Grab a cup of Coffee…

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While you probably grab a cup on your way out the door each morning, coffee is actually an herb, its botanical name, Coffea arabica, is simply unroasted coffee beans, which can be used for medicinal properties in addition to its ability to perk you up in the morning.

Coffee is consumed at a quantity of more than 500 billion cups per year and over 75 million people make their livelihood off of this business. A big reason why you do not hear much about coffee as an herb is that it is so widely used in our society already. Most herbalist opt to not recommend something that is already being utilized by about 50% of our population, especially since it can cause some side effects when consumed such as raising heart rate, blood pressure, etc.

Homeopaths DO utilize the coffee plant.  The remedy is called coffea cruda and it coffea crudaactually helps with insomnia. Often used as a homeopathic remedy for tinnitus, headaches, toothaches, teething, insomnia, restlessness, racing thoughts, labor pains and menopause, the beans help calm the nervous system. When restlessness or insomnia are caused by too much coffee consumption, however, the remedy does not perform as a sleep aid.  It is more for persistent thoughts not allowing to fall asleep.

The Coffee Plant

Legend has it that over 1,000 years ago, a goat herder was surprised to find that his animals were acting a bit disorderly after consuming the berries and leaves of a small bush. This herder tried the plan himself and found he felt full of energy and was thinking more clearly. This is how coffee actually came to be as a beverage as experimentation was done with the plant to find the best method for making a drink out of it. Eventually the Arabs learned how to roast the coffee beans to make a delectable treat.

In the 1800’s Penny Universities were created where men could pay one cent at the door and when they entered they could drink coffee as well as discuss political observations and debates. Coffee houses evolved as time went on and even into the 1960’s these gathering locations were key in bringing about cultural change by way of discussions. We now get our coffee from many areas of the world such as Columbia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Mexico.

Topical Application

There are many free radicals in our environment that stem from pollution and they can wreak havoc on our skin. Coffee is used in many face and body products because it is very rich in antioxidants which helps preserve the skin and protect it from these free radicals as well as UV rays. You will notice that coffee can make the skin look much brighter and smoother when used topically on a regular basis thanks to the increased blood circulation that occurs. Coffee can stimulate cell growth, repair tissue, decrease inflammation and help the skin retain its moisture which results in an increased amount of collagen.

In Combination

You will often see coffee coupled with some other ingredients when it comes to topical products. One of those ingredients is honey which has great antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It also moisturizes and soothes the skin. A spice that is often used topically is cinnamon thanks to its ability to bring blood to the surface of the skin which aids in healing.

Just Skin Food has a few different coffee based products that work with some of the ScrubBanner copyother key ingredients such as honey and cinnamon to create a healthy glow by way of clear skin. Our coffee scrubs include actual coffee grounds that are fresh and not used keeping their actual healing properties and not only gently exfoliate the skin but also moisturizes. You can visit www.justskinfood.com to view all of our products including our coffee-based scrubs. All of the products offered by Just Skin Food include USDA Certified Organic ingredients including Harry and Bean’s fair trade organic espresso coffee.

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Woohoo, we were part of the 2015 MTV awards and got great PR even from the media press… See our gift box in green and our logo brochure that went out to all….

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Repose…MTVawards…Retailers

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We are finally all caught up over here at Just Skin Food, in time for some repose for the upcoming holidays to spend quality time with family. We will be back after the holidays to do more work.  The last month or so we have been preparing for our products to make their debut at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards inside of gift totes and gift boxes. If you missed our instagram photo and facebook post check them out.

With gaining some free time back I am excited to tell you a bit about some of my retailers that I am working with. I pick my retailers very carefully. I have never had an interest in getting a spot on the shelves on large health food stores. I am more dedicated to finding my niche with smaller health and holistic stores. Finding retailers that share the same beliefs and intentions that I do when it comes to mind, body and spirit, is what I am most passionate about. Both The Prana House and Organic Bodyworkx fit right in with what I have always hoped to accomplish with Just Skin Food and I am excited to see what the future holds with these great people!

The Prana House

With a very similar mindset to Just Skin Food, The Prana House, located in Pennsylvania, has dedicated themselves to providing people with knowledge regarding holistic wellness and herbal remedies. Jacque is the owner and founder of The Prana House, Inc. and her focus on high quality and eco-conscious products makes this a great fit for Just Skin Food; we fit right in! My organic herbal infused oils as well as herbal skin salves can be very beneficial when it comes to holistic healing and these are being carried by The Prana House. I was honored to be featured on Jacque’s blog recently and I look forward to building an ongoing business relationship with this great company that prides themselves on their business practices that strive towards minimizing their carbon footprint while helping people.

Organic Bodyworkx

The owners of Organic Bodyworkx, located in North Carolina, Jennifer and Chonzie McMahan, specialize in Reiki treatments, meditation and relaxation. I love that they share my mind, body and spirit focus on business. As they sell many organic and all natural body care products, it seems that Just Skin Food fits right in with their approach to body care and healing. Our bar soaps have been a hit with Bodyworkx customers thanks to their amazing ability to moisturize the skin. Grouped with our body butters and scrubs, Just Skin Food is helping more and more people improve the quality and health of their skin. More importantly, doing so in a very healthy and safe manner. I am excited to be part of this team’s business as they utilize a more natural system of healing for their clients.

While I seek great success with Just Skin Food in order to help as many people as I can, I do not strive to be in every health food store or spa in the area. I am more focused on mindfulness and also healing people that are likeminded in the holistic community. You can always browse my products that are created with USDA organic certified ingredients by visiting the Just Skin Food Website. You can find a full list of my retailers on the site as well.

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Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

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It is so beautiful to know that Spring on the East Coast is almost here.  With Spring Unknownjust around the corner we will be filled with flowers and weeds.  Weeds,  as are flowers, play an important role in our daily herbal life. 

Most of us think of weeds as bad but they are so important to us that we should not remove them from our gardens.  Take this weed for instance yarrow…. most would not think of it as a weed since it flowers,  but it is a weed and we like seeing it and having it around.

 

History and Benefits of Yarrowyarrow-red-velvet

Before the commonplace drug store existed, our forebears found helpful medicinal compounds in the plants that grew around them. Since store shelves today are stocked with medicines of every kind, it’s easy to forget that many of those medicines were first discovered in wild plants.  Yarrow plant is also referred to as Nature’s Neosporin in the herbal community. The flowers are rich in chemicals that are converted by steam distillation into anti-allergenic compounds, of use in the treatment of allergic catarrhal problems such as hayfever. The dark blue essential oil, azulene, is generally used as an anti-inflammatory, or in chest rubs for colds and influenza.

It should provide a sense of comfort to know that common injuries and ailments can be treated with common plants. One of the best of these medicinal plants is yarrow.

Yarrow, also known as millefoil, is a pretty foliage that is native to Europe but can now be found throughout North America growing in many meadows and fields. Many indigenous people like the Shakers began to use yarrow for its medicinal properties many years ago. This plant flowers from the month of June through October.

The yarrow plant also has a long history as a powerful “healing herb” used topically for wounds, cuts and abrasions. The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds. This medicinal action is also reflected in some of the plant’s common names, such as staunchweed and soldier’s woundwort.

While yarrow was once used as a divine plant to assist with furthering spirituality it now has a number of uses in the herbal world. Yarrow can help a wound stop bleeding, which is why it was used in the military years ago for battle wounds during World War I and the Trojan War. The active components of yarrow include lactones, tannins, flavonoids, amino acids, sterols, coumarins and saponins.

Yarrow herbal oil has much healing potential and in addition to its ability to stop the flow of blood this herb is also a great antiseptic, it is antispasmodic and has antibacterial properties.  Yarrow oil can even be used on the hair follicles to help stimulate growth. You can also find yarrow in dried herb form, and as a tincture.

Plants with only white flowers grow on calcium-rich soils, but pink-flowered yarrow may grow on acid soils. Plants grown on acid soils contain greater quantities of the active constituent azulene.84_587

Yarrow is a very beneficial ingredient to keep on hand as part of a holistic and homeopathic medicine collection. You can find more information on certified organic herbal infused yarrow oil by visiting the Just Skin Food website. All of our herbal infused oils are USDA certified organic and they are made of organic herbs and an organic carrier oil (olive).  All of our herbal oils are also used in our salve products as well.

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Comfrey and Plantain Herbs and Homeopathy

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Comfrey and plantain are two more very critical participants in the natural medicine world. You will find both comfrey and plantain in salves, creams, oils and also tinctures. While these two products have their own distinct healing properties they can also be used together for maximum healing potential.

Comfrey

The history of the Comfrey plant being used as a natural remedy actually stems back comfrey-flowers-1over 2000 years thanks to the healing levels of vitamin C and calcium that are in the leaves. Allantoin in comfrey leaves is also very effective as an anti-inflammatory. The Chinese used these leaves in the bath to treat a number of conditions that we still treat with comfrey today including:

*Bone injuries
*Pain
*Wound Healing
*Feminine issues

Used topically, as in our salves or in our organic medicinal herbal oil comfrey is an excellent healer. Please refer back to my last blog on how infused medicinal oils are made. Unfortunately, ingesting comfrey in the raw has created a bit of controversy in the past century or so due to the findings that it may cause liver problems, because of toxicity related effect of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the leaves.

But used homeopathically it has many benefits. Comfrey root is macerated in alcoholimages and then potentized homeopathically which allows for no side effects. Symphytum Officinale (comfrey) remedy as it is known homeopathically, is used in 2 specific situations. The most often is when someone has a broken bone of any kind. f-306960717133Symphytum is given to assist healing. It is also used for injury to the eye. So if someone has been hit in the eye give Arnica first then follow with Symphytum. Think little league situations. These remedies are taken orally.

Plantain

The ancients as well as the Native Americans used plantain to heal wounds and was taken orally to treat health conditions associated with:

*Bites from wild dogs
*Snake bites
*Bites from other venomous creatures
*Throat conditions
*Lung conditions
*Glandular issues
*Epilepsy
*Jaundice

Today, plantain is used topically most often for things like bee stings, insect bites and b37626cd212ffad71422acee21d4fc44rashes associated with things like poison ivy. The entire plantain plant is utilized in homeopathy as the leaves, seeds, stem and tops can all be used for tinctures, oils, salves and more. In homeopathic form Plantain is a popular remedy for toothache.  Arnica is usually given during tooth extraction and for pain but Plantain has also been used successfully.

You can also take plantain orally in combination with a number of other herbs such as flax, marshmallow, peppermint and more to treat very common ailments such as:

*High cholesterol
*Digestive issues
*Diabetes
*Liver problems

Comfrey And Plantain Together

Comfrey can actually be formed into a poultice with plantain and placed on a part of the body that has a broken bone underneath the skin. This is extremely effective on a body part that perhaps has been left to heal on its own such as a toe or a finger. The product is usually placed on the area of the broken bone or wound twice each day. This not only speeds up the healing process but it also helps with inflammation and pain.

Both comfrey and plantain are beneficial ingredients as part of a holistic and homeopathic medicine arsenal. You can find more information on both of these plants as well as certified organic herbal infused oils by visiting with Just Skin Food Website. The USDA certified organic herbal infused oils that are currently featured on the site are completely made of organic herbs as well as organic olive oil. You can find other products on the site that utilize these organic herbal oils in our salves such as our Therapeutic Skin Salve (an all purpose salve) and Vein Relief Salve.

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The Differences Between Infused Medicinal Oils And Essential Oils

JSF Logo WIDE copyIn my last blog post you learned all about the differences between homeopathy and herbalism. I discussed a number of topics and product types including essential oils and infused oils. Many people believe that infused oils and essential oils are relatively the same thing. In reality, the way these products are made are very different.

Infused Medicinal Herbal Oil

An oil infusion is a mixture of medicinal herbs in a fixed oil menstruum- (A solvent, especially one used in extracting compounds from plant). Olive oil is usually the solvent of choice for most oil infusions because it has a much more stable monounsaturated chemical structure, which provides a good level of stability when at room temperature. Olive oil is far more preferred than say almond oil or flax seed oil. Jojoba oil is being used more recently but it carries a higher price point making it often undesirable.

The Process

The process of infusing herbs into an oil can be done in a couple of different manners. Dried herbs can be used, as can fresh herbs. Dried herbs are infused by way of the digestion method, the cold method or the hot infusion method. Each of these processes (which are all used in the process of making Just Skin Food products) let the herbs infuse long enough that the medicinal properties are captured. Cold infusion (or fresh herb infusion) allows the herb to wilt for about 12 hours and then they are chopped up. The heat is what is used in order to extract the medicinal properties of the item.

Double infusion can also take place, which means that after infusion is done the IMG_5996-400x300first time, it is done again in order to incorporate new herbs and make the infusion stronger. No matter what method is used for infusion, the herbs typically sit for a few weeks at a time for proper infusion. At that point the herb or plant is removed, leaving behind only the oil. There are times where the herb is left inside of the oil to continue to infuse, and the longer the infusion, the stronger and more potent the oil.

Herbal oils are beneficial because they require very little plant material to make while an essential oil consumes large amounts of plant material.  Also, the infused oils that are created for medicinal purposes can be used to make other products such as salves in order to reap the benefits that way. This is not the case for many essential oils, which can be toxic if consumed and many essential oils also cause skin irritation when used topically.

 

Essential Oils

An essential oil is quite different. This oil comes directly from the plant or herb that it is made out of and there is no carrier oil involved. This means the product is much more concentrated.

The Process

There are three basic methods by which essential oils are produced and they include steam distillation (the most common and most affordable), expression imagesand also extraction. During the process of steam distillation the plant is exposed to steam. This heat causes the essential oil in the plant to evaporate. When the hot vapors are cooled, this results in condensation of water vapor and the oil. These two products do not mix together so they can be easily separated. A few drops of the concentrated oil is then supposed to be diluted into a carrier oil. It is always best to use essential oils with the help of a homeopath, naturopath or herbalist  who can direct you on the right way to use a product. 1 drop of peppermint essential oil is like drinking 30 cups of peppermint tea. Caution must be taken.

Undiluted essential oils have an incredible healing ability when used properly and sparingly without causing any harm. We use them in some of our products as well since essential oils will reinforce therapeutic affects by adding more power to the finished product but never in any of our Infused Herbal Oils.

More information on organic infused oils and essential oils can be found on the Just Skin Food website. Currently nine different certified organic herbal oils are part of the Just Skin Food product line and they are all made with certified organic herbs as well as organic olive oil. Four organic essential oils are available as well.

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Homeopathy And Herbalism

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Homeopathy as well as herbal remedies are both natural forms of medicine. They have common factors such as their use of herbal extracts but homeopathy uses herbs as well as many other natural sources for its practice of healing such as minerals and other animal products. While many people may believe these two practices are similar they actually have many differences including how alternative remedies are prepared and what types of products are available.

Homeopathic medicine is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  It regulates the manufacturing and sale of homeopathic medicines.  The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States was written into federal law in 1938 under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, making the manufacture and sale of homeopathic medicines legal in this country, and most are available without a prescription.

 Preparation and Products

Homeopathy uses dilution methods to eliminate the toxicity of an herb and also to homeopathy_5ncy8increase its benefits. Herbalism administers herbs directly to the patient often without dilution.  Most commonly you will find homeopathic remedies to be in pellets, liquid tinctures or in ointment cream form. Some homeopathic liquid tinctures are added to herbal salves as well.  Herbal remedies come as pill form, extracts, infused herbal oils, herbal salves, essential oils and teas in general.

 Infused Oils and Essential Oils

Herbal infused oils are beneficial and can be used in the practice of homeopathy. Herbal salves are made of infused herbal oils and applied directly to the skin as skin is extremely absorbent and healing can be promoted in an affected area by way of these types of products. These infused herbal oils and salves can be used topically for a number of issues such as burns, rashes, injuries and also for pain. Infused herbal oils are very gentle whereas essential oils are a much more concentrated product that can actually be dangerous to use directly on the skin or to inhale directly without proper instruction or advisement.

Herbalism1

Coming up in my next blog article you can read much deeper into the differences between infused herbal oils and essential oils including how their production methods are different. I will also talk about the benefits of infused herbal oils as well as the dangers of using essential oils improperly.

For more information on any of the topics discussed in this article including the use of herbal salves and infused herbal oils you can visit www.justskinfood.com. Nine certified organic herbal infused oils are available on the website as well as herbal salves, essential oils and many other products that will help aid you in the process of living a much healthier and happier lifestyle.

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Calendula and Arnica

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Calendula and arnica are very important when it comes to natural medicine. Both of these commonly used homeopathic ingredients are included in a number of products including tinctures, creams, oils and salves for first aid use. Both of these products look very similar and may be hard to differentiate by the untrained eye but they are very distinct when it comes to their healing properties.

 Calendula

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Calendula is also known as the marigold flower, which is very easy to grow and once established it spreads quickly. The medicinal ingredient that is within the calendula flower is called saponoside and it is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. Essential fatty acids, etheric oils and carotene are also part of what makes calendula so beneficial. It works best when applied to a cut or wound rather than taking it orally and it is extremely gentle to use. As a complement to calendula you can also use arnica.

Some uses for Calendula:(external only)

  • Bed sores
  • Boils
  • Burns
  • Frostbite
  • Open wounds
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Skin abrasions
  • Skin and nail fungus

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Arnica is much more rare to find out in nature than say calendula. It grows most commonly in the Alpine regions of the world and it has muscle relaxing properties as well as anti-spasmodic qualities. In addition, arnica is a natural antibiotic and a natural anti-inflammatory herb. Arnica is not intended to be used on an open wound but rather on a bruise or healed cut to help relieve discomfort, reduce swelling and bruising.

Some uses for Arnica:(external only)

  • Bruises
  • Joint Inflammation
  • Muscle strain
  • Soreness

Calendula and Arnica Together

The two of these holistic treatments have the potential for being used together for ultimate healing qualities. Calendula is placed on a fresh, unhealed cut to help prevent infection and promote healing. After the initial healing has taken place, if there is a bruise or pain remaining, arnica can then be applied topically to further help during the healing process.

Calendula and arnica are both very beneficial and common ingredients when it comes to a holistic-based medicine cabinet. For information on these herbs or to purchase IMG_5919them in a certified organic herbal infused oil form you can visit Just Skin Food. The newly released line of USDA certified organic herbal infused oils are made entirely of certified organic herbs along with certified organic olive oil as a carrier. These oils are also used in many of our other products including our skin salves and body butters.

 

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Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus… We are Officially USDA Certified!

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Woohoo!!! We have received our official certification, Just Skin Food is USDA certified.

JustSkinFood cert 12.23.14-page-001

Official USDA Certification

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy Holiday and New Year!!!

 

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Our USDA Inspection…

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We have kept a tight lip since the end of October in our acceptance letter from our imagescertifying agent – Pennsylvania Certified Organic – we were approved for inspection.  Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 11.08.29 AMMight not seem as much but, it is a great relief that all of our paper work was approved for the final inspection. Their main objective is to verify all we have reported and are actually following the rules.

Our inspection was yesterday December 9th, 2014 and we had such a wonderful experience with our USDA inspector.  Our inspection lasted 4.5 hours.  As some of you already know, it was so nerve racking to us to have such an official come through and go through all our stuff and verify all that is being reported.  Even though we knew all was correct, just having an intense 4.5 hours of paper trails and linking back to lot#’s and suppliers etc., it is very intense on the mind.  We are so glad that our organizational skills have really paid off in record keeping.

Inspectors need to report back to the certifying agent as to our ability to comply with the USDA organic standard and as far as he can see and report we are in the clear.  Now it is up to the certifying agent PCO to accept his report and if they need other information from us.  And if all is satisfactory to PCO – our certifying agent – we will hear back very shortly about our seal.  It would be real nice to receive it before Christmas Day and a great present for sure.

On a lighter note…

IMG_5710Just Skin Food is now offering Gift Certificates online and if anyone is local in Cape May just ping us and you can pick up the Gift Certificates locally.

Our first small business Saturday on Nov, 29th 2014 at Green Street Market went fantastic.  We had gift baskets and products for Sale and there were so many wonderful Artisan makers there as well.

Green Street Market is also carrying our Gift Baskets during the Holidays, so stop by and check them out.

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As always, Be Well and as soon as we hear back from our USDA certifying agent we will display the seal on our website.

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Ode to Autumn…

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♦♦♦

Don’t forget it is that time again “fungus among- us” for sport fans so get your Antifungal Salve. Read my old blog post on Antifungal here.

If you did not receive my Exclusive Coupon for autumn click here to view it and enjoy 15% off, which ends September 30th 2014.

♦♦♦

Ode to autumn… Well not exactly yet here in Cape May. We are still heading down to the beach whenever possible.

It has been a long time since I wrote some news, tidbits and such, but summer was so incredibly busy and it just flew by. Here we are entering October almost, and I am not ready for the Fall season at all, especially all the drying of herbs. So glad my many rosemary plant-bushes that were planted in early spring grew incredibly great this summer to use for my infused oils later in the year.

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Fig Trees

Last years polar vortex winter destroyed all of my rosemary and many other herbs and plants for many people.  No figs at all this summer for me – last 5 years we were gathering at least 30 pounds of figs a week.  Had incredible fig trees that we needed ladders to climb up to gather the figs.

Luckily, they have returned full with new offspring shoots and next summer we will be back in business with figs.  Just to be on the safe side, we will be wrapping them in burlap probably a couple of times and cutting them back in order not to lose the tops again.

In the meantime, the USDA paperwork, which my incredible assistant helped me with  during the summer

PCO Certification USDA

PCO Certification USDA

has finally been completed, and has been presented to the certifying agent. Fortunately for her, but unfortunate for me, she has returned to her college life and is well into her semester.

Hopefully in a few weeks or so we will hear back from the certifying USDA agent. Of course there will be changes as there always is on paperwork. Even with the new labels for the NEW products will be needing adjustments for sure.

YES new products will shortly come out. But waiting till the certifying agent will give us the go ahead.

 

Happy autumn, crisp clean cool air and colorful leaves to come.

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