For millennia, our ancestors have used herbs, botanicals, seeds, and other naturally growing flora to make healing folk medicines. Every culture has its own recipes and traditions but they all share the same understanding that nature is and always has been innately healing.
Our bodies are in a constant state of flow with the universe. Whether it’s our sleep cycles (controlled by our hormonal, light-dependent circadian rhythms) or the natural process of ageing, the world around us has a direct impact on everything we experience. So, it makes sense that we often turn back to nature to help support our health and wellbeing.
Nature & The Body: Intuitively Healing Herbs
Certain herbs have been used in healing infusions for thousands of years to heal and nourish the body. For example, calendula, or marigold, which is native to southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean. The bright yellow flowers are rich in linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid that heals broken skin by sealing the cracks between cells) and antioxidants known as carotenoids which reduce inflammation and aid the skin's reparative process.
But, calendula is just one example of many powerful plants that has been used in herbal medicine for generations. Other examples include vitamin rich chickweed, which is native to Eurasia and helps the body assimilate trace minerals and vitamins to create overall vitality at a cellular level. The adaptogenic herb tulsi, otherwise known as holy basil, is rich in vitamin K and antioxidants that adapt to physical stressors to balance the body. And, lemon balm, which has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions, contains two antioxidant components, caffeic acid and ferulic acid which help reduce inflammation caused by UV radiation i.e. sunburn.
Every herb or botanical used in folk medicine has a different set of unique qualities that defines its intention. Herbalists use 12 basic categories to understand the function of the plant they are dealing with, known as herbal energetics. They form the basic language of modern herbalism and help us to understand how we can use these ancient herbs and plants in our daily wellness routines.
Traditional Infusion Methods
Our ancestors knew that to fully harness the benefits of these healing plants, they needed to be harvested and cultivated properly. This is where the art of infusion comes in.
Traditionally, freshly picked or dried herbs would be suspended in a rich, natural oil, and left to steep in the warmth of the sun for four to six weeks. During this time, the healing qualities and benefits of the plants are slowly released into the oil to create a rudimentary folk medicine that would have been applied topically to nourish and repair any ailments.
Although there are now faster and more efficient ways to extract the core essence of healing herbs, many naturopaths and herbalists still prefer the traditional way.
There is something magical about the patience involved in the infusing process. From a tiny seed in the ground to a healing elixir infusing in the sun and moonlight - nature is slow and she can’t be rushed.
Reimagined Recipes for Wellness & Beauty
We like to keep our infusion process as slow and authentic as possible. We start by disinfecting huge glass infusion bottles and then add our chosen herbal medley and oil.
Some herbs are infused in their dried form, like Calendula which has a high water content when fresh and would spoil the infusion. While others are added to the oil as soon as they are picked to maintain as much nutrition from the plant as possible, such as Kantaron (St. John's Wort).
The oil we use depends on the final intention of the infusion. For skincare, we often use light, non-comedogenic Jojoba Oil but for body care, we opt for the heavier and more densely moisturising Virgin Olive Oil.
The heaviest oil we use to infuse with is our Organic Castor Oil. The oil itself is amazing for hair and makes a great carrier for our Ayurvedic blend of hair healing herbs. Whichever you choose, using a high quality, cold-pressed oil is incredibly important to ensure that the final infusion is as nourishing as possible.
Some herbalists prefer to infuse one herb at a time, while others like to create a blend of ingredients that complement each other and infuse them all in the same pot. We like the latter as it lets us combine a powerful selection of herbs that harmonise with each other to nourish the skin, hair and body.
For example, the base oil infusion for our Botanical Face Elixir is a carefully balanced blend of Calendula, Damask Rose, Lavender, Rosemary, Nettle, Chamomile infused in Jojoba Oil. Each botanical has been selected for its high levels of naturally occurring vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients that work together to refresh and balance the skin.
For a more intense infusion, many herbalists will double or triple infuse their oils by straining and adding fresh herbs every four weeks. For more spiritual crafters, it’s common to bless the oil by nestling sterilized, healing crystals such as rose quartz into the infusion (but be careful as some crystals will release harmful and toxic minerals into the infusion!)
This slow process takes love and patience, but the end result is an intensely nourishing oil that packs a punch of healing goodness.
Infusing has become a daily part of studio life at Earth To You and, although it takes time, there is nothing that compares to the final result of a slowly infused oil. It can’t be replicated in a factory with synthetics and it can’t be rushed with the aid of chemical processes.
It’s a slow and organic method that takes practice, patience, and generations worth of wisdom. People have been making herbal remedies this way for thousands of years before us, and we’re sure that infusions will still be around for thousands of years after us.