Harness the power of plants at home...
Now that the sun is shining I’m trying to harness the natural power of plants to pep me up both inside and out. Cindy Angerhofer, executive director botanical research at Aveda, talks me through her seven favourite botanicals and what they do to beautify mind, body and soul.
EXPERT FACTS: Extracts from the leaves are known to enhance and spur memory. They also have very strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity so are brilliant to use internally or externally if you have sensitive skin or infections.
HOW TO USE: Ideally make your own tincture by infusing stems in a small bottle of carrier oil such as Aveeno Avocado Oil, £3.99, and then apply to inflamed areas. Alternatively, steep in hot water for five minutes and drink as a tea.
BUY: Aveda Rosemary and Mint Bodywash, £17, is a great quick and easy fix to get the brain in gear early in the morning.
EXPERT FACTS: Suffer from hiccups? Peppermint leaves are antispasmodic so work directly on the digestive muscles and great for soothing the gut in general.
HOW TO USE: Steep the leaves in hot water for five-minutes and leave to cool. To release optimum flavour, rip the leaves instead of cutting them.
BUY: Pukka Triple Mint Tea, £2.29, has great depth and is our go-to after a big meal. Capsule form is effective too – we use Holland and Barrett Extra Strength Oil of Peppermint Capsules, 200mg, £11.69, which are really potent.
EXPERT FACTS: Using the whole fruit comes with an abundance of benefits – it is a good UV protector, an anti-inflammatory and it also has anti-cancer effects.
HOW TO USE: Sprinkle the pips in salads or drink the juice every day two weeks before your holiday to help fortify skin prior to exposure to the sun (tip: don’t use the juice directly on your skin as it stains).
BUY: Victoria Health Pomegranate Juice, £8.99, is double-strength and unrefined. Try applying Fushi Pomegranate Seed Organic Oil, £19.50, directly to your skin. For hair get your hands on Aveda Dry Remedy Oil, £19.50, which uses pomegranate emollients to soften brittle hair.
EXPERT FACTS: This root is used traditionally in Chinese medicine and is a phytochemical powerhouse when used topically on scalp and skin, working as an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant while lightening and brightening the skin. It’s around 200 times sweeter than sugar – so you’ll get the sweet fix without the calories. We love a cup of liquorice tea at 4pm to stave off sugar cravings.
HOW TO USE: Chew on liquorice root or try some real liquorice from a health food shop.
BUY: Aveda’s Comforting Tea Bags, £10 contain sweet licorice and peppermint, which is an extremely soothing combination. For liquorice to chew, we like Victoria Health Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root Extract, £11.39.
EXPERT FACTS: The seed of the milk thistle are extremely powerful; the phyto-chemicals are used as a remedy in some countries such as France to combat the acute toxicity of mushrooms and are considered to quite literally be a lifesaver. Milk thistle also helps to preserve the extra cellular matrix of the skin by reducing the breakdown of collagen and elastin.
HOW TO USE: If you know you are going to be exposed to pollution while, say, painting a room or cycling in the city, take a milk thistle as a supplement at night time when the body is most active in repair mode to help the body protect against toxins.
BUY: We love The Organic Pharmacy Milk Thistle Tincture, £10.50
EXPERT FACTS: This essential oil is exceedingly popular for good reason – it’s extremely efficacious. The aroma affects the nasal receptors that connect directly to the ancient limbic part of the brain, where it can induce a sense of alertness and wellbeing. It’s commonly used to aid relaxation, relieve anxiety and calm a racing mind.
HOW TO USE: Apply to your pillow, pulse points or collar and take three slow, deep breaths when you can’t sleep or feel overwhelmed. Lavender also has an antiseptic effect so can be used on blemishes or small abrasions to purify.
BUY: Aveda Lavender Singular Note Oil, £28.50 for pulse points or Stress-Fix Soaking Salts, £31, for a bath – it’s known to lower the heart rate. And relax!
EXPERT FACTS: The fats that you eat are the fats that make up your skin. So when it’s dry and needs extra moisture turn to good fats such as rich and heavy olive oil, which is full of anti-oxidants, vitamin E and Omega 9 acids and help prevent cell degeneration. It is also known to be anti-fungal, and the extract of the olive leaf can heal infections such as thrush. Tip: at the bottom of the bottle of organic oil there should be a sediment – this is value added and very high in polyphenols (even higher anti-oxidants).
HOW TO USE: Choose organic, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and use it to dissolve eye make-up, nourish hair (and a sensitive scalp), as a body oil with a couple of drops of an essential oil or add sugar for a natural body scrub.
BUY: Our favourite is Frescobaldi Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, £28.95.