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  • The many benefits of Witch Hazel

    You may be familiar with Witch Hazel or you may not.  In this article we are going to explore some of the many uses of Witch Hazel and why it should be in everyone's bathroom cabinet.

    First a little background.  Witch Hazel is an extract sourced from the leaves and bark of a North American deciduous shrub (Hamamelis Virginiana), often distilled and preserved with alcohol.  Witch Hazel contains tannins which help reduce swelling, fight bacteria, and remove excess oils from the skin.  This astringent property makes Witch Hazel a great natural solution for people who are battling acne.

    Witch Hazel has many applications and can be used to topically to tighten pores, reduce inflammation, calm the irritation of bug bites, soothe sun burnt skin, or used as an aftershave, among other things.

    Using Witch Hazel on your face after washing will remove any residual makeup, or environmental grime encountered during the day.  If you are someone who wakes up with puffy eyes in the morning, be sure to get as close to your eye as possible (without getting it in your eye) when using Witch Hazel at night.  This practice will help to reduce the puffiness you experience in the morning.

    Because Witch Hazel has astringent properties it can be used to reduce hemorrhoids (yes I just went there).  Unfortunately most people have had hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.  They are common for pregnant women or people who have insufficient fruits and vegetables in their diets.  Even if neither of those apply to you, its possible you can have that uncomfortable experience anyway due to genetics.  Not to worry!  Simply apply Witch Hazel to a cotton ball and dab the effected area.  Witch Hazel is safe to use on mucus membranes and will cool and reduce the inflammation quickly.  Alright, enough of that...

    If you are a mosquito magnet and end up with some maddening bug bites after your outing to the lake, the game, or picnic, simply apply Witch Hazel to the bites and let the Witch Hazel calm the itchy burning skin.  Reapply as needed.  Similarly Witch Hazel can be used on Poison Ivy or Poison Oak rashes or Chicken Pox blisters.  The cooling effect of the Witch Hazel will reduce the burning of the skin and provide some relief to the person effected. If only I'd known this when I got Chicken Pox the second time in Middle School! (It is possible to get Chicken Pox more than once if the first case wasn't severe enough to develop resistance to future exposure.)

    Once I was selling at an event and a woman, who was also a vendor, approached me and asked if I had anything for bug bites.  Her teen-aged daughter was helping her and had played in a marching band at a game the night before.  She had been seriously snacked on by mosquitoes and the woman was desperate to find something to bring her daughter relief.  I suggested the Witch Hazel, which she bought without blinking.  The next day she found my booth before the event opened, and told me how well it worked.  Her daughter was grateful, and I could see that the woman was as well, not to have to endure 8 eight hours with a miserable and itchy teenage girl.

    Witch Hazel can also be used to prevent ingrown hairs and reduce razor burn.  This is why it is used as an aftershave.  Using Witch Hazel after shaving will also slow bleeding from any nicks from the razor.  Witch Hazel can also be used after getting an area of the body waxed to reduce inflammation, clean the pores, and reduce the chance of developing ingrown hairs.

    If you get a sunburn apply Witch Hazel to the affected area and allow to air dry.  Witch Hazel will cool the skin, reduce inflammation, and condition and moisturize the skin so that it may heal.

    As you can see there are numerous uses for Witch Hazel, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.  There are internal uses for Witch Hazel as well, but I encourage you to search for an unscented option if you are looking to use it that way. Always be sure to bring Witch Hazel with you when you travel because as you can see there are so many uses for it, you won't want to be without it!  I hope you learned something and found the information useful.

     

     

     

     

  • 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.

     

  • Apple Cider Vinegar for healthy hair and skin.

    There's so much information out there about the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), you may be asking yourself "Can Apple Cider Vinegar really do everything people claim?".  I don't doubt that some health or benefits claims may be overstated, but there are several that I am personally acquainted with that I can attest to.  Those are what I will be addressing here.

    Apple Cider Vinegar is a cure-all that has been passed down over many centuries.  It's use goes all the way back to 400 BCE and was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, to treat his patients.  Apple Cider Vinegar has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the last 10 years. 

    It is important to use raw Apple Cider Vinegar, which contains the mother, in order to fully benefit from the use of ACV.  The mother is a web-like cluster of beneficial bacteria, that converts the apple cider into a vinegar, or ferments it.  The vinegar will have a murky quality  and should be shaken before use to distribute the bacteria and enzymes throughout the liquid.  Cheap Apple Cider Vinegar is typically filtered and pasteurized, killing all the beneficial bacteria that we want.

    Apple Cider Vinegar has a similar pH to that of human hair.  Conventional shampoos and conditioners upset the hair's natural pH which can damage the condition of the scalp, and the strength of the hair. These products also leave a residue on the hair, weighing it down and clogging hair follicles.  When hair follicles get clogged, hair loss increases and the follicles can go dormant.  Regular use of Apple Cider Vinegar clears product build-up from the scalp, and can return hair to its natural, slightly acidic state. Only use diluted ACV on your hair, scalp or skin; it will still smell like vinegar, but the smell will dissipate as it dries.

    Apple Cider Vinegar is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-septic, and anti-microbial.  These qualities help to calm an inflamed scalp, reduce dandruff, and diminish hair loss.  When your scalp is healthy, your hair reacts in kind.  Maybe you're thinking "If my scalp is inflamed why would I pour vinegar on it?".  Fair enough.  If the situation is bad and you have broken skin or small cuts on your scalp, it will sting a bit. Healing your scalp is a process and won't always be comfortable.  The same can be said about many things. For example, if you've never worked out or had a physical routine, then resolve to start because you want the benefits of a fit and healthy body, that first trip to the gym or yoga class can be brutal.  The good news is the more you exercise, the better you feel, and the results are ultimately worth the initial discomfort. 

    When it comes to personal care, Apple Cider Vinegar smooths the cuticles of your hair, like shingles on a roof, which makes it able to reflect light, therefore adding sheen.  By doing this it also reduces the chance of tangles and breakage, making hair more full and manageable.  It can accentuate curls by conditioning the hair without weighing it down.  ACV stimulates blood circulation which strengthens the hair follicles and encourages hair growth, while reducing hair loss.

    Read more about using Apple Cider Vinegar for hair growth here:

    https://www.hairlossrevolution.com/apple-cider-vinegar/

    There is an old story about an aging Queen of Hungary in the 1300's who had an alchemist develop a tonic to help her restore her youth.    As the story goes it reversed her aging to the point that the grand-duke of Lithuania, in his mid to late 20's, asked for her hand in marriage when she was 70.  The concoction was a blend of herbs and flowers infused in vinegar.

    Apple Cider Vinegar has many benefits for the skin.  Human skin, like hair, is slightly acidic. Soap based facial cleansers disrupt the acid mantle of the skin and leave it susceptible to bacteria and infections.  Use of an acidic toner, like Apple Cider Vinegar, helps to restore the skin's acidic level and strengthen its resistance to environmental disturbances. ACV is full of alpha hydroxy acid which helps to remove dead skin cells and reveal the healthy complexion below.  It also increases blood circulation, minimizes pores, calms razor burn, and may reduce eczema.

     Apple Cider Vinegar can be added to a bath or diluted and applied directly to skin to cool a sunburn.  It can be used as a potent astringent on the face, neutralizing bacteria deep within the pores.  Additionally it reduces redness and scarring.  While an Apple Cider Vinegar astringent is suitable for all skin types, it is particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with acne.

    In an ongoing quest to create natural, effective body care, I have been looking to the wisdom of our ancestors for inspiration.  Apple Cider Vinegar has been used for nearly 2500 years to address various human conditions, and that kind of legacy is not built on a passing fad.  I encourage people to look into the many ways that ACV can improve health when taken internally as well.  Having used Apple Cider Vinegar for healthy hair and skin I will never return to modern, conventional products.  Check out Apothecuryous' line of Herbal Infused Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinses and the ACV based Queen of Hungary Astringent!

     

  • 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.

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