Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Spring always inspires me to take a closer look at the herbs in the garden and make choices about what, where, and how much of each wonderfully aromatic plant will be found in the garden throughout the summer.

Welcome Lemon Balm ! The newest addition.

Lemon Balm is a minty-citrus mind and body SOOTHER. In South America, in times of stress, people will often have a Lemon Balm infused tea.

Not only will it make a tasty addition to my mint teas, but it also boasts a soothing lemon scent that will also make a welcome medicinal addition to skin creams and salves.

It is an anti-depressant and a nerve-tonic... it is especially useful for anyone who has had long periods of stress that have affected your daily life. Long standing stress and anxiety can of course cause us to be sluggish, depressed, anxious, confused, and exhausted. Since it is especially useful for this type of long-term anxiety... I think it will make a wonderful nightly tea for many of us !

It has also been proven effective in a salve or oil form to combat herpes simplex.

The more one reads, the more uses one finds for this little miracle herb. To think that most people view Lemon Balm as a weed that needs to be eradicated ! I say... leave it around... when dusk falls and the mosquitoes come out to play, grab a few leaves and rub them on your skin and VOILA... instant bug-repellent. (yes, there is even citronella in the chemistry of this herb, and mosquitoes have an aversion to all that is lemony and citrus-like)

as a febrifuge it brings fevers down..
as a diaphoretic it promotes perspiration which allows a cooling tea to people with influenza,
as a carminative it helps prevent the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract (wooohoooo goodbye flatulence !)...

maybe I will need more seeds.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: People that take thyroid medication or have a low functioning thyroid should talk to their doc. about taking this one. There have been some reports that Lemon Balm could perhaps interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication. Of course you should always talk to your doctor about any herbs that you are planning to use medicinally.


Facial Steam and Exfoliator Video

Here is the "how-to-girl"'s DIY facial. Its precise, effective and SIMPLE.
* Rosemary Facial Steam

* Oatmeal and Corn Flour Exfoliating Mask
* Strawberry Butter Exfoliator

cute recipes, and perfectly suited for the no-fuss and quick-prep types !


Where to Buy Organic Materials

If you are lucky enough to live near a well-stocked health food store... that should be your first stop. Life for you will be infinitely simpler than it is for many of us. The complicated reality may be that you don't live anywhere near a health food store large enough to carry all of the supplies needed for homemade cosmetics - which means you must delve into the underground world of online shopping for herbs, flowers, clays, and oils. Here's a list of some of the best suppliers I have dealt with, heard good things about, and shopped from.
www.edenbotanicals.com (essential oils)


Organic Apple Night Cream

About.com can be so wonderfully educating.
I found a great video today for a new face cream -
An Apple Night Cream for Sensitive Skin. I havent' tried it yet but this will be my trial recipe for tomorrow. I promise to update. Oh if there only more hours in the day, I could do it all now.

It looks fantastic... only downside is the 4-6 day shelf life
(refrigerated), which isn't bad for a cream that is 100% pure organic with absolutely no preservatives. I must admit that I am not convinced that the consistency is the best it could be.... I will have to experminent - But as a base I am excited to get started.

1 apple
1 cup organic extra virgen cold pressed olive oil
1 cup rose water

Directions: hit play !

Update: After giving this a try it is indeed a great quick and easy cream for beginners. It is far too heavy for my sensitive skin as far as a face cream goes, but it would be great for someone wanting an organic homemade cream that is more like a body balm. I will make more of this for dry hands after gardening and for winter heels when the cold comes back ! It's too greasy as a face solution though, for me personally.

The Hormone Masquerade of Parabens

By now we have all heard that SLS / Sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl ether sulfate is a no-go in skin care products. Whether this is hype related to an elaborate internet hoax or is actually based on scientific evidence remains to be seen - but most green-conscious companies have yanked it from their ingredients list and began production using alternative ingedients. The wonderful thing that DID happen with this media-craze about the dangers of SLS was that people began to focus their attention on the ingredients within their bottled luxuries. It became common-place to scan the list of ingredients for SLS, which was a great start as we work our way towards safer skin care.


Parabens were the cosmetic industry's prized preservatives. (Methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl parabens) They were said to be harmless, and safe. Recently we have been presented with evidence which says otherwise. Parabens have shown estrogenic activity in lab tests - meaning that they mimic our body’s natural estrogen and may interfere with our endocrine systems. (They are endocrine disruptors.) They may affect our bodies in so many different ways... From the thyroid, pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenal glands, and pancreas to the ovaries and testes - hormones govern the way these glands and organs function.

So how does this affect us ?.... in layman's terms?

To begin - our endocrine systems are made up of glands and receptors.... glands that secrete hormones and receptor sites that "read" and react to hormones. Hormones themselves are the little chemical messengers that run around in our bodies transporting signals and instructions from one cell to another. (The gland writes the instructions, the receptor reads the instructions, and the hormones are the postmen.) Endocrine hormones are carried directly through the bloodstream to different parts of the body and orchestrated by the master conductor- the hypothalamus in the brain. (The hypothalamus is the big cheese of hormone production in your body.) The messages are sent through a hierarchical system - getting passed along through the body and when they reach their final destination they offer an important message for the cell when they arrive. These messages can be anything from growth and production regulation, activation or inhibition of the immune system, metabolism regulation, reproductive cycle cues to mood messages and more. So - needless to say - the messages should get to the cells that they need to direct without the blockades and barricades and masquerades that nasty little hormone disruptors provide.
The theory of endocrine disruptors is that a large variety of synthetic chemical compounds that we encounter everyday are absorbed by the body; and these mimic or block natural hormones and disrupt our body's normal functions. (As if someone else is posing as the postman, and tricks our bodies into thinking that they are receiving authentic messages - but they are not. By acting on these fraudulent messages, a whole array of problems can ensue.) This is a relatively new theory and is difficult to prove or disprove because we could be exposed to literally thousands of endocrine disruptors on a daily basis. Plastics, pesticides, cosmetics - the list goes on and on - and the difficulty lies in pinpointing the bad hormone copycats from the really bad perpetrators, because it is believed that the end result in our bodies - after all of this external chemical exposure - is residual. So little by little these chemicals build up in our bodies. These hormone copycats are smart - and hang out in our fatty tissues- where they are not easily flushed out with water and where they can accumulate.
Recent reports from Britain show that parabens have been found in breast tumors and that they may be linked to breast cancer. The breastcancerfund.org states that parabens are weak estrogen mimickers - but more importantly, that they can increase the expression of certain genes that are directly linked to breast cancer. (eeek!) If you can get medicine into your body via a PATCH - or a topical cream, then certainly the bad guys in face creams can ease their way into our bodies through unsuspecting pores.

It’s a lot to think about - perhaps its time to scrutinize those labels more carefully. The serious health implications mean that taking this issue seriously can have a profound impact on your health in the future! Taking the time to make your own paraben-free cosmetics at home could be one HUGE step in the right direction. More news and recipes to come....