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WILDCRAFTED HERBAL PRODUCTS
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Natural Skin Care Newsletter: September 2007 Issue
(You can click on the topics below which will take you to the article of choice on this page, or simply scroll down and read each one)
Feature Article: What Do You Put on Your Hair?
Article: What is hair, what are its functions and what determines the health of your hair?
Article: Did you know... some interesting facts about our bodies.
About a herb of interest - Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Kitty's Corner - Quiz
September 2007 Issue of the Natural Skin Care Newsletter
We are all aware that we should not use artificial or potentially toxic ingredients in our food. Indeed many of us have made the conscious decision to go one step further by choosing natural skin care products instead products containing synthetic and possibly harmful chemicals.
But when it comes to personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners and liquid/solid soaps, etc., we tend to disregard the concept of remaining with natural products. There’s a simple explanation for this.
We, the consumers, are basically under the impression that washing our hair and body is not likely to poison us. After all, the soap stays on the hair/skin for only a short period of time and gets washed off when we’re finished. How could the chemicals in a shampoo or a conditioner possibly affect us adversely?
Fair question. However, if you think that they don’t, you would be quite wrong.
The skin can absorb chemicals very quickly and easily if the molecules are not too large for it to do so. In addition, the skin is never in perfect condition. That is, there are tiny little tears, cuts and abrasions on our skin almost all the time.
Scratching the skin to relieve an itch, for example, can easily damage the skin. You can’t necessarily see it with the naked eye, but it is nevertheless damaged. Insect bits, clothes rubbing repeatedly against the skin, etc., can all cause microscopic damage to the skin and jeopardise its integrity.
Where the skin is damaged the larger molecules, which would normally not be absorbed, can enter the deeper layers of the skin and may enter the bloodstream access to anywhere in the body.
The problem is that when you use a product that does contain questionable ingredients, which have the potential to cause harm, you inadvertently allow these ingredients to be absorbed by the body, without intention or knowing about it.
Shampoos are a classic example of potentially toxic cocktails we seem to be oblivious to. Below is an example of ingredients used by a well-known manufacturer of personal care products who distributes their products worldwide. It is a typical example of the type of ingredients you would find by looking at the ingredients of shampoos on sale in your local shopping centre or at your hairdresser.
The ingredients below are from a 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner. Where possible I provided some comment after the ingredient that provides some insight into the safety of the particular ingredient for human use.
It must be said, however, that the toxicity of some of the ingredients is related to the consumption of the ingredient and while a shampoo is not consumed as such, chemicals can nevertheless be absorbed through the skin and enter the blood stream, essentially being the same as if you had eaten them.
Example of ingredients found in a 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner
I think you get the idea.
Chemicals such as these are not what you would want to put on your body, hair or in fact anywhere near you, I’m sure. Problem is that no one warns us of the potential dangers posed by some of these ingredients and so we use them thinking that regulations and government controls would not permit potentially toxic chemicals to be put into products we use everyday...
In addition to the above ingredients, which basically make a shampoo with conditioning properties, you may also find other ingredients in your shampoo such as vitamin B5. Mostly, this is of a synthetic origin (as in the example above), not natural. This is because a synthetic version of vitamin B5 is much cheaper than using a natural source of vitamin B5.
The same goes for vitamin E and others. If you bought vit E from a wholesale supplier in Sydney, 25ml of vitamin E (synthetic) would cost AUD $11.00 whereas it’s natural counterpart will cost you AUD$18.00 - quite a difference, and remember this is the wholesale price.
Most personal care products such as shampoos have a pleasing smell. This smell comes from either a synthetic or natural ingredient. Most ‘natural scent’ fragrances are however synthetic. Not in every case, but imagine a shampoo that supposedly contains Jasmine. Jasmine oil (the essential oil of Jasmine) cost more than its weight in gold!!! Do you really think a shampoo that costs a few dollars will contain pure essential oil of Jasmine? I don’t think so. The same goes for Rose and several other popular fragrances.
So chances are, even if the manufacturer does not use Jasmine, that the fragrance is also synthetic. This is simply because synthetic fragrances are cheaper than the real thing.
Considering that most shampoos and conditioners contain many potentially toxic and synthetic ingredients, isn’t it about time we seriously considered what we are putting on our hair?
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What is hair?
Hair is composed of columns of dead cells 'welded' together and is a filamentous outgrowth of protein. The shaft is the superficial portion of the hair that projects from the surface of the skin and is the part you actually see.
The business end of the hair is situated in the dermis (the layer below the top/visible, dead layers of the skin) and is known as the root of the hair or hair roots. This is where the root of the hair is supplied with blood and this is where nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, oxygen and other nutrients are supplied to the hair. This is also where the sensory nerves are situated, which provide you with the ability to 'feel' the slightest touch of you hair (sensory perception).
Caucasians generally have about between 80,000 and 150,000 hairs on their scalp. (Blonde: 146,000; Black: 110,000; Brunette: 100,000; Red: 86,000.) The rate and length of growth varies between individuals and is determined by how quickly a hair will fall out.
Loosing hair is normal. It is due to the normal growth-rest cycle, and losing 50 to 100 hairs a day is no cause for alarm. Excess hair loss however, may be due to many different causes, including:
Growth Cycle of Hair
Let’s start with the growth cycle of a normal hair. There are three phases. The first is the active growth phase (also known as the Anagen phase) and lasts 3 to 5 years. This phase determines the length of the hair: the longer the growth phase, the longer the hair. During this phase hair grows at a constant rate, about 0.3-0.4 millimetres per day, about 10cm per year. At any one time, approximately 85% to 90% of hairs on the head are in this phase.
The second phase (also known as the Catagen phase), lasting two to three weeks, is the transitional phase in which the growth of hair stops and hair more easily falls out with brushing or shampooing.
The third phase (also known as the Telogen phase), lasting about three months, is the resting or shedding phase. In this phase about 25 to 100 hairs are shed each day. Eventually, the hair follicle (the structure in the skin from which hair grows) will return to the active phase, producing a growing hair and renewing the cycle.
Structure of Hair
The hair itself is made up of several layers: At the centre there is the Medulla, which is surrounded by the Cortex of the hair. These two inner layers are protected by the tougher outer layer of the hair known as the Cuticle.
The cuticle is a translucent outer layer of the hair shaft consisting of scales that cover the shaft. Under high magnification these scales appear not unlike fish-scales.
Underneath the scalp, in the dermis layer of the skin, there are several other structures associated with the hair.
The Role of the Sebaceous Glands
In addition to the blood capillaries (a network of tiny little arteries and veins), nerves and other tissues, this is the location where the sebaceous oil glands are located that secrete sebum (oil).
The sebaceous glands (oil glands) are connected to hair follicles. The secreting portions of the glands lie in the dermis and open into the necks of hair follicles or directly onto the skin's surface. Sebaceous glands secrete an oily substance called sebum, which is a mixture of fats, cholesterol, proteins, and inorganic slats.
Sebum helps keep hair from drying and becoming brittle and prevents excessive evaporation of water from the skin. This helps to keep the skin soft and pliable, and inhibits the growth of certain bacteria.
What purpose does hair serve?
Hair protects the scalp from UV-rays, reduces loss of body heat and to some extent protects the head from physical injury by means of cushioning impact. In addition to protecting us from the sun's UV-rays, it also acts as an insulation against environmental heat/cold.
Thousands of years ago, the hair that covered our bodies served a similar purpose to the clothes we wear today. In today's world, hair has become more of a fashion statement. There are literally hundreds of products on the market from hair colour to creams, styling gel and treatments that will change the way your hair looks and behaves. Just go to any hair salon and look through the fashion magazines and you'll quickly see hair styles ranging from the classic to the bizarre and outrageous with different colours to match.
What's good for your hair?
Your hair roots need nutrients and the better the quality of your diet the more nutrients will be available for your hair to grow and look its best. Just like your skin, your hair receives its health and vitality from the inside - that is from the nutrients you provide your body with. In short, feed your hair the good stuff and it will be healthy and shiny.
Obviously you can supplement this with products that contain beneficial ingredients such as essential oils and herbal extracts that will be absorbed by your skin, but you can not substitute for bad nutrition and lack of water.
Primarily, your hair needs protein. Lean meat, soy products and dairy foods will give your body the protein, fatty acids, etc., it needs to maintain healthy growth.
As we discussed in the previous article, products that contain artificial or synthetic ingredients should be avoided as they may do more harm than good. So stick to products that use safe, natural ingredients.
Ingredients such as herbal extracts and essential oils are great ingredients to have in a shampoo and/or conditioner. Firstly, these types of ingredients can be absorbed by the skin of your scalp and directly affect the underlying tissues in a positive way. Secondly, these ingredients are safe, gentle, effective can provide additional nutrients to the dermis where the hair roots are.
Both herbs and essential oils contain vitamins, minerals and other active ingredients that help to promote blood circulation in the dermis - which is where the root of the hair is found and also where the new cells that end up as hair are 'grown'.
Good quality natural shampoos will remove the stale oils and dirt from the scalp and hair shaft, without damaging the hair. A good, natural hair conditioner, especially one that is slightly acidic, will help to close up the scales along the hair shaft to prevent the hair from splitting and tangling (picture on right).
Another benefit of the scales being tightly closed is that they trap less dust, microbes and other air-born particles, leaving your hair less exposed to potential damage.
What's bad for your hair?
Colouring your hair, especially bleaching your hair, can not only harm your hair, but also harm your over all health. Several colours have been associated with potentially dangerous health problems including cancer and many other serious health problems. (Read this article if you want to know more about the dangers of colouring your hair.)
Dry, damaged hair is extremely common and is often caused by excessive use of modern technology including hairdryers, perms, straighteners, curling tongs, heat lamps and even sun beds.
Poor quality diet over extended periods of time will also have an adverse effect on the health of your hair and your general health as well.
Another factors that can affect your hair are medication, recreational drugs and excessive alcohol intake.
Climatic factors such as excessive cold and wind can also damage your hair, however, a hat or scarf can easily minimise this type of damage.
What you can do to improve the health of your hair
As with your skin, your hair will benefit from a wholesome diet that utilises little or no processed foods, is focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, and includes high quality sources of protein. Always remember to keep up your water intake - 2 to 3 litres per day is a minimum.
Use little or no hair styling, that is when using a hairdryer for example, leave your hair slightly moist, don't dry it totally. Don't over wash your hair. If it's not necessary to wash your hair, don't. Many of us automatically wash our hair every time we step under the showers. This is not necessary and adds stress to your hair it doesn't need.
If you do wash your hair, make sure you follow up by using a conditioner. This is important, as the shampoo is alkaline and will leave your hair scales open. The conditioner is acidic and will a) remove any shampoo residue and b) close the scales leaving your hair soft, silky and less prone to tangle.
Use products that contain only natural ingredients when ever possible.
By the way, did you know that the wood roach will happily eat all the hair it can find? Apparently, besides tasting yummy, it allows them to build up the keratin in their skeleton; and for desert they love a side dish of fingernail clippings…
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Did You Know...
This is a montage of facts about the skin, hair, eyes and finger nails.
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History of Use:
Other dermatological studies have been conducted with tea tree oil in the treatment of acne, dandruff, head lice, and recurrent herpes labialis, in which effects were found to be either similar or better than traditional treatment, and often with fewer side effects. A few published studies report the successful use of tea tree oil in treating mucous membrane infections, including Trichomonas vaginalis, and against oral bacteria and oropharyngeal candidiasis (Halcón & Milkus, 2004).
Tea Tree Oil is used in the following Wildcrafted Herbal Products:
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We hope you enjoyed these articles and invite you to send us suggestions of topics you would like to see us cover in the coming months.
Your suggestions are always welcome and we endeavour to cover the topics you would like to know more about - so don't be shy, drop us a line or two!
Please don't forget to enter our competition - we really do need your help on a great name for our hair care range, so please keep those entries coming in.
In good health
Danny & Susan Siegenthaler
© Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2007
Hello to you all, and a hearty Miau.
I hope you found last month's article. This month, here's a little quiz you might get a chuckle from:
1. What is the largest breed of domestic cat?
2. What is the largest breed of dog?
a) Great Dane,
3. What breed of cat has a reputation for being cross-eyed?
4. What breed of dog was originated in Germany by a tax collector who needed a guard dog for protection?
5. If a male cat is both orange and black, he is probably..
6. What is the only dog that cannot bark?
Now I guess you'd like to know if you got the answers right...
Ok, here are the answers:
1. = b;
2. = c;
3. = a
How did you go? Got them all right? If so, you've earned bragging rights.
For now, Miau from me, until next month.
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