Blog

  • Shampoo Bars: not just soap by another name.

    Learn how a shampoo bar differs from soap, and how to make sure you are buying a properly formulated product.
  • Are your personal care products making you sick?

    In the United States there are 11 substances that are banned for use in the personal care industry, while in Europe there are 1300. There are as many as 57,000 chemicals used in personal care products and only 10% of them have been tested for safety.  This number includes chemicals found in make-up, nail polish and perfumes. The Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate the chemicals that are included in personal care products, but instead leaves it up to the manufacturers of those products to regulate themselves. 

    There's a chance you've heard of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or seen product statements that indicate there is no SLS in their formula.  This is an ever present substance found in shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, and more.  It is a detergent, emulsifier, and mostly a foaming agent.  Don't be fooled, that foam isn't making you cleaner, its just playing on the psychology that if something foams it makes you clean.  In the process of manufacturing SLS it is left with a residue of 1,4 Dioxane, which is linked to organ toxicity and breast cancer.

    Some of the other chemicals used include Formaldehyde, which can cause skin irritation and headaches in the short term, and cancer over long periods of use.  If you are savvy and read the ingredients on your personal care products this will be listed as one of the following: DMDM Hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quaternium-15.

     Phthalates are hidden within the term "fragrance" and are endocrine disruptors that are linked to birth defects, breast cancer, and low sperm count.  Parabens mimic estrogen and create hormonal imbalance.  They are linked to reproductive issues, including infertility and developmental disorders or slow growth of children.

    These substances are absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream. Repeated exposure can lead to serious health issues, and considering these substances are found in daily use products, repeated exposure is built in.

    The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act  was adopted in 1938 and has allowed the cosmetic industry to self-regulate, largely unchecked, ever since.  Thankfully there is an increasing consumer awareness of harmful chemicals in personal care products, and demands for regulations are increasing.  In 2015 legislation was introduced to make manufacturers more accountable to the Food and Drug Administration.  The Personal Care Products Safety Act was submitted by senators Diane Feinstein and Susan Collins and was supported by the Personal Care Products Council which represents 600 of the best known brands.

    If you are interested in learning more about the products you have at home I recommend going to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/  There are numerous products for this organization to evaluate and as of this writing they have reviewed over 69,000 products and 2,000 brands.

    I strongly suggest starting the practice of reading the ingredients labels on your personal care products if you aren't already.  This can help you avoid putting a chemical stew on your body as well as give you an opportunity to learn the function of certain ingredients.  For example Cetyl Alcohol is a stabilizer that imparts a velvety feel to a cream or lotion.  Cetyl Alcohol can be derived from either natural plant materials or petroleum products.  Apothecuryous only uses Cetyl Alcohol sourced from Certified sustainable palm.

    Apothecuryous makes every effort to use ingredients that are chemical-free, sustainably sourced and Certified Organic.  Apothecuryous products are scented only with Essential Oils, many of which are Certified Organic.  

  • Benefits of the Bath

    Balneotherapy is defined as the treatment of disease by baths.  While these diseases might be arthritis, skin conditions, or illness, it could also be used to treat dis-ease, as most people are more at ease after taking a bath.  Bathing in mineral waters like hot springs or mineral pools has been practiced around the world for centuries.  If you have ever gone to a hot springs or sprinkled Epsom Salts in your bathwater you have practiced Balneotherapy.  Who knew?

    While I am not a medical professional and this information should in no way be interpreted as medical advice, Balneotherapy is an easy and pleasurable custom to add to your personal care routine (and your vocabulary). It's very relaxing to soak in hot water and sometimes its even hard to bring ourselves to get out of it.  Maybe because it reminds our subconscious of being in the womb, where the stress of life has not yet taken hold on our consciousness.

    The practice of soaking in thermal springs or mineral pools dates back many centuries, across the globe. The Greeks were attracted and intrigued by thermal springs and endeavored to study their effects, properties, and benefits for the body.  Herodotus was the first to establish the specific practices of Balneotherapy.  A bit later Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote extensively about the beneficial properties of bathing in thermal waters.   While the Greeks were studious of the healing water of the thermal springs, the Romans made work of creating elaborate architectural bath houses.  Remnants of a "Great Bath" in modern Pakistan dates back to 2500 BCE.  Meanwhile in Japan the first recorded Onsen (thermal bath house) dates back to 712 AD.  Then, of course, there is the Dead Sea where the water is 29% salt compared to the water in the ocean which is 4%.

    There are more benefits to soaking in these waters than just putting yourself in an adult "time out".  Using bath salts is a terrific way to replenish minerals in your system.  Several minerals, specifically Magnesium, are easily absorbed through the skin. 

    Magnesium is considered a "Master Mineral" as many of our bodily functions need Magnesium in order to perform optimally.  It is utilized by the Nervous, Cardiovascular, Immune and Muscular systems of the body, and more.

    In our modern world where mono-culture dominates (growing huge amounts of a single crop year in and year out), and "conventional" agriculture uses chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc., the mineral content of the soil has been depleted.  If the soil that our food grows in doesn't have adequate minerals, then the food that it produces also doesn't provide us with adequate minerals.  Magnesium deficiency shows up in a variety of symptoms like physical weakness, anxiety, calcium deficiency, muscle cramps, poor heart health, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, fatigue, poor memory, muscle cramps and more.  Does that sound like you?  Does that sound like everyone you've ever met?  It's quite possible it is.  Magnesium deficiency is experienced by around 75% of the population of the United States.

    There are various ways to boost your Magnesium levels, like eating foods that are rich in Magnesium like avocados, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, fish, bananas and dark chocolate (yay!), as well as others.  You can apply Magnesium oil topically in an easy-to- use spray application.  Of course you can also practice Balneotherapy, your new favorite word (and mine). 

    Apothecuryous' Mineral Soak is a blend of Epsom Salts (not actually salt but a compound of Magnesium and Sulfate) which draws toxins from the body and improves circulation; Dead Sea Salts contain 21 minerals including Bromide, Iodine, Sulfur, Potassium and, of course, Magnesium; Himalayan Pink Salts (which contain over 80 minerals and trace minerals); Colloidal Oatmeal which improves the skin barrier function and contains antioxidants not found in other plant sources; and Sea Kelp Powder which is rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins that are not found in land plants, like B12.  This blend easily dissolves in water (unlike Himalayan Pink Salts by themselves), and is relaxing and invigorating.

    While I can justify eating chocolate by reminding myself it is high in Magnesium, I certainly won't shrink away from a reason to soak in the bath.  Maybe I'll eat chocolate while soaking in a bath filled with the Mineral Soak by Apothecuryous.

     

  • Rhassoul Clay for stronger, healthier hair

    Does your hair lack vitality, strength and fullness?  Are you ready for the best possible version of your hair?  Its time to make the break from chemically laden shampoos and conditioners, and use naturally derived, earth friendly products!  Look no  further than the Rhassoul Clay Hair Cleanser for the best hair of your life.

    Rhassoul Clay is mined solely from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco where it has been in use for cleaning hair and skin since at least the 8th century.  It also was noted for its regenerative and healing properties on Egyptian papyrus. Rhassoul or Ghassoul Clay is derived from the Arabic word "ghasil" meaning "wash".  The use of Rhassoul Clay is so steeped in Moroccan culture that it is still included as a traditional wedding gift to the bride from the groom's family.

    Generally speaking, clay adsorbs (that's with a D) toxins from surfaces it comes into contact with.  Adsorption is the process when a substance can attract and capture another substance to its surface and bind with it.  Absorption (with a B) is like when a sponge drinks up water.

    Rhassoul Clay, as well as Bentonite Clay, have a negative ionic charge on the molecular level.  These negative ions attract positive ions (opposites attract), commonly referred to as free radicals. toxins, pollutants, viruses, heavy metals, etc.  The positive binds to the negative through adsorption, and is washed away or flushed through the system.  For this reason clay should never come into contact with metals as it impacts the drawing capacity for its intended use.

     Medicinal clay was first recorded to have been used in 2500 BCE in Mesopotamia for its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties. Rhassoul Clay has more trace minerals than other types of clay, but is mostly comprised of Silica (52%) known to stimulate hair growth, and Magnesium (25%) which strengthens hair follicles and hair. Silica helps to prevent hair thinning, restores vitality by delivering minerals to the hair follicle, and encourages hair growth by strengthening blood vessels and improving circulation.  Silica is an essential component of collagen.

    In the tradition of what is old is new again, Rhassoul Clay has emerged as the premium clay choice due to its many benefits for the body and hair.  Rhassoul Clay is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-viral which means that it can calm an inflamed scalp, cleanse impurities, and fend off viruses. It is favored for use in high-end Spa treatments, and can be used on the entire body.  Rhassoul Clay is sun dried so it hasn't undergone any chemical processing. It is also hypoallergenic so it is suitable for all skin (or hair) types.

      Make Rhassoul Clay Hair Cleanser part of your beauty routine and feel good knowing that what you are using is not only completely natural, as well as biodegradable, but has abundant benefits for the vitality of your hair and scalp.

  • Welcome to my world

    I just wanted to start off by saying "Thank-you" for dropping by.  I'm not sure what I want to write about right now, because there are so many things I want to share.  I see this as a place to share information about herbs, ingredients, the benefits of organic agriculture, as well as instruction on making your own simple body care products. For now I suppose I will just keep it simple and introduce myself.

    I grew up all over the United States, having moved 6 times by the time I was 7.  We landed in Omaha Nebraska where I lived until I finished High School.  I've always been interested in many different things and so developed into a generalist in an era when specialists were desirable.

    After High School I attended Prescott College in Prescott Arizona where my interest in natural living, herbal remedies, and organic agriculture blossomed.  After spending a summer working the Salmon season in Alaska and a year in the suburbs of Chicago as a Certified Organic Farmer, I moved to Olympia Washington to finish my degree.  I attended the Evergreen State College and studied Non-Fiction Writing, Photography, Political Science and Woodworking.  Like I said, generalist.  While studying everything else in my academic life I researched and educated my self on herbs and their uses and benefits.

    Eventually I met a couple of ladies who had learned how to make soap the previous year.  They invited me to join them in 2002 and thus began the annual tradition of the Olympia Ladies Soap Collective.  For about ten years we made enough for personal use and to give as gifts.  I tell people now that I learned how to make the most complicated thing first.  Cold process soap is a dangerous and unforgiving medium.

    I had never had an interest in Chemistry (I got a passing grade in High School and was thrilled), but soap making didn't feel like science to me, it felt more like cooking.  I can see now where these activities overlap, and knowledge of one subject lends itself to understanding of the other.

    I learned to cook from my Grandmother Elouise, a Montana farmers wife, who lived with us for the majority of my childhood.  Elouise was a phenomenal cook (they say it skips a generation), and watching her measure when she baked, and improvise when she cooked I learned that some methods of preparation are more forgiving than others.  She taught me how flavors work together to make an experience of the dish.

    As an experimental cook I would mention middle taste to people when talking about a dish or food.  A flavor is more than the initial taste and after taste.  It is held together by the middle taste, much like a balanced scent has a top note, middle note and base note.

    I have worked in the food industry on some level for the majority of my life; be it in a restaurant in Arizona, working the Salmon season in Alaska, on a Mussel farm in the Pacific Northwest, but mostly as a Produce manager for 10 years at the Olympia Food Co-op. I had many opportunities to expand my knowledge of food production, organic agriculture, and healing foods in that environment.

    After spending 16 years studying then working in Olympia I returned to Omaha Nebraska for some much needed change. In making Apothecuryous products I have been drawing on the same instinct I have as an experimental cook.  Ingredients are chosen by their benefit and matched with other ingredients to accentuate the effect.

    I am grateful to have an opportunity to nurture my interest in exploring the many ways the natural world has benefits to health.  Thanks for reading~ Tatiana

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