Herbs, flowers and essential oils are often not the first things that spring to mind when struggling with coughs and colds and dull chapped skin, it’s mostly a quick trip to the chemist to make us feel better.
Now’s the time to think again. We are all working on reducing the amount of plastic in our lives and perhaps it is also time to find out about the benefits of using natural products and not using chemicals on our skin.
It’s a great time to plant herbs and flowers. Choose ones you like the smell or texture of or can use in cooking to add flavour. Try planting parsley and peppermint as well as chives, tarragon or thymes together with colourful calendula and fragrant lavender. Why? Well parsley which has been relegated to a garnish these days is a nutrient rich green herb containing Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A (great for the skin) so plant some seeds on Good Friday ready to chop liberally into omelettes, salads, sandwiches and casseroles.
Peppermint has a myriad of uses at home. Not only is it used in everyday things like toothpaste, tea and soap, a few drops of pure peppermint essential oil mixed with an oil like coconut or grapeseed is really effective for indigestion or stomach ache. Just massage gently around the stomach. Do you suffer from car sickness and nausea? Just smell the peppermint from the bottle to help you feel better. If you have a cold and stuffy nose and sinuses breathe it in deeply to open the airways and invigorate the senses!
When your peppermint plant is in full swing, remember to pick some leaves to make some tea, wonderful, refreshing and healthy. Also, ants hate peppermint so keep a plant on your windowsill.
Everyone knows and loves lavender! It is certainly one of the most useful flowers for health and wellbeing. It is soothing and calming and easy to grow and looks beautiful too. Harvest the flowers in summer and leave in a muslin bag by your bedside to help with those sleepless nights. You can strengthen it by adding pure lavender essential oil to the bag or putting a drop on your pillow. Mix some flowers with salt for a calming bath or even use that mixture as a seasoning for barbecues in the summer. Don’t forget your skin, try adding a few drops (max. five to six) of oil to your hand cream or shower gel. Recent research suggests breathing in lavender every day is good for the whole body and mind.
Calendula flowers are a stunning orange colour that will last through until autumn. The flowers grow easily and reseed themselves and come back each year. Calendula is one of the oldest natural healing remedies for skin infections, for sore chapped skin, for rashes or bug bites. It’s gentle, anti-inflammatory, fragrance free and can be helpful for skin prone to eczema. You can make your own calendula balm. Here’s the recipe:
- Dry a cup full of calendula flowers and place in a cup of oil (light olive oil, coconut, sweet almond)
- Leave on a windowsill to infuse for 2 or 3 weeks. Strain the oil.
- Gently heat the oil in a double boiler and add beeswax, a one ounce piece, heat until it has dissolved. Carefully pour into tins or jars. Leave to cool completely before use.
Add a scattering of calendula petals to a fresh green salad, it looks amazing and is so good for you!
Please remember: Never use essential oils directly on the skin. Use a carrier oil to mix them with. Only use a few drops, they are very powerful. Do not use essential oils if you are pregnant. For external use only.