Tips for Smoothing the Skin - Refining and Firming Plants

Plants offer a two-pronged approach for smoothing the skin.

From the inside, certain plant foods help to cleanse the lymph and boost the body's natural immunity. When the infection-fighting force works well, the lymphatic system is free to go about its daily cleansing duties. From the outside, plant extracts help to tone the skin while antiseptic essential oils keep infections at bay.

From Within

Garlic and onions - These pungent plants are both rich in sulphur compounds that are natu­rally antibiotic. As well as warding off bacteria, they boost the immune response to help shake off infections. Eaten on a regular basis they help to cleanse the lymph and blood.

Shiitake mushrooms - Highly regarded in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their immune-boosting properties. Add them to stews, stir-fries and soups to keep infections at bay. (Some people find mushrooms difficult to digest. If you suffer extreme bloating and wind after eating them, choose another option.) The recommended intake is one or two a day.

Wheatgrass juice - An excellent lymph cleanser. Whenever skin starts to look congested try to drink a 25ml (1 fl oz) shot of pure wheatgrass juice each day or dilute with fresh carrot juice.

Echinacea - Otherwise known as purple cone flower, this herb gives the immune system extra impetus for fighting infections. Echinacea is a powerful lymph purifier and is very effective for refining the skin and clearing away blemishes.

Avoid taking echinacea contin­uously. It works best as a short sharp boost. Take 15-20 drops of tincture in water for up to ten days.

Horsetail - This weedy-looking herb is a rich source of silica and is the number one herb used in cosmetic preparations aimed at firming and toning the skin.

Make an infusion by simmering 30g (1oz) of herb in 570ml (1 pint) of water and sip from time to time if you can bear the taste. If not, wrap the herb in muslin (or use a horsetail tea bag) and leave to steep in the bath. Use body-toning preparations containing horsetail.

Other skin-refining herbs are butcher's broom, meadowsweet, horse chestnut and ginseng

Try adding a few drops of their tinctures to your favourite body lotion.

  • Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a nighttime bath or add 4-6 drops to a tablespoon of carrier oil and smooth into the body, working in the direction of lymph flow, after showering or bathing.
  • Use toning treatments every morning and every evening whenever your skin is in need of refining. Good for the summer months when skin is on display.

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