By Cari Marshall and Christine Chism
Photography by Shannon Kintner
This time of year, the weather in Central Texas can wreak havoc on the body’s overall wellness. While the nose sniffs and sneezes from cedar fever, and dry cold air parches skin and cracks lips, the whole body could use a detoxification from the synthetic drugstore products often used to relieve these pesky irritants.
Yet, while Mother Nature may seem a bit cruel, she also provides us with all we need to address these ailments. Look no further than the garden or farmers market for a completely natural source of ingredients for do-it-yourself tonics, balms, soaks, steams and scrubs.
It’s widely known that consuming fresh leafy greens is a great way to detoxify the body. Naturally occurring beta-carotene, iron and vitamins C and K found in greens relieve issues ranging from digestive problems to inflamed organs, and also encourage the production of collagen—preventing skin damage and fending off wrinkles. These same superfoods can also help your system from the outside. Bathing in a “tea” of leafy greens helps open sweat glands to release a range of toxins—from artificial additives or flavorings in food to unwanted bacteria. This blend of kale and leafy greens—chopped, dried and stuffed into muslin tea bags—is the perfect addition to a warm bath for a comprehensive cleanse.
This steam is a quick solution for those poor nasal passages suffering from seasonal allergies and sinus congestion, as well as an effective treatment for headaches. Steam opens the sinus cavities—allowing the natural antibacterial properties of mint and rosemary to relieve congestion and inflammation in all areas of the ears, nose and throat.
It’s certainly not too early to be on the lookout for the ubiquitous poison oak and ivy that grow in this area in springtime. A natural solution for exposure to these nuisances—or for any kind of topical skin problem—is potatoes. Potatoes are chock-full of potassium, which is an electrolyte that balances electric charges in skin cells and creates a proper pH balance. Infusing an infected area of skin with the pure liquid form of a potato assaults the infection with a high dose of moisture and potassium—the perfect prescription for many common skin annoyances.
Sugar scrubs are an excellent way to exfoliate dry, itchy skin and release ingrown hairs. Since sugar is a gentle exfoliant (and doesn’t sting like salt), and honey is naturally antibacterial, it’s extremely good for body acne treatment and prevention. Carrots contain a powerful natural antiseptic that kills germs, protects skin from free radicals and promotes the regeneration of healthy skin cells. The trick with a scrub is to use it while the skin is dry and then rinse it off in the shower. Do not use this scrub on the face; it might irritate sensitive skin.
Many commercial lip balms contain artificial ingredients that might be harmful and can actually dry out lips. Using natural ingredients to soothe and protect the delicate skin on and around your lips is a much better way to face the elements. Because camphor is mildly antiseptic, it numbs the peripheral nerves, easing the pain of dry, cracked skin. And beets—which are often used in natural makeup products for color—give the balm a luscious red tint.