May 2007 Ageless herbal newsletter
Birch (Betula alba and B. pendula)
Birch is a popular remedy in Siberia and Russia for treating arthritis, while the wood also has commercial applications. The bark is used for tanning leather and the twigs are used for making brooms. Birch sap is also thought to provide relief to sufferers of psoriasis, as it reduces inflammation and is very astringent.
It is also known as paper birch, white and canoe birch. The sap is also fermented to make beer, wine, spirits and vinegar.
The genus contains about 60 species of deciduous trees and shrubs and is distributed throughout the northern hemisphere. It has drooping branches and peeling bark and grows about 10 - 25 meters in height.
The leaves and bark are used in herbal medicine and the sap is of major commercial importance in herbal cosmetics. Leafy, fragrant twigs of Silver Birch are used in Finland, to gently beat the skin, to increases circulation after a sauna. Birch twigs were bound into a bundle and were used to beat criminals or offenders. This was called “birching,” a form of capital punishment.
It is a bitter astringent tonic herb that has diuretic and laxative properties, while reducing inflammation, relieving pain and also increasing perspiration.
It contains flavonoid glycosides with hyperoside and quercitrin as the main compounds. It also contains methyl esters, phenylpropanoids, steroidal saponins, methylsalicylate and resin.
It is used internally for rheumatism, arthritis, gout, arteriosclerosis, water retention, cystitis, kidney stones, fevers, as well as skin eruptions.
It is used with great success to help with psoriasis and eczema. The astringent effect of the sap also helps to tone the skin and has a positive effect on increasing skin elasticity. In hair care products, it is most useful to combat oily and greasy hair, and also acts as a general conditioner to the hair.
Birch is used in the following products in the Ageless range, which can be viewed by clicking on the following links:
Rosehip oil is a pressed seed oil, which is extracted from a plant which grows wild in the Southern Andes. The best rosehip oil is said to come from Chile.
It is high in GLA (gamma-Linolenic acid), and helps reduce the signs of ageing, especially the fine lines around the eyes (crows feet) and lines around the mouth, the drying effects of the sun and climate, as well as assisting with attenuating (less visible) both accidental and surgical scars.
It helps the skin heal and regenerate and prevents the formation of ugly keloid scar tissue (thickening of the skin when forming scar tissue) and is helpful in healing burns, scars and stretch marks. This effect is also though to be of some benefit In the treatment of certain forms of psoriasis.
There have been some reports that it can in some cases aggravate acne, but since it is mostly used to counter the effects of ageing, this problem is not that relevant.
Rosehip oil is not a volatile essential oil, yet is expensive and scarce due to crop failures, and for this reason often sold adulterated, and mixed with another carrier oil.
Massage oil or used neat
It has great healing properties for damaged and distressed skin which makes it a good choice to include when mixing a massage oil or preparing a carrier oil blend, or to use neat when wishing to give your facial skin a boost.
Cream or lotion
In a cream or lotion, or used neat on the skin, it is one of the most rejuvenating and regenerating compounds to be found, and for this reason, good quality anti-aging skincare products normally contain rosehip oil.
It is a good source of vitamin C, which is essential in the formation and synthesis of collagen in the skin, without which your skin would not only age prematurely, but will have terrible tone. The elasticity and suppleness of your skin would also be impaired.
To have a look at a superior rosehip oil, which is pure and unadulterated, and for more information regarding essential oils, please browse our website at www.essentialoils.co.za or go directly to the Rosehip information page at http://www.essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/rosehip.htm.
Psoriasis is a disease, thought to be a condition that results from abnormal activity of the body’s immune system, which affects the skin and joints. It usually causes red scaly patches on the skin, which are sore, inflamed and itchy.
These patches are called psoriatic plaques or lesions and are areas of excessive skin production, where the skin cells do not shed correctly and later become inflamed, also taking on a silvery white appearance. The plaques can form anywhere on the body, including the hands, knees, elbows, scalp or genitals.
Psoriasis is considered an ongoing condition, which can manifest in small localized patches or over the entire body, including the skin underneath the fingernails and toenails. The condition can also cause psoriatic arthritis, where the inflammation extends into the joints and connective tissues.
Although psoriasis is not contagious, it may cause deep depression and loss of self-esteem, due to the unsightly nature of the plaques and the ongoing discomfort of the condition.
The condition has been known for centuries, but was commonly mistaken as a type of leprosy. The condition only started to be called psoriasis in 1840, when the Viennese dermatologist, Ferdinand von Hebra derived the name from the Greek word “psora,” which means, “to itch.”
The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood. Research shows that two theories are considered, however. The first theory considers psoriasis as a disorder of the skin, in which the problem is seen as a fault in the reproduction and growth of skin cells in the epidermis and its keratinocytes.
The second theory sees the disease as the manifestation of a disorder in the immune system, where the T-cells (which help to protect the body against infection) migrate to the dermis and cause the production of cytokines (messenger molecules in the immune system), which causes inflammation and an over production of skin cells. This theory is supported by the fact that medicines, which suppress the immune system, can help clear up psoriasis plaques. It seems that the why and wherefore of this is not yet understood.
People report that psoriasis may worsen or improve for no apparent reason. Studies seem to report conflicting findings, but the first outbreak is sometimes linked to stress, skin injury, streptococcal infection, infections and changes in season and climate. Drugs, such as Lithium salt and beta-blockers, may also activate or aggravate the disease. Smoking, obesity and the excessive use of alcohol are reported to aggravate the disease and to hamper the correct management of psoriasis.
Dermatologists usually follow a trial-and-error approach to finding the best treatment for psoriasis, taking into account the severity of the outbreak, the patients age, gender, attitude and state of general health. Treatment usually starts with medicine or topical applications which have the least side effects or adverse toxic reactions and follows what is known as a “psoriasis treatment ladder” where medicine with considerable toxicity is reserved for severe unresponsive psoriasis.
Creams, ointments and lotions are usually prescribed at first, and if this fails, ultra-violet radiation or phototherapy may be considered. The third step may be the use of medicines that are given orally or through injections, usually including a specialized drug that suppresses the immune system. All 3 of these options may also be used in conjunction. Ultra-violet light therapy may also be combined with application to the skin of retinoid (vitamin A derivative), coal tar or anthralin paste.
Exposure to short periods of sunlight has long been known to improve the condition and a change of climate and environment has been reported to help certain sufferers.
Some people believe that following a healthy lifestyle, eating correctly and following a moderate exercise routine, with correct stress management, improves the condition vastly.
Neem oil has been used to treat the condition in India, for thousands of years. Epsom salts baths have also been found to be beneficial by some and visits to spa’s (such as the spa’s found at the Dead Sea in Israel) have provided relief to many sufferers.
It seems that there is no definite cure for psoriasis, but there seems to be a better understanding of the immune processes involved in psoriasis, which will lead to the formation of drugs that are better targeted at the suppression of immune mediators.
Some of our clients have reported that they have found relief and a lessening of systems by using our Ageless Healing Cream, which can be viewed by clicking on the following link: http://www.ageless.co.za/reconstr.htm.
The above information about psoriasis is for general information purposes only and must not be construed as being medical advice, and if you have any queries or concerns we suggest that you contact your medical practitioner at the earliest convenience.