with half a liter of water for ten minutes. Filter and allow to cool before using.
Since Roman days this has been used in hot baths, to relax the body, and it is known to have a marked effect on the peripheral nervous system. It has also been widely used as a gargle for sore throats and sore or infected gums, due to its antiseptic properties and relaxant effect on the nervous system.
Hungary Water.
1-gallon brandy or clear spirits {equal to 16 cups}
1 handful of rosemary
1 handful of lavender
1 handful myrtle
Handfuls are measured by cutting branches of the herbs twelve inches long. A handful is the number of such branches that can be held in the hand. After measuring, the branches should be cut up into one-inch pieces, and put to infuse in the brandy. You will then have the finest Hungary Water that can be made.
Soothing Massage Oil.
1/2 cup safflower or sunflower oil
Dried pot marigold petals
12 drops essential oil of rose geranium
12 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential pine oil or oil of cypress
Place the safflower oil in a glass jar and add as many freshly dried pot marigold petals as possible.
Cap the bottle and place in the sun for 4-5 days. Filter off the petals and squeeze out any retained oil from them before discarding. The oil will now be deep orange and fully charged with the active healing principles of calendula. Mix the other essential oils into the infused oil of marigold, bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Hungary Water{2}

Rosemary reinvigorates. As the legend goes, at age seventy-two, Queen Isabel of Hungary was crippled by gout and rheumatism. Her master herbalist concocted a reviving water for her, originally only with the intent of relieving her physical pain. The water was administered in daily vigorous massage. Not only was she soon moving, dancing as well, her former beauty and youthful aura was also revived. Hungary Water has been popular ever since. The original 14th-century formula called for one-and-a-half pounds of fresh flowering rosemary tops added to one gallon of alcohol and distilled. Should you happen to have distilling equipment, you can experiment with that, but modern versions also proliferate. Here’s one formula:

1 ounce infused water of dried rosemary and vervain

4 drops essential oil of rosemary

4 drops essential oil of May Chang

2 drops essential oil of German or Hungarian chamomile

2 drops essential oil of peppermint

1 drops essential oil of neroli

8 ounces vodka or other scent-free alcohol

1-ounce orange blossom water

1- ounce rose water

  • Make the herbal infused water by placing equal proportions of dried vervain and rosemary in a metal bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Steep for 15 minutes and strain out the botanical material.
  • Blend the essential oils and add them to the vodka in an airtight bottle.
  • Next, add the infused flower waters. Shake vigorously.
  • Ideally, this beauty potion should now be allowed to mature for 6 months {giving the bottle a good shake every week} to gain full strength, however as it’s pretty hard to wait that long, give it as long as you can.

Although it lacks a historical tale to equal Hungary Water, the following bath formula can be prepared quickly and simply, perfect for when you just want to feel {and maybe appear!} a little younger. Rosemary and patchouli are both plants of profound psychic power: Both are reputed to ease the physical signs of aging as well as helping to maintain a youthful heart.

Both have powerful aromas. Adjust the formula to please your nose. You can also use this formula for bath salts, a salt scrub or body oil.

Four Thieves Vinegar

This recipe came from my Great Grandmother’s Journal.

Four Thieves Vinegar.
This antiseptic vinegar is attributed to a gang of four thieves who robbed the bodies of victims of the plague in Marseilles in 1722. They washed their bodies with it, frequently disinfecting their hands, and sprinkled it on their clothes and around their houses. It is said that all four survived without infection.
Actually, it is not surprising that this famous aromatic vinegar was so successful. Many of its ingredients are among the most powerful natural antibiotics in the world. Another case of empirically gained knowledge long preceding that obtained by scientific investigation.
*Infuse garlic cloves, lavender flowers, rosemary, sage, calamus root, mint, wormwood, rue, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a glass flagon of wine vinegar and leave sealed in the sun for 3-4 weeks to release the powerfully antibiotic oils into the vinegar. Filter, pour into smaller bottles, add a little camphor and seal until ready for use.

A Herbal Ritual: Bath Therapy

When building your herbal apothecary, many people do not consider adding classic beauty products like floral toners, infused oils, bath salts, or luxurious lotions–but beauty care is an integral part of healing. Just as tinctures and teas can promote healthy digestion and relaxation,* herbal self-care rituals encourage whole body wellness and nourish the spirit. For example, golden calendula flowers infused in oils can promote a radiant complexion and the simple addition of lavender essential oil to baths can relax the spirit. And while these spa-like practices and products may seem more indulgent than necessary on the surface, we believe in the wisdom of age-old rituals when it comes to wellness.

Bathing is actually an ancient therapeutic practice called balneotherapy. Romans recognized the importance of water therapy and even provided public bathhouses for citizens. Ayurvedic healers use steams, baths, and cold water plunges to maintain health based on your constitution–also known as doshas—and promote circulation.* Almost all ancient cultures prescribe therapeutic bathing rituals to promote overall wellness and calm the skin, our body’s largest organ.

Herbs and oils have long been combined with bath therapy to relax the mind, soothe sore muscles, and promote supple skin.* These days, many bath products and cosmetics include harmful ingredients, like heavy metals and toxic carcinogens. Even worse, some commonly used products are also tested on animals. Verifying with The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics is a great way to ensure the quality of your favorite products, and we highly recommend checking labels to make sure they are made cruelty-free. While more and more companies are selling ethically made or sourced natural products, it’s often more satisfying to make products yourself. We’ve crafted two herbal bath recipes that are simple and soothing: our Spring Tea Bath Blend and our Flower-Powered Sea Salts.

Flower-Powered Sea Salts

A relaxing blend to calm your nerves and soothe sore muscles.

Time: 5-10 minutes

Servings: 5 jars

Materials:

  • 5 six-ounce jars
  • Labels
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Spoon for mixing

Ingredients

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ½ cup sweet almond oil (or healthy oil of choice, like jojoba or sesame oil)
  • ½ cup dried calendula petals
  • 1 cup dried rose petals
  • 1 cup coarsely ground, Kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • 4-6 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 1 drop of Moroccan blue chamomile oil

Instructions:

  1. Start by blending the dry ingredients together in the large bowl, then slowly pour in the almond and essential oils while stirring.
  2. Add the mixture to the jars, and label them with their ingredients and the date crafted.
  3. Add a couple of tablespoons to each bath to enjoy a deep state of calm.

Spring Tea Bath

An aromatic herbal blend to support your lymphatic system and nourish your skin.

Time: 5-10 minutes

Servings: Enough for five baths

Materials:

  • Five 5” x 7” sized muslin bags or cheesecloth
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Spoon for mixing
  • Cooking twine or cotton string (if using cheesecloth)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lavender flowers
  • 1 cup dried rose petals
  • 1 cup dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 cup dried calendula petals
  • 1 cup dried red clover blossoms

Instructions:

  1. Pour flowers into a mixing bowl and blend them together.
  2. Fill each muslin bag with the flower mixture or use cheesecloth and twine to create a small pouch.
  3. Tie shut and use one bag per bath. The bag can be tied to the water spout for the hot water to run through, or simply placed in the tub to float like a tea bag in an infusion.

Whether you are drawing a bath infused with medicinal herbs or lathering on a natural and nourishing lotion, these healthy habits are fundamental to whole body wellness. In this busy era, it can often be hard to fully show up for ourselves and commit to these simple acts of self-love. When we weave herbs into wellness, these practices become even more enticing, like a sweet treat we want to indulge in again and again.

Keep in mind that healthy skin and healthy bodies are also fueled by whole foods, proper hydration, and regular sleep. For more natural beauty care tips, check out Stephanie Tourles’s Organic Body Care Recipes or Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbs for Natural Beauty.