Natural Ingredients tested in our laboratory
- Lime Tree
- Sweet Almonds
- Shea Butter
- Olive Tree
- Neroli oil
- Damask Rose
- Anthemis Tinctoria
Flax – The Timeless Plant/Linus Usitatissimum
Few plant species over history have been a food, medicine and raw ingredient at the same time: Flax is one of them without a doubt.
Flax is thought to have originated in the East but humans were already cultivating it in the Neolithic period to weave fabrics with its fibres. Linen fabric has been found in Egyptian tombs, indicating that it was being cultivated in Africa at least 8,000 years ago.
The bandages wrapped around mummies, the vestments of the Jewish High Priests, the garments of the ancient Trojans and the Vestal Virgins of Rome and all of the undergarments and bed linens of the noble class were once made of linen. The magistrates of the Republic of Rome kept their records in books made of linen and painters still prefer to paint on linen canvases, which are stronger than any other existing fabric on the market. It was not long before people began using the seeds as well, first as a food and then for medicinal purposes. Towards the end of the medieval period, flaxseed oil was exploited by physicians for its soothing properties and by painters for the richness and stability that it gave to their works. Flax is the softening and soothing plant par excellence: its seeds, its flour, and its oil are able to treat almost all types of inflammation be it internal or external. Over the last few decades, flaxseed oil has not only been recognised for its emollient, anti-inflammatory and laxative properties but also for those of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These molecules normalise hormonal functioning and are effective for the complementary treatment of skin disorders like acne and baldness.
Lime Tree appeared in the ancient materia medica around 200 BC and was known by the Greek name “ptylon”, meaning wing (clearly alluding to the shape of its bloom). Amongst the people of Europe, Lime Tree was considered a sacred plant, and propitiatory dances were performed beneath it in the belief its boughs were able to drive away witches and ward off evil spirits. The legend of St. Catherine, who was tortured and decapitated by Maximilian II, claims that a Lime Tree sprouted over her tomb as a symbol of her innocence. The flowers contain an essential oil rich in active ingredients that are of significant biological interest. Used as an anti-catarrhal and antispasmodic emollient, it also acts as an intense and long-lasting vasodilator. Lime Tree extracts are particularly indicated to clean small abrasions, soothe burns and decongest the skin and irritated mucosa. Rich in mucilage, they leave a particularly thin and elastic emollient film on the skin surface that provides the skin with water when the surrounding environment is dry or the temperature is elevated, functioning as a hydrometric shield that is able to maintain a significant percentage of humidity. It gives the skin a particularly soft and pleasant velvety feel and softens and hydrates dry and damaged hair without weighing it down.
Calendula – The Flower of Every Month
The word Calendula comes from the Latin “calendae” (which meant the first day of the month) and refers to the prolonged flowering of this plant that blooms every month during the spring and summer months. It is precisely in light of these unique qualities that the plant was touted in the past as an emmenagogue and remedy for periodic pains. It was the Abbess Hildegard of Bingen and Alberto Magno who popularized Calendula in Germany as a medicamentosa plant, so much so that even today it is cultivated for medicinal products and is regularly registered in the German pharmacopoeia. The most important use of Calendula is as a disinfectant and anti-inflammatory for topical use, in the treatment of sores, infected cuts and burns. In cosmetic terms Calendula is primarily used to treat sensitive, reddened and cracked skin due to its cicatrisant, anti-inflammatory, wound healing and soothing properties. Calendula is often used in cleansers for personal hygiene, in children’s skin products and in aftershave and after sun products.
Marshmallow – The Healing Plant
The origin of the name Marshmallow (in Latin “Althaea Officinalis”) dates back to the Greek word “althaia” which means healing, indicating the medicinal qualities of this plant. The Latin adjective “officinalis”, often recurring alongside the noun that identifies the plant, refers to the officina, an ancient pharmaceutical laboratory where medicines were produced. Valued and known since antiquity as a decongesting and emollient plant it acts as an anti-inflammatory that is particularly useful for soothing irritations of the skin and internal mucosa. In cosmetics, people who value medicinal plants choose Marshmallow for its significant emollient, hydrating and refreshing properties. It is used in massage creams, in refreshing and hydrating lotions and, more generally, in all of those formulas for the treatment of dry, tired, mature skin.
Nettle – The Regenerating Fire
The name “Urtica” comes from the Latin “urere” (to burn) which refers to the painful sensation caused by the stinging hairs in contact with the skin. As a result of this characteristic, Nettle was used in ancient times to produce skin irritations to create a stimulating effect that was deemed useful for resolving serious states of low energy, coma and paralysis. It seems like a cruel practice, but it has a positive intention, probably connected to the principle of “regenerating fire” common to many cultures and practiced by way of numerous “fire rituals” throughout the world. Nettle is the “forge” of life in fields and woods. Its presence is all that is needed on a pile of ruins to quickly transform this gloomy and dusty micro-environment into a green oasis teeming with life. The folk saying of “throwing to the nettle” those things that are no longer needed refers precisely to the observation of how Nettle behaves on the land, making useful and full of life that which seemed irreparably lost or dead. Its extraordinary ability to regenerate the land in which it grows, led ancient herbalists to think that this resource could be used, by analogy, on the human “biological terrain”. In light of its restorative and transforming power, it has been used in herbal medicine for internal and external use in all situations where it is necessary to start or accelerate the processes of detoxification, purification and regeneration of the body. The best known use of Nettle in the field of cosmetics is undoubtedly for hair as an anti-dandruff and antiseborrheic agent and to fight baldness, thanks to its demonstrated ability to inhibit the 5a-reductase enzyme, (the primary thing that transforms testosterone into dihydrotestosterone) which interacts with androgen-sensitive follicles to cause the progressive miniaturisation of the hair follicle, the distinguishing symptom of baldness.
Thyme – The Aroma of Breathing
The word Thyme comes from the Greek “zumus” (perfume) which emphasises its characteristic as an aromatic plant. The first evidence of the therapeutic properties of Thyme date back to the medicinal texts of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Claudio Galeno (a Greek physician whose viewpoints dominated European medicine for more than two thousand years) attributed various properties to Thyme, including its ability to act as a stimulant and expectorant. Amongst the Romans, Thyme was pulverized and mixed with honey and given to people suffering from joint pains, sciatica, gout, bladder problems etc. The primary folk uses of Thyme extracts and infusions, precisely in light of the numerous aromatic substances it contains, are those tied to treating respiratory problems (convulsive coughs, whooping cough, asthma, catarrh, etc.) and for the disinfection of the oral cavity. The activity of the essential oil is tied to its bacteriostatic and antimicrobial properties and it is used to treat skin and subcutaneous problems (sores, abscesses, boils, etc.). In light of their stimulating and antibacterial properties, Thyme extracts are particularly indicated for the preparation of products for the treatment of scalp problems, alone or along with other phyto extracts that act similarly, like Nettle, for example.
Birch – The Tree of Wisdom
The name Birch comes from the Latin “batuere” (to beat). Pliny told how the ancient Romans used its branches to make the bound bundle of wooden rods and that the teachers used them with students for “didactic” and “educational” purposes. This is why it was called the “tree of wisdom”. In Nordic countries its bark, which withstands humidity very well, was used to cover houses and its sap was gathered from the trunk to produce “birch beer”. People used to plant two birch trees near their homes: one served to protect the home from negativity and the other served to accompany the first, since it was believed that birch trees suffered from loneliness. The Druids used birch wood to carve the Celtic alphabet and magic symbols. In some traditions, the shamans carved steps into birch trees to use them as a stairway to the heavens and speak directly with the gods. In the fairy tradition, birch was used to build the cradles of children so that the fairies could not kidnap them. The fundamental property of Birch, for internal use, is its ability to stimulate diuresis without producing any unpleasant side effects. It is therefore used to reduce oedema, to decrease the amount of albumin in urine and to promote the elimination of uric acid. For external and cosmetic use it was known for its significant antiseptic, astringent and toning properties for the adjuvant treatment of oily skin and acne and to strengthen the roots of the hair.
Willow – The Sacred Tree of the Moon
Willow gets its name probably from the Celtic “sul-lis” (near water) because it grows near swamps or streams and cannot survive far from water. Its close ties with water and the characteristic of its fruits to ripen and fall prematurely to the ground, have made the Willow a sacred tree for many cultures, tied to the Moon and as a symbol of the Earth that perpetually generates to take back into its womb the beings that have been generated. For the Celts it was a key element in the rituals of the Druids and the Celtic horoscope. In ancient Greece it was consecrated to all of the Moon Gods and in the medieval period it was the favourite tree in the spells of “witches”. In 1700 a “wine” made from its bark was used and given to maidens who suffered from heartbreak. Amongst the Native Americans it was one of the main ingredients of the mythical Kalumèt ritual, the sacred pipe smoked during the councils of the great chiefs, in public ceremonies and to seal new agreements with enemy tribes. For western medicine, Willow was above all a natural source of Salicylic Acid, from which the first Acetylsalicylic Acid was produced in 1853, the primary active ingredient in Aspirin, for which Bayer registered a patent in 1899. Hippocrates(460-377 BC), the father of medicine learned of the pain-relieving properties contained in the bark and in the leaves of Willow and recommended treatments with infusions of its leaves for patients afflicted with a variety of pains. From the time of the great intuition of Hippocrates men used Willow to fight headaches, fevers, rheumatisms, arthritis and gout for centuries. Even today Greek peasant chew its leaves to fight and prevent rheumatic pains. The astringent, antiseptic and exfoliating properties of the tree make Willow extracts particularly useful for cosmetics, especially in the treatment of oily and impure skin.
Burdock – The Private Plant
Burdock is an herbaceous plant that is very common and grows in wild places amongst ruins and along ditches both at the sea and in the mountains. The botanical name of Burdock is “Articum Lappa”. Articum comes from the Greek “arcteion”, which means bear and refers to the hairy appearance of its flowers. The name Lappa comes from the Greek word “lambano” and the Latin “labein”, which means to hang on to, grab on to, with a clear reference to the unique ability of its flowers to attach themselves to everything with which they come into contact and the difficulty of removing them once they are attached. It seems that the invention of Velcro as a fabric closing system was inspired by this characteristic of Burdock. It is precisely due to this unusual ability that Burdock is associated with privacy and reluctance, in light of the plant’s natural tendency to move away from contact. The root of the plant is used to extract its active ingredients. The main pharmaceutical qualities that are ascribed to Burdock extract are its ability to stimulate renal and hepatobiliary function. It is also effective as an antibiotic against staph infections. In cosmetics Burdock extracts are used for their astringent, deodorising and purifying properties. It is therefore indicated for formulas to treat sensitive, impure, and greasy skin and for problems like eczema, boils and acne. The depurative action of Burdock on the skin is also effective on the scalp and the hair follicles, by normalising sebaceous secretions, freeing the skin from impurities and stimulating hair growth.
Sage – The Sacred Herb
Cur morietur homo cui salvia crescit in horto? (“How can a man die when Sage grows in his garden?”). This Latin saying, along with the etymology of the word that means “to save”, tell us almost everything about the numerous therapeutic virtues that the ancients attributed to this plant. The Sacred Herb, the folk name for Sage, was considered a true health talisman. Amongst its numerous uses, it was indicated for promoting conception and easing birth; it was effective against the bacteria of typhus fever and, in the form of plasters it was recommended for cleansing sores. It was one of the many active ingredients in a famous universal remedy (the “Tranquil Balsam”) invented by a French abbot and administered to all of the French nobility of the 18th century, including Louis XIV. Very rich in active ingredients, it has numerous properties: balsamic, digestive and anti-diarrhoeal, antiseptic, anti-sudorific and diuretic. For its antispasmodic qualities, it is used in nervous disturbances and in asthmatic excesses. Thanks to the presence of an ovarian hormone similar to follicolina, it is used for disturbances of the female genitalia: it regularises the menstrual flow, calms painful reactions and fights the problems of menopause. The external use of Sage is recommended on sores and cuts that are having difficulty healing and for cleaning the mouth and oral cavity. The leaves, either dry or fresh, when rubbed on the teeth and gums were the most ancient and well known toothpaste. As far as regards its use in cosmetics, Sage is rich in phytosterols and is best used in products to stimulate the peripheral circulation. It has a stimulating and normalising effect on the physiological functions of the skin and has a specific dermo-purifying action on the scalp.
Sweet Almonds – Plant of Love
Sweet almond oil is obtained from the fruit of the Almond Tree (Prunus Dulcis), from the Rosacea family, which originated in the regions of Asia and Central Africa, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. In Sicily it disembarked along with the Phoenicians and its use spread to the Greek colonies. The almond is very revered in many cultures and mentioned many times in the Bible; in the tomb of Tutankhamen almonds were found, and they probably came from the Orient. It is the first tree that flowers in spring and it symbolises the rebirth of nature and the return of the warm season.
A very ancient legend tells how the almond tree was born from a love that did not end well. The Greeks told the story of Phyllis, a Thracian princess, who met Acamas, the son of Theseusm and disembarked in his kingdom during a stop while navigating to Troy. The two fell hopelessly in love but Acamas was forced to continue with the Achaeans to fight the War of Troy. The young princess, after waiting ten years for the war to finish died from desperation when she saw that he did not return with the victorious ships.
The goddess Athena, touched by this heart rending love story, decided to transform Phyllis into a splendid almond tree. Acamas had not actually died, and when he found out that Phyllis had been turned into a tree he embraced the plant, which in exchange for his caresses produced flowers on its branches instead of leaves. The embrace repeats itself every year when the flowers of the almond tree herald the spring. Sweet almond oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds of Prunus amygdalus. It is a transparent liquid with a light yellow colour. Chemically it is made up of a high percentage of oleic and linoleic acid and a smaller percentage of palmitic, stearic, lauric and myristic acid. It has significant emollient, nourishing, eudermic and elasticising properties for the skin. For internal use it provides anti-inflammatory and laxative properties and great energy: it is important for fighting the cold and obtaining energy. Almond oil not only soothes and calms skin irritations, it hydrates and smoothes all types of skin. Almond Oil is specifically recommended for dryness and dehydration. It can be applied to damp skin after a bath or shower. It is greatly used for massages, both for its anti-inflammatory properties and its hydrating effect. It nourishes hair gently, making it soft, shiny and easy to control and comb
Shea Butter – The Natural Butter
In antiquity, in the kingdom of Mali, shea butter oil was mixed with local earth and used to cover walls as if it were lime. Shea Butter has also always been used in Africa as food, as a beauty aid, and as a medicine, alone or in combination with other plants; the indigenous people call it the “tree of youth” and they use it, for example, as a balm for massages against rheumatisms, aches and pains, burns, sunburns, ulcers and skin irritations; according to local tradition it appears that it reoxygenates the tissue of the epidermis improving the elimination of metabolic waste. In actuality, the African peoples used every part of the plant: the skin and pulp of the fruit are eaten raw or cooked according to the ancient recipes; the fat contained in its seeds, known as shea butter, is used as a condiment, similar to our butter, but also as a cosmetic product for the skin and hair; the processing residues are used as feed for animals; the fat is also used to make candles or detergents that are similar to our soap; the latex from its leaves, bark and core of the trunk are used as a glue and as a resinous base for chewing gum; the wood, which is very hard and heavy, is used for construction and for kitchen and artisan objects.
Raw shea butter has a yellowish colour and a sweet odour. It has emollient, nourishing and hydrating properties that make it a natural cosmetic for skin care. It is believed that it helps protect the skin against UV rays and that it can be used in cosmetics to prevent wrinkles and keep the skin youthful. Shea butter has antioxidant properties that are able to protect skin against free radicals from the outside.
The antioxidant power is due primarily to the content of vitamin E found in shea butter, which also contains vitamin A and D. The application of shea butter on the skin allows it to maintain its own natural, healthy colour, to stay hydrated and nourished and to stay protected from external agents, like the rays of the sun, wind and the cold due to its film-forming and filtering properties. Shea butter can also be considered a natural remedy and a multi-purpose cosmetic. It can be used as the only product for the hydration and nourishment of the skin, hands and face.
Borage – The “wool” plant
Borage is a plant that originated in Mediterranean Europe and that grows wild in many places where the land is fertile and humid, at the edge of roads and on mountainsides. It is recognised easily by the little hairs that cover its stalks and leaves as well as for the light blue, pink or white flowers that form the plant. The name Borage, according to some historians, comes from the Latin word ‘borra’, which means “woolly fabric”, for the copious little hairs that cover the entire plant. Other historians, however, have said that the name of this plant comes from the Arabic word ‘aburash’, which means “father of perspiration”, referring to the sudorific properties of the plant, especially its flowers. It was imported into Europe in the sixteenth century. During the Renaissance it was known for generating the recirculation of good blood and the distilled water was used to fight eye fatigue. The purifying juice was sold by herbalists and the flowers were used as a natural remedy against colds and fever and in tea as well. The seeds are naturally rich in fatty acids, which is why they are used to counteract conditions like dry skin. Rich in linoleic acid, it is recommended for: repairing creams for dry skin; after sun lotions; aftershave lotions. Borage Oil (borago officinalis), an exceptional remedy rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, protects and nourishes the hair. Only a small amount is needed since it is very nourishing and can be applied a few hours before washing.
Sunflower – The Flower of the Sun
Sunflower seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Helianthus annuus. It is liquid at room temperature, transparent with an amber colour and with a light oily smell. It contains a very high percentage of polyunsaturated fats, especially linoleic acid (up to 75%) and a significant amount of Vitamin E. This acid, a component of Vitamin F, which is not produced by the body, is indispensable for the formation of the cell membrane, keeping it fluid, maintains the elasticity of the arterial walls, keeps the blood fluid, modulates the activity of the immune system, helps to keep the level of cholesterol low, balances blood pressure and plays a very important role in the proper functioning of the thyroid, the adrenal gland, the mucosa and the nerves. Thanks to this vitamin the skin remains smooth and velvety. When it is deficient, it becomes scaly, dry and rough. In cosmetics sunflower oil regenerates the cells of the epidermis; it has significant emollient, refreshing and hydrating power; it rebalances skin that is sensitive and irritated and is therefore the ideal base for cosmetic and aesthetic treatments for different types of skin.
Olive Tree – The Plant of Peace
The olive tree is central to the history of Mediterranean civilization and the entire West. Many legends are told about it: one of these is of Greek origin and tells of an olive tree taken at the border of the world of Hercules, where the sacred woods of Zeus were, the branches of which were woven into crowns for the winners of the Olympic Games.
Another anecdote on olive trees is the story of the dove announcing to Noah the end of the Flood by bringing an olive branch to him in his claws. Nevertheless it has been confirmed that the first wild trees lived on the island of Crete as far back as 4000 BC and that subsequently the people of Crete specialised in cultivating this tree and then exported it to the entire Mediterranean.
The olive oil “pack” is the best known and most widely applied hair health and beauty treatment in the Mediterranean tradition. It has been handed down from mother to daughter for centuries.
It is a fantastic natural protective substance that regenerates the hair fibre, provides the fats needed for optimal nutrition and creates a sheath that softens, adds shine and protects the hair from external aggressions.
The fatty acid chain found in olives is the longest and richest found in nature and has characteristics very similar to those found in human sebum, making olive oil fatty acids very compatible with the skin. Olive oil has an abundance of extremely precious substances such as squalene, phytosterols and tocopherols that soften and protect. Thanks to the linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, phenol compounds and important vitamins (K, A, E, and D) it contains, it acts as a vital antioxidant and counteracts ageing.
The esters and waxes found in olive oil have excellent substantive power and a high level
of compatibility with the lipids found in the hair, helping to re-establish its nutritional balance while keeping it light with a beautiful texture. Strands are again manageable, soft and lustrous.
Horsetail – The “Hair of the Horse”
Horsetail is the common name of Equisetum arvense. Horsetail is known as “plant clay” precisely for its mineral composition and its properties. Despised by farmers because it is infesting and difficult to eradicate, horsetail is valued in folk medicine.
Uses: as a mild diuretic and depurative. For its wealth of minerals, horsetail is good for remineralising and is useful for reinforcing bones, nails and hair. For this reason, folk medicine recommends using it for osteoporosis, after broken bones, and when nails and hair are fragile.
Thanks to its cicatrising properties, it is useful for promoting the healing of wounds, like sores or bothersome skin ulcers. The abrasive properties of horsetail are used in some cosmetics used for peeling.
Lavender – A Multi-Purpose Plant
From Latin Lavandula Officinalis, from the verb lavàre, or “to wash”, or rather, “to bathe”, since it was used primarily to scent bath water. Native to the Mediterranean area, it is now cultivated throughout the world. The essential oil is, however, produced primarily in France, Italy and Spain.
In reality its origin remains a mystery. One theory suggests that lavender comes from Arabia or North Africa and that it was discovered approximately 2000 years ago and brought to the islands south of France by merchants who were enamoured of its fragrance and beauty.
The ancient Romans used to scent their bath water with the plant’s flowers. In fact, it was this culture that was responsible for making lavender known throughout Europe: they brought the plant wherever they went so they could take fragrant baths. The Egyptians also built stills to extract lavender oil, which they then used for the process of mummification. In the Middle Ages Lavandola Stoechas was used to prepare a medicine known as Sticadore, which was used for intestinal cramps, nausea, vomiting and the hiccups. In the 17th century water scented with lavender was used to cure mouth sores, and was used in conjunction with Damask Rose as an antiseptic preparation for daily hygiene. In the 19th century in England a perfumer created the renowned The Lavender, a perfume used by all noble women. Ladies-in-waiting also used to sew sachets containing lavender flowers inside their petticoats, and it is from this custom that we still place sachets of lavender in with linens because not only does it make them smell nice, it protects them from moths. In the 20th century an expert aromatherapist told the story of one of his experiments where he seriously burned his hand. It occurred to him to dip his hand in a container filled with lavender oil. He was so amazed and astounded by the results that he began to study the plant’s therapeutic properties. It is the most versatile medicinal plant that exists in therapeutic terms. It is soothing, purifying and refreshing and is very effective against all types of skin, especially fragile skin. It is recommended to treat oily skin and heal the marks left by acne and blackheads. It also has regenerating properties and can be used on mature skin as well. It can be used as both a toner and a cleanser to remove dirt or make up. It is an excellent toner that refreshes sunburned skin, leaving an intense lavender fragrance. It is calming for stressed skin.
It has antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, decongesting and stimulating properties for the skin. Its cicatrising properties prevent scaling. Its aroma is calming and relaxing and is effective for depression, nervousness, anxiousness, restlessness, insomnia, and stress induced by work overload.
Neroli oil – Symbol of Purity and Love
Neroli Oil comes from the Bitter Orange Tree, an evergreen with shiny leaves and very fragrant white flowers that bears fruits that are smaller than the Sweet Orange Tree and have a bitter tasting pulp. The Bitter Orange Tree, from which Neroli oil is made, differs from the Sweet Orange Tree (Citrus sinensis – the oranges that we eat) with its longer thorns at the base of the leaves, its darker colour, more intense leaves and flowers, and more brightly covered and rougher fruit rind, but especially for the bitter taste of its pulp. The flowers are white and very fragrant. The fruits range from green to yellow upon ripening and contain numerous segments bearing a lot of juice. Native to Asia, it is very common in Mediterranean countries where it is cultivated widely.
Citrus aurantium is the original name of the plant while the name of the distilled oil, Neroli, comes from Duchess Anna Maria Orsini of Bracciano (Latium Region, Italy), the Princess of Nerola who began to popularize it in Latium in the 17th century in the form of an essence of distilled water that was already known in the medieval period as acqua nanfa, or orange blossom water, and was made by distilling the fresh flowers of sweet and bitter orange to add fragrance to gloves, handkerchiefs and bath water. It is very likely that this plant is native to southeast Asia and was then cultivated in Arabia and Sicily at the end of the 9th century. Neroli oil has antiseptic, anti-depressive and anti-inflammatory properties. It counteracts states of physical tension by acting as a muscle relaxer. It is used to treat digestive disturbances (cramps, digestion problems of nervous origin) since it relaxes the muscles and eliminates nervous tension. Its ability to regenerate skin tissue cells promotes healing. Indicated for sensitive and irritated, dry or aging skin.
It acts as a relaxer, helps to alleviate anxiety. It protects against emotions tied to the heart: it balances affection and is protective in sentimental terms. History
Neroli oil is associated with love and purity, perhaps because of the symbolism of its white petals. In antiquity, the flowers were used to make crowns for brides during ancient Roman wedding ceremonies, as a symbol of their virginity. Although, on the one hand, these flowers represented a wish for fertility for women who were about to get married, their fragrance was also said to help the new brides mitigate their fear of their first night of matrimony and their future married lives. In the 16th century there was a legend in France that there was only one Bitter Orange tree in existence, which now lives in the Orangerie of Versaille, the palace of the ancient rulers. According to some recent speculations 10 drops of Neroli Oil are part of the Coca-Cola formula, although it is not known if it is in the form of an essential oil or an aqueous distillate.
Damask Rose – The Flower of Beauty
This plant is a hybrid rose that comes from Gallic Rose and Musk Rose. It is a very hearty and thorny shrub belonging to the Rosaceae family that grows up to a height of three metres and is very resistant to cold and frost. It has an intense fragrance, and the light rose or red colour of the flower and the round shape makes it look like a bowl. The flower blooms between April and June. The petals are gathered by hand and 3.5 to 5 tonnes of rose petals are needed to produce 1 kg of essential oil. The rose in general is said to have been created from the blood of Adonis, the god of the Underworld, and Venus, the goddess of beauty, which is why they represent love that generates and reproduces life. The Damask Rose is now a cultivated flower since it does not grow very easily in the wild. It comes from the Middle East, and it is believed that the Crusader Robert de Brie brought the rose from Syria to Europe. In fact, the name Damask refers to Damascus, an important city in Syria. The Damask Rose has been considered the queen of all of the cultivated roses since antiquity. It has beneficial and therapeutic properties that make it special and one of the finest roses in the world. It soothes and creates a velvety finish (which is why it is used greatly in cosmetics). The essential oil and water of the roses are valuable. The latter is used as a toner for delicate and sensitive skin. It tones the epidermis and regenerates and calms reddened skin. It is an excellent anti-aging product that prevents the formation of small wrinkles.
The oil is an excellent remedy against depression, it calms and relaxes the soul, drives away stress, promotes self-confidence and fosters feelings of tenderness and love.
Rosemary – Symbol of Love, Death and Memory
The Latin name Rosmarinus comes from Ros = dew and Marinus = marine which refers to the light blue flowers that recall the colour of the sea. It is one of the most ancient aromatic plants. In fact both the Greeks and Egyptians knew of its properties. It has always been used as a seasoning but it has also been used since antiquity for healing and aromatherapy. Typical of the Mediterranean regions it prefers warm climates and grows wild in sandy soil.
The leaves and flowers are distilled into an essential oil, which contains borneol, camphor, pinene and bornyl acetate, all substances that give it antioxidant, antispasmodic and stimulating properties. This oil is the primary base for perfumes, mouthwashes and toothpastes and can be used as an air freshener.
The plant possesses deodorising, toning and purifying properties. It is a hypertensive, bactericide and restorative.
Rosemary is the metaphor of love, memory and death. The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated rosemary as the symbol of spiritual immortality: the branches were placed in the hands of the deceased and burned like incense during funeral services. In fact, rosemary was called the incense plant. Legend says Princess Leucothoe, the daughter of the King of Persia, who was seduced by Apollo after he secretly entered her room, was killed by the father to remove all traces of the dishonour immediately. The rays of sunshine penetrated the princess’s tomb until they reached her remains that slowly transformed into an intensely fragrant plant, with slender leaves and violet-pale blue flowers: rosemary.
Its more common use as a seasoning dates back to the 14th century. In the Middle Ages, it was used to cast off evil spirits and witches during exorcistic practices and, for a long time, it was considered a way to ward off evil powers and illnesses.
For its reinforcing action on the memory, it is called the memory plant. In ancient manuscripts it is said that Roman students used crowns of rosemary to pass their exams with flying colours. Folk remedies include an infusion made with the flowering tops of rosemary to help recall distant events. The pungent and penetrating fragrance helps people suffering from depression to cheer themselves up. It is said that a small branch placed under a pillow attracts dreams of fantastical worlds and keeps nightmares at bay.
Rosemary is one of the main plants of the summer solstice, used with rue, lavender and St. John’s Wort: water and the leaves and flowers of these herbs are placed in a basin, exposing it to the cosmic radiations of a magical night. The dew is then used as magical water to increase fertility and good health, defending oneself from evil spells.
In European folklore rosemary is often associated with rejuvenation and love: the famous water of the Queen of Hungary or water of youth included this aromatic herb as the primary component. Legend says that in 1370 Queen Isabella of Hungary, who was seventy-two years old and afflicted with rheumatic pain, used the distilled water of rosemary that she received from an alchemist. Thanks to the constancy of her prayers, she regained her health and youth.
Tea Tree – Nature’s Most Versatile Healer
Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from the Melaleuca tree, also known as the Tea Tree. The medicine is made from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (fam. Myrtaceae) tree, which only grows in a limited, swampy area, along the northern cost of New South Wales, in Australia. The curious name Tea Tree comes from the discoverer of Australia, James Cook, who learned from local customs how to prepare a refreshing tea with the leaves of this tree. The name stuck and even the new inhabitants of Australia have learned how to use Melaleuca leaves to derive all of the benefits that the Aborigines have known for many years. An essential oil with a strong aroma and a very intense and characteristic flavour is extracted from the leaves, giving this plant the properties with which it is attributed. Tea Tree essential oil is effective on oily hair and dandruff. It is an astringent that helps to reduce the amount of oil on the scalp, and it regulates the production of sebum. It tones and deodorizes. Has a purifying, antibacterial and energising effect. At the psychoaromatic level it acts on the emotions. It is one of the rebalancing oils in aromatherapy, both in physical and mental terms. The isolation of Australia from the rest of the continents allowed for the evolution of many characteristic species of flora and fauna that are different from those on the rest of the planet. Some of these, like Melaleuca alternifolia, have been particularly fruitful for man since antiquity. The Aborigines of the Bundjalung tribe calls this plant “Nature’s most versatile healer” and since ancient times they have used its extract, Melaleuca oil, handing down their knowledge to the modern world and allowing science to demonstrate its numerous beneficial properties.
Mullein – The Cough Remedy Plant
The name Verbascum comes from the root virb (and also the Latin Verbena) which means bough. The Greek name phlomos has a pre-Indo-European root that can be traced to bhle, which means to swell, as well as shine. This comes from the fact that the plant was used as a wick for lamps from the most remote ancient times; even in Akkadian the name of the plant meant lamp. The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended the therapeutic powers of this officinal plant as did St. Hildegard of Bingen 1,000 years later. It is an impressive and regal plant that, once it has been bent by summer storms, tends to always blossom towards the sun. The Italian author Manzoni cited Mullein in his most important work, The Betrothed, as one of the weeds that invade Renzo’s neglected vineyard. Mullein is also known by the name Hare’s Beard or Aaron’s Rod. This name was used by Pliny and perhaps comes from the Latin barbascum, which means «bearded», referring to the widespread hairiness of these plants. Along with mallow, field poppies, marshmallows, rosy pussytoes and violet, it is one of the pectoral species and is used in antitussive, expectorant herbal teas (useful for coughs). A 16th-century remedy book recommended boiling mullein in red wine to stop dysentery. A decoction of mullein was used for cough, as a diuretic agent and for toothache. Dissolved in water with the addition of Rue it was used for scorpion bites. It has significant anti-inflammatory, emollient and decongesting properties, especially for the respiratory tract. For external use, a decoction of Mullein is good as an anti-inflammatory for the skin. Mullein flowers are used as a remedy for colds and inflammations of the respiratory tract. In addition, the plant can be used as a dye for fabrics.
Helichrysum – The Golden Flower
The properties of Helichrysum were long known and spread in popular tradition, but even so, the plant did not get attention from the research community for a long time. The various species of Helichrysum have always been venerated for their connection with the cult of the sun, the symbol of eternity: the intense yellow colour of the flowers remains over time giving the illusion that they do not dry out. News of the use of this plant dates back to the Greeks and Egyptians who included it in many paintings and used it as a garland for the statues of gods. Pliny, a Roman writer, described its use as a stimulant for diuresis, menstruation and to calm bronchial catarrh; it was mixed with honey and given in potions to combat snake bites. It was also put inside clothing to protect it from moths. It was only in the 1950′s, as a result of studies done by Dr. Santini, a Tuscan physician and pharmacologist, that Helichrysum gained notoriety as a medicinal plant with significant therapeutic properties. After seeing farmers use infusions of Helichrysum to cure the bronchial diseases of their livestock, he began to experiment with it as a remedy for human respiratory illnesses. These experiments not only confirmed its therapeutic properties, but they also brought to light other potential properties of the plant. The ill persons treated during the experiments not only suffered from respiratory illnesses, they also had skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema from which they recovered unexpectedly following treatment based on Helichrysum provided by Dr. Santini. It is a very aromatic plant that grows throughout the Italian peninsula, especially in the Apennines and along the seashore. It is a plant that loves sunny places overlooking the sea or the sun beaten rocky slopes of the Apennine Hills, up to 600 m above sea level, and it blooms at the end of the summer. It can be found in Sardinia and several other Italian regions. The Latin name of the plant is Helichrysum Italicum. Helichrysum is used as an aromatic plant to flavour fish and meat dishes, but it is known primarily for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-viral properties. These plants produce terpenes – including curcumin and flavonoids – that fight the proliferation of bacteria like staphylococcus and streptococcus.
Anthemis Tinctoria – The Dyer’s Plant
Golden Marguerite, or Dyer’s Chamomile, is a typical plant of the Mediterranean steppe, where it can be found in sun-exposed, poor and rocky soils. Recognised as a folk remedy, it is used for digestive and gastric problems thanks to its bitter-tonic and antispasmodic action. Many recent studies, however, have concentrated on other properties of this plant. In fact, it is rich in phenol compounds and flavonoids, substances that when combined together produce an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action. In antiquity, this plant was used as a remedy against kidney pain, for enemas, and to cure intestinal and bladder pains. In the 18th century a decoction of Anthemis was applied to wounds while the processed flowers were used to open and purify pores. Finally, this plant is called Dyer’s Chamomile because it was used to dye fabrics yellow: the Mother Tincture.