Mary Helen Leonard, author of The Natural Beauty Solution and professionally trained culinary instructor, shares recipes, projects, tips, and stories about living a more natural, handmade, and creative life with her family in Austin, Texas.
When the spider bites. When the bee stings. When you're feeling bad.
The practice of using poultices to draw out toxins and cleanse wounds is age-old. This is pretty much medieval medicine we're talking about here.
While great advances have been made since people started slopping mud onto insect stings, there is still some virtue to be found in the original idea.
Bentonite Clay, most well known under the Aztec Clay brand, is extremely effective at pulling out nasties from deep under the skin. This makes it a great first-aid treatment for bug bites, bee stings, or spider bites.
You can mix this with plain water to make the most simple of treatments, but I like brewing a cup of chamomile tea instead. The soothing anti-inflamatory properties of the tea can help take the edge off any itchiness and discomfort you may be dealing with.
The addition of honey is totally optional as well. Manuka honey is the best choice. It is a bit pricey, but the only variety of honey that has been documented to have real medicinal and antibacterial properties. (You can geek out about that over here.) All honey, however, is known to have humectant properties. That means that it can help draw moisture and keep things well hydrated. That's a helpful quality to have in a poultice too. Also keep in mind that honey may not be safe for kids under one year old.
Reality Check: Just in case this doesn't go without saying, this is a home remedy - on par with gargling salt water to treat a sore throat. It's lovely and all, but no replacement for modern medicine. If you have a serious injury, an allergic reaction, or a gnarly festering wound, get thee to a doctor! Post. Haste.
Honey & Chamomile Clay Poultice Makes about 1/2 cup
Coconuts are pretty marvelous. They can hydrate us with their water, nourish and balance the skin with their oil, and even feed us with their meat. If you think about it, coconuts are sort of like the buffalo of natural skin care. We can use just about every part. Even the hull can be dried and ground for use as an exfoliating scrub.
This simple recipe combines the ever versatile coconut with a few drops of rose essential oil, a legendary ingredient for natural skin care. Rose can help balance the skin and is well-loved for nurturing mature skin. When combined with the hydrating, but slightly astringent properties of coconut water you get a masque that offers a gentle dose of moisture without going overboard.
I don't know about you, but my skin tends to feel a little more oily than usual during summer months. That extra oil combined with sweat and grime from even the shortest outdoor jaunt can leave my skin itchy, red, and irritated. Giving it a nice healthy cleanse can really help get it back to feeling happy and refreshed. Coconut flour can also act as a gentle exfoliant - another property that can come in handy while caring for rough summer skin.
As usual, follow this masque with a toner (I love this one) whenever you can. A moisturizer is only necessary if you feel like your skin was over-dryed at all by the coconut oil. If you aren't sure whether or not to use one, just let your skin dry for a few minutes before making up your mind. If it feels soft and happy, you probably don't need one. If it feels tight or itchy, give yourself a little splash of something nourishing like your favorite cream or a few drops of rose hip seed oil. If you use this masque during the day be sure to apply a fresh coat of spf before going outside!
Mi the coconut flour, coconut oil, essential oil, and 2 teaspoons of coconut water together in a small bowl. Stir well, then add additional coconut water, if needed, to reach a thick, smooth texture, similar to cookie dough.
Apply the masque liberally to clean, moistened skin. Allow the masque to set and dry for up to thirty minutes before rinsing. To use as a scrub, massage the masque in a slow, circular motion as it is rinsed away. Follow with toner. Follow with moisturizer if needed. Refrigerate any leftover masque for up to five days.