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  1. Vetiveria zizanioides

     

     

    Also known as Khus Khus, Vetiver is a fragrant grass related to similar plants such as lemongrass, palmarosa and citronella. It is cultivated in tropical regions and is native to India. The roots and essential oil are used in herbal skin care preparations.

     

    Vetiver is astringent and antiseptic and is useful for oily skin and acne. The powdered root can be added to soaps, face masks, body packs and powdered bath mixes for these skin conditions.

     

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  2. Verbascum thapsus

     

     

    Also known as Mullein. Verbascum leaves and flowers have astringent and emollient qualities and are a good choice for hair rinses. Oily hair in particular will benefit from a verbascum hair rinse.

     

    To make a verbascum infusion for use as a hair rinse, pour 750ml boiling spring water over 500ml leaves and flowers. Infuse for twenty minutes, then strain and pour into a clean, glass bottle. Refrigerate and use within one week.

     

    Verbascum flowers can also be used to make a dye for blonde, fair or light brown hair. Pack a saucepan with the flowers and add sufficient spring water to cover. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer gently for ten minutes. Remove from the heat then leave to cool. Strain and pour the yellow liquid into a clean, glass bottle. If not using immediately, keep refrigerated and use within one week.

     

    Make a massage oil for sore muscles: pack a screw-topped glass jar with verbascum flowers. Add enough sweet almond oil to cover, then place the lid on the jar and leave on a sunny windowsill for one month. Shake the mixture daily. When ready, strain the mixture and pour the oil into a dark glass bottle and store in a cool, dark place.

     

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  3. Valeriana officinalis

     

     

    Also known as Garden Heliotrope, Valerian is a perennial herb whose roots and essential oil are used in herbal remedies. The herb is used mostly for sleeplessness and anxiety as it is a natural sedative and hypnotic. In herbal skin care it is used for eczema, sores, rashes, wounds, swollen joints and ulcers.

     

    Valerian preparations added to bath water are used to aid relaxation and promote sleep.

     

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  4. Polianthes tuberosa

     

     

    Tuberose is wonderfully fragrant and ideal to use in relaxing bath and massage oils and softening bath vinegars. The aroma is persistent and lingering.

     

    To make tuberose bath and massage oil, pack a screw-topped glass jar with tuberose flowers. Fill the jar with sweet almond oil and replace the lid. Place on a sunny windowsill for three weeks, shaking the jar each day. Strain the aromatic oil through muslin or cheesecloth and pour into a dark glass bottle. Store in a cool, dark place.

     

    To make tuberose bath vinegar, take a 1.5 litre bottle of white vinegar and pour out 250ml vinegar into another bottle. This is to create space for the flowers. Pack the larger bottle with tuberose flowers until full. Place the bottle on a sunny windowsill for one month, replacing the flowers once each week. Strain the aromatic oil through muslin or cheesecloth and pour into a dark glass bottle. Store in a cool dark place. Tuberose bath vinegar can be added to hair rinses, footbaths and applied directly to aching feet. Added to the bath it helps soften the skin as well as providing a deeply relaxing fragrance.

     

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  5. Potentilla erecta, p. tormentilla


    Decoctions and tinctures are made from the root of the tormentil, or septfoil, herb. The root is valued for its astringent properties, although all parts of the plant are astringent. It is also used in oral care products, not only because it is astringent, but because it is anaesthetic and antibacterial.

    Tormentilla's main use is in healing oral care (infections, inflammations and bleeding gums) ie. in mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes.

    To use Tormentilla root, make a decoction of 40g root to 1 litre of water; or a tincture of 1:5. Use the decoction in mouthwashes and gargles. The tincture may be added to toothpastes.

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