How to Make a Skin-Nourishing Herbal Salve

If you have a yard, chances are you are growing the ingredients for a skin soothing herbal infusion without even trying! Plantain (Plantago major) is considered a weed, but it also contains natural constituents that are wonderful for your skin. Violet (Viola odorata) leaves are in the same category (not to mention that the flowers are delicious in salads or syrups!).

Violet is moisturizing, toning, healing, and great for sore nipples. Plantain is good for eczema, acne, minor cuts, stings, insect bites, poison ivy itch, and diaper rash.

The basis of a skin-nourishing herbal salve is an herbal oil infusion. Gather about 4 cups of plantain and violet leaves, making sure to choose ones that are fresh and green looking, with no major brown spots, rotten areas, or major insect damage. And make sure that they have not been sprayed with chemicals of any kind.

Rinse the leaves in cold water to remove any dirt, bugs, etc. Drain thoroughly, then gently pat the leaves to remove excess water.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at the lowest temperature for a couple of hours, until the leaves are dry and crispy.

Put the dried leaves into a glass quart-sized jar, then fill to the top with olive oil (preferably organic). Use a chopstick or blunt knife to poke the leaves down into the oil and release any air bubbles. Place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the jar and screw the top on tightly. Label it with the date.

Keep the jar in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. It’s a good idea to place a dish under the jar in case of leakage. Turn the jar over from time to time to move the oil through the herbs.

Strain the oil through a sieve, lined with cheesecloth, into a glass measuring cup or top of a double boiler, squeezing out any last bits of oil from the herbs. You can throw the cheesecloth and drained herbs into your compost pile.

Add 1-½ tablespoons of natural beeswax for each ounce of oil (I used unbleached beeswax pastilles). Set the glass measuring cup in water (or the double boiler top over a water-filled bottom) and heat over medium heat until the beeswax is just melted.

Remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil. Stir unti well-mixed.

Pour into clean containers (I used tin, but you can also use glass jars), and allow to cool.

This salve can be used for all types of itches, irritations, insect bites, and minor cuts, as mentioned above. There are no known contraindications for using plaintain or violet leaves internally or externally, so this salve is safe for use as a nipple cream.

Earth Day is April 22, and Herban Lifestyle is celebrating being green!

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photo ©2009 Julia Guarino

As you probably know, Herban Lifestyle is proud to use only truly natural and organic ingredients, which means only organic and/or ethically wildcrafted herbs and essential oils, organic fabrics and fill, no preservatives, artificial colors, fragrances, or surfactants, and no synthetic, petroleum-based or other chemical ingredients. We pledge to these standards as a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and we always adhere to Whole Foods’ Premium Bodycare Standards.

But did you know that Herban Lifestyle is green in other ways? When we package things for you, we only use 100% recycled paper labels, and all packaging and shipping supplies are recycled, recyclable and/or biodegradable. To ship, we only use the US Postal Service; did you know that the USPS holds “Cradle to Cradle”Certification at the Silver level for human and environmental health? To further ensure environmentally responsible business practice, we always offset 100% of our carbon footprint through purchase of CleanCurrents and CarbonFund RECs, and we are an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner, which means we purchase green power in amounts that meet EPA’s requirements.

As a member of Green America and the Sustainable Business Network of Washington, we also pledge to practice ethical business and labor standards, which is easy since everything we sell is handcrafted in Falls Church, VA we do absolutely no manufacturing! In our efforts to be conscientious members of our community we also donate 5% of gross revenues to charity, including Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), Sierra Club, Herb Research Foundation, and Martha’s Table, we donate goods to local charities (such as EcoVentures) for their fundraising efforts, and we purchase our 800 number through Earth Tones, where 100% of their profit goes to grassroots environmental causes.

We hope you’ll celebrate Earth Day with us! Check out the EPA’s website to learn about Earth Day events and volunteer opportunities happening near you. Be green!

This post was written by guest blogger, Julia Guarino.