Tummy Trouble

Overeating, fatty foods, emotional stress, and too many sweets and alcohol – thankfully, herbs can ease the indigestion they cause.


Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Antispasmodic, sedative, soothing, and carminative (meaning it expels wind fromthe intestines), peppermint relieves cramps, bloating, nausea, colitis, and diarrhoea. The enteric-coated capsules are recommended for anyone with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Interestingly, Dr Varro Tyler, dean and Professor Emeritus of Pharmacognosy at Purdue University, advises that most of peppermint’s carminative oils are relatively insoluble in water, so the tea contains little of the herb’s digestion-soothing ability: peppermint tincture is much more effective.


Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

This aids digestion in two ways: it increases peristalsis (the contractions that move food through the gut), which in turn boosts secretion of digestive enzymes and removes stagnating food in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; it also has pain-relieving and antispasmodic properties, thus soothing an irritated gut, and relieving nausea, colic, and cramps. Ginger also improves other herbs’ potency by speeding up delivery of their chemical constituents to the bloodstream, for faster absorption. Note: Avoid if you have gastric or peptic ulcers, gallstones, or are on blood-thinning meds.


Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Chamomile’s bitter principles stimulate production of bile and gastric juices, making it an excellent liver and gallbladder tonic, appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and treatment for stomach tension, gastritis, colic, flatulence, and bloating. It is a powerful antispasmodic, making it highly effective for IBS; in fact, it has been approved by Germany’s prestigious Commission E for treating spasmodic and inflammatory disorders of the GI tract. The tea is effective and safe for infants.


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Long used as a carminative in Eastern and Western herbal medicine, fennel is an active ingredient in ‘gripe water’, an ancient infant colic remedy, as well as a traditional breath freshener offered after meals in Indian cuisine. Fennel’s volatile oils stimulate secretion of bile and gastric juices, improving food digestion and nutrient absorption. Being rich in fibre, the seeds are also an effective laxative, helping to clear the bowel of waste.


Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

A great herbal digestive remedy, especially recommended for conditions associated with excess acidity and inflammation, like heartburn, gastritis, ulcers, and hiatus hernia. This is because it not only leaves a protective coating on the lining of the GI tract, but actually down-regulates production of stomach acid; plus, it contains antibacterial and astringent tannins that relax stomach and bowel muscles, so easing cramping as well as fighting infection. Avoid if pregnant or breast-feeding.

Hormone Helpers

Painful breasts, period cramps, mood swings? There’s a herb (or three) for that.


Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Probably the best herb for balancing female hormones, this normalises the menstrual cycle and reduces premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, like sore breasts, irritability, and bloating, as well as treating spotting and painful or missed periods. Studies show vitex mimics dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood and libido which lowers prolactin levels. With continued use (more than three months), vitex boosts progesterone production, and regulates and promotes ovulation, which in turn lowers follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH); it can therefore enhance fertility if elevated FSH is a factor, and treat oestrogen-excess states like endometriosis and fibroids. Vitex also combats hormonally-driven acne, and increases melatonin secretion, relieving insomnia. Caution: Do not use during pregnancy, lactation, or if on the Pill.


Dong quai (Angelica sinensis)

Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, this warming tonic herb increases circulation and production of healthy red blood cells, and boosts blood flow to the uterus, thus decreasing painful menstrual spasms. Dong quai regulates prostaglandins, inflammatory compounds that cause period pain, but without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also effective in treating endometriosis, another inflammatory condition. Caution: Avoid during pregnancy or if taking blood thinners.


Coleus (Coleus forskohlii)

This supports thyroid function by stimulating production of thyroid hormones and also levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP), a signal carrier between cells and hormones that is especially active in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis which controls the thyroid’s production of T3 and T4, making it an effective treatment for hypothyroidism not caused by iodine deficiency. This ability to increase cAMP also makes coleus a useful weight-loss herb, because cAMP activates hormone-sensitive lipase, a fat-burning enzyme that improves insulin sensitivity and releases stored fatty acids.


Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

This herb is widely used in Eastern and Western herbal medicine to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, ovarian failure, elevated prolactin levels, and androgen excess (a cause of excess facial hair in women). Peony’s active ingredient, paeoniflorin, benefits ovarian function via its effect on aromatase, an enzyme involved in follicle maturation and ovulation.


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

This is an adaptogenic herb that improves insulin sensitivity and supports the adrenal glands, therefore helping us to handle stress better. It can help both hyper- and hypothyroid issues, supporting a sluggish thyroid in people with Hashimoto’s while also improving health for those with an overactive thyroid, as in Graves’ disease. Ashwagandha stimulates blood flow to female reproductive organs, while a study published in Ayu has shown it reduces hot flushes, anxiety, and depression in menopausal women.

Headache Remedies

Headaches can be painful, debilitating, and significantly impact quality of life. Fortunately there are a variety of herbal remedies to treat them. By taking preventative measures, or treating headaches with herbs, you can successfully ward off the pain before it takes hold.

A variety of factors can trigger headaches, including hormonal changes, strong sunlight, stress, and/or allergies to certain foods.


Cluster Headaches

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) Research done with extracts of the Kudzu plant suggests that it is useful in managing cluster headaches.  In a 2009 study using kudzu to treat cluster headache, researchers determined that kudzu may help decrease the frequency, duration, and intensity of attacks, with minimal side effects.

Of the people who used kudzu, 69% experienced a decrease in the intensity of the attacks, 56% suffered attacks less frequently, and 31% said that their headaches were shorter in duration while taking kudzu.  Researchers suggested that the kudzu root is rich in isoflavones—plant compounds with weak estrogen-like activity, which may be one of its mechanisms for relieving headaches.  This same research also suggests that Kudzu also has the ability to increase cerebral flow to the brain, again relieving headaches. 


Stress Headaches

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) Apart from its delightful fragrance, Lavender is considered calming to those with nervous tension and stress. Lavender oil can be rubbed into the temples for headache, added to bath water for a stress-relieving bath, or put on a cotton ball and placed inside a pillowcase to treat insomnia. Lavender flowers can be made into a tea and sipped throughout the day to ease nervous tension. 

When essential oils are massaged into the body, or added to the bath, they are infused into the blood stream where they act as a natural painkiller. 

Lavender was used extensively during World War I whenever medical supplies became scarce, to both prevent infection and relieve pain2. The aroma of lavender has been reported to be calming3 and is thought to be particularly useful in stressful situations.


Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Research confirms that topical application of peppermint oil is effective in the treatment of stress and tension headaches. 4,5  Because of its relaxing effect on smooth muscle peppermint essential oil is also an excellent headache cure for the daytime because it refreshes and energises.

Gently massage 1-2 drops of the essential oil into the skin. For headaches, the best places are the temples, forehead, and back of the neck. Depending on the severity of the headache, peppermint oil can also be massaged into the scalp, base of the neck, and shoulders.

Another method of using peppermint oil as a headache cure is to put a few drops of the essential oil onto a handkerchief.  Inhale from the cloth every few minutes until the headache has subsided.


Migraine Headaches

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)   Butterbur root extract shows potential as an effective and well-tolerated migraine prophylaxis for both children and teenagers.  In a 2005 study 77% of all patients reported a reduction in the frequency of migraine attacks of at least 50%. Attack frequency was reduced by 63%.   91% of patients felt substantially improved after 4 months of treatment. 6

Butterbur acts on migraines in two ways. By lowering the inflammatory chemicals leukotriene and prostaglandin E2, it eliminates the headache symptoms. The second benefit of butterbur is its ability to function as a natural beta blocker controlling normal flow of blood to the brain. This helps control blood pressure and spasmodic capillary action, which also contributes to the onset of migraine.


Feverfew   (Tanacetum parthenium)  Research suggests that the remarkable efficacy of Feverfew in not only reducing the frequency of migraine attacks but also their pain intensity and duration is due to its main constituent parthenolide7.  Feverfew works to prevent migraines in several ways.   This main constituent has been credited with inhibiting the release of serotonin, histamine, and other inflammatory substances that make blood vessels spasm and become inflamed.

Feverfew is best taken in capsule form or by eating 2 fresh leaves every day.

Caution: Feverfew can increase the risk of bleeding, and should not be taken with blood thinners such as warfarin

Overall Caution:   Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use herbs or essential oils for headache prevention.

Indigestion Cures

Herbs have been used for millennia to treat all manner of ailments, and the discomfort of indigestion seems to be one that is well-suited to natural remedies.

Common causes for indigestion include fatty or greasy foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, overeating, eating too quickly, stress and emotional trauma.


Peppermint  –  Mentha piperita

Peppermint is both antispasmodic and carminative on the digestive tract.  It can help ease the griping pains of colic (adult and infant) by expelling gas from the intestines.  Its antispasmodic effect relieves both muscle spasms and cramps in the stomach and gut therefore helping to prevent gas and bloating after a heavy meal. Peppermint is also sedative and soothing to the stomach, relieving nausea, sea sickness and morning sickness.  It is often combined with fennel to help indigestion. Those with irritable bowel syndrome can find relief with enteric coated capsules of peppermint. 1

Dr Varro Tyler, Dean and Professor Emeritus of pharmacognosy at Purdue University, notes that most of the carminative oils in peppermint (and other mints) are relatively insoluble in water. As a result, mint tea contains little of the plant’s digestive-soothing constituents. It does contain enough to make it effective, but a peppermint tincture is much more effective. 

Peppermint is also effective for the treatment of colitis, diarrhoea, dysentery and poor digestion.


Ginger  –  Zingiber officinale

Ginger contains chemicals that not only soothe the gut but also aid digestion by increasing peristalsis (the wavelike muscle contractions that move food through the intestine). This encourages the secretion of digestive enzymes, removing stagnating food in the gastrointestinal tract, thus assisting in the release of accumulated toxins. This, in turn, increases general health and enhances immunity.

Ginger relieves nausea and vomiting, settles the stomach and sooths digestion.  The pain relieving effects in the digestive tract relieve colic and spasms via muscle relaxation

Ginger can be used safely to treat a wide range of gastrointestinal health problems, and combines well with many herbs, improving taste and potency.  In fact, Ginger speeds up the delivery of healthy plant chemicals into the bloodstream for faster absorption. 

Ginger is also a blood thinner, helping to increase blood flow, therefore relieving abdominal cramps

Caution:  Ginger is not recommended for people with gastric or peptic ulcers, gallstones or those on blood thinning medication.


Chamomile  –   Matricaria chamomilla

The bitter principles of Chamomile make it an excellent tonic for the liver, gallbladder and digestive system. Its bittersweet flavour stimulates the gastric juices, helping to settle the stomach. Chamomile tea is effective when used as part of a treatment program for irritable bowel syndrome because of its antispasmodic properties. It has been approved for use by the Commission E for spasms and inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

It is used for the digestive tract to relieve tension and spasms, gastritis, dyspepsia, colic, abdominal pain, flatulence and bloating. By its regulatory effect on peristalsis in the bowel it can assist in the treatment of both constipation and diarrhoea. The bitters in the herb also stimulate the flow of bile and the gastric juices, therefore enhancing the appetite and improving a sluggish digestion.

Chamomile tea is gentle enough to be safe and effective for children and infants.


Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel has a long historical use in both food and medicine. Traditionally it has been used as a carminative, which means that it helps the body expel gas and sooth indigestion. Fennel is also a common ingredient in “gripe water,” a traditional preparation used for treating infant colic. 

Fennel contains volatile oils, which stimulate the secretion of digestive and gastric juices, reduces inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and facilitates the proper absorption of nutrients. This is why it is common practice in many Indian families to chew fennel seeds after meals.

Fennel seeds are also an effective laxative as they contain fibre. This helps in clearing the bowels of accumulated wastes and toxins.  It is also a particularly lovely herb to aid indigestion, and help ease the pain of colic in infants.  Fennel is extensively used in antacid preparations, and prevents bad breath.


Meadowsweet  –  Filipendula ulmaria

Meadowsweet is one of the best digestive remedies, particularly for conditions associated with excess acidity and inflammation.  It soothes and coats the lining of the digestive tract therefore relieving the pain and inflammation of acid reflux, heartburn, gastritis, ulcers, hiatus hernia and digestive disorders.

This herb is effective in curing indigestion owing to its ability to down regulate excessive production of acids in the stomach.   In addition, meadowsweet helps in relieving intestinal wind and distension in the stomach or bowels. The tannins in meadowsweet function as an astringents in the bowel.  These tannins line the mucous membranes of the digestive tract alleviating problems such as enteritis and diarrhoea. Their gentle anti-bacterial function helps to counter infections, while the tannins’ properties to relax muscles, helps in relieving stomach pains and colic disorders

Caution:  Avoid in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.


DIY  –  Stomach Soother

  • 1 teaspoons peppermint  leaf
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (crushed)
  • Pinch of dried ginger (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons chamomile flowers
  • ½ teaspoon meadowsweet leaves
  • Honey to taste

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over it, steep covered for 5 minutes, strain and sip 2-3 cups per day


Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, wheezing, and coughing – who needs them? Naturopath Toni Green shows you how to treat and cure hayfever, without resorting to antihistamines.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

This common kitchen spice contains curcumin, a powerful phytochemical with immunoprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions that compare favourably with steroidal and nonsteroidal drugs. Research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research shows that turmeric actually reduces mast cell degranulation, which in turn prevents the release of histamine, the chemical responsible for the allergic response. And a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine concluded that curcumin acts as a natural leukotriene inhibitor, making it beneficial for bronchial asthma well as allergies and other lung problems.


Albizia (Albiza lebbeck)

A herb long used in Ayurvedic medicine for strengthening lung function and clearing mucus, albizia is very helpful for sinus congestion as well as alleviating often-related allergic symptoms like hives and eczema. A study published in Immunopharmacology & Immunotoxicology shows that albizia works much like turmeric, via saponins that down-regulate the histamine release from mast cells and decrease production of lipoxygenase and hyaluronidase (key enzymes that initiate and maintain the inflammatory and allergic response), which in turn reduces itching skin, hives, wheezing, and post-nasal drip. Albizia also has a mild suppressive effect on allergy-inducing antibodies.


Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

A very effective remedy for hayfever and other allergies, this reduces inflammation and swelling by inhibiting production of inflammatory prostaglandins. It also slows the body’s ability to bind immune cells with antigens, which inhibits histamine release by mast cells. Research indicates that it is the flavonoids present in baical skullcap which are most effective for treating allergic symptoms, with one study, published in Planta Medica, reporting that its effects were comparable to the anti-inflammatory drug prednisolone.


Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)

Also known as English plantain, the leaves of ribwort are a traditional Western herbal medicine for catarrh. It’s a key natural remedy for reducing mucus, plus it has antibacterial and antispasmodic actions, making it helpful for hayfever, sinus infections, and coughs as well. Ribwort heals and soothes inflamed tissues of the nose, mouth and lungs, without having the drying effect of conventional antihistamines. I use this herb widely for treating sinusitis and nasal congestion, in both adults and children. Ribwort tea is listed in Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician’s Guide to Herbal Medicine as being “particularly effective for strengthening weak lungs”.


Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

This herb contains tannins, which are astringent compounds that reduce swelling and inflammation in the eyes, as well as imparting a protective coating on the eye surface. These tannins also reduce mucus secretions and tone and strengthen respiratory tissues, making it helpful for sinusitis, chest congestion, watery eyes, blocked nose, and hayfever as well. Research published in Planta Medica showed that one of eyebright’s active constituents, aucubin, has a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect on swollen nasal tissue when either given orally or applied topically.

Herbal Sleep & Dream Pillows

Herbal sleep and dream pillows are a wonderful way to introduce herbs into the lives of your family and friends. They are a simple, easy to make gifts that truly delight the senses.  Depending which herbs you use, they will either induce a calm restful sleep or help create enchanting dreams. 

The ancient practice of placing herbs under our pillow dates back centuries. Traditionally it was done to protect against evil, calm bad dreams and induce sleep.  They were also used to foresee the future, encourage pleasant dreams, or entice a lover into one’s life. No matter the reason we choose to use herbal pillows, they are beneficial for both adults and children.  


Lavender is celebrated for its relaxing properties, and is a wonderful herb to add to a sleep pillow.   Be sure to use only tightly formed buds in your pillow and the scent will last for months.  You can also rejuvenate your lavender sleep pillow by adding a few drops of 

Hops are another amazing herb to promote restful sleep and a feeling of peacefulness.  They are very relaxing and perfect to calm the nerves the night before an exam or for those struggling to find rest in a new environment.

Chamomile is an especially delightful fragrance, and is perfect for a sleep pillow to calm, relax and keep bad reams at bay in children.  You might even like to make a mini pouch and place the hidden pouch into a stuffed toy.


Dream pillows are for those who want to enhance and remember their dreams. Single herbs can be used or a combination of several.

Rose petals are used to bring warmth and love, and are used to evoke romantic dreams.

Spearmint or peppermint in a dream pillow enhances clarity and vividness in dreams

Rosemary has been used traditionally to enhance deep sleep and keep away bad dreams.

Mugwort  greatly enhances vivid dreaming and helps with remembering of dreams.

Lemon Verbena is a beautiful uplifting herb and is used to add “lightness” to dreams. 


Sleep and dream pillows are beautiful tucked inside or under pillows where they can emit their enchanting fragrance throughout the night.

Essential Oils in Skin Care

There are more than one hundred beautiful essential oils to choose from when you are considering either adding them to your skin care regime of adding them to your own DIY skin care recipes.  Perhaps some of the best are Rosewood, Frankincense and Neroli, and there are the ones we will be looking at today.

Rosewood essential oil can help improve the skins elasticity and firmness, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and brown age spots on the face. Rosewood encourages the regeneration of new skin cells which helps to diminishes scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks. It’s a relaxing oil that improves dull and dry skin.  Rosewood oil is effective for the treatment of acne and helps keep the skin healthy, firm and young.

Frankincense essential oil helps to protect existing skin cells and encourage new cell growth. It has anti aging properties used for reducing wrinkles and tightening loose sagging skin. It also reduces dry chapped skin, and removes scars and stretch marks. Frankincense oil is best used diluted down to 1% to 2% in a carrier oil or cream before using. It’s an effective oil for restoring elasticity to the skin, particularly around the eye area.  It’s used to tighten loose sagging skin under eyes, and reduce under eye wrinkles and crow’s feet. 

Neroli essential oil is a rejuvenating oil that contains citral that stimulates the growth of new skin cells.   It is a powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory oil that’s great for soothing irritated and damaged skin, improving circulation, reducing scarring and fading stretch marks and broken capillaries.   Its moisturising effect helps to tone and tighten the face and neck, and improves skin elasticity. It is especially beneficial for improving the appearance of crepey looking skin on the neck.  Its antibacterial properties reduce sebum production and shrink enlarged pores without overly drying the skin.  Add three drops of neroli essential oil to your favourite facial cream for added anti-ageing benefits.

Aromatherapy essential oils are great skin care products, however for safety reasons, always apply essential oils to the skin in a carrier oil base such as jojoba oil, a lotion base, or add to your favourite skin care cream.  

Chemical Free Skincare

Naturopath Toni Green shows you how herbs can help you have fresher, healthier, younger-looking skin.


Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

This cooling, calming herb is particularly beneficial for reddened, dry and sensitive skin types. Chamomile balances sebum production, making it useful for conditions characterised by either over-oily or over-dry skin, including acne, eczema, dermatitis, and rashes. It is anti-inflammatory and anti-infective, so is excellent in creams for minor cuts and grazes, hives, bites, or sunburn. Beauty bonus: chamomile reduces under-eye puffiness and dark circles, and helps to heal rosacea and broken capillaries.


Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

This emollient herb moisturises dry skin and repairs chafing or peeling, thanks to its naturally restorative and anti-ageing carotenoids. Exceptionally mild and soothing, it’s safe enough to use on babies’ skin. It is also antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral, making it useful in healing salves. Topical applications of calendula have been shown to increase the speed of wound closure and formation of new skin; it is of particular benefit in preventing radiation burns in cancer patients, and for healing perineal tears post-childbirth.


Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)

Rich in organic compounds which strengthen skin, repair connective tissue, smooth out cellulite, and improve firmness and elasticity by boosting collagen production, and also to improve microcirculation to the skin’s surface, this has exceptional wound-healing properties, and may be used topically for burns, psoriasis, acne, eczema, scars and stretch marks.


Green tea (Camellia sinensis)

This is excellent in healing acne: in one study, topical application of green tea resulted in a 70 percent reduction in oiliness after eight weeks, and also reduced the skin’s inflammatory response to bacteria in the pores, which in turn reduced infection and pimples. Studies show that topical formulas containing green tea extract markedly reduce sun damage, by countering free radical action. Taken internally, green tea also has skin-beautifying benefits, with one study noting that a combination of a 10 percent green tea cream and a 300mg green tea supplement twice daily significantly improved skin elasticity.


Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Ginseng firms skin from within by boosting production of collagen in the dermis (middle layer of skin). It contains essential oils, minerals and antioxidants which all positively affect skin cell metabolism in the epidermis (outer layer of skin), speeding the shedding of dead skin cells and the production of fresh, dewy ones. Research shows that ginseng is antibacterial and rebalances over-active oil glands, so it is also great for treating pimples and acne.

Organic Skincare

Our skin is our body’s largest organ and much of what we lather, splash and rub into our skin is absorbed into our blood stream. After all, this is the premise behind nicotine patches, birth control patches and hormone replacement patches designed for use in menopause.  It’s been estimated that the average woman will use hundreds of kilos of skincare over the course of her lifetime.  This amounts to an extraordinary load of toxic ingredients begin absorbed into the body via chemical laden skincare products. 

We all know that skin care is an important part of our lives, and of any beauty regime, but that doesn’t mean that we must lather ourselves with these toxic ingredients.  There are organic and natural alternatives on the market that don’t use harmful chemicals, and are actually better for your skin.

Let’s first take a look at some off the chemicals we need to avoid:

  • Formaldehyde –   causes skin reactions and is found in nail polish and other cosmetics.  
  • Fragrances – most of these fragrances are synthetic and can be found in cosmetics and skin products.  Interestingly, they are not required to be listed on the ingredients label so it’s worthwhile searching for products that use essential oils or natural fragrances
  • Paraben – is used widely as a preservative and is linked to breast cancer.
  • Paraffin –  is derived from petroleum or coal products. Definitely not suitable for skin care.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – is an anti-bacterial agent, again derived from petroleum products. 
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate – is the foaming agent in many shampoos and face washes.  It is a chemical detergent that has a drying effect on the hair and skin and can cause the hair to fall out.


Natural Alternatives in Skin Care

There are many alternatives to these toxic ingredients. Let’s take a look at a few natural ingredients that will naturally preserve the products and nourish the skin.

  • Grape Seed Extract
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin A (retinol)
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol
  • Pomegranate Oil
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Squalene
  • Essential Oils
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Glycerine
  • Plant Extracts


A natural, chemical free, skin care regime can be achieved with the help of some of these ingredients that will nourish your skin, keep it healthy and vibrant, whilst helping to slow down the ageing process. 

Skincare Tonics

Chamomile’s Skin Care Benefits (Matricaria chamomilla)

Chamomile is of particular benefit for hot, dry and sensitive skin.  Its anti-allergic properties make Chamomile a very useful ingredient in natural skincare products that target this skin type. It is also useful in skin care preparations used for teething babies, acne, boils, allergies, cuts, wounds and skin rashes such as dermatitis and eczema.  Chamomile balances sebum production making it useful for both oily and dry hair and scalp conditions, as well as sensitive skin types. Due to its calming properties and its ability to fight infection, Chamomile is added to numerous creams and serums to relieve rashes, wounds and sunburn. 

Chamomile may be used as a lotion or added to a cool bath to relieve the itching of rashes, hives or eczema.  Its other skin care benefits include reducing under eye puffiness and dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles, rosacea, and broken capillaries. 


Calendula’s Skin Care Benefits (Calendula officinalis)

Calendula is an emollient helping to moisturize dry skin. It also contains carotenoids which nourish dry or damaged skin. It has natural restorative properties that infuse the skin with a youthful glow and is used to protect the skin from premature aging.  Calendula is safe enough to be used on the delicate skin under the eyes to prevent crow’s feet. Creams containing calendula are also used for baby’s nappy rash.

Calendula has the added benefit of containing antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it useful for salves and balms for cuts, wounds and for healing piercings. Using calendula increases both wound closure and the formation of new skin.  Calendula has also been shown to work in the prevention of radiation burns for patients undergoing postoperative irradiation for breast cancer, and also for healing the perineum after childbirth.


Green Tea’s Skin Care Benefits (Camellia sinensis)

Now not only a delicious anti-oxidant filled drink, Green Tea has many benefits for acne-prone skin.  In one study there was shown a 70% reduction in sebum production after 8 weeks of use.  

Green Tea also reduces the skins inflammatory response to acne-causing bacteria. This is significant, as acne-prone skin tends to have an increasingly strong inflammatory response to bacteria in the skin pores.

Studies have also demonstrated that topical Green Tea formulations reduce sun damage. This appears to be the result of Green Teas ability to quench free radicals and reduce inflammation, rather than blocking UV rays.  

Can Green Tea prevent ageing? In a 2005 study it was noted that a10% Green Tea cream and 300mg twice-daily green tea supplement showed significant improvement in skin elasticity.


Gotu Kola’s Skin Care Benefits (Centella asiatica)

Gotu Kola has long been revered for its ability to minimize the effects of serious skin conditions, and has even been used in the treatment of leprosy. Gotu kola is rich in organic compounds that have been shown to strengthen skin, boost antioxidants, and also increase blood supply to affected areas. It has amazing wound healing properties and can be used topically for minor burns, psoriasis, acne, eczema, preventing scars after surgery, and preventing or reducing stretch marks.  

Gotu kola has a positive effect on the circulatory system by improving blood flow while strengthening veins and capillaries. It is an important ingredient in skin care as it increases skin elasticity and collagen production, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. It is also useful in repairing connective tissue and smoothing out cellulite.


Ginseng’s  Skin Care Benefits (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Ginseng is used in anti aging skincare treatments because of its rejuvenating effects: It strengthens the skin from within improving collagen production inside the dermis (the middle layer of the skin).  Ginseng contains essential oils, minerals, and antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, which affect skin cell metabolism within the epidermis  causing the exfoliation of dead skin cells, and encouraging the production of fresh new cells

In addition to its anti-aging benefits, recent research points to Ginseng’s ability to reduce over-active oil glands, and so is now also recognized as an anti-bacterial agent.

Whilst Ginseng is advantageous to most skin types, experts now agree that mature skin will see the most benefit.


DIY Skin Wash

To make a wash: steep leaves and/or flowers in hot water for 1 hour. Strain. Pat onto face, keeping it on for at least 20 minutes, and gently wash off. An alternative would be to make a strong tea of 1 tablespoon per cup of water, strain and add the tea to a warm bath. Soak 30 minutes.  

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