Gypsy Herbal Astringent Lotion.

This wonderful herbal astringent lotion has been hailed as the first herbal product ever produced and marketed. Legend has it that the early Gypsies formulated it and claimed it to be a cure-all. Whether or not it is I hardly know, but I do know that it is an excellent astringent for the face and a great rinse for dark hair.

This Gypsy herbal astringent lotion combines gentle common herbs in a masterful way, it’s easy to make, and it’s a versatile formula that serves many purposes. The Gypsies used it as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy, aftershave, footbath, and who knows what else! I have seen this formula sold in department stores in exotic little bottles for a fancy price. You can make it for the cost of a few herbs and a bottle of vinegar.

  • 6 parts lemon balm
  • 4 parts chamomile
  • 4 parts roses
  • 3 parts calendula
  • 3 parts comfrey leaf
  • 1 part lemon peel
  • 1 part rosemary
  • 1 part sage
  • Vinegar to cover (apple cider or wine vinegar)
  • Rose water or witch hazel extract
  • Essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)
  1. Place the herbs in a widemouthed jar. Fill the jar with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 weeks.
  2. Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.
  3.  To use: Pour a small amount of the toner onto a clean cotton ball and rub over your scalp or massage lightly into your scalp after shampooing.
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Lavender Oil.

A whiff of lavender oil can trigger various sensations, and its sweet fragrance brings to mind rows and rows of beautiful blue-violet flowers under the summer sky. But if you look beyond lavender oil’s aroma, you’ll find that there’s more to it than meets the eye – or your sense of smell.

What Is Lavender?

Lavender oil comes from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), an easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub that produces clumps of beautiful, scented flowers above the green or silvery-gray foliage. The plant is native to northern Africa and the mountainous Mediterranean regions, and thrives best in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it grows throughout southern Europe, the United States, and Australia.

Lavender has been used for over 2,500 years. Ancient Persians, Greeks, and Romans added the flowers to their bathwater to help wash and purify their skin. In fact, the word “lavender” comes from the Latin word “lavare,” which means “to wash.”

Phoenicians, Arabians, and Egyptians used lavender as a perfume, as well as for mummification – mummies were wrapped in lavender-dipped garments. In Greece and Rome, it was used as an all-around cure, while in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, it was scattered all over stone castle floors as a natural disinfectant and deodorant. Lavender was even used during the Great Plague of London in the 17th century. People fastened lavender flowers around their waists, believing it will protect them from the Black Death.

High-quality lavender oil has a sweet, floral, herbaceous, and slightly woody scent. Its color can range from pale yellow to yellow-green, but it can also be colorless.

Uses of Lavender Oil

Both lavender and lavender oil are valued for their fragrance and versatility. The flowers are used in potpourris, crafting, and home décor, while the essential oil is added to bath and body care products, such as soaps, perfumes, household cleaners, and laundry detergent.

Lavender oil is known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. It also has antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive, and sedative effects. Lavender oil is one of the most well-known essential oils in aromatherapy, and can be:

  • Added to your bath or shower to relieve aching muscles and stress.
  • Massaged into your skin as a relief for muscle or joint pain, as well as for skin conditions like burns, acne, and wounds. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil.
  • Inhaled or vaporized. You can use an oil burner or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, and then breathe in the steam.
  • Added to your hand or foot soak. Add a drop to a bowl of warm water before soaking your hands or feet.
  • Used as a compress by soaking a towel in a bowl of water infused with a few drops of lavender oil. Apply this to sprains or muscle injuries.

I also recommend adding lavender oil to your list of natural cleaning products. You can mix it with baking soda to make an all-natural antibacterial scrub for your bathroom and kitchen.

Composition of Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents. This oil is rich in esters, which are aromatic molecules with antispasmodic (suppressing spasms and pain), calming, and stimulating properties.

The chief botanical constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool (a non-toxic terpene alcohol that has natural germicidal properties), terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. Other constituents in lavender oil that are responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties include cis-ocimene, Lavandula acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, and geraniol.

Benefits of Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is known for its calming and relaxing  properties and has been used for alleviating insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness, dental anxiety, and stress. It has also been proven effective for nearly all kinds of ailments, from pain to infections.

I am particularly fascinated by lavender oil’s potential in fighting antifungal-resistant skin and nail infections. Scientists from the University of Coimbra found that lavender oil is lethal to skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various Candida species. The study, published in Journal of Medical Microbiology, found that lavender oil kills fungi by damaging their cell walls (a mechanism that I believe could apply to bacteria and viruses as well). The best part is that this oil does not cause resistance, unlike antibiotics.

Lavender oil can also be used to:

  • Relieve pain. It can ease sore or tense muscles, joint pain and rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. Simply massage lavender oil onto the affected area. Lavender oil may also help lessen pain following needle insertion.
  • Treat various skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles. It also helps form scar tissues, which may be essential in healing wounds, cuts, according to Texas-based dermatologist Dr. Naila Malik, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce itching, swelling, and redness.
  • Keep your hair healthy. It helps kill lice, lice eggs, and nits. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCB) says that lavender is possibly effective for treating alopecia areata (hair loss), boosting hair growth by up to 44 percent after just seven months of treatment.
  • Improve your digestion. This oil helps stimulate the mobility of your intestine and stimulates the production of bile and gastric juices, which may help treat stomach pain, indigestion, flatulence, colic, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Relieve respiratory disorders. Lavender oil can help alleviate respiratory problems like colds and flu, throat infections, cough, asthma, whooping cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. It can be applied to your neck, chest, or back, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
  • Stimulates urine production, which helps restore hormonal balance, prevent cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), and relieve cramps and other urinary disorders.
  • Improve your blood circulation. It helps lower elevated blood pressure levels, and can be used for hypertension.

Lavender oil can help ward off mosquitoes and moths. It is actually used as an ingredient in some mosquito repellents.

How to Make Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is produced via steam distillation. The flowers are picked when they are in full bloom, where they contain the maximum amount of esters. It takes 150 pounds of lavender to produce just one pound of pure lavender essential oil.

You can also make a cold infusion by soaking lavender flowers in another oil.

Ingredients and Materials:

  • Dried lavender flowers
  • Mineral oil or olive oil
  • Jar
  • Cheesecloth or muslin
  • Sterilized bottle

Procedure:

  • Clean and dry your jar completely, and then place the dried lavender flowers in it. You should have enough flowers to fill your jar.
  • Pour the oil all over the flowers until they’re completely covered.
  • Put the jar in a place where it can get a good amount of sun, and let it sit for three to six weeks. The sunlight will help extract the oil from the flowers and infuse it with the base oil.
  • After three or six weeks, pour the oil through your cheesecloth and into a sterilized bottle.

How Does Lavender Oil Work?

Lavender oil’s effectiveness is said to be brought on by the psychological effects of its soothing and relaxing fragrance, combined with the physiological effects of its volatile oils on your limbic system.

Lavender oil can be applied topically or inhaled as a steam vapor. Although dried lavender flowers are can be made into lavender tea, I advise against ingesting the oil, as it may lead to side effects, such as difficulty breathing, burning eyes and blurred vision, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Is Lavender Oil Safe?

I believe that using natural oils like lavender oil is one of the best holistic tactics that you can incorporate into your life. However, there are a few important guidelines to remember when using lavender oil.

Using diluted lavender oil topically or in aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults, but may not be recommended for children. Applying pure lavender oil to your skin (especially open wounds) may also cause irritation, so I recommend infusing it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Dissolving it in water also works.

Be careful not to rub lavender oil in your eyes and mucous membranes. If this happens, wash it out immediately. Lavender oil may also cause allergic reactions in people with unusually sensitive skin, so do a spot test before using it. Simply apply a drop of lavender oil to your arm and see if any reaction occurs.

Side Effects of Lavender Oil

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to the lavender oil. There are also instances when people experience side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and chills after inhaling or applying the oil topically.

I advise pregnant women and nursing moms to avoid using this oil, as the safety of lavender oil for these conditions hasn’t been identified. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also warns against using lavender oil when taking medications like barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and chloral hydrate, as it may increase their sedative effects and cause extreme drowsiness and sleepiness.

What You Will Need To Make The Recipes In Entangled Botanicals by Ashley November..

The equipment you’ll need for making the preparations {recipes} is most likely in your kitchen already. Wash all utensils, surfaces, containers, and your hands thoroughly before preparing these recipes.

Pots and Pans: Make sure you have good quality cookware, including small and large saucepans. Uncoated stainless steel is best; do not use aluminum pans because they’ll react with the active components, resulting in discolored or off-tasting products.

A double boiler is useful for melting wax and warming ingredients without the risk of overheating or scorching. Some people like slow cookers for melting and warming, as well as for making infused herbal oils. The gentle, steady warmth of the slow cooker {set at 100 degrees F or low} increases the concentration of the final oil.

Weights and Measures: Measuring cups that are made of good quality heat-resistant glass like Pyrex are excellent because the glass does not interact with the herbs {oils}. Glassware also allows you to gauge your progress by observing the color and texture of your liquid. You can judge the strength of a decoction, for instance, by how dark and rich its color is. Some ingredients, such as beeswax, are typically measured and sold by the pound and ounce, so a small kitchen scale is also handy.

Food Processor, Blender, or Grinder: Food processors can be useful for shredding fresh roots, seeds, and leafy materials. Use them to chop herbs coarsely before you place them in the blender or grinder for finer grinding.

Any good blender will do the job, but if you have one with a high-speed motor, like a Vitamix, you’ll be able to do a lot more with less time and energy. The Vitamix brand has a reverse function, which helps untangle herb roots and stems from the blade, and it breaks down the plant material more thoroughly than other models. Consider purchasing a blender with a large blender jar. A 1-gallon capacity Waring blender is a good choice; it’s consistently tough and efficient.

A small seed or coffee grinder is handy for grinding small quantities of dry seeds, root slices, and leaves. A good one, such as a Moulinex, often yields a finer particle size than a blender will. {Note: If you regularly need to shred whole burdock roots, dislodge seeds from really large flower-heads, or work with fibrous garden stalks, consider investing in a small garden compost shredder.}

Containers and Labels: For extracting herbs {removing and concentrating the active ingredient} and storing herbal preparations, you can purchase decorative jars or save and reuse glass jars from the grocery store; just be sure used jars are sterilized and have tight-fitting, rust-free lids. Canning jars are perfect: I use the quart or half-gallon sizes for tincturing and for storing teas and dried herbs. For creams and salves, look for smaller, short, wide-mouth containers and tins.

To bottle liquid tinctures for individual use, you’ll want to purchase amber Boston rounds – those small, brown glass jars with droppers that are commonly used to package commercial herbal liquids. They come in 1- to 8-ounce sizes.

It’s important to label all of your containers with the ingredients and the date. For finished preparations, be sure to include instructions for using the final product and any warnings that apply; put that right on the label.

Food Dehydrator: A food dehydrator is a great investment. It will dry flowers, leaves, root slices, and other herb parts quickly while preserving their valuable components and colors. Many come with nylon fruit leather tray inserts, which you’ll find useful when making dried teas. If you can, buy a dehydrator with an adjustable fan speed and temperature controls.

Electric Juicer: Although a juicer is not essential for the extraction process, it increases the types of herbal preparations you can make. Juicers remove the juice from fresh herbs, which can then be used fresh or dried. You may also want to consider a hand-operated herb press, which helps squeeze out the liquid when you are making tinctures and infused oils.

Infusers and Strainers: For infusing {steeping} and straining herbs, you can simply place herbs in a tea mug, pour hot water over the herbs, and strain out the herbs after they’ve steeped. There are also many types of infusers and strainers, such as tea balls {mesh or metal balls that hold herbs} with handles or links that hook over the side of the mug, metal tea “spoons,” bamboo tea basket strainers, muslin or mesh bags that you fill with herbs and cinch shut, and cloth bags with round rims and handles that fit on top of a mug. You can also use the same French press that many people use to brew coffee; it consists of a glass cup held by a frame with a handle and a plunger. All of these strainers make it easy to compost your herbs after you’ve made your tea infusion.