Herbal beauty products and aids are made from the extracts of plant roots, stems, flowers, leaves, bark or other parts. These extracts are thought to be completely free of chemicals. However, that is not entirely true as some of these extracts might have some chemicals used as preservatives or even fragrance. Furthermore, there might be trace pesticides that have been used during cultivation. With growing awareness of the harmful effects of chemicals, a lot of herbal products now come certified to be chemical-free. It’s worth our time to read the ingredient list on the cover or package literature as well as to do some research on the company and its production practices.
Purely herbal extracts are known for their medicinal, curative and restorative powers. Herbal extracts are gaining popularity as there is rising awareness of the damage caused by chemicals as also a general movement of back to basics. Herbal extracts have several advantages other than the fact that these are better tolerated by most people and have fewer side-effects. Herbal cures are rooted in ancient history and science and have medicinal powers that are extremely effective in treating incurable or hard-to-treat conditions by other forms of treatment.
Currently some 36 plants have been identified to be effective in skin conditions and some cancers for which allopathy provides little or no relief. Here are four such plants renowned for their medicinal and curative powers:
Common name: Prickly chaff flower/Devil’s horsewhip/Chirchita, Latjeera (Hindi)
Rural tribes have used this plant to treat boils, severe conditions of scabies and eruptions, as well infected insect bites. Some tribes have used it for inducing labour and even stopping postpartum bleeding*. Advanced medical research has shown that it has inhibitory qualities to stop cancer in mice.
How to use: Make a paste of the leaves to use on boils. Do not consume orally.
Common name: Onion, Pyaj (Hindi)
Onion juice is a potent treatment for skin and hair conditions. It has been shown to treat stubborn seborrhoeic keratoses by softening the scarring, softening the texture of the excision site and reducing redness. In tribes, it is known for treating skin irritations.
In medical research, it is reputed to be of help against fungal infections like 18 strains of Candida albicans and 12 strains of Candida sp. And that is not all, it has been tested to be effective against 35 strains of various dermatophyte species as well.
How to use: For minor skin irritations, use 2:1 onion juice and unboiled milk on the skin. Leave on and let dry. For the next application, wash the area with warm water, pat dry and let it air for 30 minutes before the next application.
Comman name: Garlic, Lehsun (Hindi)
Garlic has earned its healing reputation for cholesterol, blood pressure and even diabetes. It is now also being advised for use as a great food to help boost our cellular defense systems. In medical research, it has been found to help inhibit cancers as also to help delay the formation of skin papillomas in animals.
How to use: Dabbing the juice of garlic on the head of pimples helps stop the bacteria within and dries the pimple. DO NOT rub in the juice, it can cause skin burns.
Common name: Aloe, Ghrithkumari, Ghikwaar (Hindi)
Aloe was part of tribal diets as a refreshing drink. Its value as a skin rejuvenator is now known far and wide. It is great for minimising wrinkles, stretch marks and even pigmentation. It is also a potent topical gel for fungal infections and helps soothe burns.
How to use: Use aloe vera gel as a face pack, drink the juice for rejuvenation.
Do you know of some plants that you have used and benefitted from?