Au Natural Factual: Lemongrass

Au Natural Factual is back for 2014! Today, we’re talking about Lemongrass, an ingredient I have been loving lately in my hair and body products. It has also always been a favorite scent of mine.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus) is a perennial plant known for it’s many medicinal and therapeutic benefits and is indigenous to many areas of South Asia. Reported medicinal benefits of lemongrass are used in treating digestive problems, high blood pressure, fever, body pain, the common cold, cough and exhaustion. Lemongrass is also known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antioxidant and astringent properties.

Used when dry, lemongrass can be steeped to make tea, used as medicine as well as flavoring for food. The plant is commonly used as an ingredient in popular South Asian cuisine and is commonly found in soaps and cosmetics as a fragrance. With it’s lemony, citrus scent, lemongrass can also be extracted as an essential oil and applied topically or when used in aromatherapy, often inhaled for muscle pain relief. It is also said that lemongrass has rubefacient properties which may improve blood circulation.

The chemical composition of lemongrass is also interesting in understanding the basis for its many health benefits and natural characteristics:

The main chemical component found in lemongrass is citral, an aromatic compound, also known as lemonal. The compounds myrcene, citronellal, geranyl acetate, nerol and geraniol are found in varying quantities in Citral. Myrcene, geraniol and nerol contribute to lemongrass’ strong fragrance, citronella acts as an insecticide and geranyl acetate is another flavoring agent. –Healthers.org

The presence of Vitamin A in lemongrass can also have benefits for skin. Lemongrass helps to treat acne, brighten dark spots and prevent oily skin. The herb’s astringent and antibacterial properties are also good at reducing skin bacteria and infection. Lemongrass has also been thought to improve poor body odor by controlling excessive sweating.

Some popular, natural products containing lemongrass: 

Have you used lemongrass in any products or in food? What are your favorite products or methods using lemongrass?

Sources: HealthlineHealthers,WebMD 

Image sources: 1, 2

Au Natural Factual: Witch Hazel

witchhazel
Don’t expect any ominous spells or tricks from this witch…
Witch hazel (hamamelias virginiana), also commonly known as winter bloom, is a low-growing shrub found in many areas of North America and Canada. Witch hazel extract is used in many healthcare products today but use of the plant has been traced back to medicinal practices of the Native Americans. The shrub’s name is said to have come from using the twigs in dowsing, a mystical practice involved in finding water sources.
Traditionally, Native Americans boiled the leaf, bark and twigs of witch hazel to produce an extract used to treat swelling, inflammation and tumors. Today, this practice is still commonly used through distilled witch hazel extract which is included in many products functioning as an astringent. Astringents are substances or chemical compounds which shrink and constrict skin tissue. Witch hazel is also topically used to relieve many skin irritations like itching, pain, bruises, hemorrhoids and bug bites.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent due to the high concentration of tannins in the plant. Witch hazel can be used topically to tighten pores and remove excess oil which makes for a great natural toner and also for reducing acne. Specific tannins in witch hazel; procyanadins, resin, and flavonoids, all add to the plant’s soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.
While it is less common, witch hazel can also be ingested as a remedy for many ailments. Drinking witch hazel tea can relieve sore throats, diarrhea, colds and respiratory illnesses.
However, do NOT try to ingest common drugstore witch hazel products, which are usually distilled with isopropyl alcohol or similar chemicals.
The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database (EWG) ranks witch hazel with a score of zero citing its low health concerns here.
Organic and Natural Witch Hazel Products:


Herb Pharm, Witch Hazel Extract Liquid, 1 oz


Thayers Witch Hazel Toner Alcohol-Free Lavender with Aloe Vera 12 oz

Burt’s Bees Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer

Logona Day Cream, Organic Witch Hazel

Sources/Read more here: WebMD , Discovery Fit and Health , Wise BreadWikipedia