Natural Health
Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.


Plant a Skin Care Garden with These Plants for Natural Recipes

Lavender in the garden 

Lavender 

Photos by author

You’ve heard of a vegetable garden, a pollinator garden, and a flower garden; but have you ever heard of a skincare garden?  I’ll be sharing with you my top 5 plants for my own skincare garden where I live which is Zone 6b. Many of these plants are readily available to most gardeners and zones and you may even have them growing in your garden now!

Lavender 

What’s not to love about lavender? It’s my go-to herb for most of the skincare products I make and highlight in my bookForrest + Thyme Apothecary: simple skincare formulas you can make uniquely your own.  The scent is light and by just inhaling its flowers is calming to the nervous system.  It helps to soothe and calm irritated, inflamed, or sunburned skin; can help clear up acne thanks to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It can aid in just about any skin issue you may have from eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, aging skin, or acne prone skin. Many believe it helps to speed up the healing of the skin, which is why I use it in my Herbal Soothing Salve. Lavender also contains antioxidants which could also help slow down the aging process by blocking free radicals from your skin, which is one of the causes of fine lines and wrinkles. I personally infuse lavender in my oils for my face serum as well as my wrinkle cream.

Chamomile 

Chamomile in the Garden

Chamomile isn’t just great for tea but great for your skin too! It is a powerhouse of an herb from being anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, hypoallergenic, as well as containing antioxidants. It helps reduce free radicals in the skin much like lavender and I love infusing Chamomile with Rose in a blend for a face serum. Not only does it work wonders on your skin but it smells fantastic too! I like to grind dried flowers and add them to my charcoal mask, infuse the flowers into oil to then be made into body oil, lip balm, wrinkle cream, face serum. You can infuse fresh petals into witch hazel for a facial toner as well. The possibilities really are endless. 

Rose + Rosehips

Roses in the Garden

If I had to guess, rose is probably the oldest ingredient in skincare. It is superb for dry and aging skin due to it’s variety of  A, C, D, and E vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But the flower and it’s seeds are also great for acne, redness, and irritation due to its astringent qualities.  Any variety of rose will work in your skincare routine. The rosehips come after the flowers have fallen off and I like to harvest my rosehips after the first frost, just be sure to allow them to fully dry before storing them. I love using rose in bath salts, in a body oil, and in my face serum along with Chamomile.

Rosemary

Fresh Cut Rosemary

Rosemary isn’t just used in baking and cooking! It can help increase circulation, is anti-inflammatory, and is used in many haircare products to promote hair growth. Due to this reason alone, I add Rosemary to all of my homemade hair care products. Infuse the herb in spring water and spray it on the roots of your hair twice a day to help regrow hair. I also infuse the rosemary in oils for a nourishing hair serum/deep conditioner, concentrating on the roots. I use it as an eyelash and brow boosting serum too (infused oils only, no essential oils so close to the eye!) 

Calendula

Calendula in the Garden

I’m probably late to the party on this one as I just discovered last year that Marigold is the same plant as Calendula. I’ve been growing this magical plant in my garden for years but mainly used as a deterrent of pests in the garden and to enjoy the sunshine color it provides among a sea of green. This past summer I studied it’s properties more and even though I’ve never used this flower in my skincare products before I’m adding it to the list now because that will all change this year!  Calendula is great for inflammation and muscle spasms so I will be adding it to my Herbal Soothing Salve as well as into my Muscle Rub.  It can also sooth skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis so it will be going into my next batch of body oil. The flower may also help fade dark spots so I’ll be adding it to my batch of face serum as well this year.

Bonus: Chili Pepper

I’m throwing the chili pepper into this list as an added bonus as it is the secret ingredient (well, it’s really not THAT secret) in my muscle rub. Infusing the dried peppers into oil along with a few other ingredients is one of the warming agents in the rub.  It penetrates deep into the muscle to help sooth after a long day working in the garden. 

Do you have any of these plants growing in your garden now? Have you ever used them in your skincare routines? Next month, I'll be sharing my Top 5 foraged plants that I use in my skincare routine just in time for this years foraging season!


Sarah Hart Morgan is a designer, photographer and author of Forrest + Thyme Apothecary: simple skin care formulas you can make uniquely your own. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley, where she works with foraged plants in her skincare and apothecary products, camera-less photography, using plants as a developing agent in film photography, and creating natural inks for painting. Connect with Sarah on her website, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Adaptogenic Spiced Golden Milk for Natural Sleep Support

milk
Photo by Renée Benoit

“Sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Years ago, when I was a Transcendental Meditation teacher, the movement introduced the ancient Ayurvedic way of promoting good health to its members. I particularly loved having warm oil drizzled on my forehead before or after a massage but I haven’t had that in years. There is one practice that I have kept up with. It’s a spicy sweet warm milk beverage that I drink at bedtime and it helps me sleep. Warm milk sweetened with honey (leche caliente con miel) has been touted for a long time as a way to help people sleep better. The problem for me is that milk makes me phlegm-y so I usually stay away from it. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to cow’s milk these days. There are nut “milks” and, of course, goat’s milk. I like making my beverage with soy milk the way ayurvedic practitioners make it. This recipe features nutmeg to relax you and ashwagandha to support your immune system.

This recipe makes one cup and everything is “to taste”. If you think any of the amounts might be too much for you simply put in a little to start, taste and add more until you get the flavor you like. Also, none of the ingredients are mandatory. If you can’t find ashawaganda or don’t like one of the spices go ahead and leave it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole cow or goat’s milk or unsweetened nut milk (such as hemp, almond, or cashew) or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ashwagandha
  • 2 pinches of ground cardamom
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • A little bit of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (coconut oil works well, too)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

Directions:

Add everything except honey to a saucepan and heat it to just below a simmer over low heat. Whisk to incorporate any clumps. Add ghee or coconut oil and continue to warm until it’s melted. Don’t let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the honey, off heat (cooking honey destroys its healing properties). Pour into a mug and drink warm. Sweet dreams!


Renée Benoit is a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who currently lives in a 26-foot travel trailer with her husband, a cat, and two dogs while they travel the Western United States in search of beautiful, peaceful vistas and hijinks and shenanigans. Connect with Renée at RL Benoit, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Getting the Proportions Right for Tallow-Based Homemade Soap

Scalloped Top Homemade Soap Bars

Photo by Sarah Hart Morgan

I love this time of year. The garden is reaching its summer end and you have to start getting creative on how you can use up your surplus so nothing goes to waste. A friend of my husband’s recently butchered a few head of cattle and asked if I wanted some of the beef fat for soap-making. There was no way I was going to pass up the free fat, and after two days of rendering, it was time to get to work on the soap.

My apothecary cabinet was getting pretty full and I needed to make room for new infusions, so I decided this would be a “clean out the fridge” type of soap. I had a bumper crop of tomatoes this summer, too. After canning every red tomato from my garden, I still had a ton of green tomatoes on the vines that I knew more than likely weren’t going to turn this season. I picked all that I could before the frost got hold of them, made salsa verde, and gave even more away to friends. I had made a very successful bar of soap years ago using my heirloom tomatoes and decided to try a batch using the juice of the green tomatoes as the liquid in this batch of soap.

Juicing the Tomatoes

I used green roma tomatoes for this formula but any green tomato will work. You don’t want seeds or any added tomato pulp in your soap so after blending the tomatoes in my blender with a little bit of water to get the blender going, I ran the liquid through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds and pulp. I added this to my compost pile (the chickens loved it!) so nothing went to waste.

Cleaning Out the Apothecary

soap

Photo by Unsplash/ Aurélia Dubois

I’m not sure about you, but I have an abundance of infused oils in my apothecary cabinet this time of year. And to be honest, they were probably past their prime. The oils hadn’t gone rancid by any means, but they were at the point where they were at risk of needing to be discarded if I didn’t do something with them soon. After the growing season, I have fresh plants and herbs that will need to be infused, so it was time to get out with the old and in with the new.

A big batch of soap is just the right way to use the oils up so nothing goes to waste. In this batch I used: lavender-infused olive oil, wild rose-infused olive oil, juniper berry-infused olive oil, and red clover-infused olive oil.

The Formula

I like to work and share my formulas using percentages. It’s easier to scale the formula to fit your own mold and by converting to weight, you work in precise measurements. Be sure to run this formula through a soap calculator like this one using the size of your own mold to get the proper lye/liquid measurements. I like to use a digital kitchen scale when measuring everything.

Brown Homemade Soap Aerial Shot

Photo by Sarah Hart Morgan

Clean-Out-the-Apothecary Soap Proportions

Super Fat 7%

Beef tallow:  60%

Olive oil: 25%

Unrefined shea butter: 10%

Castor oil: 5%

Notes:

I like to add 1.5% beeswax of my total weight of fats and oils. This doesn’t get factored into the total weight of fats and oils; rather, I treat it as an additive, though it gets added to the fats during the melting stage.

My green tomato juice was used in place of the water, and I typically use around a 10% water discount when I soap.

I don’t use any fragrance oils in my soap as a personal preference, and I no longer use essential oils either as the scent doesn’t last and it seems like money wasted. Instead, I like to use infused oils to gain the skin-loving benefits of the plants I use.

This bar of soap ended up with a very naturally clean, pleasant scent. It is a very hard bar of soap that should have a nice lather, and was easy to cut after 24 hours. I personally like to let my soap cure for 6 weeks before use.

If you try this formula, I’d love to know what kinds of infused olive oil you used and what, if any, liquid substitutes you used. This type of soap is one of my favorites to make, similar to cooking when you just throw a little bit of this and a little of that and see what happens.

Brown Colored Soap Bar Slices

Photo by Sarah Hart Morgan

Sarah Hart Morgan is a designer, photographer and author of Forrest + Thyme Apothecary: simple skin care formulas you can make uniquely your own. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley, where she works with foraged plants in her skincare and apothecary products, camera-less photography, using plants as a developing agent in film photography, and creating natural inks for painting. Connect with Sarah on her website, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Study Says Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief

acupunctureLooking for scientific evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain treatment? A recent study describes a long-term, well-constructed research project that bears out acupuncture's reputation for being an effective natural treatment for chronic pain, including pain related to migraines and arthritis.

Though acupuncture has been used throughout the world for thousands of years, questions about its effectiveness have sometimes limited its widespread acceptance. The people who've benefited from acupunture often swear that they've received true and long-lasting relief, but is their response merely psychological? The Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study says the effects are real and lasting.  

A new study of acupuncture — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain. 

The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients. 

The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. 

“This has been a controversial subject for a long time,” said Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the lead author of the study. “But when you try to answer the question the right way, as we did, you get very clear answers. 

“We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain.” 

The results of the study indicate that many people undergoing acupuncture treatments experience more than the placebo effect. For those suffering from chronic pain, this might not be The Answer, but acupuncture could be helpful as part of an overall pain-treatment strategy, particularly given that it is, as the Times article states, "relatively noninvasive and relatively safe."  


K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden.

Adaptogenic Chai Tea

 

Supporting our nervous system during times of stress and overwhelm is so important as a part of our self-care routine. The adrenal glands are a major part of your body's stress response, both to physical and emotional stressors. Because the adrenals have such an important part to play, it is crucial to give them extra support to stay healthy physically and mentally.

There are many ways to support the adrenals and the entire nervous system, including plenty of sleep, a nutrient-dense diet, outdoor exercise and a mindful stress-management practice. In addition to these lifestyle habits, giving yourself extra nourishment with herbal remedies is also a wonderful way to take care of yourself when under stress. There are a group of herbs, known as adaptogens, that help balance your body's stress response and adapt as needed to stay in balance. Adaptogens not only help to balance stress hormones, but they are also known to promote sleep, improve energy levels and even boost immune function. This herbal decoction takes some of my favorite adaptogenic herbs--ashwagandha, eleuthero, astragalus, and licorice--and combines them with warming, delicious spices found in many Indian chai tea blends, all without any caffeine. I like to keep a mixture of the herbs on hand so I can brew up a batch of chai whenever I need a little extra herbal support.

Adaptogenic Chai Tea (Caffeine-Free)

Serves: 2-3

Prep time: 15-30 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2-inch fresh ginger root, sliced (or 1 Tbs chopped, dried ginger)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, 2-3" long each
  • 8 star anise pods
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 tbsp dried ashwagandha root
  • 2 tbsp dried eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) root
  • 2 tbsp dried astragalus root--can be cut and sifted or in slices
  • 1 tbsp licorice root
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves 
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • To serve: Honey and heavy cream or coconut milk to taste

Directions

1. Place all herbs in a medium-sized sauce pan.

2. Add the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

3. Let the herbs simmer for 15-30 minutes to infuse as much of the herbal constituents into the tea as possible. Feel free to simmer for longer if you prefer a stronger, more flavorful tea. 

Laura Poe is a Registered Dietitian and traditional foods instructor. She homesteads in Wisconsin where she regular contributes to Edible Madison. Connect with Laura at Laura Poe, RD, for private practice appointments (distance consults available), upcoming classes, newsletter subscriptions, and more. Her nutrient-dense recipes can be found on Laura’s blog, Brine & Broth, and you can see what she has been cooking and creating on her Instagram @brineandbroth. Read all of Laura’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Poison Ivy: Identification, Eradication, and Treatment

Probably the most unwanted weed, poison ivy affects more than 350,000 people annually in the United States. Farmers, gardeners, and people who have even any plot of land, both rural and urban, are most likely faced with the problem of eradicating this harmful weed.

Despite its name, poison ivy is not a member of the ivy family (Hedera) but rather a member of the Anacardiaceae plant family, also known as the cashew or sumac family. Believe it or not, it’s actually a relative of cashews, pistachios, and mangoes. This glossy perennial can spread by seeds transmitted by birds, or by producing shoots from its extensive under-ground stems. Poison ivy grows on sandy, stony, or rocky shores, and sprouts in thickets, in clearings, and along the borders of woods and roadsides.

All parts of the poison ivy plant, including the roots, contain the poisonous resin urushiol. Contact with any broken part of the plant, or simply touching the plant, may cause a reaction. Pet fur can also transmit the sap, though the pets themselves are not affected. Urushiol can remain active for several years, on many surfaces and therefore is present on dry leaves and branches of the plant.

Poison ivy greatly benefits from increased carbon dioxide in the air: higher Co, levels make the plant, Digger, and more harmful.

Description and Range

Newfoundland is the only province in Canada where poison ivy is absent. Illustration by Mary Peterson

Poison ivy can be found in every province of Canada except Newfoundland. It can grow as a shrub, climbing vine, or ground cover, and the branches of older vines can even be mistaken for tree limbs. The character of growth varies according to location and type. Western poison ivy (Toxicodendron Rydbergii) usually grows as an erect shrub, while Eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) grows as climbing or trailing vine. As the names suggest, "Western poison ivy" predominates in Western Canada, while "Eastern Poison ivy" predominates in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.

The leaves of poison ivy grow in clusters of three, with the middle leaflet being on a much larger stalk. The leaflet edges can be smooth or toothed and can vary on the same stem or plant. They are always pointed and alternate, and when newly unfolded are reddish to bronzy green. They are deciduous, and become an orange-red to wine-red in autumn. The stems are woody, and when climbing on the trunk of a tree develop aerial rootlets.

From May to July the plant produces small erect greenish-white flowers that are followed by greyish-white berry-like fruits in clusters from August to November. The fruits last throughout the winter and are commonly consumed by birds. Many mammals, including bears, moose, foxes, deer, rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, muskrats, woodrats, and mice, also consume the leaves, stems, and fruit.

 Identification

It's important to know how to identify poison ivy in all seasons. Illustration by Sam Feldman

Identification is very important and is here separate from the description so as to highlight the telltale signs and combinations of signs that are easy to remember and help identify the plant rather than describe it. Four characteristics are sufficient to identify poison ivy in most situations: (a) clusters of three leaflets, (b) alternate leaf arrangement, (c) lack of thorns, and (d) separate stems connected to the main vine for each group of three leaflets.

Another quite distinguished characteristic is the asymmetry of individual leaves and the varieties of smooth, toothed, and lobed leaf edges on the same branch or plant.

There are also various easy to remember mnemonic rhymes that help identify poison ivy:

Leaves of three, let it be is the best known and most useful cautionary rhyme. It applies to poison oak as well as to poison ivy. However, some other innocuous plants have similar leaves. Other rhymes include: Hairy vine, no friend of mine; Berries white, run in fright; and Berries white, danger in sight.

 Eradication

There are several ways of removing poison ivy. Illustration by Paul Anderson

There are several ways of removing poison ivy.

Carefully dig the plant out. In order for this method to be effective, the plant must be removed fully with the roots, as any piece of root or stem can produce a new plant. Make sure to wear protective clothing and cover all bare skin and face while digging and handling the plant. Because poison ivy easily spreads from plant fragments, it is best to dispose of it in a plastic bag. Caution! Do not attempt to burn the plant, as this releases urushiol into the air and can affect the lungs! The place could then be treated with herbicide. Frequent tilling of the soil can also help reduce the ability for the plant to produce new shoots.

Cover and weight. Another mechanical way of eliminating poison ivy is to cover it with some material that does not let light through and put some weight on top. This method may not always work but does not require to come in contact with the plant.

Herbicides. It is also common to use herbicides to eliminate poison ivy. Herbicides that contain triclopyr will effectively work on poison ivy. Caution! Some herbicides made to treat poison ivy may contain glyphosate. Recent studies have shown that glyphosate likely causes severe health problems! Closely following the directions on the package and spray herbicides directly on the leaves of the plant. Though grasses and conifers are tolerant of Triclopyr, be careful when applying near broadleaf plants. If the poison ivy is growing up a tree trunk, be careful not to spray the bark as this may damage the tree.

Homemade leaf spray. If you don’t want to use chemicals there is also a natural way of treating poison ivy. An easy homemade herbicide can be made by mixing three pounds of salt, a gallon of water, and a quarter-cup of dish soap. The resulting homemade herbicide should be sprayed directly on the leaves of the plant. It is best to use it on a clear day so that it could do its job before it could be washed away by rain. Frequently apply this solution until the plant is fully eliminated.

How to Prevent and Cure Poison Ivy Rashes

As everyone knows, poison ivy can cause a painful rash. Statistics indicate that 85 percent of Canada’s population has an allergic reaction to poison ivy. The remaining 15 percent may not respond to poison ivy on the first encounter. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to poison ivy appear approximately 24 to 48 hours after contact with plant. After this, lesions may appear: Inflammation, swelling, and blistering. Symptoms may be more severe in people who have had a significant allergic reaction to poison ivy in the past.

The first thing to do if you have come in contact with poison ivy is to wash your hands. Recent researches have shown that urushiol on skin could be fully eliminated if washed properly within 2 to 8 hours of exposure (the sooner the better). This is done best by applying alcohol and thoroughly washing the hands with soap and constantly rubbing with a sponge or cloth. Hot water should not be used, as it causes the pores in the skin to open up and admit the oils from the plant. Be sure to wash the elbow and between the fingers, this is the places where poison ivy rashes commonly occur. It is best to wash three times.

If the rashes have already appeared, there are several methods to cure them listed below.

There are a variety of natural ways to treat the painful poison ivy rash. Illustration by Paul Anderson

Calamine lotion: Calamine is a safe, cheap, and easy to get, over-the-counter remedy. It was approved by the FDA as effective for treating poison ivy symptoms.

Using wet compress or soaking in cool water: A safe method recommended by the FDA.

Burrows Solution: Burrows solution is an over-the-counter remedy approved by the FDA as effective for treating poison ivy symptoms.

Jewel Weed: A mash made from the thick stems of Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) can effectively treat poison ivy symptoms.

Baths with: Finely ground Oatmeal or Epsom salt: Baths soaked with oatmeal or Epsom salt are an effective remedy to treat poison ivy symptoms.

Banana Peel: The “meat” on the inside of the banana peel quickly relieves itching and is a remedy for poison ivy symptoms. Though the urushiol should be first washed away with soap or alcohol in order for this method to be effective. Apply this remedy two to three times a day for a week.

Mint Flavored Toothpaste: Apply on the rash, let dry and then wash away with water. This should be done three to two times daily until the rash disappears.

Aloe Vera: Apply on the rash, let dry and then wash away with water. Repeat several times daily.

Baking Soda: Place a cotton gauze soaked in a mixture of baking soda and water on the rash and wait fifteen minutes. Clean with water. Repeat three to four times daily for a week.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Place a cotton gauze soaked in a mixture of two tablespoons vinegar to one cup water on the rash and wait fifteen minutes. Clean with water. Repeat two to three times daily for a week.

Oils: Most oils are effective in treating poison ivy rashes. They should be applied three times daily for a week.

Michael Feldmann is a farmer and writer in Oklahoma, who studies agriculture and has worked as a journalist for magazines and newspapers around the country. His writing has been published in Acres USA, Rural Heritage, Farming magazine, Farmers Weekly, Permaculture magazine, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and as a column in Poultry World. Read all of Michael’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Milk Baths: Fit For a Queen (or King)

Milk Bath

Photo by Nicole Wilkey

Our youngest farmhand, our eight-year-old daughter, decided to be Cleopatra, Queen of Ancient Egypt, for Halloween this year. Getting her costume ready reminded me that it’s been a while since I took a milk bath. "Self care" is a popular term these days, because our society is so perpetually busy that taking something as simple as a bath feels indulgent. Isn’t that sad? Cleopatra was known for her famous milk baths, specifically donkey milk baths. While donkey milk is not a sustainable source in current times, there are other alternatives to still give you the skin loving milk bath experience you desire — no donkey kicks required.

The Roman author and philosopher Pliny the Elder, described the benefits of (donkey) milk for the skin: “It is generally believed that ass milk effaces wrinkles in the face, renders the skin more delicate, and it is a well-known fact, that some women are in the habit of washing their face with it seven times daily, strictly observing that number. Poppaea, the wife of the Emperor Nero, was the first to practice this; indeed, she had sitting-baths, prepared solely with ass milk, for which purpose whole troops of she- asses used to attend her on her journeys."

It is also reported Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte, used ass milk for her skin’s health care as well.

Ok, so "ass milk" jokes aside, milk can be such a nourishing treat for your skin! There are many companies that sell dehydrated milk bath powders, or you can use fresh milk from the store or farmer. I personally prefer fresh milk as it’s much more likely to retain the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and fatty acids than any processed powder can. Now this doesn’t mean go fill your tub full of milk and take a bath — that would be very costly and not practical. But even adding a few cups of (whole) milk to a warm bath can give you a really indulgent farm-to-bath experience.

Soaking in either a cow's milk or goat's milk bath can help exfoliate dead skin with natural lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that releases bonds of old skin cells from fresher, younger cells below, leaving skin soft and smooth. Milk baths can both hydrate and soothe your skin with the natural fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Additional ingredients, such as honey (a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the skin), salts, flower petals, or oils can all be added to create a custom bath for just a few dollars.

I hope you try a milk bath soon, whether you have itchy irritated skin or healthy skin but would just love a bit of relaxation and a skin loving soak, milk baths are fit for a queen or king.


Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then, she has run California-based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs and pastured poultry, and to sell goat's milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

milk-soaps.

MILK SOAPS

Soaps made with milk luxuriously lather and gently cleanse without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Expert soapmaker Anne-Marie Faiola guides you through the process of creating your own moisturizing soaps using a wide variety of milks, from cow and goat to vegan nut milks, and she shows you how to achieve decorative effects including swirls, insets, and layers.

The result? A bounty of visually stunning, fragrant, all-natural bars that you and your skin will love!

Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.







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