Herbal Remedies for the Elderly: Natural Skin Care That Works

Try making these herbal remedies for aging skin — from a nourishing facial moisturizer to a fragrant immunity balm.
By Stephanie L. Tourles
July 18, 2013
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"Hands On Healing Remedies," by Stephanie L. Tourles, offers 150 herbal remedies for everything from back pain to poison ivy rashes.
Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing

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In Hands-On Healing Remedies (Storey Publishing, 2012), Stephanie Tourles offers 150 original recipes for herbal balms, oils, salves, liniments and other topical ointments you can make yourself to treat a wide range of conditions, from headaches and backaches to arthritis, tendonitis, fungal infections, anxiety, cuts and scrapes, insomnia, splinters, and cracked skin. These preparations are all-natural, effective, safe and fun to prepare. Take control of your well-being and stock your family’s medicine cabinet with your own custom-made herbal remedies. The following excerpt comes from part 2, “A Collection of Herbal Remedies.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Hands-On Herbal Remedies.

Elder Care Concerns (70+ Years)

The elderly often have special needs that develop with advancing years — drier and more delicate skin, slower healing of wounds, poor circulation, and declining immune health. These herbal remedies can help address these concerns.

When creating topical herbal remedies for older individuals, I always take into account that their skin generally tends to be quite papery, fragile, and porous. It can tear, bruise, and bleed easily and often reacts to even moderate ingredient concentrations when younger, thicker, healthier skin might not, so all these products are made with gentle, ultra-mild, yet effective ingredients.

Rev-Me-Up Rosemary and Geranium Rub

As we age, our blood circulation tends to diminish and slow in our extremities, resulting in cold hands and feet, dry skin and nails, tingling sensations, and slow healing of cuts, scrapes, and bruises. This recipe includes two herbs that nourish, condition, and revitalize skin tissue and stimulate circulation when massaged into the hands, arms, feet, and lower legs. Both herbs also contain uplifting and balancing properties to improve your mood and enhance mental energy.

15 drops geranium essential oil
15 drops rosemary (chemotype verbenon) essential oil
1/2 cup almond, soybean, or jojoba base oil
Equipment: Dropper, dark glass bottle with dropper top or screw cap

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 24 hours to synergize

Yield: 1/2 cup

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year with soybean or almond base oil, 2 years with jojoba base oil

Application: 1 or 2 times per day

Add the geranium and rosemary essential oils drop by drop directly into the storage bottle. Add the base oil. Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend. Label the bottle and place in a dark location that’s between 60° and 80°F for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.

Application Instructions: Shake well before using. Applying the oil a tablespoon at a time, briskly massage it into your skin, using upward, circular strokes, always in the direction of the heart. Start with your feet and move up your lower legs, to the knees, followed by your hands, lower arms, and elbows. Allow the oil to soak in for 5 to 10 minutes before dressing. If a greasy residue remains, use less oil next time.

Bonus: Use daily as a facial, throat, and chest moisturizing elixir to tone, tighten, and improve skin texture. Just massage several drops into the skin after cleansing and toning. It smells crisp and fresh without being harsh.

Protect and Fortify Facial Elixir

This pure, light, nourishing, protective oil can serve as your primary facial moisturizer, or you can use it in conjunction with your favorite moisturizer to intensify the level of conditioning, especially if you suffer from very dry skin. The combination of three amazing healing herbs — rosemary, comfrey, and calendula — comforts, soothes redness and irritation, encourages cell regeneration, and increases the elasticity of skin tissue.

Note: For this formula I prefer to use freshly wilted herbs harvested from my garden in summer, but dried herbs will work nicely, too. I feel the stovetop method of infusion best concentrates the sticky, resinous properties of these herbs, while evaporating their heavy moisture content (especially if you use them freshly wilted).

1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted calendula blossoms
1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted comfrey leaves
1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup freshly wilted rosemary leaves
2 cups almond base oil
2,000  IU vitamin E oil

Equipment: 2-quart saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, candy or yogurt thermometer, strainer, fine filter, funnel, glass or plastic storage container

Prep time: 5 hours

Yield: Approximately 1 1/2 cups

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application: 2 times per day

If you’re using freshly wilted herbs, first cut or tear the leaves and flowers into smaller pieces to expose more surface area to the oil. Combine the calendula, comfrey, and rosemary with the almond base oil in a 2-quart saucepan or double boiler and stir thoroughly to blend. The mixture should look like a thick, leafy green and orange speckled soup. Bring the mixture to just shy of a simmer, between 125° and 135°F. Do not let the oil actually simmer — it will degrade the quality of your infused oil. Do not put the lid on the pot.

Allow the herbs to macerate in the oil over low heat for 5 hours. Check the temperature every 30 minutes or so with a thermometer and adjust the heat accordingly. If you’re using a double boiler, add more water to the bottom pot as necessary, so it doesn’t dry out. Stir the infusing mixture at least every 30 minutes or so, as the herb bits tend to settle to the bottom.

After 5 hours, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. While the oil is still warm, carefully strain it through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then strain again if necessary to remove all debris. Squeeze the herbs to extract as much of the precious oil as possible. Discard the marc.

Add the vitamin E oil and stir to blend. The resulting oil blend will be a greenish-orange color. Pour the finished oil into a storage container, then cap, label, and store in a dark cabinet.

Application Instructions: In the morning and evening, after cleansing and toning the skin, gently pat your face almost dry. Place approximately 10 drops of the oil in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together to warm the oil, then press it into your face, neck, and the chest, and gently massage it in, using upward, outward, circular strokes. Follow with sunscreen, moisturizer, or makeup, if desired.

Bonus: Use this elixir to help heal minor burns (after the burn has cooled), sunburn, cuts and scrapes, dermatitis, dry eczema, psoriasis, diaper rash, stretch marks, blisters, and new scar tissue. It makes a comforting bath and body oil, too.

Simple Calendula-Infused Body Oil

The sunny calendula flower is strikingly beautiful and intensely colorful, and it contains simple, potent, yet gentle medicine. Calendula-infused oil is mildly antiseptic and energetically cooling, and it fights inflammation, stimulates skin cell regeneration, and conditions skin by restoring elasticity and suppleness.

This oil can be used alone or may be added to salves and balms intended to aid in the healing of all manner of skin irritations, psoriasis, eczema, stretch marks, burns, scars, cuts and scrapes, bug bites and stings, infections, dry skin, and diaper rash. I highly recommend that you grow a patch of calendula flowers and keep a jar of this “miracle oil” in your medicine cabinet.

Note: I always make this infused oil in the summer or early fall, when I can pick the flowers fresh from my garden, but if fresh blossoms are unavailable, dried ones will do nicely, too. I prefer to use the solar infusion method. Calendula flowers are very thick and sticky and need to be wilted for at least 72 hours before making this recipe so that a good portion of their moisture evaporates.

2 cups dried or 3 cups freshly wilted calendula flowers
3–4 cups almond or soybean base oil (enough to cover flowers)
2,000 IU vitamin E oil

Equipment: 1-quart canning jar; stirring utensil, strainer, fine filter, funnel, glass or plastic storage containers

Prep time: 1 month

Yield: Approximately 2 1/2 cups

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application: Once daily, or as desired

If you’re using freshly wilted calendula flowers, cut or tear the flowers into smaller pieces to expose more surface area to the oil. Place the flowers in a widemouthed 1-quart canning jar. Drizzle the base oil over the plant matter until the oil comes to within 1 inch of the top of the jar. The flowers will settle with the weight of the oil, so don’t worry if it looks as though you don’t have enough plant matter in the jar. Gently stir to remove air bubbles and make sure that all the plant matter is submerged.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar (to prevent the metal lid from coming into contact with the herb) and tightly screw on the lid. Shake the jar several times to blend thoroughly. Place the jar in a warm, sunny location such as a south-facing windowsill, and allow the flowers to infuse for 1 month. Shake the jar every day for 30 seconds or so.

After 1 month, carefully strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a fine filter such as muslin or, preferably, a paper coffee filter, then strain again if necessary to remove all herb debris. Squeeze the flowers to extract as much of the precious oil as possible. Discard the marc. Add the vitamin E oil and stir to blend. The resulting calendula oil can vary in color from deep vibrant yellow to yellow-orange to bright orange.

Pour the finished oil into storage containers, then cap, label, and store in a dark cabinet.

Application Instructions: After a warm bath or shower, pat your skin almost dry and apply a tablespoon or two of the infused oil to your entire body, massaging in gentle, circular motions (always toward the heart) until it is completely absorbed. Let the oil soak in for 5 to 10 minutes before getting dressed. You can also massage this oil into dry skin anytime you desire — it sinks in so nicely. It’s fabulous when used as your daily facial oil, too.

Bonus: This favored-by-everyone floral oil can be used as a bath and facial oil. It sinks right in with nary an oily residue.

Garden Wonder Balm

This formula is the salve version of Protect and Fortify Facial Elixir, so you need to make that recipe prior to making this balm. In addition to beeswax, I’ve included lavender essential oil to enhance the anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, vulnerary, and skin-pampering properties. This balm, made primarily with common garden herbs, soothes redness and irritation and encourages skin cell regeneration and increased elasticity of tight, dry, mature skin tissue. It works like magic to help heal just about any minor skin irritation, even on the most sensitive of skins. I love this stuff!

7 tablespoons Protect and Fortify Facial Elixir
1–2 tablespoons beeswax (depending on how firm you want the salve to be)
25 drops lavender essential oil

Equipment: Small saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, plastic or glass jar or tin

Prep time: 20 minutes to make the balm, plus 30 minutes for it to thicken

Yield: Approximately 1/2 cup

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application: 2 times per day

Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a small saucepan or double boiler, and warm over low heat until the beeswax is just melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the essential oil and stir again to blend. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the storage container, then cap and label. Set aside for 30 minutes to thicken.

Application Instructions: Apply a small dab twice daily to minor skin irritations to comfort and speed healing.

Bonus: This balm is so gentle and mild that it can be used to treat all manner of skin irritations experienced by young children and infants.

Essential Immunity Balm

With daily application to the feet, hands, and chest, this powerful medicinal will envelop your body with an “aromatherapeutic shield” to help protect you from airborne “nasties” and surface contaminants. The soles of your feet and palms of your hands have an amazing ability to absorb topical remedies due to the plethora of sweat glands contained within their thick skin, so this formula’s essential oils will quickly begin to deliver their benefits to your bloodstream. When applied to the chest area and covered with clothing, the fragrant vapors rise to your nose and mouth, fortifying the sinus and respiratory channels against illness.

Note: Use the specific essential oils called for, as they are the most skin-friendly varieties.

4 tablespoons refined shea butter (unrefined shea butter will work, but its stronger fragrance makes masks the aroma of the essential oils)
5 drops eucalyptus (species radiata) essential oil
5 drops spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) or lavender (L. angustifolia) essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil
5 drops thyme (chemotype linalool) essential oil
2 drops peppermint essential oil
1 drop cinnamon essential oil
1 drop clove essential oil

Equipment: Small saucepan or double boiler, stirring utensil, plastic or glass jar or tin

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus up to 24 hours to thicken

Yield: Approximately 1/4 cup

Storage: Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year

Application: 2 times per day

Warm the shea butter in a small saucepan (a 3/4-quart size works great) or double boiler over low heat, until it has just melted. Remove from the heat. Add the eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, thyme, peppermint, cinnamon, and clove essential oils directly to the storage container, then slowly pour in the liquefied shea butter. Gently stir the balm to blend, then cap, label, and set aside to thicken. Unlike beeswax, shea butter takes a long time to completely thicken, and this formula may need up to 24 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. When it’s ready, it will be very thick, semi-hard, and white (or creamy yellow if you’ve used unrefined shea butter).

Application Instructions: Massage a small dab into your palms, the soles of your feet, including between the toes, and chest twice per day. Put on socks or hosiery after application to the feet.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies by Stephanie L. Tourles and published by Storey Publishing, 2012. Buy this book from our store: Hands-On Healing Remedies.

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7/20/2013 12:58:30 AM

These recipes are definitely from a fantastic book, I also love Stephanies other books (some have more complicated recipes) and also Natural Home Made Skin Care Recipes which I wrote that includes similar homemade easy to make recipes made from every day ingredients that contain essential fatty acids, vitamin A, C and E etc.


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