-  herbal glossary  -

Descriptions of Many of the Plants (and Other Things Useful on the Body) - by Jeanne Rose
From Jeanne Rose Herbal Body Book (Click here for details)
     The substances marked * have been known to have caused irritation, allergic reactions, or sensitivities on some people.  However, all substances have been implicated to some  degree in unpleasant reactions on someone, so it would be wise to try the patch test before using a new plant or other cosmetic substance externally.

The Patch Test

If you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies, then by all means use a patch test to test your relative sensitivity to the new ingredients. To try out a new, store-bought cosmetic, a homemade cosmetic, or any new plant that your are unfamiliar with when making your own cosmetics, make a paste of the plant with water and apply to your forearm in an area about the size of a quarter. Let the paste dry there and apply a loose Band-Aid. If there is no reaction within twenty-four hours, and check arm for reaction. By all means, keep all alien substances away from the eyes.


HERBS are annotated in the text by various initials or words as follows:

Po - powdered - When an herb has been finely powdered.

Gr - ground - More coarsely powdered than a powder.

Cs - cut and sifted - The plant material is dried and then coarsely cut up, and any extraneous material or powder sifted out.

Pc - pieces - Usually large pieces of bark.

Wh - whole - You will usually want to purchase your flowers and seeds whole rather than in any other form. Seeds, of course, will be more potent if you grind them yourself, and of course, flowers are prettier when used whole.


Click on a letter to be taken to that letter's category:

 A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   O   P   Q   R   S   T   V   W   Y   Z




*Acacia, Gum - (Acacia senegal) Also called Gum Arabic.  This gum is slowly soluble in water and provides a gelatinous acid base for nonoily cosmetics.  It makes a demulcent and emollient base, very soothing to all skin surfaces.

*Acacia flowers - (Acacia sp.) Otherwise known as Sweet Acacia.  The Cassie (Acacia farnesiana) and the Mimosa, (A. decurrens dealbata) are members of this group and are used cosmetically in the same way.  Fresh, these flowers are extracted or macerated in order to extract the essential oil which is usually so expensive that most of us will only be able to afford the poor synthetic.  They are grown all over the world buy most perfumers use the flowers grown in southern France, Syria, or Provence.  Dried, they are used in bath herbs especially for dry skins, in facial steamers to improve the complexion, in potpourris for a violet or floral note.  The Acacia tree in my backyard produces the most gorgeous bright yellow blossoms in the spring (February and March) which, in San Francisco, is especially nice.  And the scent that wafts about the yard is divine, although some of my friends claim that it makes them sneeze.  I pay my little girl to pick the blossoms, and it is a delight to see her climb to the very top of the tree with just her head peeking out between the yellow balls of fluff.  And then, of course, for weeks afterwards we make yummy, smelly, yellow potpourris and take baths with pounds of Acacia flowers.  Our skin smells good and feels so silky.

*Agrimony - (Agrimonia eupatoria) is used in herbal baths to help sore muscles feel better, and as an external application (decoction form) for pimples and skin eruptions.

Alder - (Alder sp.) Black, tg, and common Alder barks, when soaked in vinegar and mixed with other cleansing herbs, are useful as a wash for skin irritations and also as an ingredient in herbal baths for swellings, inflammations and rheumatism-type complaints.  Black Alder taken internally as a tea is said to be useful for skin problems.

*Alfalfa - (Medicago sativa) Even the poor Alfalfa, which is so nourishing when eaten, has caused irritations and allergic reactions on some sensitive skins.  But most of us can use this wonderful plant, which occasionally grows roots up to 128 feet long, in facial steams as a very mild exfoliant (it contains protease, a protein digester); in creams and oils, as herbal bath mixtures for its healing qualities and chlorophyll content; and in protein hair rinses.  Try a gritty mixture of Alfalfa-Gr and Papaya pulp as a facial mask.

Alkanet - (Alkanna tinctoria, Lithosperum tinctorium) A nonirritating red dye plant whose color can be controlled and is used in the making of lipstick, face glazers, and with Henna as a nail color.  A wine decoction of Alkanet is used as a rub for sore backs.  An ointment of Alkanet is sometimes used for sores, bruises, and cuts.

*Allspice - (Pimenta officinalis) Used in hair rinses for its brown color and nice spicy scent; in perfume and cologne; astringent and freshener making; and in bath herbs, ointments, and creams for its slight anesthetic effect.  Generally it is used in powdered rather than cut form.

Almond meal - (Sweet Almond - Amygdalus communis, var. ducis, Prunis communis, var. dulcis) Sweet Almonds, when ripe and shelled, are ground up into a meal and used as beauty grains for the slight bleaching action on the skin; in scrubs for their cleansing and emollient quality; and mixed into soaps for the scrubbing effect and bleaching quality.  Almond milk is used in lotions.

Almond, oil of Sweet - (Prunis communis dulcis) is identical with the other fruit kernel oils, such as Apricot and Peach.  It is used in the same way and can be substituted for these other oils, which are nondrying and therefore very useful on dry skin.  These oils are also used in all sorts of fine cosmetics for their excellent emolliency.  They can also be used in cooking.

*Almond, oil of Bitter - (Prunis amygdalus, var. amara) is an essential oil used to scent fine cosmetics and in the making of heliotrope and muguet perfumes.  It is also used to scent soaps.  Everyone (at least almost everyone) likes the scent of the Bitter Almond but there are many who develop sensitivity to this oil, especially when it is used in soaps.  It is also used to scent "violet" potpourris.  Bitter Almond kernels, as well as Peach kernels, Apricot kernels, and Apple seeds, contain glucose, prussic (hydrocyanic) acid, and the essential oil, benzaldehyde.  People who eat fresh Apricot or Peach kernels for their health should be made aware of this fact as they are endangering their very life if they happen to eat too many kernels.  Of course you can develop a tolerance for cyanide poisoning by eating a few kernels at a time and slowly increasing the daily dose.  An acquaintance of mine tells a story about a friend of his who loved fresh Apples seeds from the time he was a child until he died.  He loved them so much that finally he started saving them up from every Apple he and his family ate until soon he had about a cupful of Apple seeds.  He sat down and ate every one of them and died within the day of cyanide poisoning.  It is a law that when you buy an essential oil containing prussic acid as one of its constituents, the prussic acid has to be removed.  The label will usually read: Bitter Almond, FFPA (meaning Free from Prussic Acid), or Bitter Almond, NF (meaning National Formulary, which is just about the same thing as FFPA.

Aloe - The Aloe usually referred to is the Aloe vera, although it is also known as A. barbadensis, and lives normally in the Canary Islands.  The Aloe here in San Francisco often confused with vera is A. arborescens (tree-like aloe).  Vera is incredibly useful for any type of burn you may get and when it grows large and juicy, it's super in all sorts of creams, lotions, shampoos, and on all parts of the body for cuts, scratches, bruises, sore or irritated skin, for burns, sunburns, X-ray burns, bug bites, and any other skin problems you can imagine.  Aloe vera grows anywhere in my house: in the bathroom, where there is no sun; on top of the display case, where it gets no water; on the living room table, where there is sun and, at night, fog and wind; on the oven, where it is usually warm; and outside, where it gets red and windblown.  The only thing it does not like is the cold, in which it dies.  But how do you tell the various Aloes apart?  Aloe vera grows thick juicy leaves only minimally thorny while the A. arorescens with which it is confused has a stalk-like base and thinner, thornier leaves.  However, we have found that once when we took an arborescens on a desert trip instead of a vera it performed just as well in the healing department.  To use the plant for a small cut or burn, cut off a small, say one-half-inch section, and slit it lengthwise to expose the gelatinous part; apply this to the wound or sunburn.  While on a vacation with friends and toasting at the beach in Santa Cruz, Joanna's young baby was left much too long in the sun and received a very severe striped sunburn (he was under a slatted canvas chair).  When we brought him in he was screeching with pain but fortunately we had a vera growing outside the house.  I cut a two-foot section of the leafblade, split it lengthwise, applied the gooey side to the baby's back and left it there about five minutes.  He went to sleep right away, and when he woke up his slatted sunburn had turned into a striped tan.  For creams, lotions, or hair treatments add about one ounce of the clear gelatinous matter - obtained from the leaf of the plant by scraping or cutting it out - to about three ounces to the cream, lotion, or shampoo; mix thoroughly or blend in the blender. For homemade soap, check the soap chapter for how to use the vera.

*Alum root - (Geranium maculatum, Heuchera americana) The root of the Geranium is extremely astringent and is used externally to dry up sores, as an ingredient in herbal douches, as a deodorizing wash, and in herbal baths for oily skin.

*Amaranth - (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) If you can get the fresh Amaranth, use it in cosmetics for its healing qualities or in herbal baths mixed with other scented plants.  It is slightly astringent and good in wrinkle creams with added vitamin E.

Ambergris - or whale exudate from Physeter catodon is used as a fine (and rather expensive) fixative in perfumes and potpourris and is added to cosmetics for its light pleasant scent.  It is used in the form of an extract made by macerating the raw stuff in alcohol.  Tincture of Ambergris is available at Caswell-Massey, that venerable old New York pharmacy.

Ambrette seed - (Hibiscus abelmoschus, H. moscheutes) A seed from a type of Hibiscus which has a musky odor and is used in musk perfumes as a fixative.  It is also used in potpourris and in cosmetics for this same musky odor.

*Anemone - (Anemone pulsatilla) The Anemones - wind flowers or pasque flowers - are used in their entirety for various cutaneous problems including plant rashes.  And for some reason, they are especially recommended for fair, blue-eyed women.

Anise - (Pimpinella anisum; the star Anise is Illicium verum, I. anisatum) The seed of the Anise smells somewhat like Licorice and is mixed with spirits of wine to make the liqueur, anisette.  It is used cosmetically in facial steams to open and medicate the pores.  It is also very useful in hair rinses for its color, cleansing action on the scalp pores, and wonderful scent.

*Annatto - (Bixa orellana) The dried pulp of the fruit of this plant is available in herb stores and is used as coloring matter in lipstick, face glazers, rouge, and hair rinses.

Apple - (Pyrus malus) Apple cider is especially nice diluted with a bit of water as a natural astringent and can be used "straight" as a hair setting lotion.  Apple pips contain prussic acid and are dangerous (see Almond, oil of bitter).  Mashed fresh pulp of Apple is slightly acid and is used in all sorts of masks, hand creams, and scrubs for roughness of skin; it is especially effective on sensitive or fair skins.  An excellent pomade for rough skin, elbows, heals, and knees is made by mixing Apple pulp and honey is terrific for soothing dry, irritated, or sensitive skin.

Apricot - (Prunis armeniaca) Apricot pulp is terrific for those with a tendency to sallow or oily skin.  You can use fresh, dried and soaked, or powdered Apricot mixed with just about anything you can think of such as milk, sour cream, yogurt, water, or Apricot wine, as a scrub or mask, to help those enlarged or oily pores.  Apricot kernel oil is used in creams and lotions, salves and pomades.  The oil and pulp are useful in all sorts of cosmetics, soaps, and cold creams.  A synthetic substance called apricot "essence" is available if you care to use it.

*Arnica - (Arnica Montana) The flowers are used in an infusion for the feet to strengthen and toughen them or to help cure athlete's foot.  Arnica can also be used as a hair rinse with Jaborandi or Nettle to stimulate growth.  A thick decoction of the flowers is used as a daily scalp massage lotion for growth but this can occasionally produce inflammation when overused.

*Arrowroot - (Maranta arundinacea, Canna edulis, Curcuma augustifolia) The tuberous rhizomes of several plants yield the starch called Arrowroot.  It is sometimes used mixed with water and applied as a paste to the body or face to help dry up pimples or for other sores or wounds.

Artichoke - (Cynara sclymus) The globe Artichoke leaves are used as an excellent detergent rinse for dandruff and make a very useful addition to a dandruff rinse especially when mixed with Comfrey and Willow bark.  You can use either the leaves from the plant proper or the leaves from the globe after you have eaten the good part.  You can also use the water, in which you have cooked the Artichokes, straight.  I have a letter from Sibyl who received a letter from Crystal who lives in Saigon that states, "...Artichoke leaves are a LIVER ELIXIR...Crystal had a horrible skin flare-up and her Vietnamese maid made her a tea every day of Artichoke leaves; apparently the tea cleared up her skin problem right away" - the tea was drunk every day and also applied as an external wash.

*Asclepias - There are many species of this plant, and most, when used in the bath, act as a mild diaphoretic and therefore effective in opening the pores and getting rid of impurities.  The fresh flowers of A. syriaca, a Milkweed, have dull red-to-purply fragrant flowers, which are welcome additions to the bath.  And along which are welcome additions to the bath.  And along with the young shoots, these flowers can also be eaten.  Gibbons tells how to cook them in his book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, p. 132.  The seeds of some species are silky and are combined with other herbs in my Sleep Pillows.  Milkweed juice, which is milky, is used daily as an external application to get rid of warts and pimples.  And some of the Milkweeds have very potent insecticidal properties and can be used dried and spread around the room and under rugs to get rid of fleas.  Fifty years ago there were many brands of Milkweed cream (for the face and body); one, that I have, promises to "keep the skin soft; smooth, and velvety, is delightful to use, prevents chapping and roughness and is readily absorbed and is used for tan, freckles, and sunburn."  It also contains a cautionary note that "when the system is in a bad condition a too liberal use of Milkweed Cream may, by overstimulating the skin, temporarily exaggerate its defects.  It should then be used more sparingly - but persistently, and more often."

Ash - (Fraxinus excelsior, European Ash; F. spp., Common or Weeping Ash) Grieve, A Modern Herbal, says the Ash had the reputation of magically curing warts; each wart must be pricked with a new pin that has been thrust into the tree, the pins are withdrawn and left in the tree, and the following charm is repeated: Ashen tree, ashen tree, Pray buy these warts of me.

Asparagus - (Asparagus officinalis) spears are used in many stimulating facial washes to cleanse the face and act to dry up pimples and sores.  Mixed with yogurt they make an excellent facial mask.

Avocado - (Persea americana) The Alligator Pear contains vitamins A, D, E, and potassium, sulfur, and chlorine.  Avocados are used in facial and scalp packs for their penetrating power.  The oil is used in combination with other less penetrating but also less drying oils as a conveyor of these vitamins to the skin and the glands of the skin.  The meat, seed, peel, and oil all have thier special place in cosmetic preparations.  The Fresh Avocado Beauty Book is completely devoted to the myriad uses of the Avocado.  I especially like to eat big fat home-grown Florida Avocados baked and stuffed with chicken or the rough-skinned Avocado with Garlic in blue corn tortillas.


Balm - (Melissa offinalis) also called Sweet Balm, Lemon Balm, or Melissa.  It smells wonderfully lemony, is delicious as a tea mixed with Rosemary to help the memory and for melancholy, and is best used fresh rather than dried.  It is also used with Jaborandi and Nettle for hair growth, as a rinse or in shampoos, and mixed with other lemon-scented plants (Lemon, Lemongrass) in facial steams to correct skin blemishes.

Balm of Gilead buds - (Populus candicans, Commiphora opobalsamea; no relation to the Balm of Gilead fir, Abies balsamea) are used by mashing and simmering in oil and applying this oil externally for skin deseases.  When mixed with Jamaican rum and steeped for a few days, the resultant liquor can be drunk for coughs and colds or applied locally for sores, bruises, and cuts.  Freshly dried buds, if you can get them, are wonderfully aromatic and rather stickily moist and can be squeezed open, the resin being used as an unguent or dotted onto pimples to heal them.  The buds look rather like the brown mummified chrysalis of an exotic butterfly.

Balsam of Peru - (Myroxylon balsamum,, var. pereirae and other varieties) is used straight as a disinfectant for various types of skin disease including eczema, pruritis, and prurigo; to relieve the itch of scabies and to kill the eggs; for sores and ringworm; and as an external and toughening application for sore nipples.  (it seems to promote healthy epithelial growth and should be mixed with castor oil before adding to your skin ointments.)  It is wonderfully and deliciously fragrant and is used in soaps - including medicinal soaps - for chapped hands and feet.  The Balsam is soluble in alcohol and is effective as a potent fixative in perfumery and potpourris.

Balsam of Tolu - (Toluifera balsomum, Myroxylon balsamum, Myrosperum toluiferum) is available from Indiana Botanic and is used much the same as Balsom of Peru, the scent being vanilla-like and somewhat cinnamony.  It is employed as a fixative in perfumery or potpourris, in pharmaceutical preparations and soapmaking.

Banana - (Musa paradisiaca, M. spp.) mashed, makes as excellent, nourishing facial mask for normal to dry skin that can be eaten for its flavorful, tropical deliciousness.

Barberry, European - (Berberis vulgaris) is used in shampoos and herbal hair rinses.  In the Magic of Herbs, Mrs. Leyel says, "To cause the hair to grow: 'Take the barberry and fill an iron pot therewith, fill it up with as much water as it will contain, then boil on a slow fire to the half.  With this water wash your head morning and evening.  Take care that the wash does not touch any part where the hair should not grow.

Barley - (Hordeum spp.) is occasionally used, slightly cooked and mashed with milk, as a cleansing, healing facial mask and toner.  Take a Barley water bath for soothing sore, achey flesh.

Basil - (Ocimum minimum - Bush Basil, Ocimum basilicum - Sweet Basil; also spelled Ocymum) that wonderfully delicious smelling herb which loses most of its olfactory delight upon drying, is best used fresh and is an absolutely imperative ingredient when making turtle soup or pesto sauce.  The essential oil of Basil is used as an expensive hair dressing mixed with Lavender oil to perfume the hair and as a tonic to help in hair growth and to reduce tangles and snarls.  Rosemary oil is a cheap but effective substitute for the Basil-Lavender mixture.  Arabian women are said to powder Basil and Lavender and to brush it into the hair to perfume it.

Bayberry - (Myrica cerifera) also called Wax Myrtle, is used in the making of candles, soaps, and to scent various cosmetics, especially masculine types.  The wax is also employed in the making of aromatic, softening shaving lather.  Myrtle wax from the berries is used to make aromatic candles, as an ingredient in soapmaking or shaving soaps, or as an aftershave lotion.  The leaves are aromatic and the bark is astringent.

Bay Laurel - The Noble Bay, Laurus nobilis, and the California Bay, Umbellularia Californica, are potent stimulating antiseptics, used wherever stimulation is needed as in facial or hair packs or in herbal bath mixtures for aching joints and muscles.  The scent is inhaled for congested respiration and can be used in aromatherapy.  The California Bay, when inhaled a little, will cure a headache but if overused can cause a headache.  Bay leaf oil in hair lotions and aftershave is from Pimenta racemosa.

Bean flowers - various species of Phaseolus, and the water made by distillation, are used in all kinds of lotions and skin tonics.  The water is cooling and excellent for a baby's delicate skin.  It is used as a wash for all sorts of skin irritations or skin desease including dry scruffy scalps and dandruff.  It is also effective in shampoos and hair rinses.  The Kidney Bean was a Egyptian object of sacred worship and was venerated for thousands of years.

Bearsfoot - (Polymnia uvedalia) is said to be used externally in lotions that stimulate hair growth, especially mixed with Southernwood and Jaborandi.

Beech - (Fagus sylvatica - European white beech) tar is an externally applied antiseptic for skin problems.

Beet - (Beta vulgaris) juice is especially nice as a face wash or tonic.  A bit of mashed, cooked Beets mixed with yogurt makes an excellent facial mask.  The juice can be dribbled on talcum or powdered eggshells to color them a soft pink, or in make-up such as rouge and lipstick.

Benzoin gum - (Styrax benzoin - Sumatra, and S. tonkinensis - Siam) is used as an external application for fungus and mold infections of the skin; as an ingredient in various lotions, potions, and cosmetics to retard darkening and to act as a cosmetic preservative.  The gum is also used as a fixative in sachets, incense, and potpourris and is a wonderful addition to soaps.  The tincture is used also as an external application for the treatment of various skin irritations, mixed with glycerin or lanolin for chapped hands and lips and for irritated overused nipples.  It is antiseptic, a mild stimulant, a preservative of fats and is rapidly absorbed.

*Bergamot - (Citrus bergamia) The rind of this nonedible citrus fruit yields an oil by expression that is used in toilet water, cologne, floral and heavy perfumes, and in soaps.  The oil is used in inhalation therapy to cause sleep; in suntan preparations, it increases the skin's ability to tan and should therefore not be used on sensitive skin.  It has a wonderfully fresh, sweet fragrance and is grown commercially only in Calabria, the southwestern toe of the Italian peninsula.  It is often added to greasy hair preparations and sometimes causes skin sensitivities especially on the forehead.

*Bergamot is also called Bee Balm, Oswego Tea, or Monarda didyma (a substitute is American Horsemint or M. punctata), and is used externally in facial masks as a rubefacient, in facial steams, in beverage teas to cleanse the system.  The oil is occasionally used to scent soaps and cosmetics.

Bergamot mint - See Mint, orange

*Betel - (Piper betel) leaves are used externally, I am told, as a poultice to relieve skin secretions and are especially useful to suppress mammary secretions.  They also act as an antiseptic in various types of abscess.

Betony wood - (Stachys officinalis, S. betonica, Betony officinalis, Betonia officinalis) also called Bishop's Wort, is used as a compress for headaches and, more often, is taken internally as tea rather than used externally as a cosmetic, although it enjoys a great reputation as a protection against witchcraft.

*Birch bark - (Betula alba and B. spp.) is used for its fragrant odor, antiseptic quality, and salicylic acid content.  A decoction of the bark mixed with other herbs is especially useful for skin problems such as eczema, skin eruptions, or pimples; in mixtures of bath herbs as a detergent and astringent; in hair rinses for its curative effect on dandruff and other scalp disorders.  Friend Annie has found that her lifelong scalp infection is kept in better control with a decoction of Birch bark than with any topical medicine that her doctors have ever given her.  This bark is very useful in all sorts of lotions, rinses, creams, for the hair, face, or body.  The dried and powdered leaves or twigs of the Birsch have been successfully used for chaffed skin.  Birch oil mixed with vegetable oils is useful as a hair tonic or mild antiseptic massage or body oil.  Birch leaf drunk as a tea is a gentle sedative especially mied with Lemon Verbena leaves.  It is also used externally in baths.

Bittersweet - (Solanum dulcamara) is used as an alterative tea as well as a water infusion for all types of skin eruptions, both internally and externally.

Blackberry leaves - (Rubus villosus, R. fructicosus) as well as the fruits are used in facials, masks, lotions, and steams for their curative and astringent effects.  The fruit is especially nice mixed with yogurt or sour cream, either eaten or applied to oily skin.  The decoction works to clear and clean up blemishes, blackheads, scabby itchy scalps, and scalds.  It works equally well internally for diarrhea and as a blood "cleanser."

Black currant - (Ribes nigrum) The leaves are used as diuretic tea, diaphoretic bath, or a cool and cleansing skin lotion.  These leaves have a savory use as a delicious, cooling tea.  Cosmetically, an infusion of Black Currant leaves with Gum Arabic can be used as an acid antiseptic mucilage or with Quince seed as a mucilage.  The entire plant belongs to the planet Jupiter.  The berries are called Quinsy berries.

Bladderwrack - (Fucus vesiculosis) as well as other Kelps and Seaweeds is great in the bath and provides various minerals and salts that cleanse and refresh the skin.  It is used internally as a tea and externally as a wash to treat psoriasis.  The gooey inner substance of the floats (a hollow vesicle found in certain algae containing gases and serving to buoy up the plant) mixed with a bit of rubbing alcohol and shaken up is used as a massage for cellulite and for sprains and bruises.  This weed can also be mashed and bruised and used externally as a cold compress or poultice.

Borage - (Borago officinalis) is used fresh in an infusion, as an eyewash, and as a compress for headaches.  It is said to be the famous Nepenthe of Homer that will cause complete forgetfulness.  When mixed with Mugwort and Parsley, it is thought to increase clairvoyance.

Bougainvillea - (glabra and other species) The beautiful Bougainvillea, native to Central America, is one of the wonderful memoristic plants of my childhood; we used the bracts as a tea to relieve coughs but hardly ever in cosmetics.

Box - (Buxus sempervirens) leaves and bark are used as a hair rinse for growth and a a brownish-red hair dye, especially nice when mixed with a bit of Henna.

*Broom - (Cytissus scoparium) also called Scotch Broom.  The flowers are used in hair rinses for their yellow color to lighten and brighten hair; an infusion in oil is used as a massage oil for sore muscles and especially for cellulite; an infusion is used as a compress or fomentation for cellulite especially after taping; also for hand and foot soaking to relieve congested tissue.

Broomrape - (Orobanche Americana) is a parasite on the Broom, the juice being an old remedy for clearing the skin of all sorts of blemishes, including freckles.

*Buckwheat - (Fagopyrum esculentum) flour when combined with water as a dough makes an excellent tissue-strengthening mask - very cleansing and stimulating.  The flour mixed with milk, yogurt, or buttermilk instead of water is used as a galactogogue (milk increaser) when nursing. Buckwheat, however, is one of those plants that causes occasional allergic reactions, so if those delicious Buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup cause indigestion it might be sensible for you not to put it on your face.  Buckwheat acts as an acid astringent and the herbal infusion is often used locally for strep (streptococcal) skin infections such as erysipelas.  Buckwheat also contains rutin, an active principle of the flavenoids or vitamin P (P for permeability) which works with vitamin C.

Burdock - (Arctium lappa) root is used in the bath as a diaphoretic; as a decoction for surface blemishes, scaly skin; in facial steams, as it affects both the oil and sweat glands; and in combinations with other herbs such as Comfrey and the licorice herbs (Licorice, Anise, and Fennel) to restore skin tone and smoothness.  The leaves are used externally, as an infusion or poultice, for puffiness, bruises, or sore or tired feet.  An infusion or tincture of Burdock seeds is used for skin problems.  A beverage tea, made from any part of the plant, especially with other herbs such as Comfrey and Sarsaparilla, is extremely cleansing and is used for all skin problems, especially eczema.  This is one of the most important cosmetic plants and should be used regularly as a beverage.

*Buttercup - (Ranunculus bulbosus) It is said that in the old days beggars used the juice of the fresh plant to produce ugly sores on their bodies so that they could beg alms from more fortunate souls.


*Cacao - (Theobroma cacao) The seeds or beans of the chocolate tree are ground up and about half become the cosmetic ingredient Cocoa butter.  This fat - which smells like chocolate - is used extensively in ointments, creams, and lotions as a super emollient that softens and protects chapped hands, lips, dry skin; softens pregnant skin and helps to erase stretch marks; aids in the treatment of skin irritations; and, with other ingredients, is used to soften and erase wrinkles particularly those occurring on the neck (called turkey neck), around the eyes, and at the corners of the mouth.  Mixed with coconut oil and other vegetable oils it makes a superior skin-softening suntan lotion.

Cactus flowers - (Cactus grandiflorus, Selenicereus grandiflorus) are occasionally used in cosmetics for their perfume.  Night-blooming Cereus blooms last about six hours, have a heavy vanilla-type smell, and must be picked promptly.  Other Cactus flowers are more delicate and can be picked, and dropped into oil or alcohol to make a massage liquid.

*Cade, oil of - (Juniperus oxycedrus) also called Juniper tar oil, has been used for ages in ointments and salves for chronic eczema and minor skin problems.  When applied, it itches like crazy but also kills a bad itch.  Follow with a soothing oil or Aloe rub.

*Cajuput, oil of -(Malaleuca leucadendron, var. minor, or var. cajeputi) is used externally for psoriasis, other skin affections, and as a rub for sore, aching muscles.  A drop on a piece of cotton placed near the eye is useful to relieve eyestrain and headache.

*Calamus root -(Acorus calamus, Calamus aromaticus) is a delicious-smelling botanical used extensively in potpourris and sachets as the main scent or fixative.  Small bits are chewed to clear the voice, strengthen the throat and kill the taste for tobacco.  It is powdered and often mixed with Orris root and sprinkled in the hair as a dry shampoo; or used to scent snuff, face powders, or toothpowders.  The volatile oil is obtained by steam distillation and is used in perfumery, inhalation therapy (for the nerves headache, hypochondria) , and as a scent for body and massage oil.  has carcinogenic properties.

Camellia - (the fragrant type from China or Japan is desired, Camellia sasanqua) flower infusion is used as a sweet-smelling rinse for the hair.  The leaves are occasionally mixed with tea to add a pleasant fragrance.  Extraction of the oil of the flowers with solvents is said to be practiced in China for perfumery purposes.  Camellia seed oil is used in cooking.

Camomile - is that wonderful yellow daisy-like flower used for everything in cosmetics.  However, several species are used and confused. (Matricaria chamomilla, German or Hungarian Camomile, produces a blue oil called azulene.  This Camomile is used in medicine.  Anthemus nobilis, Roman or English Camomile, is also called English mat Camomile.)  When you buy this herb at the herb store, ask for yellow, or Hungarian, Camomile if you want to use the flower as an internal or external tea or cosmetic; and ask for the white, or Roman, type if you want the big white puffy heads for potpourris.  The herb man will probably know what you want.  In addition, the yellow Camomile smells sweet and appley and is called Manzanilla in Spanish countries.  The root is used for toothache.  An infusion used externally on the face or as a facial steam will reduce puffiness of the skin and cleanse the pores of impurities; it also helps to strengthen the tissues.  The Egyptians had great reverence for the Camomile and used it in massage oils to remove aches and pains and for aching muscles.  It was one of the favored strewing herbs of the Middle Ages.  As a compress for the eyes it helps to brighten them and relieve weariness.  In the bath it acts as a mild diaphoretic.  As a thick poultice, it is used on the face and body for external swellings and will reduce pain of inflammation and neuralgia.  Mixed with Poppy flowers and pods, it is also effective as a compress for abscess.  A thick decoction or a hot powdered pack of the herbs is used as a rinse or hair dye.  Naturally the lighter-colored your hair is, the yellower will be the effect of the herb pack on it.  My hair is quite dark and a thick decoction of Camomile will only supply bright highlights; when mixed with Henna, half and half, it gives my hair a dark reddish color with yellow highlights.

*Camphor - (Cinnamomum camphora) is occasionally used in cosmetics, especially massage-type products, for its strong aromatic penetrating odor.  It is slightly antiseptic and is useful as a topical application for cold sores or chapped lips, as it numbs the peripheral nerves.  It is absorbed by the subcutaneous tissue; eases muscles aches and strains; and clears the head of sinus congestion and sometimes headaches.  It is usually employed in conjunction with menthol.  However, once when working with Camphor and experimenting with its use in various products, I inhaled it over a period of almost an hour and got a severe headache that lasted well into the night and caused me to lose sleep.  So a mild sniff will clear the head but a prolonged sniff does just the opposite.

Caraway - (Carum carvi) is occasionally used in facial steaming and is taken as an infusion by persons of pale complexion to give them a ruddy glow.  A poultice of the seeds is also helpful to reduce inflammation and bruises.  It has been extensively employed in love potions throughout the ages.

Cardamom - (Elettaria cardomomum) seed is chewed to sweeten the breath and used in love potions for its sweet aromatic scent.

*Carnation - (Dianthus caryophyllus) flowers have a sweet and spicy scent.  Oil of Carnation is often made up solely of synthetic eugenol, which is a constituent of Clove oil and is used regularly by perfumers.  The Carnation flower, itself, is a fragrant and tasty addition to white wines (I generally use German white wines) or champagne, and this flower wine acts as an aphrodisiac for some; for others, however, it just makes a delicious drink.  The flowers soaked in vinegar and the resulting scent inhaled is useful for easing a headache; the flower or essential oil also acts in this manner.  An oil made from the flowers acts on skin problems that result from nerves.  Carnation massage oil (made from Carnations and not poor synthetic oils) is excellent for sore muscles and for enfleurage of a pregnant abdomen.

*Carob - (Ceratonia siliqua, also called St. John's bread) seeds are occasionally used by public speakers or singers; they are chewed to clear the throat and clear the voice.

Carrot - (Daucus carota) is useful lightly cooked and mashed in its own water as an excellent antiseptic mask for the face that might even provide vitamin A to the skin.  A Carrot poultice is also effective on sores and skin ulcers.  Mashed Carrots can be added to homemade soaps, or to a bit of honey as an excellent cleanser.

Cascarilla - (Croton eleuterea, C. eluteria) is a scented bark used in incense and occasionally as a decoction for a skin lotion.

*Cashews - (Anacardium occidentale) ground and mashed with buttermilk or yogurt make a mild exfoliant and beauty mask.  Cashew oil is used to remove corns, warts, and other types of skin afflictions.  However, it is said that the fumes of the roasting nuts can cause inflammation, and external poisoning of the face and hands.  Mrs. Grieve also mentions that acid components of the Cashew nut can be used as a hair dye.

*Cassia - (Cinnamomum cassia) is used as a substitute for Cinnamon in cooking and incense and is also used in hair rinses and hair dyes for its wonderful scent and brown color.  It is mildly astringent as a decoction.  The oil is employed as a germicide.  The bark is crushed and used in potpourri.

*Cassie - (Acacia farnesiana) See Acacia.

*Castor Oil - (Ricinus communis) is used externally as a lotion for skin problems and itches, rubbed into the eyebrows to help them to lie flat and shine, rubbed into the skin along the eyelashes to stimulate growth.  When it is rubbed into the skin it occasionally has a laxative effect.  It is used in soapmaking - in transparent soaps - and also as a nondrying oil for dry skin or rubbed into the breasts as a galactogogue.

Catnip - (Nepeta cataria) is useful drunk as a tea for nervousness, headache, colds, or hysteria; the infusion is useful for swellings, especially mixed with black tea and placed under the eyes in the morning for those who wake up with swollen eyes or bags, and the herb is also included with others such as Wintergreen or Gobernadora for dandruff and scalp disorders.

Cedar - Various species of Cedrus, Thuja, and Juniperus are used in the bath for their tonic stimulating effect on the skin.  The scent of these trees is highly aromatic and deliciously intoxication to the senses.  The Cedrus libani is the 1000-year-old Blble tree.  Cedar leaf oil comes from Thuja occidentalis, which is also called the Yellow Cedar and is used directly on warts; mixed with Olive oil, it is applied externally for skin eruptions.  Thuja bark and needles are used in baths for their mentally relaxing and tonic effect.  They are slightly astringent and especially good in the morning  bath for their stimulating effect on the muscles.  The oil is used in soapmaking and is very aromatic (Caswell-Massey sells a Thuja soap called Fenjal Soap).

Cédrat oil - (Citrus medica, var. bajoura) See Citron.

*Celandine - (Chelidonium majus), dried and mixed with other herbs such as Comfrey, is used in baths; the fresh juice has been applied directly on warts, ring-worm, and corns, but great care should be exercised that the juice does not get onto any other parts of the skin as it can act as an irritant; in an ointment or mixed with sulphur it helps to cure skin problems such as eczema; a decoction eases the itch of itchy places.

Celery - (Apium graveolens) tops are useful in all sorts of creams and lotions or facial steams; they act as a tonic on the skin, especially to give tone to older skin.  I know of no use in cosmetics for Celery seeds.

Centaury - (Erythraea centaurium) lotion is useful to remove freckles, marks, and spots on the skin.

Cereus - See Cactus.

Cherry - (Prunus virginiana) bark is used in herb mixtures as a hair-conditioning rinse for ease in combing.  It is especially effective mixed with Ragwort and Nettle.

Chickweed - (Stellaria media) is a demulcent used in lotions and salves for skin problems and also as a poultice for sores or abscesses.  Effective also in bath herbs.

Chrysanthemums - of many species are used in herbal hair rinses and hair packs as a dye plant. (See also Marigold.)

Cicely, Sweet - (Myrrhis odorata, sometimes called the myrrh plant) is a nice addition to waters and lotions for its aromatic scent.  It is a mild cleanser of old wounds, and the essence is said to act as an aphrodisiac.

Cinnamon - (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is used in cosmetics for its aromatic and astringent qualities.  It makes a nice addition to hair rinses, imparts a slight brown tone, and is mixed with Indigo to soften the black and scent the hair or with Henna to soften the red.  Cinnamon is also much used in incense and potpourri; an infusion is useful as a wash for wounds or skin problems.

*Cinquefoil - (Potetilla reptans) also called Five-Finger Grass, is normally used dried in bath herbs as an astringent; the infusion is used as an eye lotion to soothe the eyes; as a gargle for sore throat; as a mouthwash for sore gums.

Citron - (Citrus medica) also called the Cédrat, is a fruit whose essentail oil is used in perfumery.  However, Parry's Cyclopedia of Perfumery states that the Cédrat oil of commerce is usually a mixture of Lemon with other citrus oils.  French "oil of Cédrat" is, when pure, Citron oil, and French "oil of Citron" is oil of Lemon.  It's all wonderfully confusing, n'est-ce pas?

Citronella - (Cymbopogon nardus) grass is also called Lemon Balm but it is not the Lemon Balm known as Melissa officinalis.  This fragrant grass oil is often used in insect repellants as it repels mosquitoes and other bugs.  The essential oil is used as a raw material in the manufacture of other oils such as geraniol, and when creating synthetic oils of Linden, Lily of the Valley, Carnation, Rose, or other floral scents.  Oil of Citronella is also used extensively in soapmaking.  the finest quality obtained by steam distillation comes from Java but it is also manufactured in Ceylon.  Citronella grass is excellent as a wash for oily conditions of the skin, is a normalizer of the sebaceous glands, and is used in hair rinses to give the hair a lustrous sheen.  Some use the oil in aromatherapy as a heart stimulant.

Civet - leaves are probably the dried leaves of Chives, which is called in French Ail Civitte.  While examining an herb store catalog some time ago, I came across the entry "Civet leaves" and proceeded to order two pounds.  The green objects arrived, and their smell was musky and somewhat unpleasant.  so I wrote to the company and asked what the generic name of their Civet leaves was, and they responded it was Civettictus civetta, which I knew to be the name of civet cat and had absolutely nothing to do with plants.  I wrote back to them with this information, and they responded that they did not know what their civet leaves were, which started me on a two-year search into this seeming mystery; the result is that I found Civet leaves are probably identical with Chives.  But who knows?  If you have any information about Civet leaves, please correspond with me in San Francisco.  Chives are rich in sulphur and therefore very useful in hair rinses for scalp problems.  For a hair rinse, mix the dried or freshly cut up Chives with Ambrette seeds and maybe a bit of ground-up Cinnamon for astringency.

*Clary Sage - (Salvia sclarea) oil is obtained by distillation and is an important fixative in perfumery.  In addition it has the special property of toning other scents and alleviating their harshness.  It is used in many colognes, toilet waters, powders, soaps, perfumes, sachets, potpourris, and many other cosmetics.  It blends with other herbal scents, especially Rosemary and Bergamot, but also Lavender, Musk, and Chypre.  the dried herb is used in baths as an aromatic astringent and, mixed with Lemon Verbena, it makes a particularly nice warming bath or lotion to cleanse the face.  The seeds as a decoction are used to clear the eyes of foreign substances.

Clivers - (Galium aparine) or Cleavers, is used as a wash for skin diseases - including psoriasis - as well as for mild burns, sunburns, and freckles.

Clove - (Eugenia caryophyllus, E. caryophyllata, Caryophyllus aromaticus) The dried flower buds are chewed for bad breath, used in bath herb mixtures as an astringent, antiseptic, aromatic, and in herbal hair rinses for brown or red hair.  Clove is also a wonderfully fragrant addition to all sorts of cosmetic waters and lotions; as a mouthwash; in aromatherapy for sleep, to relieve melancholy, to aid the eyes and memory; in potpourris and sachets - especially with rose-type scents.  The essential oil obtained by distillation is a powerful antiseptic, used in carious teeth to allay pain.  It is effective in perfumery as a fixative or as a part of synthetic oil of Carnation as well as in other synthetic essential oils.

Clover, Red - (Trifolium pratense) is useful in all sorts of cosmetics - especially in facial steams, bath herb mixtures, hair rinses, and other shampoos - as an alterative and cleanser.  It is also used as a wash for skin problems and pimples.  As a thick poultice, it is used for the athlete's foot fungus.

Cochineal - (Dactylopius coccus) is a beetle used in cosmetics as a red dye.

Cocoa - See Cacao.

Coltsfoot - (Tussilago farfara) can be used externally as a poultice for welts and swellings.  Eyes can be bathed with an infusion of the flowers in hot water.

*Columbine - (Aquilegia vulgaris) seeds can be mashed and simmered in Olive oil to rub into aching joints or into the scalp to repel lice.

Comfrey - (Symphytum officinale) is one of the most useful plants in herbal cosmetics or medicine.  Both the fresh and dried root and leaf can be used.  In the Physician's Desk Reference (1970, p. 956), it states that "allantoin [Comfrey's active ingredient] has been reported to liquefy pus and necrotic protein thus accelerating debridement of lesions and denuded areas."  It is a cell proliferant and cell regenerative and, with continuous use, regenerates aging tissues.  Comfrey can be used in lotions, creams, salves, ointments, vaginal douches, hair rinses and shampoos, hand creams, massage or body oils, and just about anything else you can think of.  It is both emollient (demulcent) and astringent.  Incredibly easy to grow, it will thrive most anywhere.  I have it in a shady corner of my yard near the musk rose, where it gets up to three feet high and bears bluish-purple flowers most of the summer (here in San Francisco, summer is cool, wet, and foggy).  it is especially valuable in bath herb mixtures, and I would count it as one of the five most valuable and useful herbs in my medicine and cosmetic cabinet.  (The other four would be Mint, Lavender, Echinacea, and Garlic.)

Corn - (Zea mays -Indian corn) oil is used in cosmetics for normal to oily skin but I cannot recommend its use since a large percentage of the pesticides and fungicides that are employed in this country are used on the corn and cotton crops.  Corn silk from red Indian Corn is used in cosmetics as a fine-grade powder and face powder that is a soothing emollient.  Cornmeal is used in soapmaking for cleansing; also as an addition to masks and facial packs.

Cornflower - (Centaurea cyanus) also called the Blue Bottle and sometimes Bachelor Button.  The flower is used in hair rinses for pale blond white, or gray hair.  It can also be applied as a thick pack on the hair for deeper color.  The dried flowers are used in potpourris for color.  A distilled water from the petals is used as an eyewash.

Costmary - (Chrysanthemum balsamita, Pyrethrum tanacetum) also called the Bible Leaf, is a very aromatic addition to creams and lotions - especially those for normal to oily complexions.  Mixed with Lavender, it can be made into an excellent facial oil, useful in acneic conditions.  Also a good massage oil.  Dried, it is excellent in potpourris and sachets.

Cowslip - (Primula veris) is the flower mentioned in A Midsummer Night's Dream, purported to have a special and magical value for the complexion.  And, indeed, it is useful in all sorts of cosmetics and hair products for both oily and dry complexions - especially skin on the dry side.  The flowers are used as a wash for pimples, spots, sunburn, and wrinkles.  Distilled water of Cowslips is used as a mild astringent; the powdered flowers with Oatmeal or Cornmeal make a good scrub.  These powdered flowers mixed with talcum and Camomile also make an excellent body powder.

Creosote - (Larrea divaricata, L. Mexicana) also called Gobernadora and Chapparal, is used primarily as a hair tonic to relieve itchy scalp and cure dandruff.  It is used as a wash to disinfect and deodorize the body, but since it is so highly aromatic and unpleasant to some, it is best used mixed with other more pleasantly scented herbs such as Peppermint.

Cuckoopint - (Arum vulgare, A. maculatum)  picked, dried, aged, and powdered has been used in the past as a face powder, starch, wrinkle remover, and poultice for sores, swellings, and ringworm.

Cucumber - (Cucumis sativus) is one of those plants incredibly useful in all types of cosmetics.  The juice is used in many different kinds of creams, lotions, sunburn preparations, soaps, masks, and packs as a cooling, soothing and healing substance.  It is very useful for freckles, cutaneous eruptions, or irritated skin.  Direct application of sliced Cucumbers is helpful for irritated eyes or to soothe a windburn.  Cucumber can be mixed with Glycerin, Elder water, Orange water, Rosewater, with tincture of Benzoin or salicylic acid added as a preservative.  Cucumber jelly, a mucilage of Gum Tragacanth or Quince seed with Cucumber water instead of water, is excellent as an aftershave.  Cucumber ointment is especially good for wrinkles, skin bleaching, or softening hardened skin.  Essence of Cucumber is used in the blending of some perfumes and concentrated Cucumber perfume can be made by repeated extraction and distillation.

Cumin - (Cuminum cyminum) oil is often used in perfumery.

Curry plant - (a species of Helichrisum) has a Lavender-like leaf and yellow button-like flower like the Yarrow.  If you gently rub the plant it smells like a Curry powder.  The flower can be used in hair rinses and packs for light or blond hair.

Cyclamens - (Cyclamen spp.) are occasionally used as a cosmetic wash to soften the skin and clear it of marks.


*Daffodil - (Narcissus spp.) flowers are occasionally infused in oil to make massage and body oils useful for the soothing effect of the scent and to relax the nervous system.

Daisy - (Bellis perennis) flowers are used externally in lotions for skin disease, wounds, and bruises.

Dandelion - (Taraxacum spp.) greens are very high in vitamin A and, in fact, contain more of this substance than Carrots and Apricots.  They are useful in facial steams, facial packs, as a wash for eczema and other skin complaints, in bath herbs, infused in oil as a bath or body oil.  Dandelions are a specific for the liver and thus are one of the most useful herbs in the home cosmetic cabinet. Dandelion tea - one ounce infused in two cups of boiling water for five to ten minutes, strained and honeyed - drunk throughout the day is a useful addition to your external cosmetic treatments.

Deer Tongue - (Frasera speciosa, Liatris odoratissima) is used in bath herbs because of its sweet aromatic scent which is due to its coumarin contents.  It is also used in herbal smoking mixtures.

Dill - (Anethum graveolens) oil and herb are used in soapmaking.  The essential oil is also used in aromatherapy.

Dittany of Crete - (Origanum dictamnus) is indigenous to Crete; the leaf infusion has been used to ease the pain of difficult labor and also for gastric distress; bracts and flowers are drunk as a pleasant relaxing tea; three leaves are chewed every few hours for sore throat pain; the leaves mixed with Parsley, Garlic, Thyme, salt, and Pepper make as interesting fish sauce; a salve of the root is used for sciatica pain; the leaves infused in oil make useful massage oil for the legs and hips.  The distilled water is an excellent cosmetic for all types and conditions of skin.

Dock - (all varieties: Rumex alpinus - Herb Patience; R. crispus - Yellow Dock, used for the skin and the liver) is a mild astringent and detergent and is used in bath herbs and in facial washes for skin eruptions or diseases or freckles.  Dock contains more vitamin A than Carrots but less than Dandelions.  Infusions of Dock are used as cleansing mouthwashes for the gums and teeth and powdered Dock root is used as a dentifrice.

Dragon's Blood - (Dracaena spp., Daemonorops draco) is used to color tooth powders, and it also acts as an astringent.  There is a fine specimen of this tree in the Huntington Gardens of Los Angeles.


Echinacea - (E. augustifolia) root is one of the most useful herbs for the home medicinal chest.  It also has great use in cosmetics, mainly as an internal cleanser for skin conditions.  I normally take it in gelatin capsule form because the tea tastes somewhat unpleasant.

Elder - (Sambucus canadensis, S. nigra) leaf water or ointment is used for cooling and softening the skin.  Elderberries boiled in wine or vinegar make a black hair dye.  Elder flowers are the most useful part of the Elder tree in cosmetics and generally are distilled into Elder flower water, which is used as a healing and gentle astringent for dry or normal skin.  They have a sweet scent and are occasionally used in perfumery.  Elder flower water or tea made at home is used as a wash to cleanse the skin and clear the complexion of freckles, or as an eyewash, or to ease a sunburn.  Mixed with salt or with Glycerin and borax, it is used for eruptions.  Elder flowers are also added to bath water to ease irritable skin or nerves; mixed with Peppermint and Yerba Santa, it is a fine diaphoretic tea to take for a cold; steeped in oil, it makes a relaxing and soothing bath and massage oil.  Elder face cream is an excellent day- or night-time application.

Elecampane - (Inula helenium) is occasionally used as a wash for skin disease, but it is best mixed with other facial herbs such as Comfrey plus an aromatic.  Also added to bath water.

Elm - (Ulmus campestris) bark and leaves are used in baths or distilled into a water that is useful for skin eruptions and cutaneous diseases.  It is slightly astringent and emollient.

Elm, Slippery - (Ulmus fulva) is a demulcent and emollient and is very useful in herbal practice.  It is healing, soothing, and, when taken internally, strengthening.  It is usually purchased in powder form and, as such, makes a fine poultice for all types of skin afflictions - wounds, abscesses, sores, inflamed surfaces, ulcerous sores, burns, boils, and skin diseases.  A poultice also reduces pain (it would improve the poultice to add Comfrey root in a ration of 1:1).

Eucalyptus - (E. spp., E. globulus is the common Eucalyptus used as an antiseptic; E. citriodora - lemon-scented - is used in perfumery; E. odorata is used in soapmaking) leaves are used in bath herbs for the antiseptic action and are especially nice when you have a cold or other respiratory problem (the aromatic scent coming from the bath water seems to clear the respiratory passages).  The leaves are also used in sleep pillows for asthma or bronchial troubles, and they are useful in mixtures of herbs for dandruff or scalp conditions. The aromatic oil, especially from the lemon-scented Eucalyptus, is used in soapmaking, for massage or bath oils, and also in ointments for skin affections.  It is also used in many over-the-counter preparations.  Mixed with oil and solidified with beeswax, this ointment is very good for chapped hands, and as a rub for aching joints or muscles.

Eyebright - (Euphrasia officinalis) is used as a wash for sore or puffy eyes.


Fennel - (Foeniculum vulgare) seed, ground, is used in facial steams to medicate the pores, and Fennel oil is used in perfumery and for scenting soaps.  An infusion of Fennel with a bit of Eyebright makes a soothing eyewash and is said to have a strengthening effect on the eyes; an infusion of Fennel seed and Nettle leaves makes a useful tea for those who wish to lose weight, and it is also a galctogogue.

Fenugreek - (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds, sprouted, are an excellent addition to the diet for diabetic and arthritic afflictions.  Fenugreek apparently contains B12, organic iron, and a hormone that makes it an excellent tea for vegetarians.  A poultice of Fenugreek seeds is emollient and, therefore, useful to relieve boils or abscess.

Ferns - are generally used in herbal medicine and have very little use in herbal cosmetics, except for the Maidenhair Fern (Asplenium trichomanes), which has an old reputation as an excellent hair wash to stimulate growth and prevent the hair from falling out, and, mixed with Camomile and infused in oil, for swellings and for drying up moist sores.  Powdered roots of Bracken Fern (Pteris aquilina) are used as an astringent to dry up old sores.  The root of the Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare) is used as a tonic tea to help in the healing of skin deseases.  The root of the Kings Fern - also called Male Fern or Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) - is very useful infused in oil as a massage oil for the lower back or as an ointment for sores and bruises.

Feverfew - (also called the Febrifuge plant or Pyrethrum parthenium) in my garden is a nice bushy plant and keeps producing lots of aromatic flowers throughout the year that are about one inch across with white outer rays, the center round part, called the floret, being about ⅝ inch in diameter, pale yellow, and nearly flat.  This is a plant often mislabeled in nurseries and should probably be ordered from one of the more reputable plant dealers such as those listed in Chapter VI.  I have ordered seeds of this plant and the plant itself from five different nurseries in the United States and have received three entirely different plants under the name of Feverfew.  However, though they look different, they smell remarkably alike.  Feverfew infused in cold water and applied to the face makes an excellent poultice for a sensitive face or headache.  It can also be used in bath herbs or for facial steams.

Figs - (Ficus carica) are important in many ancient mythologies, both in religious ceremonies and as an aphrodisiac.  Figs are mildly laxative and can be applied cosmetically as emollient and cleansing masks.  They are also useful as a poultice for swellings, sores, or a dental abscess ( use the soft mashed inner part).  Occasionally the milky stalk juice is applied directly on warts to remove them.  Mr. Freitas was one of the mysterious people of my childhood.  He lived next door and kept pigeons and peacocks in his backyard, stagecoaches in the barn, and at his back door an enormous Fig tree.  Whenever we walked through his property to get to the local swimming pool, he would appear at the back door with a yapping little dog, offering his gorgeous Figs.  I always felt I was Eve being tempted by the Devil.  I don't believe I ever ate one of his Figs; they made me too nervous.

Figwort - (Scrophularia nodosa) is occasionally used externally as a poultice for sores or pimples

Filaree - (Alfilerilla spp.) is used in herb bath mixtures for joint aches and for rheumatism.

Flax - (Linum usitatissimum) seed is used as a mucilage to set hair or as an emollient and demulcent poultice.  The poultice eases pain and irritation and is commonly used for boils, sores, and irritations.  Linseed oil (the oil from the Flax seed) is drying oil rarely used for oily skin and normally mixed with other oils.

Fo-ti-tieng - (Hydrocotyle asiatica minor) is used in bath herbs for its rejuvenating effect on the skin, especially in conjunction with Patchouli, Comfrey, and Ginseng.

Frangipani - is also called the Plumeria (P. acuminata) or Melia in Hawaii.  P. rubra is the red Plumeria.  See Plumeria for uses.

Frankincense - (various species of Boswellia, especially B. carteri) is used as incense and occasionally in facial steams or inhalations for sore throat or laryngitis.  It forms part of the eye make-up substance called kohl.  There is an old recipe to remove pimples that uses Frankincense: Boil an egg, separate the white and sprinkle over it powdered Frankincense, put it away in a cool place until the white liquefies, and then apply this to the pimples or the acne (sounds yucky to me!).

Fuchsia - (Zauschneria or Fuchsia californica) flowers dried and powdered are used to dust on wounds and sores; a wash of the fresh flowers is used as a poultice for deep sores.  The dried flowers also make a nice addition to potpourri for deep red color.

Fumitory - (Fumaria officinalis) is said to be used as a wash for infants' cradle cap, as a face wash to clear up freckles and acne pimples, and in soapmaking.


Gardenia - (Gardenia spp.) tea is drunk for hysteria and applied externally for chronic skin ailments.  Inhale the scent to soothe the psyche and make the flower oil by enfleurage for use as a body and massage oil.

Garlic - (Allium sativum) The magic plant.  I use it for everything and consider it one of the five most valuable medicinal or cosmetic herbs.  Eaten or applied externally, it is beneficial.  If you cook it, it loses most of its potent valuable qualities; it should be used absolutely fresh or only slightly heated.  A clove placed in the mouth near an abscess will help remove the swelling and the pain.  If you or your pets have worms (pinworms), eat the raw cloves and place a clove in the anus before bed and soon the worms will be gone.  However, this does burn.  If you have an earache or an infected ear, place a clove in the ear (do not break the surface of the clove) - just peel away the skin), and the earache will soon go away.  Again, this might burn slightly, but it will work soon enough.  The raw juice mixed with water is sniffed to cure a sinus infection or an infectious runny nose (see Herbs & Things).  The mashed cloves are applied externally for swellings and sores and dabbed on pimples and acne to cure them.  However, the smell might be repugnant to some.  Four or five cloves of Garlic infused in water, vinegar, or wine makes an excellent wash for the scalp to stimulate growth and clear up dandruff.  Last September I planted Elephant Garlic that was harvested this August.  The bulbs weighed 10-16 ounces each, each bulb having 5 or 6 cloves.  This Garlic is very mild and can be thinly sliced and eaten in sandwiches; when cooked, it tastes like potatoes.

Geranium - (Geranium spp. - the common garden Geranium) leaves are useful wherever an astringent is needed.  The root of the wild Geranium is called Alum root and is often used as a vaginal douche for persistent types of discharge.  Geranium flowers can be dried and used in potpourris.  Our interest in Geraniums really concerns the scented types, the various species of Pelargonium.  These plants, with their marvelously scented foliage of spice, citrus, fruit, herb, or flower, can be used in all types of cosmetic preparations.  They are especially nice in facial steams, as a stimulating tea, as a mild astringent wash, in stimulating bath herbs, hair rinses, or facial masks.  The foliage when dried is really nice in herby potpourris.  Rose Geranium is delicious in tea.  Geranium oil is obtained by distillation of the leaves and stems of various species of the Pelargonium and is a part of many types of perfumes - especially Rose types - or as a substitute for Rose perfumes.  It is also used in many cosmetics and in soapmaking.

Ginger - (Zingibar officinale) decoction is occasionally used as a cleansing mouthwash.

Ginseng - (Panx quinquefolium - American; P. schinseng - Oriental)  has of late been enjoying a reputation as a super cosmetic and is used in places like Hollywood and London as a super panacea for all types of cosmetic ills.  Taken internally it does work as a rejuvenative and tonic.  I have found it excellent as a skin conditioner in a bath herb mixture combined with other herbs such as Comfrey and Patchouli.  It is also used in skin masks and packs and makes a wonderful skin cleanser, eye mask, moisturizing lotion, or night cream.  For an excellent facial cleanser and restorative make an infusion of Peppermint, Comfrey, and Alfalfa and use this liquid to make a mucilage of Tragacanth, add Benzoin or tincture of Benzoin as a preservative and some Ginseng as the active ingredient for its grittiness and rejuvenative qualities.  For the pores, mix powdered Ginseng and powdered Alfalfa with sage honey, and pat on clean skin, and remove with warm water, then cool water.

Glycerin - is a substance that occurs in all animal and vegetable fats; it is a colorless, odorless, sweet, syrupy liquid.  It is a viscous humectant used in creams, lotions, mouthwashes, cough syrups, soapmaking, drugs, and foods.  It is a useful addition to the home cosmetic maker - mixed with Rose or Orange water, it makes an excellent hand or body lotion, very effective on chapped or dry skin.

*Goldenrod - (Solidago odora)  As Euell Gibbons was wont to say on television, "It makes a delicious tay."  It is also aromatic and stimulating to the tissues and can be added to a facial steam for its astringent and diaphoretic qualities.  These same qualities make it a nice addition to the bath, especially for oily skin, and in shampoo or hair rinse it can give the hair nice highlights.  Of course it is especially useful to those with light-colored hair.  It can be used as a compress for a headache.

*Golden Seal - (Hydrastic canadensis) is an herb that may soon be unavailable because of our extensive export of it; indeed, our government agencies, seeing that it works, want to make it illegal to buy.  However, it is more useful as a medicinal plant.  The root can be used as an astringent yellow dye or hair rinse.  Mixed with Comfrey root, it becomes less astringent and can therefore be used by those with dry or thin hair.  It can also be used as a mouthwash for thrush or any other disordered condition of the mouth.  It is used externally in all sorts of lotions for various skin conditions  including acne and dandruff.  The active ingredients of this plant can be absorbed through the skin, and it should be remembered that this absorption is cumulative (can be poisonous), and therefore Golden Seal should only be used for short periods of time when really necessary.

Gold Thread - (Coptis trifolia) as an infusion with other herbs is useful as a hair rinse or dye.  Since it is a potent astringent, it makes an excellent mouthwash or wash for all sorts of skin pimples, bumps, or sores.  It has also been used to some extent as a mouthwash for thrush.

Gotu Kola - (Hydrocotyl asiatica) is occasionally used in bath herb mixtures for its rejuvenating effect on the skin with Comfrey, Patchouli, and Ginseng.  It is often confused with but may in fact be identical with Fo-ti-tieng.

Grapes - (Vitis vinifera) are cooling and demulcent.  They can be mashed and applied directly to the skin to make a nourishing mask.  Seeds and leaves are astringent and are used in the bath as a restorative.  The sap is called Lachryma and is used as a lotion for the eyes, especially weak eyes.

Groundsels - also called Ragworts, are not the same as Ragweeds, which occasionally are also called Ragworts.  Senecio vulgaris is used as a wash for the skin; S. maritima or Cineraria (a common garden Groundsel) is used as a compress for tired eyes; and all can be used in the bath as a mild diaphoretic.

Gypsyweed - or the Lycopus is an astringent used in herbal steams and baths and also as a wash  for many tpes of skin problems.  It is said to be used by gypsies as a stain for the face.


Heartsease - See Pansy.

*Heather - (Erica vulgaris) water, distilled from the flowers, cures inflamed eyes.  An oil made from the flowers has a reputation for curing shingles and skin eruptions.

*Heliotrope - (Heliotropium peruvianum), also called Cherry Pie, is used in the home for its wonderfully fragrant scent.  A tincture of the blossoms is used as a compress for headache or as a gargle for sore throat.  A cold infusion of the flowers is used as a rinse for the hair or body, and a cold oil infusion can be used as a bath or body oil.  In aromatherapy the scent is inhaled to soothe the nerves.

*Henna - (Lawsonia alba or L. inermis) is a famous Egyptian herb used for cosmetics and medicines for hundreds, nay thousands of years.  it makes an excellent hair wash, rinse, or dye, depending on the strength of the solution.  The powdered leaf can be mixed with other herbs to make different-colored rinses, depending on one's desires.  You can stain your fingernails or dye patterns onto your body with it.  The leaves used externally as a wash are helpful in clearing up all types of skin affections, and mixed with Camomile and simmered in oil, Henna makes an excellent massage oil said to make the limbs more supple.  The flowers are used in massage oils, and the essence is extracted for a perfume oil.

Hibiscus - (H. rosa-sinensis) flowers and leaves are used as a hair rinse and in facial steams as an emollient (see also Jamaica flowers).

*Holly - also called the Holy Tree (Ilex aquifolium).  The leaves, berries, and bark are all used.  The leaves are a diaphoretic cosmetic and an infusion given in certain respiratory ailments.  The berries are violently emetic and probably should not be used.  Holly has very little cosmetic use.

Hollyhock - (Althaea rosea)  is very useful in hair rinses as an emollient dye plant especially for dark hair or white hair to get rid of the yellowish tinge.  The flowers come in assorted colors, and the rather blackish blue ones, when dried, possess an interesting smell most useful in Rose potpourris.  These emollient flowers are also good in herbal baths or in a compress for soothing facial dryness and softening.

*Honeysuckle - (Lonicera caprifolium)  flowers are infused in oil to make an elegant massage or body oil.  The distilled water is excellent as a headwash for head pain or headache and also as a wash for delicate skin.  Honeysuckle flower syrup is delicious and exceedingly useful as a gargle for sore throat; it is taken frequently for asthma.  When used frequently, Honeysuckle bark oil is a good application for wrinkles.

*Hops - (Humulus lupulus)  are occasionally used to yield a brown dye for the hair, and an infusion with Camomile is used to reduce swellings; this same mixture can be infused in oil as a body oil.

*Horseradish - (Rorippa armoracia)  infused in oil with other herbs such as Orange peel is occasionally used as a very stimulating massage oil for aches and pains.  It is a powerful stimulant and rubefacient.

Horsetails - (Equisetum arvense) are said to make an effective wash for the hair to stimulate growth and eliminate dandruff.  However, I have not used it for this purpose.  The distilled water, or an infusion, is used for the face to clear up pimply breakouts.

Houseleek - (Sempervivum tectorum) has been used for hundreds of years as a beautifying cosmetic.  It is said that this plant was one of the ingredients in Nonon de Lenclos' famous herb bath formula.  It also had a reputation with the ancient Greeks as an aphrodisiac.  An infusion of the herb is used both internally and externally for all types of skin diseases, burns, warts, cuts, and as a wash for inflamed eyes.  Very good used by itself or with honey or cream in lotions, potions, facial steams, and baths.  It is mainly cooling, and astringent.

Huckleberry - (Vaccinium myrtillus) leaves and fruits are used as an external astringent application for oily skin.

Hyssop - (Hyssopus officinalis) is a potent diaphoretic in the bath and is especailly nice when used absolutely fresh.  However, it is best mixed with Thyme, Mint, and Rosemary.  It can also be used as a cleansing facial steaming herb.  An infusion of the leaves in oil is an excellent massage application for aching limbs and rheumatic pains.  Hyssop oil is used in liquors (chartreuse).  The scent can be inhaled by persons of hysterical disposition to calm them.  In other times it was used as a strewing herb.


*Indigo - (Indigofera tinctoria) is a plant from which a blue-black dye extracted by fermentation is used in writing inks, as a dyestuff for the hair, and, well diluted, as a rinse.  The color can be altered by adding other herbs: Clove for a rich brown, Henna for a redish cast (see Chapter XVII)

Iris - (Iris florentina - Orris root; I. foetidissima - Stinking Iris; I. pseudacorus - Yellow Iris; I. versicolor - Blue Flag)  furnishes the famous Orris root, which is an important cosmetic (see Orris).  A decoction of the dried root of the foetid or Stinking Iris is used as a cleansing wash for facial eruptions.  An infusion of the Yellow Iris is used as a hair rinse.  Iris flowers infused in oil can be used as a massage oil for aching legs or, during pregnancy, for muscle cramps (it is said to strengthen weak legs).  It is also applied for blemish control as a daily wash.

Irish Moss - (Chondrus crispus), a sea plant, contains a substance called Carrageen that is used as a suspending and emulsifying agent in cosmetics, especially creams, and in antiwrinkle preparations.  It is a soothing emollient, especially useful for dry or aging skin problems.

Ivy - (Hedera helix) is used in mixtures of bath herbs for the nerves and muscles.  In old books it is also recommended as a sunburn remover when boiled in sweet butter and applied.

*Ivy - (Glechoma hederacea - Ground Ivy) is used in bath herbs for problem skin and is especially useful mixed with Camomile, Comfrey, Yarrow, and other like herbs.


*Jaborandi - (Pilocarpus jaborandi) has an especial reputation as a stimulant to hair growth.  It  contains pilocarpine and is terribly dangerous if taken internally.  In all my classes I emphasize over and over the importance of testing herbs for strength when they are used internally, that one must test every new batch of herbs by making a very weak tea and gradually increasing the dosage until one finds the proper effective strength because each batch is of variable strength, stronger or weaker than the last.  However, when I decided to take some Jaborandi tea to help me lose weight (body water) quickly for an upcoming physical, I stupidly ignored my own advice of moderation and took a quantity of Jaborandi, ground up and stuffed into gelatin capsules, that was much too powerful.  The first symptom occurred 20 minutes after I took the dose and was in bed; I started to perspire and salivate so profusely that I was afraid I would choke on my own saliva, and so I sat up.  Then I took a towel to spnge my body and to soak up the saliva and water that was pouring out of every orifice.  I wrapped myself in blankets and made some extra strong black tea to counteract the effects of the overdose of Jaborandi.  Within 2 hours I was able to go to bed again safely; in the morning my pillow was so soaked with perspiration that I was able to wring it out and when I weighed myself I found that I had lost over 5 pounds in 3 hours.  A much too dangerous way to lose weight!

Cosmetically, Jaborandi is used in shampoos and herbal hair rinses, hair tonics and lotions to stimulate the pores, and occasionally in baths to get rid of excess water in the tissues; it is also useful as a wash for skin problems such as psoriasis.

Jamaica flowers - (Several species of Hibiscus - one of the nicest is H. sabdariffa from Mexico) are used wherever an astringent herb is indicated in cosmetics.  It also makes a delicious tea to drink.  The red flowers can be used to color hair red.

*Jasmine - (Jasminum officinale - common White Jasmine; J. odoratissimum - true Yellow Jasmine from the Canary Islands; J. sambac - to scent tea; J. Grandiflorum - Spanish Jasmine) flowers can be used in many ways in cosmetic preparations.  The flowers infused in a fine oil have been used as a massage oil to overcome frigidity; this same oil added to the bath is excellent for smoothing the skin.  Jasmine flowers added to white wine (German white wines or champagne seem to work the best) make an excellent and tasty drink that is said to act as an aphrodisiac.  Essential oil of Jasmine is inhaled to relax the body, facilitate childbirth (I used it for this), and in sleep pillows to help one fall asleep.  This oil is obtained by the enfleurage method and is becoming increasingly expensive.  The flowers are wonderful with Rose and Comfrey when added to the bath, and in facial steams to smooth and cleanse the skin.  Mrs. Grieve states that boiled leaves of the Eastern Jasmine are "used to anoint the head for complaints of the eye, and  an oil obtained from the roots is used medicinally to arrest the secretion of milk."

*Jewelweed - (Impatiens biflora) juice is used externally to relieve poison oak irritation, and other species are said to be used for dying the fingernails red or as a hairwash.

*Jonquil - (Narcissus jonquilla) Jonquil flowers, or their essential oil, are used in perfumery and, when inhaled, influence the nervous system and work on the senses.  They have also been used in the treatment of hysteria.  The fresh flowers when displayed in any quantity in a room can cause nausea and headache in sensitive people.  The flowers are also said to be a potent remedy for some skin diseases of a pustular nature.

Juniper - (Juniperus communis) berries are used in baths for aching muscles, and the oil is used in soapmaking and in massage or in bath oils and liniments.


Kale - (Brassica oleracea, var. acephala) as well as all the other members of the cabbage family is used cosmetically as a wash for sore or bloodshot eyes.

Kelp - (a general name for large brown Seaweeds) is used internally as a food supplement for its vitamins and minerals, which are beneficial to the skin, fingernails, and hair.  It can be used with positive effects in weight control diets and can be added to the bath for smoothing the skin.

"The Indians of Sitka, Alaska, make use of the tube-like stipes of bull kelp as an instrument for treating earache; the thin end of the kelp is placed in the ear and the bulb is put on a hot, wet stone, thereby allowing the steam to enter and soothe the auditory canal.  Seaweeds are also used for poultices for bruises and cuts." - Gloria Dunstan, Seaweeds.  Kelp makes excellent soil fertilizer and can be spread about without preparation and then plowed into the ground as a source of potash.  Kelp is a term used for many species of the Seaweed Fucus (see also Seaweed).  It was the original source of iodine, being discovered by Courtois in 1812.  Iodine does not occur in nature in the uncombined state but is widely distributed in sea water, some Seaweeds, and various mineral and medicinal springs.  Kelp has alterative properties and reduces obesity by its action on the thyroid.  It is also used in chronic psoriasis.  (The recommended dosage is 25 grams of Kelp extract before each of 3 meals a day, which seems like a lot to me.)

Kings Fern - See Ferns.

*Kohl - is a black powder containing a number of ingredients, including Frankincense and it is thought, lead and antimony.  Consequently, Kohl can cause eye irritation, madness, and blindness.  Some artificial Kohls are made and sold in this country to be used in the same way as the original (that is, as an eye make-up).


Labdanum - (Cistus ladaniferus) See also Rock Rose.  The essential oil, steam-distilled from this gum, is called Cistus oil or oil of Ciste.  Cistus oil can also be obtained by steam distillation from the leaves and tops.

Lady's Mantle - (Alchemilla vilgaris) is used for sleep and also, when infused in water or oil, as a massage for hanging breasts; it is thought to cause the breasts to grow smaller and more firm.  It is used in bath herbs for sore, inflamed skin and acts as an astringent.

*Laurel - (Laurus nobilis) berry oil is used in perfumery and in liniments for aching muscles, bruises, and sprains.  The leaves are employed in baths for rheumatism and aching, overworked muscles.

Lavender - (Lavandula vera, Lavandula officinalis) is another of those plants so incredibly useful in cosmetics.  Along with Rose and Comfrey, it could be all that one needs.  The plant is low and shrubby and seems to grown anywhere, including wet and foggy San Francisco.  My plants produce three to four sets of flowers a year.  Ideally, Lavender is grown in good loam over chalky well-drained soil in an open, dry, sunny position, free from dampness in the winter.

The oil is distilled from the flower and leaf tops.  It was used in earlier days as a condiment and to flavor dishes (it was said to comfort the stomach).  It is now employed as an aromatic, carminative, and nervine.  Lavender oil applied externally is used for stimulating sore, exhausted muscles and to rub on sprains, strains, and stiff joints.  It is also applied to a brush and brushed on the hair to stimulate hair growth; it works especially well mixed with oil of Basil, though oil of Rosemary is a considerably cheaper substitute.  The oil and spirit are especially good when taken internally for all sorts of pains in the head and for the brain, as a restorative and tonic against faintness, weakness, giddiness, spasms, colic, vertigo - and with oil of Rosemary for loss of memory, it relieves melancholy and raises the spirits.  Externally, a few drops in a hot footbath is used for fatigue, toothache, neuralgia, sprains, and rheumatism.  A few drops of Lavender rubbed on the temples is very nice for a nervous headache. A tea brewed from the tops is excellent to relieve a headache that results from fatigue and exhaustion or for stimulation when you need to wake up.  For this purpose it is superb, especially when mixed with scented Geranium leaf, Rosemary, and Comfrey.

Fomentation of Lavender in bags can be used as an anesthetic to relieve pain or as an application or mask for the face.

A distilled water of Lavender and Licorice is used as a gargle for hoarseness and loss of voice.  It is applied as an antiseptic for swabbing pimples, wounds, acne, or sores.  The water is used as a wash for puffy eyes, bruises, bites, and other minor external sores or blemishes to normalize the sebaceous glands and reduce puffiness, and as a hair rinse to reduce oiliness.

The dried plant is added to baths and facial steaming herbs to stimulate the complexion, cleanse the skin, and act as an aromatic astringent; it can be mixed with Rosemary, Comfrey, and Rose.  The dried plant is also one of the most commonly used plants in potpourris and sachets.

All in all, Lavender has an extensive cosmetic reputation in most types of lotions, potions, baths, aftershaves, waters, washes, soaps, etc.

Lemon - (Citrus limon, C. medica, var. limona) is used extensively in perfumery and masculine cosmetics to provide that fresh scent that seems to be one of the most preferred.  Lemon is an aromatic astringent and is used in many, many ways.  The dried or fresh peel is added to bath herbs, facial steaming herbs, or to potpourris or herbal mixtures; used as a decoction for normal to oily hair or added directly to vinegar rinses for hair or face.  Fresh Lemon juice can be applied directly to minor cuts or wounds, an excellent, albeit itch, application to herpes and pruritis of the scrotum (also called hot itchy balls).  Diluted Lemon juice makes an excellent final rinse for hair or face.  A halved Lemon applied to horny elbows helps get rid of the scaly flesh; however, the inner rough side of the thick-skinned Avocado peel actually works better.  Lemon juice rinse counteracts the alkalinity of shampoo and helps to get rid of dandruff.  It is used as a gargle for sore throat, and as an application for sunburn.  Suck on a Lemon to get rid of hiccups or for hysterical heartbeat.  Add dried Lemon to sleep pillows, where it acts as a soothing refresher and, added to Rosemary, it helps people who sleep too heavily to wake up.

Lemongrass - (Cymbogogon citratus) can be purchased from a few nurseries (try Hilltop Herb Farm - Texas).  The plant is basically a tropical grass; however, I have had good results growing it here in San Francisco against a sunny wall and in a very deep pot.  The grass is used in bath herbs, facial herbs, and hair rinse herbs.  It is used to normalize overactive oil glands;  as such it is useful for dry and oily skin, dandruff, and related skin problems.  It is a source of commercial vitamin A.  The oil is used in perfumery for inexpensive soaps and various other types of cosmetics.

Lemon Verbena - (Lippia citridora) called Cédron in Mexico, when made into a tea, relieves indigestion and insomnia.  The leaves are Lemon scented and used in bath herbs and facial herbs as a pore stimulant and in Lemon-scented potpourris.  The oil produced by steam distillation is used in various cosmetics and in soapmaking.

Lettuce - (Lactuca sative - domestic; L. virosa - wild) leaves - wild and domestic - are used as a very effective wash for pimply skin or sore eyes.  My Italian relatives suggest that a nursing mother simmer Lettuce for a few minutes and use the water for sore nipples or a baby's runny eyes and then add salt and pepper to the leaves and eat them to increase the milk production. (It is important that you use nonsprayed Lettuce.)  Lettuce tea is also used as a mild soporific.  The juice of the fresh Lettuce is employed in soap-making and in the making of lotions and potions for sore or rough skin and to soothe a sunburn.

Licorice - (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root is mainly used medicinally, but in cosmetics it has a unique and potent use in facial steaming herbs as it is emollient and soothing and opens the pores so that other herbs can medicate and clean them out.  A good formula for steaming herbs is 1/3 Licorice root, 1/3 Comfrey root or leaf, and 1/3 medicating herbs such as Camomile or Lavender.

Lilac - (Syringa vulgaris) flowers are occasionally dried and used in potpourris and sometimes infused in oil for the scent.

*Lilies - (Lilium candidum - Madonna Lily, used for burns and scars; L. tigrinum - used in Szechuan-style food, and in tincture to relieve morning sickness) have a long and interesting reputation as a cosmetic ingredient in all types of lotions, potions, and wrinkle creams.  Most Lilies are soothing, emollients, and slightly astringent; they are often used for sore skin or for burns and scalds.  Oils and ointments made from the dried bulbs are used for aching muscles and contracted or sore tendons.

*Lily of the Valley - (Convallaria majalis) flowers soaked in white wine are rubbed on the temples for a headache, drunk occasionally to strengthen the memory (they also at as a heart stimulant), and rubbed on aching joints to ease joint pain.  The flowers are used in aromatherapy as a mild soporific; infused in oil they make a unique and pleasant soothing massage oil.

*Lime - (Citrus aurantifolia or C. limetta) peel is used in potpourris, and Lime juice, as an astringent, is used in much the same way as Lemon juice.  The juice diluted with water makes an effective mild skin freshener.  The oil can be used as a scent for soaps, shampoos, and other cosmetic preparations, especially in masculine colognes and aftershave lotions.

Linden - (Tilia Europaea) also known as Lime or Tilia, is commonly used as a sedative tea; however, when used in the bath it also acts as a mild sedative - both diaphoretic and antiseptic - for a hyperactive or hysterical person.  The flowers are very cooling and relaxing when used internally or externally, and when infused in oil they give the same relaxing effect when massaged on the body.

Liverworts - (Anemone hepatica, Hepatica Americana) are used as poultices or in bath herbs for mild disorders of the skin, including spots, freckles, and pimples.

*Lobelia - (Lobelia inflata) is occasionally used externally as a compress for skin irritations or breakouts.

*Logwood Chips - (Haematoxylon campechianum) are occasionally used as an antiseptic wash for sores of the skin where they act as an astringent.

Loosestrife - (Lythrum salicaria), also called Purple Loosestrife, has been used as a wash for sore eyes, as a gargle for sore throat, and as a wash for sores.  It acts as an astringent, demulcent, and emollient.

*Lotus - (Nymphaea lutea, Zizyphus lotus) root is used as a cleansing vaginal douche.  The fragrant flowers are employed in perfumery or infused in oil and used for massage as a relaxant.

*Lovage - (Levisticum officinale) root in decoction is used as a face wash to remove freckles and spots and is very good in mixtures of bath herbs as an aromatic and mild diaphoretic.

Lupin - flowers from the order Leguminosae are cleansing, cooling, and used in all types of lotions and potions on skin scabs and sores; they help scabby, dandruffy scalp and are used in soapmaking.  Powdered Lupin seeds are dusted on blemishes to help heal them.  (See also Bean Flowers.)

Luffa - (Luffa cylindrica, L aegyptiaca) is the fibrous skeleton of a gourd, and it is used as a stimulating, cleansing, scale-removing washcloth for the body.  Excellent for underactive tissues.  Now available at health food stores, fine department stores, and pharmacies.  Also called Loofah.


*Mace - (Myristica fragrans) is the external covering of the Nutmeg and is used in perfumery and soapmaking.  An ointment of Mace, Comfrey root, and Nutmeg is used as a counterirritant massage for arthritis and rheumatism.

*Madder - (Rubia tinctorum) as a dye is used in cosmetics to color the lips or cheeks.

*Magnolia - (Magnolia spp.) flowers are occasionally used in perfumery to yield an essential oil; however, they are not really exploited for the production of perfume oil.  The scent is very soothing and exotic.

Maidenhair Fern - See Ferns.

Mallow - (any plant of the order Malvaceae) These plants are all used for their soothing emollient effects in creams, lotions, decoctions, and concoctions, and have many uses both medicinally and cosmetically.  The roots and seeds boiled in white wine and massaged into the breasts ease swelling.  The seeds can be steeped in vinegar and used as a skin wash, and the leaves bruised and laid on itchy insect bites to soothe them.  Boil the juice in oil and smooth it over the skin for roughness or dry scabs; rub in into the scalp to keep the hair from falling out.  (See also Marshmallow, Malva and Hollyhock.)

Malva rotundifolia - also called Dwarf Mallow or Blue Malva, has pale purple flowers that are used in potpourris and, with the leaves, used in bath herbs for emolliency.

Malva sylvestris, - called the Blue or Common Mallow (about 4 feet tall and bushy), has purple flowers used in potpourris; its leaves are employed in bath herbs and poultices as an emollient.

*Mandrake - (Podophyllum peltatum)  The American kind is used in preparations to remove warts.

*Mangrove - (Rhizophora mangle) wood is hard and durable and its bark is very astringent.  Occasionally it is applied as an astringent wash for skin blemishes.  The fruit is said to be sweet and nourishing.

Maple - (any tree of the order Aceraceae, Acer campestre - Common Maple; A. saccharinum, A. rubrum - Red Maple)  bark is used much like Oak bark as it is astringent.  Ocasionally it is applied cosmetically.

Marigold - (Calendula officinalis, and often Tagetes spp.)  flowers are used in water infusions as a wash for sore, irritated skin or eyes and as a lightening rinse for the hair.  It is a stimulant and diaphoretic and terrific in bath herbs or facial herb mixtures.  For a little baby's bath, a mixture of Camomile, Marigold, and Comfrey is great as a skin soother; it is also useful as a wash for diaper rash and cradle cap.  Powdered Marigold flowers, either by themselves or mixed half and half with powdered Camomile and talcum, make a wonderful body powder that is delicate enough for a newborn.  A poultice of Marigold is good for sores or other external afflictions and is one of the few herbs recommended for varicose veins.  Also, when infused in vinegar Marigolds become a facial wash and hair rinse.

Marjoram - (Origanum majorana)  The sweet type is powdered and used as a sneezing powder to clear the head and sinuses.  It acts on the nervous system and is said to help overly erotic persons.  It is a mild external antiseptic.  The oil is used externally for headache, sprains, bruises, et., and also as an emmenagogue.  It is excellent in bath herb mixtures and is used to stimulate the sense of touch.

Marshmallow - (Athaea officinalis) root is soothing, emollient, and contains much mucilage; its efficacy is increased when mixed with Comfrey root; and it is used with the leaves as a poultice for inflammations, bruises, strains, and sprains.  It is generally applied medically, but is quite effective cosmetically in lotions and potions for sore skin or blemishes, as an eyewash, and in bath or facial herbs.

*Mastic - (Pistacia lentiscus) is used occasionally as a chewing resin to improve the breath.

Meadowsweet - (Filipendula ulmaria, Spiraea ulmaria) is an aromatic, diaphoretic, mild astringent and as such is used in bath herb mixtures and facial steaming mixtures.  It aids in the cure of skin eruptions, and as an ingredient in massage oil helps rheumatism.  Meadowsweet water as a wash is also used for skin blemishes.

Melilot - (Melilotus officinalis, M. alba, M. arvensis), also called Hayflower, is used in an excellent hangover remedy as follows: 1 oz. Melilot and ½ oz. Sage infused in 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup Rosewater for 1 week.  Strain and use as a head wash or compress for head pains.  Melilot has a similar smell to Tonka, new-mown Hay, and Woodruff (the smell is due to coumarin).  Melilot plus Comfrey makes an excellent, relaxing, cleansing bath herb mixture.  As a tea taken regularly, it acts as a natural deodorant.  The herb also makes a good moth repellent either by itself or mixed with other herbs.

*Milkweed - See Asclepias.

*Mimosa - perfume from Acacia decurrens is an intensely fragrant oil that will generally act to round off the "rough notes from synthetic materials" -Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. (See Acacia for uses of the flowers.)

Mints - of all kinds are aromatic stimulants, somewhat astringent, which yield wonderfully fragrant oils by distillation: Applemint - Mentha gentilis (in England called Gingermint); Bergamot Mint or Orange Mint - M. citrata; Horsemint (American) - Monarda punctata; Horsemint (English) - M. sylvestris; Pennyroyal - M. pulegium; Peppermint - M. piperita; Pineapple Mint - M. rotundifolia variegata; Spearmint - M. viridis; Watermint - M. aquatica.  There are many more Mints and hybrids but these are the usual cosmetic types.  Spearmint is used in baths with Lemon balm and other herbs; it feels good and strengthens the nerves and muscles.  The tea is used as a stomachic.  Any of the Mints used in the bath will be stimulative and restorative; Mint inhaled as one would use smelling salts is a stimulant.  In earlier times, Mint was used especially as a scent for the arms, with Rosemary as a tea, and inhaled to stimulate the memory.  A poultice of Rose leaves and Spearmint is used on the head as a tranquilizer to help one to sleep.  Mint with Rosemary and vinegar becomes a wash for dandruff.  A strong infusion of Mint is used for chapped hands, especially when mixed with Almond meal.  Spearmint is mostly used in cooking, while Peppermint is used in medicine and cosmetics.  To tell the difference between the spearmint and Peppermint, take a bit of both (oil or plant) in your mouth, then suck air in through pursed lips - Peppermint produces a hot aromatic taste at first, and afterward produces a sensation of cold in the mouth caused by the menthol it contains.  About 300 pounds of the fresh plant will produce about 1 pound of the essential oil.  All the Mints are terrific in bath herb mixtures as stimulating restoratives, as medication for the pores in facial herbs, as stimulating ingredients in facials, and as a component in soapmaking, mouthwash, lotions, potions, creams, mixed with honey, in hair rinse herbs, in massage oils for aching muscles, and as a compress for headache.  Horsemint is especially good in shampoos and herb and vinegar rinses for dandruff.  Pennyroyal is best in facial mixtures and as an insect repellent.  Apple and Pineapple Mint are terrific in the bath and in potpourris.  Spearmint is delicious as a tea, and Peppermint is great wherever its menthol content is needed in medicinal cosmetics.  Indeed, Mint is one of the six best cosmetic herbs (Rose, Thyme, Comfrey, Mint, Lavender, Rosemary).

*Morning Glory - (Iponaea spp., Convolvulus spp.) flowers are occasionally used as a compress for sore or tired eyes.  They also can be used in herbal hair rinses to brighten hair.

Moss - (Lycopodium clavatum - Common Club Moss; Sphagnum cymbifolium) has many and varied uses; most of them are medicinal but a few are cosmetic.  Some of the Mosses, such as Common Club Moss, are dried and used as a body powder for chafing or itchy scratchy skin, or for skin diseases such as eczema. (See Irish Moss, which is actually not a moss but a seaplant.)

*Mugwort - (Artemisia vulgaris) is used in bath herb mixtures, especially with Camomile and Agrimony for sore, aching muscles or as a rub in a liniment or massage oil for overexertion.  In aromatherapy inhaling the Mugwort is said to open the third eye, sleeping on it is supposed to reveal dreams of the future, and it is the herb used by the Chinese in moxas. (For clairvoyance, mix with Yarrow and Borage and take as an infusion.)

*Mulberry - (Morus nigra, M. rubra) dedicated to Minerva.  The fruit of the oldest tree is the best and is used for diseases of the throat and windpipe and afflictions of the mouth.  The dark juice is astringent and can be used in facial masks and packs.  At the corner of Tenth and A in my hometown was a park and in the park was a Mulberry tree.  Summer always became summer when I could eat the dark juicy fruits of the tree, which generally stained my clothes as I sat in the old tree's arms.  I always wondered when the silk worms would come and weave their cocoons.  I can remember the smell of the dust rising from the paths of the park and the secret feeling of walking along those dark overgrown passages to find the Mulberry tree that was the harbinger of summer.

Mullein, Great - (Verbascum thapsus) leaves and flowers are used wherever astringent and emollient properties are needed.  The yellow flowers are added to hair rinse mixtures for light to blond hair or to rinses for oily hair.  A thick decoction of flowers makes a hair dye.  The flowers steeped in olive oil are used as an application for sores or a massage oil for aching muscles.

Mustard seed - (Brassica alba - mustard plaster, B. nigra - footbath) for sore, aching feet.  Very stimulating.  Mustard flowers in California are bright yellow and often grow in the fields alongside the Artichokes.  These flowers can be used along with Camomile and Marigold as a stimulating wash.

*Myrrh - (Commiphora myrrha, C. balsmodendroni) is one of the oldest perfume materials known.  It is traditionally used in cosmetics (though it is more medicinal than cosmetic), in mouthwashes, tooth powders, and toothpaste as an aromatic astringent.  Smells nice too!

Myrtle - (Myrtus communis) belongs to Venus and is thought to have been used by her as an intimate toilet water.  The leaves can be used for various purposes: as an antiseptic, or a mild astringent in mixtures of herbs for vaginal douching.  The leaves are very fragrant and are sometimes dried and used in linen closets to scent linen and towels; they are also an aromatic astringent in bath herbs.  Myrtle oil is used in perfumery as a top note rather than as a fixative and blends with herbal oils such as Lavender, Rosemary, Clary, or Bergamot oil in colognes.


*Narcissus - (Narcissus tazetta) A Modern Herbal states that "the Arabians recommended the oil be used for curing baldness and as an aphrodisiac." (See also Daffodil and Jonquil.)

*Nasturtium - (Tropaeolum majus) flowers are used in bath herbs as an astringent and in hair rinses for dark blond to red hair; also delicious on salads.

*Neroli - oil is extracted form the flowers of the Bitter Orange and the Sweet Orange.  When the extraction is from Bitter Orange flowers it is called Neroli Bigarde, and when from Sweet Orange it is called Neroli Portugal.  This oil is used in perfumery and is highly valuable.  It is used in aromatherapy for soothing the nerves, and in sleep pillows to help one fall asleep.

*Nettles - (Urtica dioica) are used mainly in herbal baths to stimulate the skin and to improve circulation ( sometimes in wake-up baths or baths for arthritis).  In herbal hair rinses, it stimulates growth and improves the condition of the scalp.  For shiny, glossy hair, make an infusion of Nettle and Rosemary, brush into the hair, and rub onto the scalp every day.  It can also be infused in vinegar instead of water, and used for the scalp.  Use only in the dried form.  The young leaves contain iron and are a "blood purifier" and should be eaten often. (See Chapter XX for Mike's Nettle Bath)

*Nutmeg - (Myristica fragrans)  extract is used in perfumery, especially in combination with such other scents as Sandalwood, Lavender, Patchouli, and Vetivert, and spicy type of aftershave lotions and other kinds of men's cosmetics.  Nutmeg is used as a massage oil to stimulate circulation and in all rheumatic pains and achey joints.  It is used externally as a gentle stimulant.


Oak - (from many species of Quercus) bark is an antiseptic astringent and is used wherever one is needed.  It is not terribly effective in cosmetics and has much greater application as a medicinal.  Mixed with other herbs such as Mint and Comfrey, it makes a pleasant wash for sore or skin eruptions, or as a mouthwash.  The Indians use the juice of the Valley Oak galls as an eyewash.

Oakmoss - (Evernia prunastri) is a lichen, that is, it is formed from a fungus plus an alga.  The resin from this lichen is one of the oldest botanical substances known to man and is used in perfumery and in soapmaking.  Powdered Oakmoss is used as a basis for a body powder called Chypre.  Rush baskets filled with Oakmoss have been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.  When fresh, it is scentless, but after it is dried and stored, it develops a musky Lavender-like scent.  Used as a fixative in perfumery.

Oats and Oatmeal - (Avena sativa) are among the most useful items on the home cosmetic shelf.  Cook Oats and put the resultant gruel into a loose cheesecloth bag and add to the bath water to make a soothing liquid for itchy skin or when you have numerous insect bites.  Oatmeal bath water is also good to soothe a baby's diaper rash or any type of body rash.  Oats coarsely ground and mixed with honey make an excellent facial scrub.  Oat flakes mixed with water, yogurt, mil, or any other liquid are excellent as a facial mask, especially after steaming the pores with herbs.  Oatmeal, plus Almond meal and honey, is terrific to soften the skin; when rubbed into the hands it cleans, softens, and protects.  Oatmeal can also be added to soaps for cleansing.

*Oleander - (Nerium oleander) is demulcent and emollient, and I have used this flower that smells rather like talcum powder as a scented addition to talc.

Olive oil - (Olea Europaea) is an excellent all-purpose addition to cosmetics, massage and body oils, and lotions.  I consider it the best oil for all these purposes.  It makes an excellent soap, very hard and very mild on the skin.  Add a little Lemon juice to Olive oil, and you can use it either as a soothing application to pruritis or as the beginnings of a delicious salad dressing.  Instead of commercial baby oil, use Olive oil that has had Camomile flowers infused in it; it is much better and more soothing for the baby's skin, and is also an application for cradle cap to facilitate the removal of the crusts.  A mixture of Rosemary oil and Olive oil makes an excellent tonic for dry hair or as a hot oil massage for a sluggish scalp.  Also used as a cuticle oil and foot massage, with coconut oil and vitamin E to erase stretch marks, and for pregnant stomachs and breasts so you won't get stretch marks.  Also for insect bites, bruises, strains, sprains, and what have you.

*Opopanax - (Opopanax spp.) is used as a fixative in fragrant potpourris and as an ingredient in soapmaking.

*Oranges - (Citrus vulgaris, C. aurantium, var. amara - Bitter Orange; C. sinesis, C. aurantium, var. ducis - Sweet Orange) have many uses.  The Sweet Orange peel is dried, cut and added to bath herb mixtures as an antiseptic aromatic.  Powdered, it can be mixed with any liquid and used as a facial mask for dry to oily skin.  The Orange peel is a useful addition to herbal shampoos for oily scalp or dandruff, and it can also be infused in vinegar rinses for the same condition or in herbal rinses for light-colored or blond hair.  Oil of Orange peel is used in perfumery, for flavors, or to scent various types of cosmetic preparations including creams and shampoos.

Orange flowers are best used in potpourris as their delicious scent is lost when they are cooked into lotions; they can be used in cold infusions of massage oils where the scent is very light and very soothing.  Fresh Orange flowers can be macerated in oils or saturated fats to make cold creams and body creams.  Orange flowers (bitter) yield Neroli oil by distillation and Orange flower absolute by extraction.  The scent is very different for each, and I prefer the Orange flower absolute as it more resembles the pure fresh Orange flower.  The concrete is very dark, brownish, and soft; the smell reminds me of days long past when I lived in the middle of an Orange grove and on certain delicious evenings went to sleep and then woke up to this strong, deeply sweet scent.  The blossons are added to facial herbs as a hydrating agent and in face packs for young-looking skin.

Bitter Orange peel is used in bath herb mixtures for its particular astringency, and oil of Bitter Orange is generally used in liqueurs such as triple sec and also for soft drinks.

Orange leaf and twigs are used in aromatherapy for their seeming ability to sharpen awareness.  The oil is called Petitgrain and is used in soapmaking and in perfumery for its refreshing qualities.

The small immature fruits of the Orange tree are added to liqueurs such as curacao; I use them in my drawers for scenting, especially mixed up with the linen or lingerie.

Orange flower water is used in cooking or in lotions and facial rinses as a hydrating agent; it is a popular household cosmetic agent, but unfortunately does not keep very well and gets rancid and moldy and mildews easily.

Orchids - See Vanilla.

Oregano - (Origanum vulgare)  is useful in bath herbs where it functions as a very mild painkiller (say for aching muscles), or in external poultices for aching muscles or feet.  However, if Oregano is all that you have, and you are where the water is hard or drying, by all means use it as an afterbath or shower rinse to allay the bad effects of city water.  Oil of Oregano is useful mixed with Olive oil and oil of Rosemary as a daily rub for an itch scalp.

*Orris - (Iris germanica, I. florentina, I. pallida) root is the dried rhizome of the Florentine Iris.  It has a very distinctive scent that can be likened to the aroma of Violets and is in fact used in Violet-scented body powder.  The plant is available at several nurseries and Hemlock Hill Herb Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut.  Orris root has fixative qualities in both potpourris and perfumery; it is a common ingredient in soapmaking and in fine cosmetics such as face powders and toilet water to remove freckles and spots.  Powdered Orris is used in tooth powders, in the last rinse water of fine lingerie, in sachets, or body powder mixtures (however, it sometimes causes allergic reactions).  The larger pieces are used in shampoos with other herbs, especially in shampoos for light hair or for scalp conditions.  Whole pieces of the root are used as infant's teething rings.


Palmarosa - (Cymbopogon martini, var. motia) oil is a substitute for pure Geranium oil (geraniol), and is used in perfumery and soapmaking.

Pandanus - (Pandanus odoratissimus) flowers are steam distilled for the fragrant oil that is used in perfumery and soapmaking.  The flowers can also be distilled in the home, and the resulting flower water used as a cosmetic wash such as Rosewater.  The pollen of the Hawaiian Pandanus tree (the Hala or Lauhala) was at one time collected and used as an aphrodisiac.

*Pansy - (Viola tricolor), also called Heartsease, is extremely useful for the skin.  It contains salicylic acid and is, therefore, an effective medicinal astringent in facial herbs, herbal rinses for the hair, bath herbs, lotions, creams, ointments, and especially as external fomentations for eczema and other skin diseases.  It is especially nice for all types of skin disease in babies, such as cradle cap.  Use the fresh leaves for pimples.  It is cooling, emollient, and allays inflammation.

*Papayas - (Carica papaya) are one of the most effective plants for cosmetic problems.  The ripe fruit is mashed and used in masks to degrease an oily complexion.  The seeds can be mashed and mixed with Oatmeal as cleansing grains.  The "milk" from the stalk is used as an exfoliant, but should be diluted.  The leaf, dried and mixed with Cornmeal, is terrific as a mask for normal to oily skin and to remove scaly, crusty skin.  The leaves, when fresh and mixed with Comfrey leaves, are used as an exfoliant.  The Papaya is an effective aid to protein digestion, and the juice can be applied for a moment or two to exfoliate the upper lip area.

Paprika - (Capsicum spp.) can be used in hair rinses for a reddish tinge or, when mixed with Henna as a dye, for a reddish-bronze color.

Parsley - (Petroselinum sativum) when eaten daily, is said to be the key to good health and a clear complexion.  It is a useful, cleansing, and medicating addition to all types of lotions and cosmetics for many skin problems including eczema and psoriasis.  It is also useful in massage oils for the beneficial effects it produces on the skin.  parsley seed oil is used for special effects in perfumery.

*Passionflower - (Fassiflora incarnata - herb; P. edulis - fruit) herb is used for its quieting, soothing effect in teas and bath herb mixtures.  The flower is used in massage oils; the perfume oil is extracted by the enfleurage method.  The Lilikoi (Passionflower fruit) is mashed and used in masks for cleansing.

Patchouli - (Pogostemon cablin, P. patchouli) oil is produced by steam distillation.  This is one of the most important perfumery plants and is used as a main scent, fixative, and blender.  It is frequently used in soapmaking.  The herb is also effective in trunks and drawers as a bug repellent; in aromatherapy and sleep pillows as a stimulant for those who can't wake up in the morning; in herbal bath mixtures with Comfrey and Ginseng to rejuvenate the skin; in potpourris with Rose, Vetivert, and Sandalwood.  Powdered Patchouli and powdered Lemon peel make an effective underarm deodorant but have the disadvantage of staining light-colored clothes.  In days past Indian shawls were authenticated by the smell of the Patchouli whey were wrapped in for shipping.

*Pawale - (Rumex giganteus - Hawaiian Dock) bark or root is used in Hawaii as a decoction for skin diseases.

Peach - (Prunus persica) blossoms are distilled to furnish a delicious liquor.  Peach blossom syrup is a tonic for the system and acts as a mild laxative for children.  Grieve says, "In America, the Peach is chiefly used for feeding pigs, and for making Peach Brandy" - an interesting observation.  Peach leaves are used in facial masks and bath herbs as emollients, especially for normal to dry skin.  Peach kernels are eaten (see Almond kernels), but can be dangerous to one's health.  Peach kernel oil is used in fine cosmetics and soapmaking and in the making of fine hand lotions and massage and body oils.  Peach kernels cooked in Apple cider vinegar are said to be a hair growth stimulator when rubbed daily onto the scalp.  Fresh Peach flesh is an excellent poultice for irritated skin.

Pears - (Pyrus communis) are mildly laxative and, if used externally, are soothing and cooling, especially for sore skin or sunburn.  A slice of Pear laid across sore, tired eyes is very helpful.  Pears can also be used in facial masks for normal to dry skin.

Peas - (Pisum sativum) contain vitamin E and, when cooked, mashed, and applied to bruises and sores, act as a facial mask.  Peas are a mild food useful for delicate digestions.  They are used internally and externally for piles and varicose veins.  The water the Peas are cooked in is good as a facial wash for all complexions.

Pelargonium - See Geranium.

*Pennyroyal - (Mentha pulegium - European Pennyroyal; Hedeoma pulegioides - American Pennyroyal) is great in bath herbs as a diaphoretic to soothe burning or itching skin.  A decoction of Pennyroyal rubbed on the body is a useful deodorant and insect repellant.  The oil is employed in perfumery, especially for industrial uses.  Yerba Buena is often mistakenly called American Pennyroyal (see also Mint).

*Peony - (Paeonia officinalis) decoction is used for skin affections and pains in the extremities.  As an external soak for the extremities, add Comfrey.

Pepper - (Piper nigrum) grain decoction is used as a wash for Tinea capitatis (a fungus infection of the scalp).

Peppermint - (Mentha piperita) Peppermint herb is used for its cooling and antiseptic effect in bath and facial herbs.  The oil, which contains menthol, is an ingredient in many cosmetics, lipsticks, face creams, lotions, shaving creams, hair lotions, etc.  The oil has a drying effect on the skin and hair, while the herb has an emollient effect. (See also Mint.)

*Periwinkles - (Vinca major, V. minor) are used as astringent washes for all sorts of skin afflictions and in bath herb mixtures.  Soothing and very healing.  Fresh leaves can be used as a wash for cradle cap.

Peru, Balsam - See Balsam of Peru.

*Peruvian - (Cinchona spp.) bark is used in the making of tooth powders for its cleansing astringency.

*Petitgrain - oil is steam distilled from the leaves and twigs of the Bitter Orange tree.  In aromatherapy the scent is inhaled to sharpen awareness.  The oil is also used in soapmaking, lotions, and other cosmetics such as aftershave lotion.

Pikake - (Jasminum sambac) See Jasmine.

Pimpernel, Scarlet - (Anagallis arvensis)  has an old reputation as a cosmetic herb, used as a wash for general complexion care, pimples, and freckles.  It is slightly astringent and diaphoretic.  It is a specific for the liver.

Pine - (of many species) produces many useful products such as room deodorants; air fresheners; bath oils; turpentine, which is produced by distillation and applied as an external rub for aching joints, rheumatic and arthritic pains; and tar (impure turpentine).  This tar is used extensively in dermatology for the manufacture of soaps and lotions to treat eczema, psoriasis, and other skin afflictions.  Tar is stimulating and antiseptic.  Pine needles are used extensively in bath herb mixtures for stimulating and soothing for skin.  Terrific as a wake-up bath or shower in the morning.  Pine needles make a delightful aromatic "Sleep and Dream Pillow," available from New Age Creations, S.F.

*Pineapple - (Ananas comosus, A. sativus) juice and flesh are effective as as astringent wash for oily skin, as a mild exfoliating scrub, and is sipped or eaten frequently for sore throat.

*Plantain - (Plantago major) decoction is a stimulating, cleansing wash for sore, inflamed skin.  It is also one of our favorite medicinal herbs, having many applications, although it sometimes blisters the skin and causes allergic reactions (see Herbs & Things).  The American Indians called it white man's footsteps.

Plumeria - (Plumeria acuminata - Melia; P. rubra - has more fragrance at night) also called Frangipani, is thought to have been used by the Aztecs - known as Cocaloxochite - as a powerful potion against fear and faintheartedness.  The Plumeria is not utilized for perfume manufacture anywhere in the world, except by those few who make perfume oil at home; it has an absolutely delicious, delightful scent and makes me think of small, warm beaches, warm sun, and clear water.  The flowers can be infused in oil or unscented creams for a pleasing massage or body cream.

*Pomegranate - (Punica granatum) juice makes an excellent external astringent for oily skin and, if any drips into your mouth, drink up for it is beneficial in relieving diarrhea.  Can also be used as a body dye.  Along with Licorice, Camomile, and Henna, it is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus as an Egyptian herb.

Poppy, California - (Eschscholtzia californica) was the Copa de Oro or Cup of Gold of the Spaniards.  These flowers were eaten to relieve anxiety.  The Placer County Indians boiled the greens like spinach and ate them.  A tea or tincture of the whole plant was used as medicine for headache and insomnia, especially for children, and was said to be a nonaddictive substitute for morphine.  The Spaniards would fry the entire plant in Olive oil, add scent, and use the resulting mixture as a super-stimulating hair oil said to promote growth and make hair glossy.

Potato - (Solanum tuberosum) grated raw, placed on black and blue marks with an added bandage, will get rid of those discolorations within a few hours.  Raw Potato juice is excellent to get rid of the itch and scratch of poison oak and also as an external application for any itchy skin.  It's the potassium that does the job.

*Primrose - (Primula vulgaris) decoction makes an excellent astringent face wash.  These flowers are used much the same as Cowslip.  The evening Primrose is very fragrant, astringent, and sedative and is effective in bath herb mixtures.  Some Primrose species cause irritation of the skin.

Prunes - (Prunus domestica) are occasionally mashed and used by themselves - or mixed with Oatmeal - as a nourishing and cleansing facial mask. (See Monster Mask in Chapter IX.)

Psyllium - (Plantago psyllium) seeds, which are soothing and emollient, are used much the same as Flax seeds.

*Pyrethrum - (P. tanacetum - Costmary; P. carneaum - Persian Insect Powder; P. cinerariefolium - Dalmation Insect Powder; P. parthenium - Feverfew or Febriguge plant; P. roseum - Insect plant) Mose of the Pyrethrums can be applied as insect repellents by making a water decoction and dabbing it on your body.  The flowers make cleansing rinsed for the scalp.


*Quassia - (Picraena (Picrasma) excelsa, Quassia amara) chips are added to hair rinse mixtures for cleansing the scalp and elimination dandruff.  Because they are light-colored wood, they are expecially effective on light-colored hair.

*Quince - (Pyrus cydonia, Cydonia oblonga) is a plant sacred to Venus and is used to ward off the influence of the evil eye.  The seeds, soaked in water, make a soothing emollient gel that is an excellent base for lotions and creams.  The gel made with Rosewater or Witch Hazel water is a powerful nonalcoholic aftershave, nonstinging and very healing.  Quince seeds can also be used in much the same manner as Flax seeds.


*Ragweed - (Ambrosia.spp.) also known as Ragwort, is occasionally used in herbal hair rinses as an astringent and antiseptic and to stimulate growth.

*Ragwort - Also known as Ragweed, should not be confused with real Ragweed.  The Ragworts are Senecio spp.  The common Groundsel), is a diaphoretic when added to the bath, and is a soothing ingredient in Lotions for chapped hands with Flax gel and Arnica. S. jacobaea, or Ragwort, also known as St. Jameswort, is a cooling emollient astringent; its action is emphasized when combined with Comfrey root.  it is an effective wash for the scalp or skin, for sores, and inflamed surfaces. (See also Groundsel.)

Raspberry - (Rubus idaeus) leaf¹ contains a substance called fragarine, which seems to relax the muscles of the uterus and intestine and is, therefore, an excellent tea taken before and during childbirth.  It is also a stimulating astringent in herbal hair rinses and bath herb mixtures, and, along with Comfrey and Licorice, it makes an excellent herb for facial packs and steams for oily skins.

Reindeer Moss, - a species of Cladonia, is a pleasantly scented lichen which when powdered is used as a substitute for Oakmoss in cosmetic powders.

Rice - (Oryza sativa), white and powdered, makes an excellent nonirritating skin powder.  Ricewater makes a soothing application for sunburn or sore skin; it is also effective in baths for infants, children, or adults to soothe irritated, sunburned, or windburned skin.

*Rock Rose - (Cistus ladaniferus) yields a resin, Labdanum, which is used extensively in soapmaking and perfumery as a fixative and blender for its rich sweetness.  Decoction of American Rock Rose is used to treat skin diseases as a wash.

Royal Fern - See Fern.

Roses - are a group of shrubs found in the temperate areas of the world.  The birthplace of the cultivated Rose is probably ancient Persia, where the oldest Rose was most likely a deep red color which suggested the myth of the Rose springing from the blood of Adonis.  Otto of Rose was first extracted in 1612.  Indeed, Roses were used since Roman times to float in Wine; brides and bridegrooms were crowned with Roses; they were scattered at feasts and in the paths of the winners of games and contests, and worn as wreaths at feasts, especially  as a preventative against drunkenness.  The Rose was a sign of pleasure and a companion fit for wine.  It was once the custom to suspend a Rose over the dinner table as a sign that all private conversations were to be held sacred (that is, sub rosa).  The discovery of Otto of Rose by the Persians is very interesting: According to a discourse on Roses written in 1844, a princess and her emperor, upon the celebration of their marriage in 1622, spent huge sums for an extravagant and luxurious party.  They filled the canal that flowed through the flower gardens of the palace with Rosewater, and while walking along the bank of the canal, they noticed that an oily layer had collected on the surface.  This layer was collected and immediately determined to have the most delicate of odors; it has since been termed Otto of Rose or Rose attar.

Two acres of Roses yield 10,000 pounds of Roses which, in turn, yield 1 pound of oil.  This, in fact, means that it takes approximately 30 Roses to make 1 drop of oil.  There are many uses for Rosewater, Rose oil, and Rose petals in cosmetics, and you will find frequent mention of these products throughout Parts II, III, and IV of this book.  Rose oil from the Rosa centifolia is called Rose de mai absolute and is processed in Morocco and France.  It is used in perfumes, cosmetics, cold cream, and face powder perfumes.  Otto of Rose is the essential oil obtained by steam distillation from the flowers of the Damask Rose in Bulgaria (Rosa damascena, also clled the Bulgarian Rose).  Rose gallica, the Apothecary Rose, was the traditional Rose of pharmacy (Provence Rose).

Briefly, Rosewater is an astringent tonic for the flesh; Rose oil is soothing both physically and emotionally; Rose petals are astringent and cleansing; and Rose vinegar is a soothing deodorant wash for the armpits and groin.

Rosemary - (Rosmarinus officinalis) is another one of those plants having myriad applications in cosmetics.  It has a fascinating history, being an herb of remembrance and therefore used both as a good luck herb for marriages and as a remembrance of death.  The herb is used in baths as a deaphoretic and an astringent healer; it is also used in facial herbs; a decoction with Comfrey is good for all sorts of bruises and sores; a poultice with Camomile is good for pimples; an infusion with Nettle is excellent as a conditioner for the hair, especially dark hair; infused in oil, Rosemary is terrific for aching muscles; and infused in Olive oil with some essential oil of Rosemary, it is said to condition the scalp and stimulate hair growth.  Pure essential oil of Rosemary makes an excellent hair conditioner (however, I prefer the more expensive oils of Lavender and Basil).  A wonderfully fragrant hair conditioner can be made with 1 oz. of oil of Rosemary mixed with ½ oz. oil of Basil and ½ oz oil of Lavender: A few drops brushed into the hair every day will condition and gloss it.  Rosemary with Lavender is an excellent herbal stimulant tea if you are allergic to caffeine.  And Rosemary oil is used in perfumery for colognes, waters, room deodorants, household sprays, disinfectants, insecticides, and soapmaking.


Safflower - (Carthamus tinctorius) Also called Dyers Saffron.  The oil is one of the most useful oils in cosmetics, being a base for many lotions and massage oils.  The flowers are utilized in decoctions as a poultice for skin eruptions, pimples, and skin complaints.

*Saffron Crocus - (Crocus sativus) flowers in the fall and is usually cultivated for its bright yellow stigmas which are used primarily in cooking.  It is used as a diaphoretic and an anodyne, as a water-soluble red dye in cosmetics and hir rinses, and in salves and lotions.  However, since it is so expensive it has very limited cosmetic applicability.  It grows in my garden, putting up its green shoots in the spring regularly but never flowering in the fall.  This is probably due to the fact that it was not planted in the hottest part of the garden; it really needs lots of sun and heat to flower.

*Sage - oil in commerce is steam distilled form the Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Dalmation Sage (S. officinalis), and Spanish Sage (S. lavandulaefolia).  Sage oil is used in soap perfumery, in herb colognes as a blender, in industrial perfumes, and at home - straight or mixed with such oils as Lavender, Rosemary, and Basil - as a hair conditioner.  (It is interesting to note that the Dalmation Sage contains a substance called Thujone, also present in Wormwood, that part of absinthe that made it illegal in most of the world for being toxic and harmful to humans.)  Dalmation Sage also has excellent bactericidal value, although it can cause skin irritation, and is still used as a mouthwash and gargle.  You can make a water infusion of Sage and Alum root for canker sores and a mouth cleanser.  Goats Rue and Sage herb infusion will greatly ease aching muscles and sore, tired feet. Sage decoction drunk as a tea and applied as a hair rinse will darken the hair.  Sage infusion or Sage as a facial wash will help to heal skin eruptions.  Sage is terrific in an herbal bath, helps to check perspiration, and stimulates the skin.

Sagebrush - (Artemesia tridentata) decoction can be drunk or eaten.  Bathed in, it acts as a natural deodorant.

St. Johnswort - (Hypericum perforatum) Infused in oil makes a good massage oil for sore muscles.  It is an aromatic astringent and mixed with shampoo herbs it cleanses the scalp.

Sandalwood - (Santalum album) is one of the oldest known perfume materials; in fact, it has been used for over 4000 uninterrupted years.  The oil is steam distilled from the wood of the tree and then used as a fixative and blender in perfumery and scent in soapmaking.  It is also applied as an external disinfectant and antiseptic for sores and wounds.  A personal friend has used this oil as an application for staph sores and feels that it is more efficacious than other types of medicines.  The Sandalwood chips themselves are nice in bath herb mixtures as antiseptics, and the scent is thought to be rejuvenative, especially when mixed with Ginseng and Comfrey root.

Santolina Chaemycyparissus, - also called Lavender Cotton, is used as an Arabian eywash.

Sarsaparilla - (Smilax spp.)  is effective in bath herb mixtures as a cleansing diaphoretic, for soothing aching muscles, and as a wash for skin diseases.  American Indians applied a decoction of the root on sore eyes.

*Sassafras - (Sassafras albidum, S. officinale) tea is a stimulating diaphoretic aromatic used as a wash for skin eruptions; mixed with Rosewater, it is useful as an eye-clearing wash; mixed with lanolin, it makes a good salve for skin diseases.  A decoction of the bark is used to ease the itch of poison oak or as a mouthwash.

Savory - Summer Savory (Satureia hortensis)  is an annual, and Winer Savory (S. montana) is a perennial).  I have both in my garden and use them mainly for culinary purposes and as an external application for insect bites.  If you get a bee sting, quickly pick some Summer Savory and rub it vigorously on the affected area; it works almost instantly.  Savory can also be mixed with Lavender and Rosemary for a very stimulating wake-up bath or tea.

Scotch Broom - (Cytisus scoparius) flowers are used in hair rinse herbs as a yellow dye. (See also Broom.)

Seaweed - has many cosmetic applications: Agar-agar is a vegetable gelatin which is a product of red algae used to make jellies and for stiffening silks.  Carageenans, found in red algae, are used as a soothing demulcent or emollient and as an emulsifying agent in cosmetics.  Algin, as sodium alginate, effectively reduces strontium uptake in the body; it is also used to thicken and stabilize soups, mayonnaise, and cosmetic lotions.  Algin is found in brown Seaweeds, and as an emulsifier, it binds oily and watery fluids.  Its chief commercial cosmetic use is in make-up.

The Chinese use Seaweed for abscesses; people of the South Seas use it for skin diseases and inflammations.  Hawaiians eat the Limu to decrease fat and, indeed, this may be responsible for their low incidence of coronary occlusions.  Seaweed, Kelp, and Dulse, powdered and mixed with baking soda and salt, are a wonderful addition to a bath to soothe aching or sunburned flesh.

*Sedum - (Sedum spp.), also called Stonecrop, is used as an astringent in any type of skin ointment and also as an ingredient in bath herbs.

Sesame - (Sesamum indicum)  oil is useful in all external applications: massage oil, bath oil, lotions, salves, creams, etc.  It  is a semidrying oil and best used in cosmetics for oily skin.

Slippery Elm - See Elm, Slippery.

Snapdragons - (Antirrhinum majus) are powerful antidotes to witchcraft.  Combined with lanolin or oil, they make a useful salve for piles, bruises, or sores.  A water decoction of the flowers is applied to soothe irritated skin.  The tea is said to improve the sense of taste.

*Soap Bark - (Quillaga saponaria) mixed with water forms a detergent (cleansing) lather, which relieves itchy scalp or dandruff; this can also act as a wash for skin eruptions or skin sores, itchy feet, or athlete's foot.  It can also be used for washing the hair and delicate clothing items such as baby clothes or fine woolens.

*Soapwort - (Saponaria officinalis)  Used same as above.  Has also been used to restore luster to ancient woolens that have been stored for some time.

*Solomon's Seal - (Plygonatum multiflorum) decoction is used as a wash for pimples, freckles, other spots, sores, bruises, and as an ingredient in herbal reams.  The powdered root cooked in lanolin or oil and applied as a poultice is used to relieve a black eye.

Sorrel - (both the Wood Oxalis, Oxalis acetosella, and the French Sorrel, Rumex scutatus) is used as an antiseptic wash for the skin and for any type of skin eruption.

*Southernwood - (Artemisia abrotanum) decoction boiled with Barley is applied as a wash for pimples and sores; a mixture of the ashes infused in Olive oil and rubbed into the scalp daily is said to be a growth stimulant; fresh Southernwood mixed with Lemon balm and inhaled is said to keep you from being drowsy in boring classrooms; it is also used as a growth stimulant with Rosemary and Nettle in herbal shampoos and hair rinse mixtures.

*Sow Thistle - (Sonchus oleraceus - common type; S. arvensis Corn Thistle; S. alpinus - Mountain Thistle) juice is used as an external application to cleanse the face and make it shiny.

Soy - (Glycine soja) oil is used in all types of cosmetic preparations, as a base in massage and body oils.

Spearmint - See mint.

Speedwell - (Veronica officinalis - common; V. chamaedrys - Germander Speedwell) is used as an astringent, and by water infusion, it is used as a cosmetic wash for skin complaints and diseases such as eczema or psoriasis.

*Spruce Needles - spruce oil from Tsuga canadensis is pleasant in the bath and is used commercially in soapmaking, room deodorants, bath preparations, and may other types of household products. (See also Pine needles.)

Storax - is usually called Styrax in perfumery; this is the deliciously scented natural Balsam formed as a pathological product of the Liquidambar orientalis, a tree native to Asia Minor.  American Styrax is produced from the L. styraciflua.  The essential oil is steam distilled from the crude Styrax, is soluble in alcohol, and is used in perfumery.  Mixed with Olice oil, it is a treatment for scabies and other external skin afflictions.  It is used in soapmaking.  The ground resin is used in potpourris and sachets.

*Strawberry - (Frageria vesca and other spp.) leaves make a useful astringent herb in bath or facial herb mixes; they are especially useful for oily skin.  The ripe fruits mashed and applied as a pack either alone or with Oatmeal or other meal are effective in cleansing an oily complexion.  The juice of the fruit or leaf can be added to lotions or creams.

*Sumbul - (Ferula sumbul) root is used in perfumery and cosmetics as a scent and fixative of great virtue.  The oil is obtained by steam distillation (also called Musk root).

Sunflower - (Helianthus annuus) seeds make an excellent nutritious food, both internally - for the body - and externally - for the skin.  Grind them up and mix with a liquid (milk for dry skin and yogurt for oily skin) to form a paste, apply to a clean, damp face, let dry, and then rinse off with warm water.  Sunflower oil is especially useful for oily skin.  The yellow Sunflower petals are used as an ingredient in herbal hair rinses, especially for blond or light-colored hair.

Sweet Pea - (Lathyrus latifolius) flower oil can be obtained at home by the enfleurage method and used in bath or massage oils.  There has been some commercial use of Sweet Pea in the perfume industry of Bermuda.


Tagetes - (Tagetes patula)  The essential oil is used rather like the European Calendula.  The Aztecs called it lyauhtli (Cloud Plant) and drank the delicious Tarrogon-scented tea.  They also used the reddish-gold flowers as a rinse for the hair.  Also called Pericon in Mexico. (See also Marigold.)

*Tangerine - (Citrus reticulata) peels, powdered and ground, can be combined with Cornmeal and used as effective beauty washing grains or mixed with yogurt as a face pack.  It is especially effective on oily or pimply complexions as it contains a fair quantity of vitamin A (420 I.U./100 gr.).  The juice can be used as a complexion rinse or wash in much the same manner as Lemon juice or Orange juice.  Tangerine oil is machine pressed and is employed in perfumery as a cologne modifier.

*Tansy - (Tanacetum vulgare) flowers have been used for herbal cosmetics for hundreds of years; mixed with Camomile flowers, Strawberry leaves, Comfrey root, and distilled in milk or Rosewater, this makes an excellent and soothing complexion cleanser for everyone.  Tansy lotions are especially effective on blemishes or pimples.  Tansy oil is steam distilled but has little applicability in perfumery.

Tapioca - (Manihot esculenta, M. utilissima) also called Manioc or Cassava, cooked with milk makes a soothing application to tired, windburned skin.

Tartaric acid - available at pharmacies, is used in fizzy types of bath salts and cosmetics.

Tea - (Thea sinensis, Camellia thea) The common tea bag makes an effective, stimulating astringent wash for the skin, for sunburn, as a poultice for baggy eyes, or a compress for a headache or tired eyes.

Teazles - (Dipsacus sylvestris - common Teazle) are  used as an application for bruises and warts and as a cosmetic water or an eyewash.

*Theombra - See Cacau.

Thuja - See Cedar.

Thyme - is used as an aromatic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, stimulant, disinfectant, and is very useful in cosmetic lotions.  Thyme water makes an effective underarm deodorant, mouthwash, aftershave lotion, and external wash for scabies.  Thyme (antiseptic), with Comfrey (emollient), Lavender (astringent), and Mint (aromatic) makes a terrific bath herb mixture that will smooth and soothe the skin.  Men, especially, like this combination as it is not overly sweet.  Thyme is effective in all types of bath herbs, hair rinse, and shampoos.  It is also a mild diaphoretic, and combined with Licorice and Comfrey, it is useful as a facial pack or herbal steam for psoriasis, eczema, and other types of skin problems.  Oil of Thyme is used to scent all types of men's and women's cosmetics, in soapmaking, and in perfumery.  Thyme oil is produced from Thymus vulgaris; Origanum oil from T. capitatus or Origanum vulgare; Wild Marjoram oil from T. masticina or O. vulgare; Sweet Marjoram oil from Marjorana hortensis.

Tilia - See Linden.

*Tobacco - (Nicotiana tabacum) leaf absolute yields a substance called Tabac that is employed in soapmaking and for masculine or dry effects in perfumery.  The leaves are not used in cosmetics because the nicotine is very poisonous and readily absorbed by the skin.

*Tragacanth - (Astralagus gummifer), an emollient and demulcent, yields a thick mucilage; combined with water, it is very useful in vegetable cosmetics for lotions and creams.

*Tuberose - (Polyanthes tuberosa) flowers yield a wonderfully fragrant oil by enfleurage that is very effective in massage and body oils.  During May, June, and July, when my plants bloom, I drop these delicious-smelling flowers into champagne or white wine.  The wine takes on the flowers' scent and is said by some to be wildly erotic.  This is one of those flowers that produce and exhale their oil long after being picked.  The scent is inhaled to enhance all the senses.  In commercial perfumery, the blossoms are picked just before they open and the oil extracted by enfleurage. 


Vanilla - (Vanilla planifolia, V. aromatica) beans are used in dry potpourris, in hot chocolate as an aphrodisiac, and infused in oils as a body or massage oil.  The Vanilla bean is commercially extracted to yield Vanilla extracts that are used in flavors, baking, chocolate making, soft drinks, pharmaceutical products, liqueurs, candies, etc., as well as perfumery and soapmaking.

Verbena, Lemon - See Lemon Verbena.

Vetivert - (Vetiveria zizanioides, Andropogon zizanioides) root is used in bath herb mixtures to cleanse and soothe the skin.  It works especially well with herbs such as Patchouli, Sandlewood, and Comfrey.  It is added to potpourris as a fixative.  The oil is obtained by steam distillation and used in soapmaking and perfumery.

Violet, Sweet - (Viola odorata) is one of the herbs mentioned in ancient Greek history.  We use Sweet Violets, leaf and flower, fresh and dried, in teas and baths for their soothing and slight astringent abilities; they contain salicylic acid and are extremely high in vitamins A and C.  Thus they make very useful facial waters for all skin afflictions or for just plain normal skin.  Violet water is a wonderful aftershave or wash for a baby's skin.  The leaves and flowers, simmered in oil, with lanolin or beeswax added, make excellent cold creams or lotions for daily use.  Violet flower oil is hardly ever made as it is incredibly expensive (most Violet perfume is synthetic), but it can be made at home by the enfleurage method and massage or body oils can be made by cold infusion of the flower.  (See also Pansy, V. tricolor.)


Wallflower - (Cheiranthus cheiri) oil can be diluted with Almond oil, and the enfleurage method, diluted with Almond oil, and used as massage to soothe the nerves.  Indeed, this plant has been known in the eastern Mediterranean for over 2000 years and used as a specific for the nerves or the muscles.

Walnut - (Juglans nigra - Black Walnut) hulls are used as a black or dark brown body or hair dye.  The decoction of leaves is added to shampoos or bath herbs as an astringent, for skin disease such as herpes, and as an astringent mouthwash.  In the Doctrine of Signatures, the Walnut perfectly represents the head, and all parts of it represent the various parts of the head.  The oil is useful as a hot oil treatment for dry or dandruffy hair.

Watercress - (Nasturtium officinale) is effective as a wash for  blemishes and freckles.

Watermelon - (Citrullus vulgaris) I spent a delightful year once hopping about a Watermelon field, following honeybees and observing their pollination habits on Watermelon blossoms.  I can still recognize a female Watermelon flower at 10 paces and can still remember the delicious Watermelon juice facials I gave myself squatting out in the middle of the field hidden from view of the office.  The meat of the Watermelon can be applied as a mask for normal skin and the juice is used as a facial water.

White Pond Lily - (Nymphaea odorata, Castalia odorata) root and leaves decoction is an astringent demulcent wash for the legs or face and for inflamed or sore skin; it is used in lotions and creams.

*Willow, White - (Salix alba) bark is used in cosmetics because of its astringency and salicin content, which make it effective in the treatment of skin diseases such as eczema or herpes.  It is also used in lotions, creams, and facial herb mixtures.  Mixed with Comfrey, mucilage of Quince, Ginseng, and tincture of Benzoin, it makes excellent emollient hydrating lotion for pimples or pussy bumps.  The decoction of Patchouli, Thyme, and White Willow bark is an excellent deodorant wash.  Infusion of White Willow and Lavender or Witch Hazel water makes an aftershave splash.

*Wintergreen - (Gaultheria procumbens, Pyrola spp.) contains mehyl salicylate, which some people are very allergic to.  It will help external skin problems as a decoction, but if you are sensitive to salicylates, it can also cause skin problems.  The oil is obtained by water distillation; this means that the herb is intensely aromatic when used in bath herb or facial herb formulas.  I love this smell and use the herb as often as possible.  The plant can also be used as an astringent aromatic in lotions, creams, salves, and as a rub for arthritis, rheumatism, or sciatica.  Its oil is used in flavors, candies, toothpaste, mouthwash, and cosmetics.

Wintersweet - (Chimonanthus fragrans, also called C. praecox) Wintersweet is also another name for the herb Oregano.  This has wonderfully scented yellow blossoms that can be infused in oil and used for massage or as a body oil.  The flowers can be dropped into white wine to make a fragrant drink.

Witch Hazel - (Hamamelis virginiana) bark and leaves are styptic, cleansing, and astringent, with a strong distinctive aromatic scent, have medicinal use, and are also added to soaps and cosmetics.  An infusion or tea is an effective wash for the skin as an aftershave, rinse, or as a foot bath for aching tired feet, and for strings or sunburn.  The decoction of the bark is used for inflamed skin or as a dandruff wash.  The bark or leaf can be used as an aromatic astringent in lotions and creams, especially for oily skin; they can be added to bath herbs, hair rinses, or facial herb mixtures.  A poultice of Witch Hazel and Comfrey is used for bruises, swollen surfaces, and varicose veins.  As a skin tonic, it tightens loose tissue, is used for cellulite, and is an effective astringent tonic for red veins on the nose or face.  Combined with Rosewater, Witch Hazel is a very soothing eyewash.  In folklore a Witch Hazel branch is used to divine water.  THe extract is used for all the above purposes, for general all-around skin care, and as an underarm or genital deodorant.

Woodruff - (Asperula odorata) does not acquire its odor until dried, but it can be used either fresh or dried.  It has a healing effect on superficial cuts and sores and is used in either facial herbs or bath herb mixtures.  Also nice as an aftershave rinse or, when dried, in the last rinse cycle of your washing machine to scent your clothes.

*Wormwood - (Artemisia absinthium) soaked in rum is used as a rub for fallen arches.


Yarrow - (Achillea millefolium) is an astringent, mildly aromatic herb used for love-divining and stimulating hair growth.  It is an active diaphoretic in bath herbs, a cleansing herb in facial mixtures, an astringent in vaginal douches (especially good if mixed with Comfrey and Mint), and is mixed in shampoo and hair potions for stimulating growth, eradicating dandruff, and eliminating unhealthy scalp conditions. It is also used as a mouthwash for toothache.

Yerba - The Yerbas of California - Yerba Buena (Satureja doglasii), Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis Californica), and Yerba del Pasmo (Adenostoma sparcifolium) - are all used as cleansing washes for the skin, in bath herbs for aching muscles or tired feet, and as an external tea for skin infections.

*Ylang-Ylang - (Cananga odorata, Canangium odoratum) oil is produced in several places, one of which is the small island of Nossi-Bé off the coast of Madagascar.  This oil is used in soapmaking and as a blender in perfumery.  The ten-year-old tree produces about 20 pounds of flowers in a season, of which only two per cent is obtained in oil.  The flowers can be infused in oil to make an interesting and delightful massage or body oil or hair oil.  In fact, the flowers are rubbed directly on the hair as a hair dressing.

Yucca - (Yucca baccata, Y. spp.) plant is quite beautiful, and its fragrant blossoms are used in California perfumery.  Infused in oil, they are effective (smoothing) for body care; dropped into the bath they are a bath oil.  The Yucca is one of the most famous soap plants of the American Southwest.  The roots are scraped, mashed, mixed with water, rubbed into the hair or clothes, and they rinsed out.  The soapy liquid can also be used as a cleansing wash for the skin.


Zdravetz - (geranium macrorrhizum) The name means "health" and the herb is used medicinally.  The oil distilled in Bulgaria has some use in perfumery and soapmaking.

*Zinnia - (Zinnea spp.) is sometimes called the Mal de Ojo (sickness of the eye) because a hand that touches the flowers will carry irritants to the eye.  It is used effectively as a hair rinse.


Copyright 2000 Jeanne Rose
Do not copy without author's permission

Our sincerest gratitude to Jeanne Rose for allowing us to use this and her other beautiful writings of wisdom on our site...

   This glossary can be found in Jeanne Rose Herbal Body Book (Published by Frog, Ltd - Berkeley, California ISBN 1-58394-004-004-9), which is a must-have for your bookshelf.  It contains wonderful all-natural beauty recipes, and lots of information that you will want to refer to often.  You'll notice that we've left the reference's to other parts of the book in place.  We hope that it inspires you to purchase this book!

   To purchase this book, see Ms. Rose's other fine books, as well as learn more about the Herbal Studies and Aromatherapy Course that is available, please visit Ms. Rose's web site at http://JeanneRose.net

   Address:  Institute Aromatic Studies - 219 Carl Street - San Francisco, CA 94117 / Tel: (415) 564-6785  FAX: (415) 564-6799 /  info@jeannerose.net

   Ms. Rose is personally available for both individual and business consultations on many subjects pertaining to Herbs and Aromatherapy.  For more information, please visit the Aromatherapy and Herbal  Consultation and Formulation page at the Jeanne Rose web site. 




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