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Back to Nature
Backyard Health and Beauty Regiments
by Lori Ann Fiore & Bianca Kent
The average American women will spend up to $1600 annually on health and beauty products. Do you know what type of chemicals you may be putting on your skin, hair and or in your body each day? Have you ever read the ingredients in your face cream, body lotions astringents or even your outdoor insect repellents? The price you pay for expensive ingredients claiming to make your body feel great or your skin look vibrant may be offset by taking a more natural approach to your health and beauty regiment.
If you read the label on your eye cream, or face scrub,
it may be difficult to determine if the product is truly beneficial to your health or your beauty. Numerous products on the market are made of harsh, synthetic products, which over time can actually harm your skin. Sure, some may claim to contain Vitamin E or Aloe but,
the addition of the harsh ingredients seems to negate the purpose of these healthier alternatives.
Why not go back to where it all began and explore the natural and pure alternatives that have been used for centuries? Cosmetic and health products that our Grandmother’s and Great-Grandmothers used were often likely grown in their gardens or found in an indigenous plant. They knew how to use these plants, roots and fruits to naturally improve their skin and health.
Throughout history women’s roles as housewives, plant gathers and home gardeners contributed to exploring various uses of indigenous plants for beauty and health purposes. With the current rage of costly health and beauty products, returning to these roots and discovering the use of these natural alternatives may not only save you money--- it may, over time save your skin!
There are many native Florida plants that can be used for your health and beauty rituals and this is just a brief introduction to just a few! When using indigenous plants for beauty or health treatments, always keep in mind that they must be used properly to obtain the desired affects. Always ask your healthcare provider prior to using any new product, whether it is natural or not. Allergic reaction, overdose and contraindications to medicines may be indicated.
The Aloe Vera plant is one of the best known plants that grows naturally in the northern and central regions of Florida. It has been utilized by people for centuries. It heals rough, dry skin that has been exposed to water, wind and sun. The Aloe plant can also help skin to heal faster and feel smoother at the same time. This is an ideal plant to grow in a “balcony-garden” as it requires very little attention!
Another well known plant is Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel has many benefits ranging from facial care to soothing swollen feet and inflammations. It is used to reduce hemorrhoids and varicose veins but, the most common use in Florida---It helps sooth sun burns! You can see with its many uses, Witch Hazel is referred to as “an all around talent.”
Trees like the lemon or grapefruit tree are not just grown in Florida, but they can make a nice addition to your garden and help with various skin ailments. Lemon oil mixed with lavender can bring a radiant glow to normal skin. If you have oily skin try applying grapefruit juice before moisturizing.
For serious skin problems like warts, try the Pink Sundew which grows mainly in the northern areas of Florida. This plant is also known to have an antiangiogenic effect, which is sometimes used to fight cancer tumors.
If you opt to use natural insect repellents, try using Beautyberry. This plant’s main components have been found to repel mosquitoes and ticks. Beautyberry prefers the growing conditions found mainly in the southern regions of Florida.
Florida, with its mild climate has even more useful plants to offer us. The Red Maple for example is used to treat liver and skin disorders. The Butterfly Weed, also known as Pleurisy Root can be applied as topical cream or as an ointment for bruises and it is believed to have effects similar to the hormone estrogen. Another great topical is the Strangle Fig which is used for sores and cuts. The Sweet Gum plant is a perfect, natural remedy to treat diarrhea.
There are many more beautiful native Florida plants that can truly make any garden a small paradise. The added benefit of growing native plants is that they do not require extensive care. Help protect and preserve Florida’s indigenous plants and grow some in your own backyard!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the versatile uses of Florida’s indigenous plants. You can find additional information at your local library or on the internet.
Published 7/07 TBWN/Pasco Edition
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