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Three easy herbal crafts you can make for holiday gifts

Freshly_cut_lavender_flowersAt Motherlove we are always grateful for the many powers of herbs.  We use herbs in our products to support breastfeeding, to heal, and to soothe.

At this time of the year we also love using herbs in fragrant, beautiful, and useful gifts.  Our founder Kathryn Higgins has taught classes with kids during the holiday season, helping them create potpourri, wreaths, and bath bags for their parents.

These crafts make great gifts for teachers and day care providers, colleagues, and friends.  And they’re simple enough to make with kids.  Here are some of our suggestions for making your herbal gifts!

PotpourriFragrant herbs in potpourri sachets, placed in clothes drawers, closets, and even in cars provide a lasting reminder of the generosity the season.  For an energizing blend, use herbs such as citrus, ginger, lemongrass, mint, and rosemary.  For an uplifting blend, use herbs such as bergamot, clary sage, lemon, lime, and sage.  For a soothing and relaxing blend, use herbs such as chamomile, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, and rose.

Wreaths:  Herbs can be used to create beautiful and fragrant wreaths.  The simplest way to create an herbal wreath is to buy a small, premade wreath like those you can find at craft stores, and place some herbs in it.  For more of a challenge, you can make a completely new one with lavender, with sage or with a stunning mixture of herbs.  Herbs can also be used to create these adorable herbal wreath holiday cards!

Bath teas and salts:  Make soothing and detoxifying bath products like herbal bath tea or herbal bath salts.  Soothing and relaxing herbs to add include chamomile, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, and rose.   Detoxifying herbs include burdock root, citrus peel, dandelion root, echinacea root, fennel seed, juniper berries, and nettle.  For soothing muscles, aches and pains, use herbs like chamomile, camphor, cinnamon, ginger, and eucalyptus.

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons

Want to cleanse toxins from your body before trying to conceive? Listen to our podcast.

MP900442962Toxins we absorb through everyday living can make it harder for us to conceive a baby.  So how can we reduce our body’s toxic burden before trying to conceive?

In this month’s podcast interview we speak with naturopathic physician Dr. Laila Tomsovic about preconception cleansing.  We ask when to do it, whether cleansing is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, which foods are especially cleansing, and about the role of exercise and stress reduction in a cleanse.  You may also be interested in our interview with Dr. Tomsovic on nutrition for fertility.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, or by downloading it at our free iTunes store.

 

 

We’ve got a salve for that!

ML_products_RGBItchy skin?  Stretch marks?  Eczema?  Diaper rash or thrush?  Sore nipples?  Hemorrhoids?  Chapped lips?  Bug bites?  New tattoo?

We’ve got a salve for that!

Motherlove’s line of protective and soothing herbal salves provides natural and effective relief to get you through many skin problems:

Motherlove’s Pregnant Belly Salve is an all natural way to prevent and soothe stretch marks.  Certified organic herbs added to a scar-healing base of shea butter do wonders to prevent, soothe, and minimize stretch marks.  You can use our Pregnant Belly Salve on dry heels, elbows, your c-section scar, even chapped lips.  The stars of this salve are marshmallow, which softens skin and soothes skin irritations; rosehips, which helps prevent scarring and hydrates the skin; calendula, an an all purpose skin healing herb; and chamomile, an anti-inflammatory herb which softens skin.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Green Salve is all-purpose, multi-tasking soother and healer.  This organic, all natural salve is the perfect remedy for rashes, and chapped or irritated skin, including eczema.  In winter it’s great for dry, chapped skin; in summer it’s great for taking the itch out of bug bites, bee stings, and poison ivy.  Green Salve contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, plantain herb, comfrey herb, marshmallow root, and calendula flower.  Plantain herb is known as “nature’s band aid” because it is excellent for healing wounds and drawing out toxins.   Comfrey herb is nicknamed “knitbone,” as it quickly heals wounds and prevents scarring.  Marshmallow and calendula soothe, heal, and soften skin.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Nipple Cream is made with all certified organic ingredients which heal and soothe sore, cracked nursing nipples.  Motherlove’s Nipple Cream contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, calendula.  All ingredients are safe for ingestion, so it does not need to be washed off prior to nursing.  Have leftover Nipple Cream?  Here are 13 more ways to use our Nipple Cream including using it on chapped lips, dry elbows, and even to tame frizzy hair!

oregon tilthMotherlove’s Diaper Rash & Thrush is an all-natural salve made with certified organic ingredients for persistent, inflamed diaper rash.  It contains healing herbs oregon grape root to clear up skin conditions, yarrow to soothe rashes, myrrh to fight bacteria and yeast overgrowth, and calendula to soothe skin.  If you’ve been treating diaper rash unsuccessfully with other products, your baby may have a yeast infection which requires a product with antifungal properties.  Our Diaper Rash & Thrush salve is diaper safe and compatible with all diapers including cloth.  This salve can also be used on nursing nipples, and does not need to be washed off nipples prior to nursing.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Tattoo Care is a certified organic salve which provides optimal moisturizing and healing properties for a new tattoo, yet retains a consistency that is comfortable to apply while tattooing or to a fresh tattoo.  Unlike petroleum-based products, Motherlove Tattoo Care allows the skin to breathe, and allows ink to fully penetrate the skin.  Made with calendula flowers and marshmallow root, infused in extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter, it keeps pores from getting clogged and promotes a quicker healing time.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Rhoid Balm is a certified organic balm which provides immediate relief for inflamed tissues.  It contains a soothing combination of herbs including witch hazel, recommended by moms and doctors alike to reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids

And of course, all of our salves have a zero rating (the cleanest rating) by EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Saftey Database.  They’re free of body care ingredients to avoid.

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Dry winter skin? Herbs to the rescue!

beautiful woman hands with creamAs the weather gets chillier and our skin gets more prone to dryness, chapping, and redness our thoughts are turning to some herbs which can protect and soothe this season.

Dry air from heating systems, winter winds, and even tissues can make our skin dry and irritated.  Here are some herbs to keep your skin stay healthy:

Calendula is an all purpose skin healer used to stop bleeding, wash wounds, heal cuts, abscesses, rashes, boils, chapped skin, and eczema.  It’s an ingredient in many Motherlove products, including our  Nipple Cream and Green Salve.

Rosehips (the seedpod of the rose flower) are known to hydrate the skin and are wonderful to use for a face wash, steams and herbal baths.  Rosehip oil also helps prevent scarring.  The hips are very high in Vitamin C.   Rosehips are an ingredient in many of our products, including our Pregnant Belly Oil and Salve.

Chamomile is an herb you may know in the form of a tea, but it’s also an anti-inflammatory herb which is also used on sores, rashes, scaly skin, sunburn, and windburn, to soften skin and to reduce wrinkles. You’ll find chamomile in many of our products, including our Pregnant Belly Oil and Salve.

Marshmallow softens skin and soothes skin irritations.  And it’s good for winter colds, too.  The tea is soothing to mucus membranes, swollen glands, and irritations of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract.  You’ll find it in our Nipple Cream and Green Salve.

Water.   Okay, it’s not an herb, but we include it as a reminder that staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to keep your skin happy.  Running a humidifier may also mitigate the effects of dry air.

And however you choose to soothe your skin the winter, be sure to use avoid products which contain chemicals that may irritate your skin further.

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Liquid vs. capsule? Alcohol-free? Tincture vs. tea? We answer some common questions about our milk supply products

products_breastfeedingHere are some answers to some common questions about our products to increase milk supply:

What are the advantages of a liquid extract over a dried herbal supplement or tea?

Motherlove liquid extracts are made with only the highest quality certified organic herbs – picked and processed at peak potency. A liquid extract maintains this quality over time and has a high rate of absorbability. Dried powdered herbs can lose potency over time, making them less effective and requiring higher dosage amounts.

What is the difference between Motherlove alcohol based extracts and the alcohol-free extracts?

Initially, both products’ herbal components are extracted in alcohol and water. An alcohol/water blend is the preferred medium as it extracts the widest range of constituents from the herbs. The amount of alcohol in the finished extract is minimal and is not contraindicated in breastfeeding, but it does have a sharp taste.

In the alcohol-free products, the alcohol is slowly steamed away without removing the important herbal constituents. Glycerin, a syrup derived from coconuts, is then added to replace the alcohol. Motherlove offers alcohol-free choices in the More Milk Plus, More Milk Special Blend, More Milk Two, and Fenugreek products. All capsules are also alcohol-free.

Does the alcohol affect my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a small amount of alcohol is compatible with breastfeeding, and that alcohol is out of breast milk within two hours after consumption. Our alcohol-based tinctures contain a very small amount of alcohol, about the equivalent of one glass of wine consumed over a 2- week timeframe. If there is a concern about alcohol content, Motherlove does have alcohol-free liquid extracts and vegetarian capsules available.

What is the difference between Motherlove’s liquid extracts and Motherlove’s capsules?

Initially the herbal components in all our formulas are extracted in grain alcohol and water, resulting in what is commonly known as a tincture. For our alcohol-free extracts the alcohol is then slowly removed without destroying the important herbal constituents. Glycerin, derived from coconuts, is added in place of the alcohol; acting as a natural preservative and giving the tincture a sweeter taste. To make our capsules, we again remove the alcohol and add coconut oil and soy lecithin as a natural preservative. This is then encapsulated in a vegetarian capsule. The liquid extracts and the capsules have the same herbal strength per dose. Liquid extracts are more quickly absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth than the capsules, which take about 1/2 hour to digest and enter the system. Many women prefer the capsules due to the strong taste of the liquid extracts.

Are Motherlove products gluten-free?

Yes, all Motherlove products are gluten-free.

Are there any known side effects from Motherlove products?

Commonly, fenugreek may cause increased perspiration, gas and/or loose stools, and the body may excrete a maple syrup-like smell when taking it alone. Both fenugreek and goat’s rue can lower blood sugar levels. Women who are insulin dependent or hypoglycemic may want to consult with a health care provider prior to use. As with any ingested food or product, if adverse effects appear in mother or baby, discontinue use.

Are allergic reactions to Motherlove herbal extracts possible?

Any ingested food has the potential for allergic reaction. Motherlove’s liquid extracts do not contain any dairy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, gluten or soy. The vegetarian capsules do contain non-GMO soy lecithin. Fenugreek and goat’s rue are in the legume family, as are soy and peanuts. Those with allergies to plants in this family should use these products with caution. Discontinue use if side effects appear in mother or baby.

Can Motherlove products be used with other medications?

Our products can be taken along with many other medications. Please call us with any concerns. We keep books on file to research specific contraindications with the herbs we use in our products and other medications. Please consult a health care practitioner with contraindication concerns.

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Meet our latest product: Motherlove Tattoo Care!

Our new Motherlove Tattoo Care salve is the perfect product to soothe, moisturize, protect, Motherlove tattoo careand heal your new tattoo!

Motherlove Tattoo Care is made with 100% certified organic ingredients and is handcrafted in Colorado using the same tried and true ingredients that have been in our products for over 20 years.

This thoughtful formulation of herbs provides optimal moisturizing and healing properties, yet retains a consistency that is comfortable to apply.  Unlike petroleum based products, Motherlove Tattoo Care allows the skin to breathe, promotes quicker healing, and allows ink to fully penetrate the skin.

Motherlove Tattoo Care is made with certified organic calendula flowers and marshmallow root, infused in extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter.  The ratio of each ingredient has been carefully formulated to provide optimal moisture and healing properties, while retaining a consistency that is comfortable to apply while tattooing or applying to a fresh tattoo.

Olive oil serves as the moisturizing base of the salve.  It holds the herbal properties while allowing the skin to breathe, promoting quicker healing time.  Shea butter softens the skin as well as adding to the moisturizing constituents of the salve.  Beeswax thickens the salve and allows it to “stick” somewhat to the skin so that it can hold over the sensitive area longer.

We also think our Tattoo Care salve is special because of what’s not in it!  It contains no petroleum, no synthetic ingredients, no parabens, and no artificial preservatives.  It’s certified cruelty free, and certified organic.

Petroleum and lanolin products can pull the ink away from the skin and can clog the pores, causing a longer healing time.  Our Motherlove Tattoo Care salve contains ingredients which keep pores from getting clogged.  This promotes a quicker healing time.

Learn more, see our growing gallery of user submitted tattoos, and order online at our Motherlove Tattoo Care page!

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A guide to the symbols on Motherlove products

Ever wonder what those little symbols on body care products mean?  We thought we’d explain the meaning and importance of the symbols you’ll find on our products.

bunnies(1)The Leaping Bunny is a symbol marking a product as “cruelty free.”  This means that the product and its ingredients were not tested on animals.  These products are certified ‘cruelty free’ under the internationally-recognised Humane Cosmetics or Humane Household Products Standards.  Some products say “no animal testing” or “against animal testing,” but only products with this symbol are certified as entirely cruelty free.USDA_Organic_Logo

The USDA Organic symbol recognizes that a product is certified to contain at least 95% organic ingredients.  Organic ingredients are certified to have been raised without the use of  synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and certified organic products cannot contain artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors, or genetically modified ingredients.  In addition to this symbol, all of our labels identify which ingredients are organic.

recycle2The familiar recycle symbol on our products indicates that the product is recyclable.  We use glass containers for many of our products because they can be recycled into new glass products (and unlike plastic, glass can be endlessly recycled).  You can read more about the many reasons why we use glass packaging for many of our products.

In addition to these labels, all Motherlove products are rated as “zero” (zero toxins) by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.  Motherlove was also recently named a “Champion” (the highest level of compliance) of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.  The Compact is a voluntary pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible, and fully disclose product ingredients.  You can learn more on body care ingredients to avoid on our blog.

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Concerned about stretch marks? Here are some natural ways to prevent and minimize them.

Little Girl Kissing New Sibling to BeStretch marks may be a rite of passage for most women in pregnancy – 75 to 90% of us get them.

But stretch marks can sometimes be prevented or minimized with some simple, natural measures.

How do stretch marks start and progress?  It’s no surprise that stretch marks in pregnancy are a result of the rapid stretching of the skin on your belly, breasts, and related areas.  They often start as red, pink, purple, brown, reddish brown, or dark brown, depending on your skin tone.   Later they often turn to a white or silver color, sometimes with deep indentations.  There is some evidence that the likelihood of having them is hereditary.  So if your mom had them, you may be more likely to have them, too.  Factors such as being a younger age at pregnancy, having a bigger baby or larger weight gain, and higher body mass index are associated with higher risk of having stretch marks.

Once stretch marks have reached the silver or white color, often with deep indentations, it’s harder to treat them.  But at earlier stages, and before they’ve appeared at all, there are some simple and natural steps you can take to prevent or minimize them.

Start early.  As we noted, treating skin before stretch marks appear, or while they’re in the early stages, will increase the chances of minimizing them.  The greatest risk for stretch marks is in the third trimester when your belly is stretching the most, so start with these recommendations early in your pregnancy.

Moisturize.  Keeping skin moisturized makes it more elastic and more able to stretch without damage.  Moisturize several times a day with a product rich in oils your skin can absorb.  Water based products will sit on top of your skin, but oil based products like our Pregnant Belly Salve and Pregnant Belly Oil will hydrate your skin and keep it pliable.

Hydrate.  Keeping yourself well hydrated on the inside is not only good for your baby, it may help your skin stay less dry and more elastic.  Choose filtered water over juices, which spike your blood sugar and are missing the fiber of whole fruit.  And avoid caffeinated beverages because they contribute to dehydration.

Eat for healthy skin.  Consider these tips for a diet rich in skin-supporting vitamins and fats, including Vitamin A, C, E, and omega 3 fatty acids, as well as collagen.  Note that supplementation with Vitamin A can cause birth defects, so aim to get your vitamins from whole foods and a prenatal vitamin.

Exercise for healthy weight gain.  Above we mentioned that higher weight gain and having a higher birth weight baby are associated with stretch marks.  Not all of our pregnancy weight gain is within our control, but an exercise program approved by your health care provider may help you keep your weight gain in a healthy range, decreasing the risk of stretch marks.  If you have gestational diabetes, and so are at risk of having a higher birth weight baby, working with your providers to control your blood sugar is an effective way to control your baby’s birth weight and prevent stretch marks, too.

Control itching with soothing herbs.  Stretch marks are often itchy, and scratching them can cause further damage to your skin.  So choose a moisturizer which contains herbs which soothe irritated skin.  Our and Pregnant Belly Salve and Pregnant Belly Oil contain herbs such as chamomile and calendula which naturally soothe itchy skin.

Stick to safe ingredients.  As with all body care products you use during pregnancy, be sure that the ingredients in the moisturizer you use are free of harmful chemicals.  Our Pregnant Belly Oil and Pregnant Belly Salve both have “zero” ratings (the safest) on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

There are laser treatments for stretch marks which you can investigate, and other topical treatments using chemical ingredients.  But for natural prevention and minimizing of stretch marks, we recommend these simple steps.

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Meet the pampering and protective herbs in our Pregnant Belly Salve and Oil

products_pregnancyYour pregnant belly deserves great care and attention, and our Pregnant Belly Salve and Pregnant Belly Oil are made with herbs which soothe, protect, and pamper.

Our oil and salve helps prevent stretch marks and relieves the itch of stretching skin, using certified organic herbs.  Each herb offers unique soothing and protecting properties.

Marshmallow, the progenitor of modern day commercial marshmallows, is an herb with varied uses.  It can be eaten – raw or slightly cooked, makes an excellent soup thickener, and the roots can be used as a meringue substitute.  Mallow softens skin and soothes skin irritations, boils, stings, and runny sores.  In a tea, it soothes mucus membranes, swollen glands, and irritations of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract.

Lavender is a beautiful perennial plant with a familiar clean and soothing scent.  It grows up to two feet tall with many branches of gray-green linear leaves. Its very aromatic purple flowers, which grow on terminal spikes, are gathered just before opening and used to relieve headaches, depression, exhaustion, and to promote relaxation and sleep. They are also used in herbal body care and aromatherapy in sachets and sleep pillows; relaxing baths; antiseptic face washes, steams, and toners; and creams and oils to relieve aches and pains.  Lavender also helps to minimize scarring.

Rose is the classic flower with a wonderful aromatic smell that has inspired much poetry. But did you know that once the flower petals fall off what’s left is a valuable seedpod, called rose hips?  The hips are very high in Vitamin C.   You can use them to make a tea to relieve cold symptoms, or puree into a syrup or jelly mixed with applesauce. Rose hip oil helps prevent scarring.  Roses are known to hydrate the skin and are wonderful to use for a face wash, steams and herbal baths. You can even put the flower petals on cuts to stop bleeding.

Calendula is an easily planted annual with orange and yellow flowers and alternate leaves. The unusual curlicue seedpods easily reseed themselves. This herb is an all purpose skin healing herb used to stop bleeding, wash wounds, heal cuts, abscesses, rashes, boils, chapped skin, and eczema. It relieves muscle cramps, painful swellings, hemorrhoids, and insect bites. It can be used in a footbath on swollen feet and as an eyewash on sore, tired eyes. A hair rinse including calendula reduces dandruff.  The orange and yellow petals of this edible flower are a colorful addition to salads.

Chamomile is a highly aromatic herb which many of us drink as a relaxing and calming tea.  It has finely cut leaves and small, many rayed white flowers with yellow centers that bloom daily throughout its growing season. It’s a gentle herb to drink for its calming effect on children and adults. It is also used to relieve indigestion, gas, and diarrhea. It can be used on sores, rashes, scaly skin, sunburn, and windburn, to soften skin and to reduce wrinkles. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties for use on sprains, strains, and sore muscles. A hair rinse with chamomile even brings out blond highlights.

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Witch Hazel can be a mom’s best friend

Witch_hazel_blossom_TruroWitch Hazel is an herb many mothers come to swear by after pregnancy and childbirth, and we thought we’d take a moment to share some details about this powerful (some mothers might say sanity saving!) plant.

But first, what does this plant have to do with witches?  It’s likely an etymological mix-up, stemming from the Middle English term “wiche,” which means pliant or bendable and has nothing to do with witches.  Or perhaps the use of the branches of the plant as divining rods is related the name.

Witch hazel is a shrub or small tree growing in the rich soils of the eastern part of the United States.  The star shaped leaves become brilliant colors in the fall while the round fruits, which have projections, shoot their seeds several feet as they ripen.

Witch hazel leaves and bark contain astringent tannins which stop internal and external bleeding. Both the bark and leaves are used to treat hemorrhoids, varicose veins, swelling and bruises, and sore nipples. Internally it stops diarrhea, vaginal discharge and excess menses. Witch hazel is an ingredient found in eye drops and many skin ointments. It was used widely by Native Americans for medicinal purposes.

And of course it’s used widely after childbirth to soothe sore perineal muscles, reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and help ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids.  Used in a bath, as a spray directly on tissues or on a pad, or as a balm on hemorrhoids, it’s an effective herbal remedy recommended by moms and doctors alike.

Witch Hazel is a key ingredient in our Rhoid Balm, Sitz Bath, Sitzbath Spray, and Sitz Bath Concentrate.

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons

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