Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Product Photos and Product Rundown

Everyone!! GUESS WHAT!?!?! HUGE NEWS! I've got new beautiful pictures for my shop. I am so excited! And they are SO PRETTY!!

I would like to send out a huge thank you to Matt Prokosch. He spent a few valuable hours working with me to get these beautiful pictures done one Sunday, and then got them edited and to me a few days later. And they are gorgeous!!!! Check out his other (even more amazing) work here.

So I am going to take this opportunity to show you these pictures and give you an overview of my products, what is in them, and what they are meant to do.

Lotion Bars

My lotion bars are a nourishing, moisturizing experience for the skin. I describe them in detail in this post. In quick summary; lotion bars are solid lotion. The lotion is applied after showers, baths, or whenever you feel your skin needs some extra love. They are super easy to travel with because they aren't liquid, and reduce the amount of packaging material needed. The bar should be slightly warmed between your hands, rubbed on the skin, and you're done.

The lotion bars contain shea butter, cocoa butter, calendula infused coconut oil, beeswax, and essential oils for scent. The butters and infused oil are to moisturize the skin. The beeswax creates a barrier to keep the skin moist all day long. 

The Pain Bar

The Pain Bar is my favorite product. I developed this specifically to help deal with my daily muscle aches and joint pains. I use it on tight shoulder muscles and on my knees, hips, and hands when they are giving me trouble. The bar can also be used to massage sore muscles and help decrease pain.

The bar contains arnica and sweet birch infused olive oil in my lotion bar base. Arnica is a very popular herb for pain relief due to it's anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Sweet birch is used because it is anti-inflammatory and naturally contains a chemical found in products like Ben-gay (without that terrible smell). 

Soothing Hand Salve

The soothing hand salve is a multi-purpose product. It contains calendula, plantain, and sweet birch, which are all herbs that are purported to have anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. These herbs can be helpful with dry skin, cuts, scrapes, and burns.

The salve contains calendula, plantain, and sweet birch infused olive oil with beeswax. I like to use it on dry hands in the winter, after washing my hands almost constantly throughout the day, and on breakouts of eczema. When I use this salve on an injury I make sure to apply it several times a day for the best results. I've had some customers mention they use the salve as a cuticle cream as well. 

Lip Balm

So, I sell a lip balm. Really what kind of skincare company would I be if I didn't? They are the same combination of ingredients as my lotion bar, so your lips get the same nourishing experience as the rest of your body! Currently I only have them in peppermint flavor, but I will be adding more in the near future. 

What are some products you would like to see in my shop? Are there any herbs you'd like to learn about?

💗 Courtney






Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Plantain: When a Weed is Not A Weed

With the change of seasons comes gardening, weed pulling, and lawn care, if you are lucky enough to be a person who has a lawn or garden to look after. Occasionally, when I was a kid, I would help my mom weed her flower gardens, but I'd more likely be found playing in the freshly turned soil of the vegetable garden. The day wasn't finished until my feet were so covered in dirt it seemed like it would never come off. There is one particular 'weed' that I remember though...

Plantain by Wikimediaimages via Pixabay
This is plantain. I always thought it was a weed. A pesky thing that grew in the driveway and in the lawn that my dad would use weed killer on.

Then, one day, my eyes were opened by Kris and Tammi from Heartstone Herbal School in Van Etten, NY. I decided to take their Lotions and Potions: Herbal Creams and Salves Workshop one winter day, and they completely flipped my perception of this plant around. It turns out this 'weed' was not a weed but a helpful herb. 

Plantain or Plantago major is found in temperate zones all over the world, first originating in Europe. The Swedish and Norwegian name for the plant translates to "healing leaves." Plantain had been used by the Vikings, Dutch, Arabic, and Greek people for its wound healing properties for centuries. There are references stating that the herb has been used for bee stings, bruises, burns, acne, cuts, dermatitis, colds, bronchitis, digestive distress, tumors, pain, and many more health related issues.

That's a whole lot of things for one tiny plant to be responsible for!

Plantain Flower. By gaidele via Flickr. Creative Commons.
Today, I'm only going to explore functions of plantain that apply to uses of my products. I use plantain in my Soothing Hand Salve because it is wound healing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial.

Plantain contains two compounds, oleanolic acid and ursolic acid. Many studies have been conducted demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effects of oleanolic and ursolic acid. It has been reported that these acids prevent swelling (inflammation) and arthritis in test subjects when they have been exposed to inflammation inducing compounds. 

Plantain has been shown to be an effective anti-microbial against some types of infectious organisms. This effect could be due to the oleanolic and ursolic acids in combination with the other chemical constituents present in the plant. One study compared the use of plantain and standard bandages for burn injuries. Interestingly, the plantain treatment was as effective of an anti-microbial as the standard treatment, but did not have the same dangerous side effects. That's a huge plus in my book!

It is thought that the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of plantain come together to create this healing effect. We do not know the process by which the chemicals in plantain work to heal wounds and prevent inflammation, but centuries of traditional use and the research available today provide a reasonable amount of evidence in support of  using this plant to heal wounds and  for general skin care.

Personally, I use plantain to heal the small cuts, burns, and scrapes I receive on a regular basis at my day job. I've also found it to be very helpful in healing dry winter skin and preventing dry hands when I have to wash them almost constantly throughout the day.

Close up of plantain. By Alice Anderson via Flickr. Creative Commons

Did you know plantain could be so useful? What is your experience with plantain?

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not meant to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease. This article is meant to be for educational use only. 

References

Amini, M. et al. "Effect Of Plantago Major on Burn Wound Healing in Rat". Journal of Applied Animal Research 37.1 (2010): 53-56 Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Liu, Jie. "Pharmacology of Oleanolic Acid and Ursolic Acid".  Journal of Ethnopharmacology 49.2 (1995): 57-68. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Nazarizadeh, Ali et al. "Therapeutic Uses and Pharmacological Properties of Plantago Major L. and Its Active Constituents". Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research 3.9 (2013): n. pag. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Samuelsen, Anne Berit. "The Traditional Uses, Chemical Constituents and Biological Activities of Plantago Major L. A Review". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 71.1-2 (2000): 1-21. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kombucha, Sauerkraut, and Yogurt, OH MY!

Hello all! It's been a gorgeous few days. I spent some time down at the park by the lake and laid in the sun. I really enjoyed that time soaking in the sun. I have sorely missed it.

Turmeric, ginger, and carrot kombucha, one of my favorite
flavors.
I'm really excited about the warmer temperatures not just because I won't freeze anymore, but it's helpful for the ferments I've got going on. Fermented food is a regular part of my diet because it might help keep gut microbes in check and healthy. I say might because there are still all kinds of studies exploring the effects our gut microbiome has on our whole body, not just the digestive system. Studies haven't determined if these probiotic foods (fermented foods) are helpful in any way, but I personally find them incredibly helpful in keeping my body and health in good condition.

I highly recommend reading The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health by Erica and Justin Sonneburg. They do a great job of summarizing past, present, and future research on the food we eat and its effect on our gut microbiome and health. I love this book and have actually given a few copies out to friends. 😄

My kombucha brew set-up. It looks like time
to take some SCOBY's out to make room
for more. 
Anyway, in order to support my fermented food habit I always have a gallon jar of kombucha brewing and every few months I put together a couple mason jars of sauerkraut. I'm not very creative when it comes to sauerkraut, but that's mostly due to lack of room in the pantry and refrigerator. That's ok though, we like it simple. I put a little bit of sauerkraut on pretty much everything I eat and between Brad and I, it takes a month or so to go through a whole mason jar of it. I really like Cultures for Health overview and sauerkraut recipe, but instead of the airlock, I use mason tops. I've found these to give me the best results, and are not nearly as messy as airlocks can sometimes be. 

Kombucha is a different story. We go through that fairly quickly, and I like to flavor it with different herbs, fruits, and vegetable juices. Some of our favorite flavor combinations are ginger and lemon, ginger and blueberry, and carrot and turmeric. This week I am trying a new flavor with blueberry and mint. I'll probably make some ginger and lemon too, because that's Brad's favorite.

I highly encourage everyone to try fermented food. A great place to start is yogurt, but look for yogurt brands that aren't filled with artificial sugars. The sugar outweighs the probiotic benefits. My favorite brands are Brown Cow and Siggi's. Another great thing to try is Kefir. It is similar to yogurt, but is fermented differently, and is more liquidy so it's like a thick drink. If you are looking to give kombucha a try, GT's is the brand that got me hooked, but I also really enjoy trying new brands we find in the store. Target even sells kombucha now (and it's pretty darn good).


And if you are looking to make your own, which is fun, and so much cheaper, there are resources all over the internet to help you. I really liked Sandor Katz's books Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation. But really, Google will absolutely give you all the instructions you need.

What foods or recipes do you eat that make you the healthiest you?

💗 Courtney

Blog editing and advisement by adreamingone.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

I am so excited!! It got up to 68 degrees today!! We opened the windows on Sunday when I was in the house brewing up some lotion bars. I loved feeling the breeze move through the kitchen as I worked. The cats really enjoyed watching the birds and squirrels through the windows. All in all, the last few days have been pretty darn awesome.

This week's post isn't about herbs or oils or really much anything to do with the business. It's about kale smoothies. I thought it would be fun to show you something I use on an almost daily basis to support my health and wellbeing.

Curly Kale by Oldiefan via Pixabay
I love smoothies. They are quick and easy in the mornings, full of fruits and vegetables, and they are super tasty. I make my smoothies vegetable heavy because I'm really in it for the fiber, not the sugar. I add berries for the antioxidants, some nut butter for protein, flax for those omega-3's, almond milk, and kefir for a bit of probiotics and creaminess. I use smoothies to jumpstart my day with a healthy dose of fiber that will keep my gut microbes happy. Also, kale has vitamins A, C, and K, along with phosphorus, calcium, and zinc. Popeye was right, greens are good for you. 😃

I made this smoothie this morning. I
know it's not all that pretty, but I promise, it
is definitely tasty. Kale and blueberries don't
make the nicest color when combined.
This recipe was adapted from the best smoothie I've ever had. I found a little shop near the Port Authority the last time I was in NYC and it was a haven from the fast food and junk I had gotten used to eating on my way out of town. So finding this place was magical. And then, they made the most amazing kale smoothies. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single bit of kale in tact. Magical.

Anyway, here's the recipe.

Ingredients:
2 or 3 large handfuls of kale (the curly kind)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup plain kefir
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 banana
1 tbsp ground flax
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Directions:
1. Add the kale, almond milk, and kefir to the blender and blend on high. This is the key to breaking up the kale and not ending up drinking a very finely chopped salad. Always blend the kale (or other greens) and liquids together first.

2. Add the peanut butter, banana, flax, and frozen blueberries and blend on high. If the smoothie seems too thick, add more almond milk or water.

Blueberries by Pexels via Pixabay
Note: You can substitute almond butter for peanut butter, chia seeds for flax seeds, strawberries for
blueberries. Really the possibilities are endless to make a healthy smoothie.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Have fun and experiment with it.

What are your favorite smoothie recipes? I'd love to hear about them!

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone

P.S. Here's a tip to keep your kale fresh for longer: put a paper towel in the bag with the kale. It will absorb extra water and keep it fresh for longer.