*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.
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.
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 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
- (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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
- (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.
- (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.
- (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 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.
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.
- 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."
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
- (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
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
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.
- (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
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.
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.
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.
- (Fagus sylvatica
- European white beech) tar is an externally applied
antiseptic for skin problems.
- (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
- (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.
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
Bergamot mint - See
- (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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
- (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
oil of -
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.
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, 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
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.
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
(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
seed is chewed to sweeten the breath and used in love
potions for its sweet aromatic scent.
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.
- (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.
(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.
(Croton eleuterea, C.
eluteria) is a scented bark used in incense and
occasionally as a decoction for a skin lotion.
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) 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.
- (Acacia farnesiana)
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.
(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
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.
- (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
(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.
lotion is useful to remove freckles, marks, and spots on
bark is used in herb mixtures as a hair-conditioning
rinse for ease in combing. It is especially
effective mixed with Ragwort and Nettle.
(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 -
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.
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.
- (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.
(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?
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.
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.
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
(Galium aparine) or
Cleavers, is used as a wash for skin diseases -
including psoriasis - as well as for mild burns,
sunburns, and freckles.
(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
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.
(Dactylopius coccus) is
a beetle used in cosmetics as a red dye.
(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.
vulgaris) seeds can be mashed and simmered in Olive
oil to rub into aching joints or into the scalp to repel
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.)
(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
(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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(Cyclamen spp.) are
occasionally used as a cosmetic wash to soften the skin
and clear it of marks.
- (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.
flowers are used externally in lotions for skin disease,
wounds, and bruises.
(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
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
oil and herb are used in soapmaking. The essential
oil is also used in aromatherapy.
Dittany of Crete -
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.
(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 -
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
- (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.
(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.
(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.
(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).
(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
is used as a wash for sore or puffy eyes.
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
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.
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.
(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.
(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
is occasionally used externally as a poultice for sores
(Alfilerilla spp.) is
used in herb bath mixtures for joint aches and for
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.
(Hydrocotyle asiatica minor)
is used in bath herbs for its rejuvenating effect on the
skin, especially in conjunction with Patchouli, Comfrey,
is also called the Plumeria (P.
acuminata) or Melia in Hawaii. P. rubra
is the red Plumeria. See Plumeria for uses.
(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 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.
is said to be used as a wash for infants' cradle cap, as
a face wash to clear up freckles and acne pimples, and
(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.
(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
(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.
decoction is occasionally used as a cleansing mouthwash.
(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
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.
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 -
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 -
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.
(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.
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
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.
(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.
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
(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.
flowers and leaves are used as a hair rinse and in
facial steams as an emollient (see also Jamaica
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.
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.
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.
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
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
(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
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.
leaves and fruits are used as an external astringent
application for oily skin.
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.
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 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.
(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.
(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.
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
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
(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
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 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.
berries are used in baths for aching muscles, and the
oil is used in soapmaking and in massage or in bath oils
var. acephala) as well as all the other members
of the cabbage family is used cosmetically as a wash for
sore or bloodshot eyes.
(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 -
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
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 -
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.
(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
(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.
(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.
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 -
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.
(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.
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.
flowers are occasionally dried and used in potpourris
and sometimes infused in oil for the scent.
(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 -
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
(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
(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.
(Anemone hepatica, Hepatica
Americana) are used as poultices or in bath herbs
for mild disorders of the skin, including spots,
freckles, and pimples.
(Lobelia inflata) is
occasionally used externally as a compress for skin
irritations or breakouts.
*Logwood Chips -
are occasionally used as an antiseptic wash for sores of
the skin where they act as an astringent.
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.
(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.
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.
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
(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
(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.
(Rubia tinctorum) as a
dye is used in cosmetics to color the lips or cheeks.
(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 -
(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
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
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
The American kind is used in preparations to remove
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
(Pistacia lentiscus) is
used occasionally as a chewing resin to improve the
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.
(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
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.)
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.
(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.)
(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.)
(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 -
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.
(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!
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.
A Modern Herbal states that "the Arabians
recommended the oil be used for curing baldness and as
an aphrodisiac." (See also Daffodil and Jonquil.)
flowers are used in bath herbs as an astringent and in
hair rinses for dark blond to red hair; also delicious
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.
(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)
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.
(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.
(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.
(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 spp.) is used
as a fixative in fragrant potpourris and as an
ingredient in soapmaking.
(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
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
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.
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
(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.
var. motia) oil is a substitute for pure Geranium
oil (geraniol), and is used in perfumery and soapmaking.
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
(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.
(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.
(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.
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
(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.
(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.
(Rumex giganteus -
Hawaiian Dock) bark or root is used in Hawaii as a
decoction for skin diseases.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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).
decoction is used for skin affections and pains in the
extremities. As an external soak for the
extremities, add Comfrey.
(Piper nigrum) grain
decoction is used as a wash for Tinea capitatis
(a fungus infection of the scalp).
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.)
(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.
(Cinchona spp.) bark is
used in the making of tooth powders for its cleansing
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.
(Jasminum sambac) See
Pimpernel, Scarlet -
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.
(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.
(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.
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 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.
(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
Poppy, California -
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.
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.
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.
(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.)
seeds, which are soothing and emollient, are used much
the same as Flax seeds.
(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.
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.
(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
known as Ragwort, is occasionally used in herbal hair
rinses as an astringent and antiseptic and to stimulate
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.)
(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
(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 -
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 -
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
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.
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.
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 -
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.
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.
decoction can be drunk or eaten. Bathed in, it
acts as a natural deodorant.
St. Johnswort -
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.
(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
also called Lavender Cotton, is used as an Arabian
(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 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.
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 -
flowers are used in hair rinse herbs as a yellow dye.
(See also Broom.)
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 spp.), also
called Stonecrop, is used as an astringent in any type
of skin ointment and also as an ingredient in bath
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
Slippery Elm -
See Elm, Slippery.
(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 -
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.
Used same as above. Has also been used to restore
luster to ancient woolens that have been stored for some
*Solomon's Seal -
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
(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.
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
(Glycine soja) oil is
used in all types of cosmetic preparations, as a base in
massage and body oils.
(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.)
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
(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
(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).
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 -
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.
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
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.
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.
(Manihot esculenta, M.
utilissima) also called Manioc or Cassava, cooked
with milk makes a soothing application to tired,
Tartaric acid -
available at pharmacies, is used in fizzy types of bath
salts and cosmetics.
(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.
(Dipsacus sylvestris -
common Teazle) are used as an application for
bruises and warts and as a cosmetic water or an eyewash.
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.
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.
an emollient and demulcent, yields a thick mucilage;
combined with water, it is very useful in vegetable
cosmetics for lotions and creams.
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 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.
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.
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.
(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
is effective as a wash for blemishes and freckles.
(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
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.
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 -
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.
(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.
soaked in rum is used as a rub for fallen arches.
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
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.
(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
(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 name means "health" and the herb is used
medicinally. The oil distilled in Bulgaria has
some use in perfumery and soapmaking.
(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