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The benefits of herbal self-care products and how to make them at home

Written by Maddie Lyons | Tuesday, 10 November 2020

naturopathy tips and advice

Herbal self-care products have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with many people seeking out natural products to add to their routine. Maddie Lyons, one of our Naturopathy students from the Gold Coast, shares her experience using herbal self-care products and some tips on how you can make them at home.

In 2017 travelling across the west coast of North America, I discovered whole plant infused body oils and the practice of herbal body oiling. During my travels I met folk herbalists who made their own herbal products and shared them with the community. I was really drawn to the way they had studied and created herbal self-care products out of plant materials from their local area. Towards the end of my trip, I was gifted a book from a friend who was also enamoured by the plants. It was Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. I started preparing to create my own herbal self-care products once I returned home to Australia. I had a keen interest in whole plant infused body oils, so I turned straight to the oils section. This marked the beginning of my studies into Naturopathy at Endeavour, folk herbalism, and herbal self-care.

Whole plant infused body oils are holistic, natural remedies free from any harmful additives. Applied to the skin, gentle and soothing properties of the oils and plants combine to bring relief to the nervous system and skin ailments. A wonderful ally to keep by your bath or bedside for everyday use, herbal body oiling may enhance any existing self-care practice. Whole plant infused body oils are made by steeping dried or fresh plants into a carrier oil for several weeks to infuse their medicinal constituents into the oil. Herbal body oils are nontoxic, homemade remedies that are family friendly and a sweet addition to your home apothecary and skincare routine. The oils are long-lasting as a few drops go a long way. Whole plant infused oils differ from essential oils and are free from any safety issues of applying directly to the skin. Highly fragrant herbs and oils contain strong volatile oils that act as a preservative, such as lavender, calendula, and olive oil.

The practice of herbal body oiling is a great way to develop a regular self-care practice at home. The oils may be applied by self-massage or in the bath, to the entire body or any areas needing special attention. Herbal oils interact on a cellular level as the fat molecules of the oil interact with the cells of the nervous system right below the surface of the skin to bring you into a parasympathetic, relaxed state. The benefits of self-massage include moving the lymphatic system, increasing warmth and circulation, and developing self-knowledge by exploring the entire terrain of your body. Overall, a very potent self-care and self-love practice.

One of the great elements of herbalism that I love so much, is the simplicity and accessibility that is present at the core of each herbal practice. Simple remedies, simple recipes, and simple methods. I find these practices so valuable as they become quite easy to integrate into our busy lives and more importantly, easier to share the benefits with others.

How to make lavender infused body oil: cool method

  • Collect high quality, organic dried lavender, and organic carrier oil of choice (olive oil is stable and long lasting)
  • Pour dried herbs into a clean jar leaving about one quarter of space and cover with oil to the very top (using dried herbs rather than fresh prevents spoilage from water content)
  • Gently stir the oil with a clean spoon and refill oil to the very top
  • Close lid tightly and label jar with ingredients and date
  • Store in a cool, dark space for four to six weeks (I use my cupboards at home)
  • Frequently check on your infusion by opening the jar and inspecting for any spoilage, then shake up the jar to expose more plant material for infusion (discard if spoiled)
  • Strain out herbs using muslin cloth, then bottle and label! (amber dropper bottles are very handy!)
  • Store in a cool, dark space for preservation of your oil
  • Optional: create a double strength infusion by repeating the steps with a new batch of dried lavender
  • Tip: Save the steeped lavender and combine with Epsom salts to create herbal bath salts

How to use:

  • Pour a few drops into your bath or hands
  • Gently massage the entire body or any areas needing special attention
  • Your oil may be used as a base ingredient to create your own salves, body butters or herbal bath salts from home
  • Tip: areas often missed include the ear lobes, belly button and soles of the feet
  • Tip: wear a robe or towel afterwards to avoid oil stains

You may experiment with many different carrier oils, oil blends and dried or fresh herbs of choice. Do not be disheartened if your oil infusion spoils and try again! Avoid heat, light, and moisture to ensure longevity of your infusion. Use your senses to determine rancidity over time. If stored correctly, herbal infused olive oils may last up to one year.

Maddie Lyons

Maddie Lyons is a Naturopathy student at Endeavour, who is based in Northern NSW. Inspired by holistic healing and the natural world, she is devoted to studying plant medicine to support women and mothers throughout the seasons of their lives. 

During her travels across North America, Maddie discovered the profound practice of herbal body oiling. Since then, she has been studying the making of herbal medicines and how to incorporate herbal practices into her everyday life. Her work is based on traditional Western herbalism and ancient Ayurvedic practices. Maddie is passionate about sharing these practices through her inclusive, integrative workshops and handcrafted herbal product range, Malakite Herbal.

Read more by Maddie Lyons