skincare

Collagen Essentials & Herbs for Boosting Your Levels

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Donkey skin trended as a skincare supplement in first century China - its collagen content believed to reverse the natural effects of aging. Today, collagen is a top ingredient in skincare and beauty products. Collagen makes up 30% of the total proteins in our body and 70% of the protein in our skin. In addition, collagen provides structural support to the extracellular space of connective tissues. Because it’s resistant to stretching, collagen gives elasticity to the connective tissues that affect our hair, skin, nails, teeth, bones, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. By replacing dead skin cells in our skin, collagen supports skin elasticity and rejuvenation. When it comes to our joints and tendons, in the simplest terms, it’s the “glue” that helps hold the body together. Little surprise, then, that it has been so highly esteemed.

Collagen is composed of a three chain of the amino acids glycine, lysine, and proline, that form a triple helix. Glycine needs B vitamins for its synthesis and holds the triple helix shape tightly wound together which allows collagen to resist stretching. Lysine is essential, which means it is not produced in the body and has to come from an outside source. Vitamin C allows the conversion of lysine and proline into hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine which complete the triple helix. Your body needs all three of these amino acids to produce collagen, but vitamin C or B-vitamin deficiency will inhibit the production!

Collagen production naturally declines as we age, but simply ingesting animal collagen, will not translate directly into new collagen in your body. Plant based collagen supplies the body with the necessary amino acids and vitamins to support its own production.

The “bone mender” category of herbs are naturally high in silica, calcium and minerals, which basically assist in bone strength and healing. Some of these herbs are astringent and also contain mucous - an essential glue (a demulcent quality) in the plant, that, once metabolized, becomes an incredibly powerful food for our bones, connective tissue, skin, etc.

Horsetail is one of the oldest plants on the planet. It is rich in naturally occurring calcium, magnesium, potassium and bioavailable silica. Silica is an essential trace mineral that restores weak connective tissues in blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, and in collagen–the body glue that helps hold our skin and muscle tissues together. Silica plays an important role in the development, strengthening, and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and speeds the healing of bone fractures. It is said to help rheumatism and arthritis by improving the elasticity of the joints, and is recommended to athletes for sprains, pulled hamstrings, and torn ligaments.

He Shou Wu, or fo-ti, is an adaptogenic herb that allows the body to counter and resist destructive stressors. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 3,000 years. According to legend, the man who first discovered fo-ti was delighted to find that with regular use, it revived his natural dark hair color and sexual virility. Since that time, fo-ti has been regarded as a “youthful tonic,” or “elixir of life. There are thousands of first-person reports and a handful of clinical studies of Fo-Ti demonstrating a remarkable ability to reverse hair loss and restore rich color to white or graying hair. Although the mechanisms are not completely understood, substances with a marked harmonizing effect on the endocrine system (hormone-producing glands) and high zinc content tend to have beneficial effects on hair growth and restoration.

Gynostemma contains over 80 different saponins (gypenosides) compared to the 28 found in ginseng, a class of chemical compounds found in particular abundance in various plant specifies. More specifically, they are amphipathic glycosides grouped phenomenologically by the soap-like foam. Gynostemma is a natural antioxidant and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Many people suggest that it is one of the best adaptogens found in nature and if you are unfamiliar with the term, they are also referred to as “biological response modifiers.” It contains two very important antioxidants: glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Glutathione is an antioxidant naturally found in human cells that neutralizes free radicals, boosts the immune system and detoxify the body. It can also cause skin lightening by converting melanin to a lighter color and deactivating the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps produce the pigment. It also reduces signs of aging, including fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, diarrhea and poor balance. Superoxide dismutase is arguably the body’s most crucial antioxidant, as it is responsible for disarming the most dangerous free radicals of all: the highly reactive superoxide radicals. Its demulcent qualities grant an extraordinary nourishing power to the gut. It helps flush the intestinal walls, causing it to be regarded for weight loss.

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Nettles contain a high amount of calcium, silica, and sulfur, making it an excellent source to help boost collagen receptors. Nettles are often used in beauty products like shampoo and soap, as it restores and repairs. It is known for its antiseptic qualities. Stinging nettle is a valuable tonic that can support our immune system, spleen, circulatory system, urinary tract, nervous system, respiratory tract, digestive system and endocrine system, including the adrenals, thyroid, and the pancreas. Nettle is also a multivitamin! It contains calcium (according to some sources, one cup of infused nettles contains 300-500 mg of calcium), carotene, magnesium, vitamin A, B + K, Potassium, and protein. *The combination of Horsetail & Stinging Nettle is used for the building of strong bones*, repair of joint cartilage, to strengthen fingernails, and/or stimulate hair growth. Horsetail's predominant element, natural occurring silicon (up to 70%) is the key ingredient to its curative properties while Stinging Nettles contains a very high source of digestible iron.

Calendula has been used since ancient times for its phenomenal abilities to restore skin, assist in wound healing and activate collagen receptors to increase the glow. In folk medicine it has been used to prevent wrinkles as it’s said to oxygenate the blood, and increasing overall circulation. The antibacterial and immuno-stimulant properties of the plant make it extremely useful in treating slow-healing cuts and cuts in people who have compromised immune systems.

Comfrey has been cultivated for healing since 400 BCE. All Materia Medica from the Middle Ages forward carried descriptions on the uses of comfrey. Comfrey is a bone strengthening herb, that is very high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. In folk medicines it is referred to as “knit-bone” as there are countless of reports demonstrating its strong anti-inflammatory effects and speedy wound healing. Its natural concentration of allantoin is what makes it effective with internal and external repairs of broken bones or tissue.

- by Mercy Tyne for Supernatural

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Featured in Well+Good: 3 Plants That Can Give Your Skin A Boost When Fall Hits

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You know winter usually wreaks havoc on your skin (hello, majorly dry air), but as your face faces the impending cold front, is there anything you can actually do to prep your complexion in advance?

According to Rachelle Robinett, holistic health practitioner and founder of Supernatural, there is—it just requires hoarding some proverbial acorns (ahem, plant-rich skin-care essentials).

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Lavender

Lavender isn’t just for your diffuser. The purple flower is a key ingredient for fall skin care, according to Robinett.

“Amid the busyness of fall, if there’s one herb to keep on-hand, this may be it,” Robinett says. “It’s a calm-creating plant, known for giving us a sense of wellbeing without being too uplifting nor sedating. Think of it as peace in plant form.”

“Amid the busyness of fall, if there’s one herb to keep on-hand, [lavender] may be it.”

Play up that soothing effect with Weleda’s Lavender Creamy Body wash. The gentle formula adds extra hydration with sesame oil for another nourishment boost, too. Turn on a steamy shower, lather up, and feel the tranquil vibes.

Rosemary

Robinett cites literature to talk about rosemary’s reported mindfulness powers. “In Hamlet, Ophelia says to her brother Laertes, ‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance,'” Robinett says. That’s why she likes to have rosemary on hand for a mid-day pick-me-up.

“I use rosemary in essential oil form…essentially as a caffeine replacement,” she says. “[I] warm it between my palms and then inhale deeply from them. It’s such an enlivening and also calming experience.”

The rosemary leaf extract in Weleda’s Skin Food can help give tired skin (sound like winter skin to anyone?) a dose of glow. The ultra-rich moisturizer is a universal salve for rough elbows and hands, and acts like a layer of deep hydration for your face, too.

Wild Rose

“Fall (and winter) can be ideal times to recover from sun damage that may have been done in the summer,” Robinett says. “It’s still important to protect against the sun all year long, but when there’s less of it, we can go a little deeper with brightening, exfoliating, or corrective actions.”

Her pick for a skin-boosting plant is wild rose, which she praises as a full-spectrum herbal remedy. “Vitamin C, which rose is high in, is commonly relied on for making skin feel smooth,” she explains. “This is one ingredient I’d seek out in serums, moisturizers, and masks, especially.”

Snag a moisturizing body oil that owes its silky smoothness to a bouquet of wild rose oils (plus hydrating sweet almond and jojoba oils in Weleda’s Pampering Body & Beauty Oil), and head into fall with your best, most moisturized face forward.

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This post originally appeared on Well+Good, here.