Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Softening Dry & Rough Winter Hands and Feet

The frigid winter temps have been less than kind to the skin. In most cases, hands are left feeling dry, chapped and rough after one hand wash; while feet become callous-like.

Many scientists believe, but not all of them agree that the skin on your palms and soles are lighter and thicker because it produces more protein and has a double sheath of papillae (tiny slivers of connective tissue) in the epidermal layer of the skin. Both the protein and dual papillae are integral in the creation of footprints and fingerprints. Nevertheless, you can avoid ashy, alligator skin with these three tips that'll help keep your skin feeling soft and smooth:


1) SOAP: If you're in a cold or dry, dessert-like area, then use a moisturizing soap to keep skin feel silky soft. On another note, while anti-bacterial soaps are tough on germs, they're also harsh on your skin and can be extremely drying. Include a quality, moisturizing soap (the more natural, the better) in your body care routine,especially when there is dry and winter weather. Apply moisturizers to your skin while it's still damp for deep penetrating absorbency.

2) MOISTURIZERS: Speaking of moisturizers, all of them are not treated equally. Use richer moisturizers during the winter, and avoid lotions and butters that are filled with toxic chemicals, preservatives, parabens and hormone disrupting ingredients. Quality is best, so if you avoid being skimpy with your body care products, and your skin with thank you with a soft, supple glow.

3) WATER: Like with anything, getting to the source of your issue is best. Opt to drink as much water as you can stand, or half your body weight in fluid ounces of water, or eight 8-oz. glasses of water per day. Whichever regimen best suites you, stick to it. If you fall off the wagon, get back on and try again. 

Lastly, repeat the above steps frequently. Add your own preferences to the mix, but whatever you do... hope you keep it all natural!

- Avec Amour

Friday, January 2, 2015

Faces of Herbalism: Untold Stories of Historical Herbalists

Mary Seacole

As one of the oldest scientific practices known to man, natural healing is still an integral component in society. It's often overshadowed as primitive medical care, but studies are released constantly further validating the nutritive and healing properties of plants, foods and the healing arts.

One of life's main tenants suggests that we must know our history to avoid repeating past errors. Welp, this is no different when it comes to society's health care practices. Integrating the wealth of historical, scientific knowledge in the healing arts can inevitably improve the quality of life for the environment and people. 

Yet, rediscovering information about the healing arts is no easy feat, considering much of the data was not well preserved throughout the years. Information about the healers themselves also have been buried, forgotten or unrecorded. So, when I stumbled upon information about this natural healer I was compelled to share her story...

Mary Seacole, a 19th century Jamaican herbalist who helped British soldiers in the Crimean War during the Victorian Era. She received praise for her alternative practices. Even though she had no formal training, she is often referred to as a nurse throughout historical texts, accolades and plaques (see picture below) due to her many successful treatments.

Seacole, born and raised a "free" woman, learned herbal practices from her mother who used natural remedies to treat military officers (passing through Jamaica) and their wives. Many of the practices being used were passed down to her mother from African slaves. In 1850, cholera became an epidemic throughout Jamaica, Seacole watchfully studied the way the disease affected the body and learned useful treatment tips from a doctor friend. She traveled to neighboring Caribbean islands, deepening her understanding of natural remedies through hands-on learning and trial-and-error, she helped to heal several people afflicted with cholera and yellow fever. Those who had the means to do so paid exceptionally well for her services, but the majority of her patients could only offer their thanks.

The Crimean War took rise in 1853 when Russia invaded Turkey and Britain went to the Turkey's aid. Florence Nightingale, the celebrated nurse, called for women army nurses to join her in helping injured soldiers.

Seacole applied to this request, having much success helping to heal cholera, yellow fever and other illnesses, but was rejected. Consequently, using her own money, she and a business partner opened a hotel and store near the battle field at which Seacole treated ill and wounded soldiers. She carried large bags filled with bandages, alcohol, needles, food, medicine, as she risked her life to aid injured soldiers on the battlefield.

A Times of London correspondent chronicled Seacole's courageous efforts, "I have seen her go down, under fire, with her little store of creature comforts for our wounded men; and a more tender or skilful hand about a wound or broken limb could not be found among our best surgeons. I saw her at the assault on the Redan, at the Tchernaya, at the fall of Sebastopol, laden, not with plunder, good old soul! but with wine, bandages, and food for the wounded or the prisoners."
Plaque honoring Mary Seacole in London

Despite her many accolades from soldiers, dignitaries and the number of articles written about her in Times of London, she received criticism for selling alcohol to soldiers. Her story remains controversial in that many refer to her as a "nurse" while she called herself a doctress, a.k.a. herbalist or naturalist. 

Throughout her life, Seacole operated several successful businesses throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Wherever she went, her reputation as a natural healer preceded her, so it wasn't long before sick and injured came knocking at her door.

In recognition of selfless and sometimes voluntary services, money is being raised to help build a statue. It is scheduled for completion in summer 2015 at St. Thomas' Hospital in London.

Read more about Mary Seacole in her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands

Click Photo for e-edition of the book





- Avec Amour