Blemishes - Witch Hazel Gel
Native Americans traditionally used the leaves, bark, and twigs of witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) as a skin compress. Its astringent, antibacterial properties make it especially useful for blemishes and skin irritations. This gel is gentler than many over-the-counter blemish ointments, which can leave your skin dry and flaky. Carry a jar with you and use whenever needed.
200 g witch hazel twigs and (preferably young) leaves
2 cups (500 ml) hot water
6 packets vegetable gelatin
2 tbsp vodka
1. Place the witch hazel in a pan with the hot water. Over a gentle heat, slowly reduce mixture to a third of its volume until it reaches about 2/3 cup of liquid (this will take about 1 hour).
2. Line a sieve with cheesecloth, then strain the liquid into a mixing bowl. Add the gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Set aside to cool.
3. Once cool, add the vodka and stir well. Pour the gel into a wide-mouthed jar. Dab on blemishes and skin irritations whenever needed. Will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.
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Face Mask - Kiwi and Papaya Face Mask
This is a gel mask that harnesses the natural fruit acids in kiwifruit, lime, and papaya to exfoliate gently, leaving the skin smooth and rejuvenated. Makes enough for one or two facial treatments.
1 kiwifruit, peeled
Juice of 1 lime
2 packets gelatin
1. Mash the kiwifruit through a sieve into a small bowl. Add the lime juice to the kiwi.
2. Scoop out the seeds from the papaya, and mash the flesh on a chopping board, using a fork (this makes it slightly easier to press through the sieve). Press the papaya through a sieve into the top of a double boiler and mix with the gelatin, using a fork.
3. Put the pan with the papaya mixture over the bottom of a double boiler filled halfway with boiling water and stir constantly. As soon as mixture forms a wallpaper-paste consistency, remove from heat immediately and continue to stir. Add the kiwifruit/lime juice mixture slowly, bit by bit, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.
4. When mixture is cool, apply the gel to your face, avoiding the eye area, and leave on for 10 minutes, up to 1 hour. Wash off with warm water. Most effective when used as soon as possible but will keep when refrigerated for up to 48 hours.
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Hair Strengthener - Nettle Hair Tonic
An easy-to-make hair tonic that can be used as a final rinse after shampooing or as a hair enhancer to stimulate growth. Either way, youll be left with smooth, soft hair.
1 large bunch of nettle leaves, fresh or dried
2 cups (500 ml) water
2 cups (500 ml) white wine vinegar
1 tbsp aromatic herbs (rosemary and lavender, for example), or 10 drops of essential oil
1. Place nettles, water, and vinegar in a large pot and simmer for 2 hours. Then stir in the aromatic herbs or essential oil and allow the mixture to cool. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Filter into bottles.
2. To use, apply to scalp every other night as a hair-strengthening tonic, or use as a final hair rinse after shampooing. Keeps for at least 1 month.
PMS - Chaste Berry Vinegar
Brownish-black chaste berries (Vitex agnus-castus) contain remarkable hormone-regulating substances, which have been shown to be effective in alleviating symptoms of PMS. This recipe for chaste berry vinegar can help minimize PMS-related symptoms, such as backache, stomach cramps, breast tenderness, irritability, and mood swings.
3/4 cup (200 ml) good-quality cider vinegar
1/2 cup (50 g) chaste berries, fresh or dried
1. Pour the vinegar over the berries in a jar. Seal. Shake every day for 2 weeks. Strain and return to jar.
2. To use, take 1 tsp. every day. Do not use if pregnant. Keeps for 6 months in a dark place.
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All recipes have been taken with permission from Grow Your Own Drugs by James Wong, published in the U.S. by Reader's Digest Books.