Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Body Powder

If you're anything like me, you grew up playing with your grandmother's beauty supplies. Spraying her perfume, trying on her lipstick, and having all kinds of mischievous fun with your grandma's stuff. I have fond memories of doing all of this. But one of my favorite things was her powder. I didn't know why she used it, but it always smelled soft and floral.

As an adult, I came across several deodorant powder and/or foot powder recipes. It wasn't until I started really taking a look at them that I realized what my grandmother's powder was for. Body powder is awesome. It helps to keep you feeling fresh even in the hot summer months in Florida. Think of it as a dry deodorant that you can use anywhere. Anywhere on or off your body, where funky smells tend to accumulate. You can use it on your thighs to keep them from chaffing during your workout routine, you can dust your feet before putting on your shoes to keep the foot odor to a minimum, you can lightly dust your entire body after a shower to help you feel fresh and smell great, you can even lightly dust your gym bag to help keep your workout clothes smelling fresh. There are so many uses for body powder. I also use my home made body powder as a base for some of my home made makeup. Just add a few colorants to your body powder and you have a loose blush, shadow, or foundation.

Most body powders you find commercially are made with talc. Talc has been linked to several instances of cancer. Using caution with talc is a good idea. Instead, I make my own body powders using arrowroot powder. However, you can use any of a variety of powders as your base.

The Base:

For your base you want to use an absorbent powder, particularly one that also has antibacterial properties and that is ultra fine and soft on your skin. Here are a few options that work pretty well. I prefer to use a combination of powders for my base. Some of my favorites include arrowroot, cornstarch (non-GMO), tapioca starch, rice flour, baking soda, kaolin clay, french green clay, betonite clay, or any of a variety of cosmetic clays.

Dried Herbs:

You can add ground herbs to your powders as well. These can help improve your skin, prevent acne, help heal wounds, and they smell lovely. Some of my favorite herbs to use include chamomile, lavender, calendula, rose, elder flower, peppermint, lemon balm, and jasmine flowers. Each one of these herbs has different properties, but all of them are known for helping improve the health of skin.

Essential Oils:

You can also add essential oils to your powder. They may cause clumping if not mixed well, but if you mix them well they can add more health benefits and a beautiful scent to your powder. Try lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang, frankincense, myrrh, and rose geranium. These oils are some of my favorites, but you can use any essential oil you'd like. Just keep in mind that some cause photosensitivity (making your skin sensitive to sunlight), and all essential oils are extremely strong and should always be diluted before use. An additional word of caution. Avoid using eucalyptus, rosemary, and camphor essential oils around people who have seizures, as well as young children and pets. I like to use around 10 drops of essential oils per 1 cup of powder for these recipes.

And here are some of my favorite recipes for body powder, starting with the super basic, unscented recipe, and going a bit more complicated. Enjoy!

Basic, Unscented Body Powder

1 cup Arrowroot Powder or Rice Flour
½ cup Cornstarch (non-GMO) or Tapioca Starch

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.

Romantic Floral Powder

¾ cup Arrowroot Powder or Rice Flour
¼ cup Kaolin Clay
¼ cup Cornstarch (non-GMO) or Tapioca Starch
¼ cup French Green Clay
¼ cup each powdered Rose Petals and Calendula Petals
6 teaspoons powdered Lavender Buds

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. If you need to grind your flowers and/or petals, a coffee bean grinder works really well. Just remember that you don't want to use the same one you use for your coffee or you'll have floral coffee.

Cooling Summer Powder

1 cup Arrowroot Powder or Rice Flour
½ cup Cornstarch (non-GMO) or Tapioca Starch
¼ cup Betonite Clay
6 teaspoons each powdered Mint Leaves, Calendula Petals, and Lemon Balm Leaves
5-10 drops each of Frankincense and Cypress Essential Oils

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. If clumps form when you add the essential oils, just break them up with the whisk and mix a little longer. If you need to grind your flowers and/or petals, a coffee bean grinder works really well. Just remember that you don't want to use the same one you use for your coffee or you'll have floral coffee.

I hope you enjoy these body powder recipes. For more essential oil blend ideas, check out my previous entries, Herbal Home Fresheners for Spring and Car-Omatherapy. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Lyme Disease

As a fairly active person who spends more and more time outdoors, I hear a lot about Lyme Disease. It's commonly associated with people who go hiking, camping, or participate in other outdoors activities. So what exactly is it?

Simply put, Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection typically transferred by tick bites. There are three strains of bacteria from the Borrellia genus that cause this infection, though they are not solely spread through tick bites, they are all carried by ticks and tick bites are the most common way that they spread. In Europe and the Americas, there are over 10,000 cases of Lyme Disease being diagnosed every day, which makes this one of the most widespread infectious disease in these countries.

Not every tick bite will transmit this bacteria, but it's good to watch out for the signs of infection if you ever find a tick on your person. One of the first signs (in about 70%-80% of the cases) is a rash starting around the area of the tick bite. It is usually bulls-eye shaped and accompanied by pain, inflammation, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and/or muscle and joint aches. In rare cases it can cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), meningitis (inflammation of the protective tissues in the brain), and can weaken the immune system to allow for co-infections such as herpes. If caught early, this infection is easily treated with antibiotics. However, if allowed to continue it could cause problems with the nervous system or heart. There is also a chronic form of Lyme Disease that can cause health problems years down the road. Chronic Lyme Disease can effect quite a few systems in the body including the digestive system, the reproductive system, the nervous system, the skin, muscles and joints, and even the heart.

Quite a few of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are found in other diseases as well, so there are more than a few cases that have been misdiagnosed or even gone undiagnosed. Make sure that if you have these symptoms, especially if you've spent any time outside recently, you check with your doctor about the possibility of Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is easily treated with antibiotics, but there are some natural alternatives out there as well, but make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any natural treatments and the more extreme cases of this infection can cause major health problems for years after it's contracted.

Diet is one of the best places to start, and can be helpful even if you go the pharmaceutical route. One of the first steps is to cut back on processed foods, especially those that are super high in sugar. Make sure that you stay hydrated, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease releases toxins into your blood stream, drinking a good amount of water daily will help eliminate those toxins more effectively. Most people recommend drinking 2 liters of water a day when you have Lyme Disease. Try going gluten-free. Gluten can cause inflammation in your body, in the same areas that Lyme Disease causes inflammation. You could also try drastically reducing your carbohydrates. This can help keep your digestive system running smoothly, helping to reduce the effects of Lyme Disease on your digestion. However, there is one thing that you want to look to add to your diet if you have Lyme Disease. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It helps to boost immune function and can help improve your circulatory functions as well. Make sure you get cold-pressed, unrefined, coconut oil to get the most of this amazing oil.

While pharmaceuticals can treat Lyme Disease there are some herbs that can help manage the symptoms and some that may even work on the infection itself. Some immune boosting herbs are great for the early stages of Lyme Disease, these include astragalus, elderberry, and olive leaf. However, some of these may not be very effective during later stages, or for chronic Lyme Disease. Herbs such as clove and oregano are naturally antibacterial and will work specifically on the bacteria that causes the infection. Mushrooms such as chaga, reishi, shiitake, and cordyceps have shown quite a few positive results helping to mitigate symptoms and to fight the infection itself.

Of course, when dealing with infections, the best medicine is prevention. Lyme Disease is no different in this regard. When spending time outside, make sure to wear protective clothing (long sleeves, pants tucked into boots, etc) and to stick to areas with short grass, avoid tall grass and underbrush. Wear insect repellant. I make my own, and I always add lavender essential oil to it because lavender repels ticks very well. Make sure you check yourself, your family, and your pets for ticks whenever you spend any time outdoors. Make sure that if any ticks are found, you remove them safely.

I hope I have helped you understand more about Lyme Disease. If you would like to share any questions, comments, advice, or experiences, please leave them below.


6 Powerful Home Remedies for Lyme Disease: Organic Facts:

11 Signs of Lyme Disease: Simply Health Today:

Chronic Lyme Disease: Lyme

How to Stay Safe During Tick Season and How to Avoid Chronic Lyme Disease with Dr. Jay Davidson: Wellness Mama:

Human Lyme Disease Symptoms and Signs: Web Health Advices:

Natural Treatments for Lyme Disease: Organic Daily Post:

What is Lyme Disease: Organic Facts:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Herbs de Provence

     So last week I posted some information on one of my favorite herbs, Lavender. In that post I mentioned that it's used in French cooking, particularly in a blend called Herbs de Provence. So I figured I'd share my recipe for this amazing blend, and a few recipes that use it. I hope you enjoy!

This is the most basic form of this herb blend. If you want to be a little more adventurous or fancy, you can try adding in 1 tsp of dried fennel seed, 1-2 tsp of dried orange zest, or 1-2 tsp of dried lemon zest. Feel free to play around with it and make it your own! This particular recipe makes about 1 cup of spice blend so make sure you have a container that can hold that amount.

Herbs de Provence

½ cup dried Thyme leaf
¼ cup dried Marjoram leaf
2 tablespoons dried Oregano leaf
2 tablespoons dried Rosemary leaf
2 tablespoons Savory
1 teaspoon dried Lavender flowers

Use a mortar and pestle, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder to lightly grind any of the whole herbs. You want them to be coarse and not finely ground. Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container away from heat and light.

     So now that you have this amazing herb blend, what do you do with it? This blend works well with all meats, particularly poultry and fish. It also goes great on root vegetables such as potatoes, and it makes a great herbed butter or infused olive oil. Here are a few of my favorite recipes using Herbs de Provence.

Provencal Vinaigrette 

     This salad dressing is so amazing, and super easy to make and uses Herbs de Provence and Dijon mustard to make your taste buds feel like you're dining in Provencal France!

Provencal Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Distilled Water
1 teaspoon Raw Honey
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon ground Black Pepper
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor. Process away for about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil (my food processor allows me to do this while actively processing the dressing, this is the best way to incorporate the oil, but if your processor does not, just drizzle a little at a time and process for 30 seconds between drizzles). Your dressing should be nicely emulsified and ready to store in the refrigerator. Chill for 1 hour before serving to allow all the flavors to nicely combine.

French Lentil Soup

     Lentil soup is a staple in my household. It's super easy to make and really quick if you're in a pinch for time. This version uses French lentils and Herbs de Provence to make a soup that's out-of-this-world!

French Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
½ of 1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium Carrot (and greens if possible), chopped
1 Celery Stalk, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 cup French Lentils, rinsed and drained
6 cups Vegetable Broth (or Bone Broth)
2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
½ of 1 medium Red Onion, chopped
4 cups Swiss Chard leaves (or Baby Spinach)

In a large pot, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, lentils, broth, and all seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes. Add in the red onions and cover, cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the lentils are softened. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the Swiss Chard. Serve piping hot!

This goes great over rice and/or quinoa.

Sensational Tofu & Roots

This recipe shows off how well Tofu can blend with just about everything. Now, for those of you who prefer meat, you can substitute chicken for tofu (just make sure it's fully cooked, it might take a bit longer than tofu) and get a delicious main dish, or simply take out the tofu and get a wonderful side dish of root veggies with gravy.

Tofu & Roots

½ pound of Fingerling Potatoes, quartered
2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large Parsnip, peeled and sliced
1 Celeraic (celery root), peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, smashed
½ pound of Cherry Tomatoes
1½ teaspoons Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1 cup Vegetable Broth (or Bone Broth)
2 tablespoons Arrow Root Flour
1 block (about 14-16 oz) Extra Firm Tofu, drained and pressed

In a large pot, on high heat, begin to boil the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and celeraic. While the root veggies are cooking (about 15-20 minutes or until fork tender), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sautee until tender, but not translucent. Add in the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes. Add in the broth and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to Low, add in the flour and whisk well to incorporate. Once the mixture thickens, set aside. Once the root vegetables are tender, drain them and set them aside. In another skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Slice the tofu into ¼ inch thick triangles. When the oil is hot, add the tofu. When the bottom is nice and crisp, flip them and add the root vegetables. Season with the remaining seasonings and cook until everything is golden. Pour the broth gravy over the tofu and roots and serve.

     In any of these recipes, feel free to change the ingredients around.  Play with different veggies and herbs.  I hope you enjoy this Herbs de Provence recipe, and have fun using it in every dish! Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Lovely Lavender

         Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, has always been one of my favorite scents. It's so soothing and calm, and isn't overtly bright and cheerful (which is good, but living in the Sunshine State means that I'm inundated with bright and cheerful year round). I've been blending my own essential oils to make perfume, beauty products, and air fresheners for some time now. Lately my favorite combination has been Frankincense, Lavender, and Vetiver. It just smells so mysterious. But aside from it's use in aromatherapy and as a pretty scent, Lavender is a necessary ingredient in certain cooking herb blends, such as Herbs de Province (a classic French culinary blend). It has so many uses, and is a great plant to have around the house as well. It truly is one of my favorite herbal allies.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Lavender, English Lavender, French Lavender, Spike Lavender, Sweet Lavender, Common Lavender, and True Lavender

Parts Used- All aerial parts while the plant is in flower, or just the flower.

Summary of Actions- Carminative, Sedative, Bitter, Antidepressant, Hypnotic, Cholagogue, Anti-microbial, Antiseptic, Analgesic, Nervine, Mildly Astringent, Aromatic

Traditional Chinese Medicine- Known as Xun Yi Cao, Lavender is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to clear heat, remove toxicity, expel wind, and relieve itching. It's pungent and cool and primarily used for sore throat, burns, rubella, tongue boil, headache, scabies, dizziness, and aphtha (inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth).

Ayurvedic- In Ayurveda, Lavender is known as a Medhya herb (improves cognitive function) for it's ability to energize and empower the mind and stimulate brain function. Lavender actually effects each of the 3 doshas. It pacifies both kapha and pitta while aggravating vata. It is known to enhance prana, strengthening the immune system.

Essential Oil and Aromatherapy- This is the main way I use Lavender. The essential oil is absolutely wonderful at reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep, and soothing the mind while stimulating it as well.

Pain Relief- Lavender is great for topical pain relief. It takes the “burn” right out of minor burns, helps reduce the “sting” from bug bites and minor cuts, and even helps reduce headaches when massaged into the temples. I even had a friend one time who had a headache for several days, nothing worked for it. I happened to have some diluted lavender essential oil on me. When she smelled it, her headache stopped throbbing, but was still there. Then I had her massage it onto her temples, her headache disappeared in just a few minutes. It's good stuff.

Wound and Burn Care- Lavender essential oil is one of to essential oils I always stock in my first aid kit (the other is oregano). I also keep dried lavender flowers, just in case. The reason I love lavender in my first aid kit is because it's so good for minor wounds and burns. There have even been studies done about the effect of lavender on wounds from major surgeries. Not only does it help improve the healing of the skin, it also acts to reduce pain and itchiness. I literally use it on just about everything from bug stings/bites, to minor burns, to cuts and scrapes, even to eczema and psoriasis. 

Soothing Nerves and Improving Sleep- The scent of lavender is usually enough to relax most people. Helping reduce anxiety, relieve depression, and improve sleep. It seems to be especially helpful to mothers during the postpartum time, college students, and people with special needs (helping to reduce the frequency of self harming behaviors). Research has even found that exposure to lavender before a stressful situation not only reduces the amount of stress one feels during the situation, but also helps recover from that stress much faster. One of my favorite applications for lavender is in a sleep pillow to help improve the quality of sleep.

Insect Repellent- This is one of the few things that actually work to repel the Noseeums that can be found in Florida. But lavender also works to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

Skin Care and Hair Growth- Lavender's anti-inflammatory effects help to improve the health of skin and hair. There are some people who have noted some irritating effects from the lavender, but most of those can be attributed to using undiluted lavender essential oil. When the tea is used as a wash, or when a properly diluted essential oil is applied, it cleanses the skin and hair, as well as improves hair growth and helps make the hair shiny and full. A strong tea also helps get rid of dandruff and can be used to help remove makeup (I usually mix it with some coconut oil for this).

Other Historical Uses- In the Medieval period in Europe, most of the floors in common homes were dirt. Most people covered the dirt with a combination of dried rushes/grasses and lavender flowers. Not only did this smell wonderful, it also kept bugs out of their houses, thus reducing the spread of diseases such as the plague. Lavender was also used during the plague to keep the smell out of the noses of the physicians and others attending to the sick. While they might have been using it to make the stench more palatable, it also helped keep them from falling ill.

Contraindications and Warnings- Generally speaking, there are none. However, those of you that are allergic to mints may have a reaction with lavender. You can also have a reaction to the pure essential oil if you do not dilute it in a carrier oil.

     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb.  I hope you have learned a new appreciation for one of my favorite allies, Lavender.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


7 Impressive Benefits of Lavender: Organic Facts:

10 Medicinal Benefits of Lavender Oil: Ayurveda and Yoga:

How Can Lavender Make You Feel Great?: Joyful Belly:

How to Use Lavender: Wellness Mama:

Lavender: TCM Wiki:

Lavender – Lavandula Angustifolia: Alandi Ayurveda:

Lavender Essential Oil: Ayurvedic Oils:

Lavender – Health Benefits and Side Effects: The Herbal Resource:

Lavender Plant: Uses of Herbs:

Lavender's Medicinal and Aromatherapy Uses and Lavender Truffles: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...