Zen Beauty (from a Herbal Perspective)
The saying “ beauty is only skin deep “ is true on one level – hours in make up , soft focus lenses , lighting , airbrushing , etc can make almost anyone look great on film or in a magazine or poster or studio portrait . However from a Naturopathic / Wholistic/ Herbal point of view Beauty starts on the inside . Inner beauty is reflected on the Outside .
I have often pointed out to my students , the irises of models/actors/ actresses whose faces loom large from magazines or posters in the Beauty sections of Large Department stores ( by the way I am not denigrating anyone here ) They look great but the eyes reveal all . They may be the window to soul but they are also a map of the internal terrain .
What is revealed from looking at these posters is that a number of these people have health issues . Having known a few models previously , I know what they go through and have to do in order to stay in the game .It is the business that drives them to starve themselves, live on coffee , diet pills and cigarettes . They look good on the outside but the inside is a different story .
There are several factors to looking good . The obvious ones are : good nutritious diet , 80% to 20% ratio of Alkaline forming foods to Acid forming foods , plenty of water( the skin needs hydration to look good and function properly ) reduced stress & adequate relaxation , sufficient sleep, ( exercise and yoga will also be helpful ) supplements where needed , the right attitude , a good skin care regime using products that really are all natural not just claim to be , and there are not many companies out there who produce these ( this means containing no chemicals, animal products like cow placenta, or with ingredients whose names you cant even spell let alone pronounce )
Remember what we put on our skins is absorbed into our blood stream through the skin.
I have a number of Female friends who wear little or no make up and still look stunning . Their secret --- good diet, exercise/ yoga , good mental attitude, lots of water and meditation .
From a not so obvious and more internal based view one needs to ensure that your Kidneys, Liver, Lungs and Bowel are functioning well and not overloaded with toxins or by stress . That your skin is eliminating properly which can be aided by regular dry skinbrushing and that your blood is healthy .
Lets look at some of these things in more detail .
A healthy liver can be achieved by eating bitter leafy green vegetables ,taking lemon juice in water, reducing fatty food and alcohol intake and good anger management .
Lungs and skin are connected and since we breathe through our skin as well, it is important that our lungs are as unpolluted as possible. This means no smoking or inhaling anything toxic which can be hard to do in 21st century living. A lot of clients I see who have asthma also have eczema as well.
Kidneys need a good supply of clean / filtered water to flush them out, potassium rich foods, reduced stress and making sure your hormones are balanced.
If your body is not functioning well and you are constipated the toxic build up in your bowel will begin to move into your blood stream and end up in your skin . So you should be using your bowels at least 1 – 2 times per day if you are eating 3 meals per day .
Good digestive functioning is important because if your food intake is not being digested properly and you have malabsorption, which a majority of clients I see do have, then you will have inadequate nutrition. Consequently your skin will be deprived of the vital nutrients it needs to retains its tone, elasticity and vibrancy.
Make up can only hide so much and it has to come off sometime!
From a Herbal point of view there are a number of herbs which you can ingest in tea or liquid / tincture form or as food to help improve your skin and general functioning of the body . Here is a list of some of those herbs which will primarily aid the skin . Keeping in mind that to treat the skin holistically you also need to treat the other organs and body systems I have mentioned. So there are lots of other herbs that will indirectly aid skin functioning and general health & wellbeing by working on other organs.
- Borage seed Oil – Borago officinalis – rich in Gamma Linoleic acid .
- Rosehips – Rosa canina – these are rich in Vit C which aids in restoring collagen .
- Nettle – Urtica dioica – This herb is rich in iron for the blood , chlorophyll to cleanse the blood and vitamin C .
- Horsetail – Equisetum arvense – Very rich in silica which is great for healthy skin and cartilage as well as containing all the other minerals the body needs .
- Calendula – Calendula officinalis – Extremely valuable for healing the skin, contains vitamin A as well as beta carotene.
- Indian Madder- Rubia cordifolia – This is a vey powerful blood cleanser and aids in cleansing the lymphatic system .
- Hibiscus flowers – Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – This is toning to skin, cooling and contains High levels of Vitamin C .
- Rose petals – Rosa sp . The red scented rose are the ones I use . They are very toning and contain Vitamin C .
- St. Marys Thistle – Silybum marianum – This cleanses and regenerates the liver .
- Gentian – Gentiana lutea- this is a strong digestive bitter which aids digestion .
- Chickweed- Stellaria media – This herb is cooling and healing for the skin.
- Dandelion leaf – Taraxacum officinale – This a bitter herb, aids the liver and Kidneys and also provides Vitamin C, potassium, zinc and silicon .
- St. Johns wort – Hypericum perforatum – It helps to heal the epithelium and is also useful for reducing stress .
- Oats – Avena sativa – The oat straw especially the green straw is very rich in Silica . Oats are also used as a nervine to help with stress and they help to regenerate damaged nerve tissue .
- Lemongrass – Andropogon citratus – This herb is very antiseptic and helps to clear up acne .
Here are some frequently asked questions with answers:
Q) How could herbal remedies be used as an alternative to commercial beauty products?
A) Herbs can be infused in vegetable oils or witch hazel and used as lotions or toners . They can also be used in creams , cleansers ,body lotions , toners or powdered and used as scrubs .
Q) Are they safer because they're natural? Will our bodies respond better to them?
A)They are definitely safer especially if prepared correctly . Our bodies respond very well to herbs because of the synergistic nature of them and also because they are natural .
Q) What herbal remedies are there available for skin and beauty? For example, to get rid of acne, for shiny hair, to heal dry skin... etc?
A)For shiny hair – Horsetail, nettle , Eclipta, Rosemary , Lavender, Chamomile, Oats —made into a tea then used as a rinse or wash for the hair
For getting rid of acne – take burdock, nettle, lemongrass, Indian madder, chickweed, calendula, cleavers, thyme st. Marys thistle as tea or make into a wash for the face .
For dry skin – Calendula , comfrey , marshmallow root, chickweed , sandalwood, rose petals as a wash. Or as a tea Calendula , marshmallow root , licorice root, Sandalwood , Rose petals, Chickweed , Oats .
Q) What remedies are there for overall well being and health like to detoxify the body, for relaxation and de-stressing? These are taken as teas .
A) Herbs for detoxifying the body – Burdock , yellow dock , sarsaprilla, nettle , Tumeric, Red clover, Cleavers, Poke root, Indian Madder, Bupleurum , Queens delight , Japanese Knotweed.
For relaxation and de-stressing – Damiana , Oats, Jasmine flowers, Rose Petals, Lemon Balm , Lime flowers, Passion Flower, Sandalwood, Lavender, St. Johns wort, Withania root , Vervain