Echinacea Purpurea – the purple coneflower is a beautiful perennial plant native to North America. For the Native Americans this was the most widely used medicinal plant on the plains. Used for a variety of ailments, including colds, snakebites, speeding wound healing, and reducing inflammation.
Modern clinical trials have found that Echinacea Purpurea shows great potential in alleviating skin symptoms such as itching. It shows remarkable anti-inflammatory actions helping to restore the epidermal lipid barrier. Because of these soothing qualities it can be used on many skin types including sensitive skin.
At Dorset Forest Garden we are searching out all pre-2013 varieties of Echinacea Purpurea and creating a safe home for them to form the only UK national collection of these flowers.
In 1910 a famous French chemist – René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the healing power of lavender. He badly burnt his hand in an experiment and plunged it into the nearest container of liquid – it was lavender oil. He was amazed at how quickly his hand healed with little scarring.
Lavender Essential Oil is a wonderful ingredient to restore and maintain the epidermis, it helps fight signs of aging and leaves your skin renewed. It has anti-inflammatory compounds that help improve tone and evenness, giving the skin a natural luminosity. It is rich in antioxidants that protect and promote the skin’s natural barrier as well as drawing out toxins.
We grow it on the farm and add it to our hydrosols to use in our skincare.
Hazelnuts are also known as filberts. This is named after St Philbert. Historically Saint Philbert’s Day is the day when harvesting the nuts began.
Hazelnut oil is full of nourishing fatty acids, antioxidant vitamin E, tannins and flavonoids and phytosterols, which rejuvenate the epidermis.
Its particularly high in Oleic acid and studies have shown it significantly increases skin moisture.
Though many vegetable oils are too thick for oily skins – exacerbating spots and blackheads – hazelnut oil has a very fine texture that quickly penetrates the skin leaving no surface residue to clog pores. It also helps to regulate the skin’s natural oil – sebum – and tightens pores so reducing incidences of spots and blackheads.
Hazelnut oil’s unique properties make it useful for all skin types from oily/combination skins to dry and sensitive skins.
On top of this its phytosterols content means it has a rejuvenating property which makes it ideal for healing damaged skins.
For those suffering from a nut allergy please note – any nut oil could potentially provoke undesirable reactions if the skin is susceptible to allergens.
Our farm has a beautiful old hazelnut hedge that is so well known a large local estate used to harvest all its pea sticks from it each year. Hazelnut is native to the UK and is very stable oil.
Grapes have a long history of cultivation going back over 6,000 years in Eastern Europe and West Asia. It is also mentioned in the bible as an “ancient healer” and used by Daniel in the Old Testament.
Grapeseed is particularly noted for its linoleic and oleic acids – omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Grapeseed oil is high in antioxidants helping in fighting the cell-damaging free radicals.
It absorbs easily into the skin to deliver intense moisture without irritating skin or leaving an oily residue. This makes it ideal for skin types that are oily, sensitive, and mature as well as skins prone to acne or eczema. Its antiseptic and astringent properties help to repair skin. Rich in compounds that restore collagen, Grapeseed Oil slows the look of aging by smoothing and firming the skin, offering protection against sun damage, and reducing the appearance of blemishes, wrinkles, and stretch marks.
It originates from the Mediterranean but today is cultivated in all parts of the world.
In the Middle Ages it was popular in Europe and its flower was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its petals were often used in soups and stews that resulted in its common name ‘Pot Marigold’. Doctors in the American Civil War used dried calendula petals to promote healing when treating war wounds.
It has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It relieves many types of skin conditions that may cause dry, itchy, or irritated skin by promoting the production of collagen and sustaining soothed, hydrated skin.
Calendula is well known as a healing plant because of its soothing abilities. It is beneficial for insect bites, bruises, chaps, blisters, cuts, sunburn and cold sores. Its antimicrobial/antifungal components aid poorly healing wounds, reducing swelling and can prevent secondary infection, leading to a quicker healing process. It increases blood flow to the injury, promotes a speedy and healthy healing and reduces scarring.
These sunny bright flowers are one of the first seeds I gave to my children to plant. They are easy to grow and are jolly and cheerful. Calendula is one of the most versatile medicinal herbs used today and we have it growing in our polytunnel year round.
Originating from the Mediterranean it is a plant regularly grown in the UK with lovely blue star-shaped flowers that are a bee magnet. The English word “borage” is believed to be derived from the Celtic word ‘borrach’ -a person of courage. Borage was often added to the wine drunk by soldiers preparing for battle.
Borage oil has skin nurturing properties and is considered one of the best for tackling atopic, inflamed allergy prone skin. Its high Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content helps to make the skin’s protective barrier stronger and more resilient. It calms and nourishes, and helps tackle redness and roughness. It can also be helpful in soothing acne-troubled skin.
We sow it with other annuals in our borders. It is also great in drinks!
The name dog rose is reputedly derived from the Romans who believed the root could treat rabies caused by dog bites. Ancient Chinese doctors and early Native Americans also used Rosehip preparations to treat everything from stomach weakness to muscle cramps.
Often a key ingredient in many natural anti-ageing treatments, Rosehip seed oil is an excellent source of vitamins and skin-nourishing fatty acids, both of which are important for the health of our skin. Rosehip oil has qualities not found in other oils. It contains (E) Retinoic acid that is anti-ageing and reduces scarring. It has essential Omegas 3, 6 and 9, which are known to promote the skin’s health repairing and regenerating.
Rosehip also aids in skin elasticity, smoothes fine wrinkles, and helps normalise skin with large pores.
This oil feels very dry as it is so easily absorbs into the skin. It is great for sensitive, oily, combination, and problem skin.
It is no surprise that roses are one of Britain’s favourite flowers. We have grown dog roses throughout our hedges ever since we first bought the land in 1998. They give a gorgeous scent in the summer months and develop into rosehips that can be enjoyed by us (and the birds) for months.
Sea buckthorn berry
Sea buckthorn has been used for medicinal purposes over large parts of Asia and parts of Europe. The berries have been used for over 13 centuries in Tibetan, Mongolian, India, Chinese and Greek cultures.
The sea buckthorn berry is packed with nutrients, making it stand out to us as an important skincare oil. It is only fairly recently that modern scientific research has started to uncover how good this oil is. There are two types of sea buckthorn oil; the first is the fruit oil and the other the seed oil. We use the fruit oil. It is a bright orange-red colour.
It provides rich, nutritious lipids, carotenoids, tocopherols and phytosterols, and these fatty acids provide the skin with restorative actions. It helps to promote healthy skin by boosting hydration, improving elasticity, encouraging cell regeneration, and preventing acne. Its healing qualities can be used to heal burns, cuts, wounds, sunburns, rashes, and other skin blemishes. Perfect for dry, sensitive skin.
In 2018 we planted a row of sea buckthorn bushes. I was delighted to find these bushes have not only the potential of looking great when they are smothered (and I mean smothered) in their characterisic orange berries, but they also provide unique benefits to skincare.
Native to tropical Africa where it was used to treat poisonous dart wounds. It was used by the ancient Chinese and Egyptians due to its medicinal properties. They used it on skin ailments like burns and wounds. It is believed that Cleopatra used aloe in her daily skin treatments. During WW2 the Japanese who were affected by the atomic bomb applied aloe gel to their wounds and reported faster healing and less scarring.
Studies show that aloe vera is effective at penetrating the skin.
Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents. These include: Vitamins – Antioxidants that neutralize free radicals; Enzymes – helping to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin; Anthraquinones giving antibacterial and antiviral properties; and Fatty acids that give anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Aloe vera has high polysaccharide content, which may improve absorption of other botanical herbs and vitamins into the skin.
Aloe vera plants grow on our balcony at home.