Beauty treatments from the Garden
We all love using natural products and more of us are turning away from cosmetics and treatments that contain chemicals in favour of using what nature has to offer…
There’s an overwhelming variety of ingredients used in all natural beauty products and each has its own effect on the body, but you don’t need to be daunted – Fiann Ó Nualláin has done the work for you with his new handy guide to natural skin, body and beauty remedies derived from garden, pantry and kitchen sources.
From natural shampoo to home-grown teeth whitener, cures for common ailments to tips on healthy nourishment, it’s all in his new book The Holistic Gardener: Beauty Treatments from the Garden.
With the sun threatening to make an appearance, we’re ready to bare our legs and feet so we checked out what Fiann has to say about how to naturally take care of legs, feet and toenails….
Some cultures think the ears are erogenous, others the nape of the neck and so on, but all agree that legs are something to behold. Looking after the load-bearing part of your body is important, but to make the most of those pins there are some things to be getting on with.
Energising leg gel
In a blender, blitz equal amounts of mint leaves, coffee grounds and chopped aloe vera (⅓ cup) with 2 tablespoons of witch hazel and 2 tablespoons of glycerine. Stores in the fridge for one week.
While this is an invisible reaction/sensation and not a visible cosmetic issue, hot legs can contribute to restless nights and agitation during the day, which can cause frown lines and eye bags, so I think it’s worth including this here.
Try a cooling menthol rub by gathering ½ cup of mint fresh from the garden and blitzing it in a blender with a drizzle of glycerine and ⅓ cup of carrier oil or green tea. Menthol selectively stimulates nerve endings that are sensitive to cold and so produces a sensation of coolness.
SWOLLEN LEGS (AND SWOLLEN ANKLES)
Swelling of the lower limbs can be a consequence of venous insufficiency, part of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or just standing about too long or sitting down for extended periods. In the case of sitting or standing too long, the swelling is triggered by the retention of fluid, also known as peripheral oedema, a propensity for which can be a sign of a problem with the circulatory or lymphatic systems or of a kidney-related issue.
A dandelion diuretic does not deplete potassium and is a tonic to the kidneys. Use the leaf in a salad and the root in a beverage. Juniper berries and horsetail are also diuretic. Ginkgo, garlic and hawthorn will boost circulation and cleavers, pasque flowers and echinacea are tonics for the lymphatic system. Try the horse chestnut treatment on page 262.
Cranberry juice and lemon juice are diuretics. Health-shop extracts of red vine leaf (grape leaf) can benefit microvascular blood flow and they oxygenate the blood too. The result is a natural anti-inflammatory. Grapes can support microvascular blood flow too, and having a Greek meal of dolmadakia (herbed rice wrapped in grape leaf) is a great way of getting those beneficial phytonutrients and also the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory omega 3.
In a blender, blitz 1 tablespoon of diuretic and fat-metabolising apple cider vinegar, 5 deseeded grapes to improve blood flow and to add some resveratrol, 1 stoned peach for its diuretic and detoxifying properties, ½ cup of cranberry juice, which helps towards amending any stubborn fat and shifts it from the lymphatic system, ½ cup of beetroot juice, which is diuretic and helps to get rid of fatty deposits, 1 tablespoon of parsley as a lymph detox and 1 tablespoon of honey as a sweetening anti-inflammatory.
THE BENEFITS OF BAREFOOT GARDENING
When we walk the earth barefoot, be it on the sand of a beach, the soil of a field, a dew-soaked grassy hill, the forest floor or just the everyday lawn in our very own garden, a splendid magic happens. We connect with the earth, and it in turn, with every step, connects us to health and a natural realignment with the forces of life.
With each barefoot step, a multitude of free electrons from the earth’s magnetic field will travel
Standing barefoot on your lawn for five minutes a day is a detox for your body that improves the function of your organs and skin. We age our bodies, dull our complexion, grey our hair and generally look haggard through the reaction of hydrogen peroxide in living tissue – that H2O2 which is naturally and constantly forming in our bodies. But standing barefoot increases the production and function of an enzyme called catalase, the role of which is to accelerate the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide back to simpler structures such as water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). So going barefoot can break down hydrogen peroxide before it breaks us down. Not such a weird idea now, is it?
Next time you’re at the seaside or the tropical fish shop, why not get yourself ½ cup of beach sand? The minerals and the grittiness make it a great exfoliant when mixed with equal parts sea salt (you can buy it – no need to boil off the seawater!), olive oil and a few leaves of rosemary for extra stimulation.
Two-salts foot soak for swollen or tired feet
Add 3 tablespoons each of Epsom salts and sea salt to a basin of warm water. Epsom salts are really magnesium sulphate, which can reduce swelling and assist with the elimination of toxins from the body. Sea salt also draws toxins from the skin. Both salts cause a reduction in fluid retention. But beyond these benefits there is the bonus of thalassotherapy – a method of relaxation favoured by the Ancient Greeks that basically involved bathing in warmed seawater, thalassa being the Greek word for sea.
Our footwear can dry out our feet, and standing for long periods can undermine the efficiency of our sweat glands to naturally moisturise. Any of the moisturisers or fruit masks in this book will help here.
Natural pumice foot scrub
Mix 1 tablespoon of witch hazel, 1 tablespoon of glycerine or honey and 1 tablespoon of poppy or nigella seeds with 3 tablespoons of puréed aloe sap and 3 tablespoons of coarse sea salt. Keeps for five days in the fridge.
Toenails grow faster in summer than they do in winter; some argue that this is due to the change in seasonal footwear rather than the seasons themselves. Open-toe shoes and sandals allow more sunlight on the nails, increasing the actions of vitamins D and E and encouraging growth. There’s a clue in that to which foods and topical treatments are good for healthy nails.
TOENAIL PAMPER KIT
Sun-infuse (for two weeks) 3 tablespoons each of calendula petals, chopped horsetail leaf (or silica-rich borage leaf) and chopped rose or peony petals in 100ml of sunflower oil. This softens and nourishes cuticles and brings a sheen to nails.
Nailed it strengthening solution
Blend together 1 tablespoon of chopped comfrey root, 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts, 1 teaspoon of milk, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of horsetail. Paint on nightly for a week. Keeps in the fridge for one week.
Lemon juice can whiten nails right up. Mix with a sprinkle of Epsom salts so as to add rather than subtract from the integrity of the keratin of the nail.