Herbal soap-mania

During September, I suffered from intensive soap-mania. After a summer break I felt hungry to create a couple of recipes. According to my last resolution I only worked with herbs and pure natural oils, no additional fragrance or coloring. At the first sight, the soaps might be considered boring and similar each to other. They are not models for a beautiful photo, but they still can please in the bath, especially if you are a natural type.

Working on my original recipes, I do only a small batch of each, so the recent mania didn’t overload my stock.

The shampoo bars became the first creation. I cannot imagine washing hair with the commercial products anymore, even though I did it for the most of my lifetime before. I love the natural character of my shampoo bars, as well as the flood of herbal effects that I put there myself.

Actually, I made three different recipes of shampoo bars. The first one, based on herbal powder from birch leaves and linden petals with a lot of hemp and olive oils, was enriched in the water phase by the root of burdock, other birch leaves and also aromatic myrtle leaves. Unfortunately, the lye required for saponification is a killer of gentle natural scents and you must have extremely developed senses to feel it in the finished soap. But the shampoo bars number 1 are almost ready to use.

The shampoo number two is based on herbal powder from wild thyme with pinch of Moroccan clay, traditionally used for hair care even without soap. Among range of natural oils I would like to mention adding of the neem oil which is extremely kind to hair and especially to skin of the skull. Back to herbs, I made distilled herbal water again, this time from decoction of wild thyme, horsetail, burdock and hops. This recipe could treat weak hair and problematic skin.

The third recipe of shampoo is based on chamomile and yarrow with pinch of handmade powder from oatmeal. The water phase is enriched by the same herbs plus hops. Among oils, I used a lot of almond oil and shea butter, so this shampoo is going to be calming and nourishing.

I also succeeded to make an excellent lavender soap. I went for almond and shea butter, coconut, castor and olive oils, honey and beeswax. This time I got the soap of velvet consistency, I almost wanted to eat it. I believe that honey and beeswax made an excellent job inside, cannot wait to test it.

Having a really nice honey, I repeated the trick with another recipe. I tried to use honey solo, without beeswax support. I wanted to combine it with cocoa butter but actually I was out of it. No way to wait for supply! So I took an old comfrey ointment made from castor oil and cocoa butter only (comfrey infused inside). And because I am crazy about writing the exact amount of ingredients every time, it was easy to calculate the soap even from the ointment. Also, I couldn’t think about herbs because comfrey was already there. I decided for chamomile in water phase perhaps because it fits with honey well. Again, I got a velvet soap, still waiting on the shelf.

Last, but definitely not the least was a Master of wilderness. This recipe isn’t boring! I used oak bark powder and crushed juniper berries for coconut oil infusion, and thyme, bay leaf and allspice for distilled decoction. The power of wilderness slightly won over the strength of lye, so the scent remained present. The truth is that I used also a few drops of my own juniper tincture just before finishing the soap.

You see? So much original recipes and herbal combinations, and the rules of soap-making process force me to wait about 6 weeks. Of course, I could fulfill this period of time by making other soaps, but it would be near to perpetual motion 😊 Nothing to say about tons of waiting soaps in my tiny space. So I have to spend my days differently. Fortunately, there is a beautiful Indian summer outside and walking is one of my favorite disciplines.

With love, Ivana

P.S. All my recipes are palm oil free, I work with coconut oil instead.

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Walnut tree: Faithful and Reliable Friend

Walnut tree (Juglans regia) is a friendly tree, living close to people and having its own brain. How to call the nuts and their specific shape otherwise? I see them as small brains, enclosed in hard shells just as human brain is locked in the skull. Additionally, consumption of walnuts brings great benefits especially to our brain.

Even though I am excited walnut consumer, I mostly harvest walnut leaves for further processing. I like the young ones, still soft and little bit brown with intensive unmistakable aroma. They are the promise of all that a massive tree is preparing for that year.

Basic energy of them is warm. I sense it like warm arms of a friend, always ready for hug to make you comfortable. It calms your nerves because you suddenly feel better, more secure. As if somebody lights a fireplace in the middle of winter storm.

And because walnut leaves have a repellent capability, you can be more secure with them even in physical reality.

The most common use of walnut leaves is a tea. I like the specific taste and my blood vessel appreciates the effects. However it is still warming herb, so don’t drink it in such a tropical weather as we have in these days with us.

I love to make and use herbal soaps with walnut leaves because of their almost chocolate color and high skin care ability, which perfectly works also for problematic skin with itchy eczema or fungi. Even in the intimate area!

In the form of homemade salve or ointment, walnut leaves help with similar skin diseases. Among other herbs, I do use walnut leaves for the foot care. Why? First of all, the warming effect is mostly desirable. Second, adstringent effect helps reduce sweating. Last but not least, there is the evergreen of antifungal components, which might be a great prevention too.

There is much more left about walnut, I would appreciate your opinion and/or experience.

With love, Ivana

Agrimony: The Herb of Truth

I love Agrimony like a beautiful and noble plant, like an effective medicinal plant and also like an essential flower remedy. It’s an amazing gift of nature and fully deserves our protection and respect.

I have my favorite place, where I observe and collect Agrimony plants. When at the end of spring begin to appear velvety hairs on young leaves and buds, I feel tenderness and vulnerability. It seems to be soft and supple. But few weeks later Agrimony dramatically changes its appearance. It rapidly drives the main stem to a great height, to keep track of everything what is happening around. Suddenly, tenderness becomes pride and vulnerability becomes need to control. Optimistic yellow flowers abundant on the top of stem balance both polarities. And this is the right season to collect Agrimony before its stem lignifies. Lignification represents the stage, when Agrimony preserves mask of optimistic arrogance, ignoring its own vulnerability and willingness to help.

Harvesting at the right time, Agrimony has a wide range of healing effects for both, exterior and interior application. I like yellow slightly bitter tea of Agrimony, which positively affects entire digestive system without any side effects. Additionally it strengthens our immunity. Externally, Agrimony is very helpful for wound healing and treatment of skin diseases. Together with Yarrow, Agrimony belongs to the most effective plants for coalescence of what has been divided and for aftercare of scars.

Who is familiar with the flower remedies of Dr.Bach, knows well the effects of Agrimony in our emotional system. And if you remember the words about physical appearance of Agrimony, you get an idea of these effects. Agrimony flower remedy helps to all, who covers vulnerability and true emotions by funny faces. People, who seem to be optimistic in every situation, just as they always have everything under control, are like Agrimony, which begins to lignify.

And that is why I call Agrimony “the herb of truth”. It helps to be honest and not to hide weaknesses and fear, not to waste energy on maintaining of artificial and always positive masks. Thanks to Agrimony we can feel free and freely use any of emotions.

Power of Butterbur

In my language, name of Butterbur sounds like 9 powers. This clearly demonstrates how effective and respectable plant Butterbur is.

Additionally to the healing effects, Butterbur is amazing plant. In the early spring, still in the snow, you can see around small water streams purple flower heads of Butterbur. They look fabulous. I have to admire them every year. You might think they have to be hard and tough when grown in snow. Be careful, they are easily breakable and full of cold water. I love to keep this fresh spring beauty in alcohol as a tincture because it helps preventively in time of cold and flu.

The most popular part for healing is root of Butterbur. And the best harvesting time is either in the early spring or in the late autumn, it means now! When you slice washed root and place pieces to dry, they look like magical rings of irregular shapes which can be created only by nature. Powdered root of Butterbur can be used directly or inside of tincture depending on type of healing.

Pay special attention to leaves of Butterbur. They are huge like umbrellas and often occupy large territory, so it is hard to pass through. They are very juicy and no wonder. Look at the leaf in detail and you will see large veins for water and nutrients transport. And this is how they work on human body. Because of juicy consistence Butterbur leaves represent effective skin treatment. All healing substances are quickly delivered to the right destination. You can use it directly without any complicate preparation. Just put slightly damaged leaves on affected area and you will see a miracle soon.

For me, density of robust veins inside of Butterbur leaves means a clear hint. They are more than useful for treatment of varicose veins and helpful in arteries unblocking.

Butterbur is also effective in releasing spasm of nervous origin, so you can imagine veins of the plant as healthy nerve fibers. No tension, no obstacles. That’s why some people use remedies based on Butterbur in treatment of migraine and headache. Luckily, at this point I don’t have any personal experience. What about you? Do you have any experience or impressions with Butterbur?