Archive for the ‘Cosmetic’ Category

Ponderosa Lemon – Citrus limon ‘Ponderosa’

Ponderosa Lemon
Ponderosa Lemon

Out of lemon flowers

loosed

on the moonlight, love’s

lashed and insatiable

essences,

sodden with fragrance,

the lemon tree’s yellow

emerges….

 

 By Pablo Nerunda

This lemon cultivar is a chance development on a farm in Hagerstown, Maryland. In about 1887 George Bowman found this cultivar, a hybrid of a citron and lemon, but it was not introduced or named until 1900. The original lemon is believed to have originated in India, but the exact place is difficult to know since this tree has followed man as he explored and settled new areas around the world. The lemon was taken with Christopher Columbus to Hispaniola in 1493, and the Spanish were credited with its early introduction to St Augustine, Florida.

 

This relatively small evergreen tree (only 12-24 ft tall at full growth) has thorns, like so many other citrus relatives, and produces flowers year round. This constant flower production means you are likely to see flowers, and fruit (at any stage of growth) growing on the tree at the same time. These fruit on the Ponderosa Lemon are similar in appearance to the regular lemon; they are just much larger and lumpy! They can be as large as 2 – 5 pounds in weight when fully grown. Their rind or skin is also very thick. One of these Ponderosa Lemons can make several pitchers of lemonade!

 

The taste and aroma of this variety is also almost identical to the regular lemon seen in the grocery store; and can be used in identical situations. The juice can be made into lemonade, or used to flavor any meat of fish dish. It can also be made into desserts (such as lemon meringue pie) and as a flavoring almost anywhere you can imagine it. Often in cooking it is the zest that is desired, and for some dishes is highly prized.

 

The left over plant matter after making juice commercially is used to produce citric oil, pectin, and citric acid. All of these are used in the food industry and by the cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies. Lemon juice can be used to remove stains, and with salt to clean copper pots safely. The peel oil has been used to manufacture furniture polish, and detergents.

In cosmetics it has been utilized in creams for bleaching freckles, for facial cleaning creams, in soaps, and shampoos.

 

In herbal medicine any lemon can be used the same way, it is known as a diuretic, antiscorbutic, astringent, and febrifuge. In Italy it is utilized to treat gingivitis, stomatitis, and inflammation of the tongue. In Cuba the root is used for fever; while in West Africa the root is used for gonorrhea.

Have fun with the kids and make invisible ink! Take the juice of 1 lemon (3 teaspoons if no fresh is available), and add 1 teaspoon of water. Mix these well. Now have the kids ‘write’ with a brush or fingertip a message onto normal paper. Let them watch this dry. As it dries the ‘writing’ disappears! It will only reappear if a candle is passed below the paper. Please do not allow children to do this activity without proper supervision, NO Fires Here!

Pumpkin – Cucurbita pepo

Pumpkins
Pumpkins

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her.
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well

 

This squash is a member of the cucumber family and is native to the western hemisphere. It was commonly used by Native Americans for many diverse things. In companion gardening it grows well with corn, beans, buckwheat, catnip, tansy, and radishes. The Cherokee (among others) used a companion type of gardening known as the ‘Three Sisters.’ Pumpkin, beans, and corn are the three planted together. These three made up the bulk of the plants grown by the Cherokee, and were their main food crops. The corn uses lots of nitrogen and the bean fixes nitrogen into the soil. The beans used the corn stalks to then grow up, much like a trellis. The pumpkin provides shade for the base of the other two plants with its large leaves which allows the soil to hold more moisture during dry times.

 

Pumpkins have uses as medicine and food, it also has other uses. Strips of pumpkin were dried and woven into mats. The pulp, the seeds, and the oil are used in cosmetics.

            Pulp: used as a moisturizer for dry and sensitive skin, to treat acne, reduce pore size

            Juice: Used as a skin tonic

            Seeds: With seed skins removed, powdered used as a pack on the face for refreshing the

            skin, to remove freckles

 

As medicine the seeds are the main part used. The oil obtained from the seed is used to treat prostate problems, kidney issues, help maintain healthy blood vessels, nerves, and tissues. The seeds were also used as a vermifuge, the US Pharmacopeia listed them from 1863 – 1936 as an official medicine.

As food the best known use today is the Thanksgiving pie, but it can be used making breads & muffins, butters, custard, cookies, and even soup. In Italy it is used to stuff ravioli! In the old days the pumpkin would be sliced into strips or rings and dried for winter use. Often the flesh was roasted with the skin on, and then enjoyed with the meal. In China the leaves are used as a vegetable or added to soups. The seeds are used as snack foods!

English Walnut – Juglans regia

Walnuts
Walnuts

…I stand in the dark for a long time
        under the walnut tree, unable
                   to tell anyone, not even the night,
         what I know…

By Lynn Martin 

The English Walnut, the Common Walnut, the Persian Walnut, or the Royal Walnut are all variant names for one tree and its fruit that grows from the Balkans east to the Himalayas and southwest into China! It is not native to England at all, which the common name wal-nut reflects, as wal is Germanic for foreign.

 

In ancient Rome they were considered ‘food of the Gods,’ and were named for the god Jupiter (Jupiter’s glans being Jupiter’s acorn). The walnut is also associated with Juno, the goddess married to Jupiter, who is goddess of women, and marriage. This association to both God and Goddess led to an odd wedding practice of throwing walnuts at the new couple to ensure fertility! In fact in Poitou, France it was the custom for the new bride and her groom to dance around the large walnut tree there to ensure she produced copious amounts of breast milk for their children!

 

The earliest written record of walnut use is from the Chaldeans who left accounts on clay tablets of the orchards of English Walnut that were in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The earliest cultivation of the walnut is credited to the Greeks who used walnuts for food, medicine, and dye for the hair, wool and cloth.

 

The Walnut has a long history of use in the field of herbal medicine. The nut, the bark and the leaves are astringent, laxative, purgative, styptic, vermifuge, and hepatic. It has been used to cause sweating, treat diarrhea, and treat sore gums, herpes, and swollen tonsils. The hulls were used to treat head lice, body lice, herpes, parasites, liver problems, and skin issues. A tea was made from the leaves to treat boils, eczema, hives, ulcers, and other sores. The nut was used to prevent weight gain, reduce cholesterol, calm anxiety and hysteria, treat morning sickness and to generally strengthen the whole of the body.

 

The walnut has also been used extensively for food. It is high in protein, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and E, folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. 3 Tablespoons of walnut oil will also provide all your daily need of Omega 3 fatty acids! The nut can be eaten out of hand, but the flavor improves with light roasting. It is often included in confections like candy, cakes and cookies. They can also be added to salads, meat dishes and stir fries. The oil can be drizzled over salads or steamed vegetables. The nut has also been powdered and a nut ‘milk’ made from it to increase the nutritional value for invalids.

 

The hull and leaves have been used to make dye stuff for centuries. A dark brown dye that is used for wool and hair is obtained from the leaves and mature hulls. If the dye is made in an iron pot the dye becomes black. The green hulls provide a yellow dye. Both types of dye required no mordant due to the high tannic acid content.  

Cacao – Theobroma cacao

Cacao leaf
Cacao leaf

I love chocolate, oh yes I do.

Eating chocolate is a must too.

I love chocolate, how about you?

They say dark chocolate is now good for you too.

 

By Nichole Kaci McKnight

‘Food of the Gods,’ the aphrodisiac of rulers and emperors, will only grow within a limited range. The tree must be planted within 20 degrees of the equator, with Hawaii being the only place in the US to grow it!

The tree was grown in Mexico, Central and South America for an extremely long time, pre-contact! The ancient races of people who lived there used chocolate as a form of currency, and found it so very valuable that only the ruling class could consume it! They also believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac. The earliest cocoa plantations were established in 600 AD, in the Yucatan, by the Mayans.

Chocolate was not introduced to Europe until 1502 on Columbus’s 4th voyage for Spain. What he brought back with him were the cacao beans (or seeds). At that time he related how to make the drink he had witnessed being consumed, which included chilies and was dyed red. This was the drink that Montezuma drank 50 goblets of daily!

The people of the Amazon basin have used cocoa butter for ages as a soothing rub for bruises. The fruit is used to treat depression, fatigue, weight gain, and reduced sex drive! In cosmetics the cocoa butter is also employed in treatments for rough or chafed skin, chapped lips, sore nipples, and fancy soaps.

The cocoa bean has up to 50% fat, when that is removed what is left is cocoa powder. This powder is used to make hot chocolate, chocolate candy, and all the other wonderfully, sinful chocolate delights. When boiled in milk, it has in the past been used as a very nutritious food for convalescing patients and invalids.

But beware! Chocolate is also a poison….pet dogs, cats, parrots, and even horses are very susceptible to poisoning from this human treat. Only 2 ounces of chocolate can cause death in smaller animals. The theobromine causes cardiac and central nervous system stimulation; early symptoms of poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal distention, restlessness, and vomiting! This may worsen with time to include hyperactivity, polyuria (abnormally large production of urine), ataxia (dysfunction of parts of the nervous system), tremors and seizures. When death does occur it is brought on by hyperthermia, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat, too fast or slow, etc). If your animal has consumed chocolate….get it at once to the vet!!

 

Note on above illustration: from Koehler’s Medicinal-Plants 1887 [Image in Public Domain]

Bald Cypress – Taxodium distichum

Bald Cypress cones
Bald Cypress cones

Come away, come away, death.
 And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
   I am slain by a fair cruel maid.

 

Shakespeare

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will
Act II, Scene VI

 

This native of coastal swamps of the eastern sea-board of North America can be found along streams, beside ponds and in swamps from Delaware south through Texas and as far north as southern Illinois. This tree is a conifer, but unlike other conifers it loses its needlelike leaves every fall. In fact that is why it is called Bald!

 

The wood of this tree is so resistant to rot that in many swampy places from New Jersey through the southeast prehistoric wood has been unearthed and found in still useable condition. This wood is highly prized for making wood carvings, among other things. Early colonists were shown by the Native Americans to hallow out the trunks for making durable canoes, washtubs, and troughs. The freshly harvested wood is used in building construction, fence posts, planking (in boats), river pilings, doors, flooring, shingles, caskets and cabinetry.

 

The woody scent is often favored by men in perfumery, and used in aftershaves and deodorants. In aromatherapy it blends well with Benzoin, bergamot, cardamom, cedarwood, chamomile roman, clary sage, eucalyptus (all), frankincense, geranium, juniper, labdanum, lavender, lemon, lime, mandarin, marjoram, orange, pine, ravensara, rosemary, sandalwood, and tea tree.

 

The cones produce a very sticky resin which is used in the treatment of skin conditions. It is an astringent and balances oily skin and works well on acne. A salve made from the resin is used on rashes and wounds for healing.

 

A symbol of the southern swamp, the Bald Cypress was designated the state tree in Louisiana in 1963.

Onion – Allium cepa

Onion

Onion

“What mean you, sir,

To give them this discomfort? Look, they weep;

And I, an ass, am onion-eyed: for shame,

Transform us not to women.”

 

William Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra

 

This member of the Lily family is not found in a truly wild situation, but is related to wild species found in Central Asia. Under cultivation they make good companions with winter savory, dill, strawberries, cucumbers, chamomile, lettuce, carrots, beets, and chicory. They don’t do as well with beans, peas, and cabbage.

 

Onions have been under cultivation for a very long time. Traces of onion, dating back 5,000 years, were found in Bronze Age settlements in Canaan. Onions have even been found in ancient mummies from Egypt, and the Egyptians were known to pay workers with onions. A reference in the Ebers Papyrus mentions onions for medical use.

 

In modern herbal medicine onions can be made into syrup for treatment of cough; baked onions can be used as a poultice to draw infection from a wound; and fresh onion juice is useful in treating bee stings, insect bites, grazes and fungal infection of the skin.

 

The fresh juice has also been used in cosmetics to help remove freckles, and as an insect repellent. At one time it was believed that onion juice could restore hair to a bald head. The juice can also be used as a preventative against rust, and as a polish for copper and glass.

 

For edibility it can be consumed raw or cooked. Raw it can be sliced and added to salad, on top of sandwiches, etc. Cooked they can be chopped, sliced, or diced for use in stews, soups, chili’s, almost any recipe you would like. They are good as a pickle also. The flowers are often used as a garnish on salads, although the flavor of the bulb is much nicer.

 

The onion has even found its way into spiritual use, being considered sacred in ancient Egypt where it was worshipped in several cities. Onions are protective, used to encourage prophetic dreams and lust, and used in exorcism and to attract money. They are used to purify the blades of knives and athames.

Lady’s Mantle – Alchemilla vulgaris

Lady's Mantle - C.A.M.Lindeman's Flora
Lady’s Mantle – C.A.M.Lindeman’s Flora

“It collects the morning dew and wears it like fine jewels.

Its flowers are small, greenish, and lacy

like the green hair of the fairy queen, Tatiana”

 

Rosemary Gladstar,

excerpt from Herbal Healing for Women, page 245

This native of the mountains of America, Europe and Asia can be found growing wild in a variety of countries. From England, to Scotland, Greenland, and Northern Europe all the way to Asia it is held in great esteem as the woman’s helper. In Arabic countries it is believed to restore the youth and beauty to women. In magic use the ‘dew’ is gathered and used in potions to retain or restore youth. In Iceland it was considered sacred for its ability to help women retain their youth and for restoring their beauty!

In truth it is the woman’s friend in that it treats many female complaints. A tincture of the leaves is utilized in the treatment for menstrual pain, menopausal changes and stimulates menstrual flow. Being an astringent herb it is used also for the treatment of diarrhea and bleeding disorders. An infusion of the leaves and flower tops have been utilized as a douche, a mouthwash, and as a gargle.

The plant is considered a salad herb, the bitter leaves being chopped and added to a mixed green salad. There is also reference to the root being edible, but no further details!

Dewcup, as it is sometimes called, is oft used for cosmetic treatment of the skin…for soothing dry, sensitive skin, as an astringent for use on large pores, and as a facial steam for cleansing and treatment of acne. A cold compress made from an infusion is used to reduce inflammation of the eyes.

One last note…the leaves can be boiled to make a pale green dye for wool.

The above picture is from C.A.M.Lindeman’s Flora, By Carl Lindeman (from Sweden), 1901 to 1905

[Image in Public Domain]