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Organic food, produce, and supplies: What does it mean?

Organic food, produce, and supplies: What does it mean?

The world is changing by the minute, even regarding food, farming, and product manufacturing.

Organic products have been gaining popularity for some time now. However, everyone has opinions on organic food and other organic products. Some think organic food is safer, healthier, and tastier than conventionally grown food, while others believe it’s better for the environment and the well-being of animals.

Many blindly search for organic food while not being sure exactly what it means for a product to be organic or what they are paying for.

So, what does organic food mean?

The first thing you need to know about organic products?

Organic means to be certified by an independent third party.

To label a product as organic, a producer or manufacturer needs the services of a regulatory body to use their organic and natural logo on their product’s labelling.

The producer or manufacturers need to:

  • Meet all the specific requirements of the particular regulatory body
  • Pay the annual fee

These standards are also why we live in a strange world where less processed is more expensive. Organic is costly. It’s costly for the producer, manufacturers, and in the end, the consumer. Many farmers almost comply, but can’t meet all the regulations, pay the fees, and keep their prices competitive enough to stay in business.

Who are the organic certification bodies in South Africa?

There are two main certification bodies used in South Africa:

Ecocert

Ecocert is a global certification board.

They are a historical player in organic farming certification and are renowned for their competence and independence. From the first audit to issuing the certificate, their teams evaluate and ensure that your activities comply with your chosen specifications.

Ecocert’s 5-step certification process:

  • Request: You contact them requesting a specific label, and they advise you on which certification best suits your needs.
  • Contract: You sign a contract with them managing particular criteria.
  • Initial audit: Their auditors make on-site visits to check the compliance of your systems, practices and products with the corresponding standards.
  • Review of your certification file: Their certification officers review the conclusions of the audit report to decide if certification may be granted.
  • Certification: Their team issue your certificate. At this point, you can display the logo associated with the standard on your labels with transparent communication.

CERES – CERtification of Environmental Standards

The CERES certification board provides organic certification for products in South Africa and worldwide.

CERES offers certification for:

  • Organic farming and food processing
  • Organic textiles
  • Good Agricultural and Good Manufacturing Practices in the food industry
  • Other certifications according to several agricultural sustainability standards

International certification bodies:

Organic certification bodies in South Africa

What are the standard criteria for organic certification?

Organic fresh food:

Organic fresh food includes all fresh food, including organic fruits, vegetables, and meat.

The farm in question needs to be certified as organic or bio-dynamic. The process takes three years initially and requires renewal every year. Seeds, soil, and treatment agents are inspected to meet specific criteria. The most important standards for fresh produce to be organic are:

  • No use of synthetic pesticides
  • No use of synthetic fertilised
  • No use of synthetic herbicides
  • No GMOs are allowed
  • No synthetic preservatives on the final product
  • No irradiation on the final product

Are there any local certified organic farms in South Africa?

Yes, there are two that we are aware of at the moment in SA. Wensleydale Farms is in Centurion; they offer fresh organic produce and organic packaged food. The other, Tierhoek Organic Farm, provides a selection of dehydrated organic fruits and vegetables, a few jams, and other organic condiments.

There are specific criteria for organic food and farming

Packed organic foods:

With packed foods, organic certification becomes even trickier, as there is usually more than one ingredient involved, and most packaged foods need preservatives to have a shelf-life.

The typical criteria for certified organic packaged foods:

  • All ingredients must be organic
  • No synthetic preservatives
  • No synthetic additives such as colourants, flavourings, flavour enhancers
  • No irradiation is allowed.
  • No GMO ingredients

There are also only a few South African brands with certified organic packaged foods. These brands include Wensleydale Farms, Absolute Organix, Soaring Free Superfoods, Kapthura, and Kapruka.

Cosmetics and beauty products:

Organic cosmetics are very rare and hard to find. This scarcity exists because all ingredients in the product must be certified organic, and therefore, very few preservatives. The only component that cannot be certified as organic is water as water is organic.

As a result of the strict criteria surrounding certified organic beauty products, most ranges are typically labelled and classified as natural, not organic.

Standard criteria for organic/natural certification in beauty products:

  • All ingredients (except water) must be natural or organic
  • No irradiation
  • No GMO ingredients
  • Certain processes are prohibited
  • No synthetic ingredients with harmful side effects
  • The percentage of natural ingredients or from a natural source is listed, and organic ingredients are listed

The most well-known certified beauty product range in South Africa is Esse skincare, a proudly South African brand that carries Ecocert’s logo on all its products.

Cleaning products:

There are no regulations for cleaning products as it’s nearly impossible to certify them as organic. The term “natural’ usually applies to safer and more environmentally friendly cleaning products.

The most important thing for certification of cleaning products is to be non-toxic and bio-degradable.

Supplements:

Organic supplements are also mostly labelled as natural, not organic, as the range of ingredients complicates matters and the certification criteria are similar to packaged food. Organic certification for supplements is rare; however, we stock a few certified organic supplements.

Ranges with organic supplements include Earthier and Source of Life Garden, a product from Natures Plus.

How can I make sure I choose organic food and products?

How do I check if the organic claims on the label are valid?

  1. Check the ingredients list.
  2. The product is neither natural nor organic if the ingredients are not listed.
  3. Check for logos of certification bodies such as Ecocert or Ceres.
  4. Visit the farm and speak to the owner.
  5. Buy from trusted shops such as Organic Choice, where we verify the above and won’t sell any products that don’t meet our clean and transparent ingredients policy.

If you’d like to keep your shopping as clean as possible but struggle to find certified organic products for everything – you are not alone.

At Organic Choice, we verify farmers’ organic claims by visiting the farms to inspect if what the owners say is true regarding soil treatment, quality of feed and use of pesticides and herbicides.

We can also recommend speaking to markets, as some do their independent verification for the quality of their suppliers’ produce and products.

Kefir, Yogurt, Amasi and Buttermilk – What’s the difference?

Kefir, Yogurt, Amasi and Buttermilk – What’s the difference?

Kefir, Yogurt, Amasi and buttermilk are all made from milk, yet they do not taste the same, have different textures, and we use them differently.

They may all be dairy, but they are not the same.

To get the facts, we spoke to Mandy from Mooberry Farms, and what we found may surprise you.

Buttermilk or Amasi?

First, we need to clear up the buttermilk story.

Traditionally, we made buttermilk from the fermented liquid left over after churning cultured cream into butter. Remember, we did not always have the luxury of the fridge and fermenting used to be a big part of the preservation of many products.

The leftover liquid was left to sit for some time so the cream and the milk would separate naturally. At this stage, the naturally occurring bacteria would start fermenting the milk.

This slightly fermented cream would then quickly be churned into butter with a better shelf life due to a slightly lower pH than can keep harmful bacteria at bay.

With the mechanical separation of cream and milk and refrigeration’s advent, we made butter from fresh cream instead. At this point, the buttermilk had to be inoculated with a starter culture, and this product was still very similar to traditional buttermilk.

Buttermilk is not kefir – but maybe it’s amasi. 

So technically, buttermilk is not made of milk but cream and the water in the cream. Since butter is the fat part of the cream, traditional buttermilk is relatively low in fat.

But that’s how it used to be.

These days buttermilk, or cultured buttermilk, as we know it, is made from milk in the same way as amasi.

In fact, it’s the same thing – it’s only named differently as this is how people are used to it.

Amasi or cultured buttermilk is basically sour milk, and we can make it in the traditional way of leaving the milk to ferment at room temperature. Alternatively, amasi is made by adding an amasi starter culture or some leftover amasi from a previous batch into your fresh milk.

This method of making amasi can be done even after the milk has been pasteurised.

The difference between buttermilk and amasi

How about soft cheeses? 

Now will be an excellent time to take a quick detour and talk about our soft cheeses, cottage and cream cheese. These two kinds of cheese are both products of amasi.

Cottage cheese 

If you are Afrikaans speaking, you will know cottage cheese as “maaskaas,” which means amasi cheese.

Cottage cheese is made by heating the amasi to 42 degrees C, removing all the whey and adding salt.

Cream cheese

Cream cheese is made by only removing the whey and creaming the product into a smooth thick creamy cheese.

Where does yoghurt fit in? 

Now that we have that sorted out, the next natural question could be, “Is yoghurt also sour milk?” Technically, the answer is yes.

However, the cultures used in yoghurt differ from those used to make amasi. Yoghurt is fermented at a higher temperature and for a shorter time than amasi, and the end product is a slightly smoother-looking and milder tasting milk ferment.

Natural yoghurt is relatively thin, and we often use it as drinking yoghurt. In contrast, Greek yoghurt or double thick yoghurt is made by removing the whey from the natural yoghurt, reducing it to a third of the original volume. In other words, to make 1 litre of Greek yoghurt, you will need three litres of natural yoghurt.

Yoghurt is made through a different process than buttermilk and kefir

Kefir is a different story. 

Milk kefir is a mysterious cousin in the fermented milk family.

Kefir is made by inoculating fresh milk with milk kefir grains. These gelatinous grains look like tiny cauliflowers, but they are a cluster of bacteria and fungi beneficial to the human gut. We can only acquire them from other grains – we cannot make them from scratch.

Kefir grains grow and multiply on their own as long as they can feed on fresh milk. Therefore, the grains we have today all originated from the same source.

The origin of the grains is not precisely known, but it is said to have originated in the Caucasus Mountains. Thousands of years ago, nomads living in these mountains preserved their milk in goat skin bags. Remember, there were no fridges in those days, and fermentation was the best way to maintain their dairy products. They poured milk into the same skin, and the residue from the previous batch would act as the inoculation of the fresh milk. Scientists believe that the grains could have formed in these skins.

On the other hand, Legend tells stories of kefir’s divine origins.

Whatever we believe, no one knows precisely when and how kefir grains came to be, but one thing we can agree on is that these little cauliflower-like grains are a true wonder of nature.

What makes kefir so unique?

Today Milk Kefir is made the same way it has been for thousands of years. We can make kefir from pasteurised or raw milk. However, when using raw milk, you must get good quality milk from a reliable source. The grains are placed in the milk at room temperature and left for about 24 hours. In winter, it can take up to 5 days. The fermented milk is then put through a strainer to recover the grains.

The final product is thick, creamy and slightly fizzy with a tangy taste. Kefir is very low in lactose because the lactic bacteria in the grains feed on the lactose in the milk. For this reason, lactose-intolerant people can most often drink Milk kefir.

Of all the fermented milk products, kefir is without a doubt the most beneficial. On top of it containing significant amounts of Protein, Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin (B2), Magnesium and Vitamin D, it also harbours a host of seriously beneficial microorganisms that will assist with various digestive issues.

Our next article will take a closer look at these many incredible benefits.

Kefir is a unique fermented milk

Milk is milk, right?

No, absolutely not! Most milk we find these days is homogenised, pasteurised, or even ultra-pasteurised. For pasteurisation, milk is heated to 74 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds and then cooled. Ultra pasteurisation means the milk is heated to 161 degrees Celsius for 2 seconds and then cooled.

Pasteurisation aims to eliminate all bacteria and extend the milk’s shelf. In the case of ultra-pasteurisation, this could be between 6 and 9 months. If you do not trust the source of your milk, pasteurisation would probably be a wise decision.

Homogenisation is the process by which the cream is broken up into smaller particles to let it mix evenly through the milk instead of rising to the top. This process is done by forcing the milk through a tiny valve under high pressure.

What should I look for when buying kefir and other dairies?

Manipulating milk in this way comes with a price.

The harm caused by high heat pasteurisation heavily outweighs any benefit you may reap.

In an upcoming article, we will investigate the facts and myths around pasteurised and raw milk. One important thing to know is that good farming practices are essential to producing healthy dairy.

You want to look for milk produced from pasture-raised cows, not given hormones or antibiotics. Healthy cows make healthy milk. Low heat pasteurised milk will be your best bet if you want to use pasteurised milk. But more about this next time.

Our best source of milk is Mooberry Farms.

Their milk is from pasture-raised cows and is hormone and antibiotic-free. Nothing added!

Mooberry milk is available raw and pasteurised, and it is not homogenised, so you get a lovely thick layer of cream on top just as nature intended!

Raw Honey vs Conventional Honey

Raw Honey vs Conventional Honey

Raw honey is a well-known sweetener, remedy, and treatment for skin and health issues. It’s been used by humans for healing purposes for over 6000 years!

Did you know that in 2015, archaeologists found 3,000-year-old honey in Egyptian tombs – and it was still perfectly edible?

Honey is low in water and high in sugar, making it antibacterial and allowing it to last thousands of years.

It’s clear honey is a superfood for many reasons: its antibacterial purposes, wound-healing properties, micronutrient value, and so much more. However, many of these health benefits are specific to raw, not regular (store-bought) or organic honey.

How is raw honey different from regular honey? 

Raw honey has not gone through any chemical or heating processes to refine the honey.

However, conventional/regular honey found in grocery stores has been filtered to achieve a uniform texture. The filtration process removes beneficial small particles such as pollen and propolis.

Store-bought honey is also often irradiated, which is another method of processing applied to make sure any pathogenic spore or microorganisms are destroyed. Unfortunately, irradiation kills most of the beneficial properties in honey.

Take Note: South African import regulations require that all imported honey is irradiated. Therefore, you will only be able to find local raw honey – this is an excellent opportunity to support local businesses.

The best place to find quality raw honey is to buy it from a trusted local producer.

Is raw honey the same as pure honey? 

Raw honey is taken from the hive and strained to remove impurities, debris and dead bees. Its appearance is somewhat murky as it still contains tiny particles of bee pollen and propolis.

This is entirely normal; in fact, many of raw honey’s benefits lie in the remaining pollen and propolis. Pure honey means there are no additives, and the honey is not mixed with corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners.

Is organic honey considered raw honey?

Organic honey is not always raw. Honey can be certified as organic but be pasteurised.

Organic Honey needs to be certified by an independent control agency such as Ceres South Africa or Eco-Cert (in France). For honey to be organic, the land from which the bees collect nectar must be certified as organic.

An organic farm is one where synthetic pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones and other harmful ingredients are not allowed and are never used. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are also not allowed in organic farming.

Since bees fly about 2-3 km from their beehive, it’s nearly impossible to certify honey as organic since neighbouring farms are not certified organic.

Take note: Finding organic honey with the correct certification is not possible in South Africa as there are currently (when this article was written) no certified organic honey farms.

Organic honey refers to the environment where the honey is made, whereas raw honey refers to the processes.

Health Benefits of Raw Honey 

It contains a variety of micronutrients. 

The nutrition content varies significantly due to the way its created. It generally contains about 15g of carbohydrates in one tablespoon, similar to a tablespoon of sugar. However, in contrast with sugar, honey has many antioxidants, enzymes, and micronutrients (also known as vitamins and minerals).

The micronutrients in raw honey are varying amounts of the following:

  • zinc
  • riboflavin
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • pantothenic acid
  • niacin
  • manganese
  • magnesium
  • calcium

Honey has wound-healing properties. 

Because of honey’s antimicrobial properties, some research suggests that honey may help fight microbial infections or aid in wound healing.

It’s a good source of antioxidants. 

Raw honey contains an array of plant chemicals that act as antioxidants. Some types of honey have as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals.

Free radicals contribute to the ageing process and may also contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Raw honey can also contain bee pollen and bee propolis. This may have potential protective effects on the respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems and even has the potential for cancer treatment.

Ask your pharmacist for medication, ointment, or skincare products containing honey.

It contains phytonutrients. 

Phytonutrients help protect plants from harm by, for instance, keeping bugs away or shielding the plant from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

These phytonutrients give honey its antioxidant and antibacterial superpowers.

Unfortunately, many of the intense processes used to create regular honey can destroy these valuable nutrients – making raw honey a better option for some.

Can soothe sore throats and coughs. 

Honey is an old sore throat remedy that soothes the pain and helps with coughs. Many people add it to hot tea with lemon when a cold virus hits.

Though more research is needed, it is suggested that honey could be superior to other forms of care to improve upper respiratory tract infections.

It can even counter inflammation in your brain.

Honey may even be beneficial for your brain health!

Some studies show that raw honey can even help prevent inflammation in the area of the brain involved in memory.

Potential Risks of Eating Raw Honey

Raw honey is a mostly safe and beneficial addition to your diet, but it may not be safe for everyone. It has some risks, including:

It can cause botulism in infants. 

According to ADSA (Association for Dietitians in South Africa), you should never give honey to babies under one year.

Honey contains dust particles that may carry bacteria that can cause botulism. Because young children and infants do not have strong immune systems, botulism can be incredibly dangerous.

Honey is a common allergen.

Honey allergies may not be as common as egg or nut allergies, but it’s still quite a common allergy. Food allergies usually manifest in the digestive tract and can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting.

Therefore, always check to ensure your guests do not have any allergies before serving them food containing honey.

Always check with your guests for allergies before serving food containing honey

Buying Raw Honey in South Africa

It’s essential to buy your raw and organic products from trusted suppliers.

However, keep the following facts in mind when looking for it:

  • You won’t find raw, organic honey in South Africa as there are currently no certified organic honey farms, and all imported honey is irradiated.
  • Since imported honey is always irradiated, it is a healthier choice to buy raw, local honey.
  • Always check the label and read the ingredients list. If it says only “Honey”, it is probably a cheap mixture of honey with sugar syrup or only flavoured honey syrup.
  • If the country of origin is “South Africa and China and Uruguay”, – this honey has been

Always ensure you use a natural product supplier that continually provides the best quality. You’ll also need to trust your supplier, meaning, if the label claims to be raw honey – that it is what you’ll find inside as well.

Look for a label with the words “pure raw honey” and “local” or country of origin “South Africa” only. Organic produce or grocery stores, health food stores, and farmer’s markets are all places to look for raw honey.

Organic Choice stocks all the raw honey products that you might need – give it a try for its delicious taste and incredible benefits!

What is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda

Overview of Ayurveda

Ancient Indian physicians were on the cusp of something great when Ayurvedic medicine came into use around 5000 years ago.

Ayurveda is a body of practices concerned with yoga, nutrition, herbs and lifestyle. It can be considered the foundation of natural medicines and is widely practiced and accepted in its country of origin India.

For a long time, everywhere except the Eastern world perceived it as alternative medicine. Today, with new research and a boost in spiritual practices, it continues to gain recognition from the Western scientific community.

Who Invented Ayurveda?

In cultural belief, Ayurveda was not something born out of the sole direction of men; it was a divine gift from Brahma. Brahma is the name given to a Hindu god celebrated as the Creator of the Universe. The commonly held belief is that Brahma transferred this knowledge of good health onto sages to the disciples and from the disciples onto people.

Ayurveda resulted from different ancient Hindu philosophies coming together and integrating certain principles as per research by Jaiswal and Williams 2017. Hindu teachings of Vaisheshika and Nyaya are what primarily built Ayurveda. These teachings, combined with the manifestation framework, Samkhya, guided the principles of this traditional medicine.

History and Origins

Ayurvedic Medicine has been around for thousands of years. This framework of medicinal practices came about as a guideline to treating disease. The methods are, for the majority, based on the human being and the human form.

According to professor V. Narayanaswamy of the College of Indian Medicine, the Ayurvedic principles remain the same irrespective of time passing. The disease and its appearance can evolve with the environment, but the human body retains its likeness throughout the ages. With this in mind, there is not much adjustment needed in the approach to the disease.

Evolution of Ayurveda

In ancient times several written texts recorded the appearance of disease, the signs, the symptoms, and the cure. Even today, practitioners and students still use this text to learn traditional medicine.

Ayurveda is a branch of medicine that developed through the writings of varying physicians. It is not one specific ancient text or link that forms the basis of Ayurveda, but instead several physicians work that covered various topics through the ages. At the time of its origins, did not confine itself to local knowledge and allowed for the incorporation of methods, treatments and medicines from other countries.

The patient’s health was prioritised over conflict, allowing health knowledge to “be taken even from an enemy for the good of the patient” according to Caraka as cited by Narayanaswamy. There were few limitations to expanding Ayurvedic medicine as practitioners sought to use an open-minded approach that only served the patient.

Ayurvedic practices

Books on Ayurveda

Two books, written at similar times, detail the main surgical and non-surgical methods of Ayurveda around 1000 BCE. The authors of which individually created ‘Charaka’ and ‘Susruta’, which became guides to Ayurvedic medicine.

These texts were challenged and adapted in successive years. Vagbhatt later merged both texts into the book ‘Astanga Hridaya’. Subsequently, 16 other books recorded novel applications and drugs while eliminating anything deemed irrelevant.

Why Ayurveda is Scientific

As with any science, the decisions to achieve good health in this school of medicine were made by observing, testing, and adjusting the ideas and theories for an improved result. Reverse pharmacology is the method used to observe the traditional usage of drugs and evaluate their effectiveness through clinical trials.

Interestingly, as early as 1500 BCE, the study of Ayurvedic medicine split into Atreya, The School of Physicians and Dhanwantari, the School of Surgeons. Surgery methods recorded contained information on prosthetic surgery, cosmetic surgery like rhinoplasty, how to perform a caesarean birth and quite surprisingly, brain surgery.

This information comes from the journal of Natural Product communications in the 2014 article called Modernization of Ayurveda: A Brief Overview of Indian Initiatives.

Classification and Efficacy

Ayurveda, classified as natural or alternative medicine, is becoming more accepted and valued in recent years. Currently, there is an increasing awareness of the side effects of conventional allopathic medicine.

Additionally, a somewhat affordable prices of Ayurveda remedies makes it more accessible and encourages usage. Cross-cultural understanding has also circulated the idea that plants are highly beneficial to health.

The WHO (World Health Organisation), as cited by authors of the Modernization of Ayurveda article, says that 3.5 billion people from developing countries turn to natural, plant medicines as the main health care.

Further, about half of all drugs in current clinical use are products based on plant and other natural ingredients.

How does Ayurveda Work?

Ayurvedic medicine aims to find the primary cause of the health problem and bring awareness to the self.

Practitioners of this set of Eastern traditional medicinal practices build their analysis on the principles of Doshas. Doshas are combinations of various defined qualities like heavy versus light, rough versus smooth, etcetera.

The three doshas are named Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Briefly, Vata, Pitta and Kapha are various combinations of the energies of space, fire, water, earth, and air. Each Dosha has two primary elements though it is composed of all five elements.

Vata is air and space, Pitta is fire and water, while Kapha is water and earth. Practitioners look at a person’s constitution which is a unique Ayurvedic identity composed of Vata, Pitta and Kapha energies. Constitutions are stagnant and specific to each person. As such, Ayurvedic medicine is not a copy and paste system, it’s quite the opposite. Treatment is individual and determined after an extensive analysis of the patient including daily habits.

Sanskrit has it that the word ‘Ayurveda’ translates to ‘science of life’. ‘Science of life’ is fitting as the goal of Ayurvedic practitioners is to achieve a balance between the body, mind, spirit and the environment. Patients may be advised to change their lifestyles to achieve balance, thereby reducing stress, symptoms and increasing health. Lifestyle changes may include a proper diet and exercise routine.

The three energies Vata, Pitta and Kapha

More about Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

According to the Ayurvedic Institute, Vata, Pitta and Kapha are different types of energy which everything is composed of. Energy is essential to the body’s function and permits movement to distribute nutrients throughout the body and perform cellular biological processes. Ayurveda medicine views Vata as movement, Pitta as metabolising or digestion and Kapha as structuring and lubricating.

A constitution is composed of all three, with one being dominant. Imbalanced doshas and toxins can be the root of disease. Balancing these three doshas so none are overpowering or deficient can improve health.

Ayurvedic medicine versus modern medicine

Ayurvedic practices use mostly plants in its purest form as opposed to modern medicine which extracts properties and even manufactures synthetic versions to add to medicines. These naturally occurring benefits aren’t duplicated through pharmaceuticals that don’t have the healthful combination of hundreds of natural phytochemicals.

As Ayurveda utilises herbs and fruit in their purest form, it can be considered as a safer alternative to allopathic medicines with less likelihood of damaging side effects.

Can this practice regrow hair?

Dermatologist, Dr Akanksha Sanghvi listed multiple natural herbal remedies to treat hair loss and promote hair growth. Ashwagandha, Brahmi and kumari (aloe vera) are among the Ayurvedic plants mentioned. Dr Sanghvi states that products that contain these ingredients may encourage hair growth.

Ayurvedic mixtures and medications as well as topical applications of oils could also help hair growth. Some oils that may help according to Ayurvedic doctor Zeel Ghandi is, palandu (onion), neem, liquorice, camphor and Brahmi. Additionally, all oils won’t work for all people as the correct oil is based on a person’s balance of the doshas.

Hair regrowth practices of Ayurvedic medicine

Can Ayurveda Treat Dandruff?

Dandruff, a common condition that causes dry flakes to fall from the head like snow, can be treated with Ayurveda. Ayurvedic Doctor, Deepak Jaju believes many options exist to minimise and clear dandruff. Combinations like coconut oil and camphor or lemon and neem, with hot oil scalp massages all aid in clearing up and reducing dandruff.

Jaju mentions that these herbal remedies should be used often to see results. Two to three weeks of continuous usage seems to be the best time frame. As a bonus, they can promote health of the hair and make it soft, strong, and smooth.

Plants of Ayurveda

Many plants in Ayurvedic medicine are well-known and used in common-households. Turmeric does double duty as a herbal remedy and a spice that is equally renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to enhance the flavour of food. This powerful spice has benefits that are too many to list though it has been used to treat skin cancer, urinary tract infections, abdominal and menstrual aches as well as increase appetite according to sources cited for Chapter 13 of Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2nd edition.

Another familiar spice is cinnamon which is frequently used in Garam masala as the foundation for curries or in Western treats like Melk tart or apple pie. In ancient India, health practices used it for nausea and vomiting, lowering blood sugar levels, and to aid in indigestion, according to Dr Sharma from the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences. Note, cinnamon can trigger allergic reactions.

Other herbal remedies are ashwagandha, Boswellia, Triphala, Brahmi, cumin, liquorice root, cardamom, pineapple, garlic, amla, aloe, sandalwood, basil, peppermint, and shatavari. Altogether there are 7000 plants and 8000 remedies recorded and codified as part of Ayurveda health practices.

Ayurveda in Food

Many well-known Ayurvedic herbal medicines have frequent use in the kitchen. The Journal of Ethnic Foods in 2015 included an article that is titled Traditional and Ayurvedic Foods of Indian Origin. The authors believe that Ayurvedic herbs have such a presence in this cuisine that many traditional Indian foods can be considered ‘Ayurvedic foods’.

A lot of recipes from India aim to incorporate antioxidants, probiotics, and a range of other nutritional benefits. Diet is intrinsically linked back to Ayurveda as it views the body as a product of what people consume. The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is treated as a philosophy.

Food, herbs, and spices as Ayurvedic medicine in India

Ayurveda in Modern Practices

In recent years, Ayurveda is getting more attention from the scientific community as it is found that multiple practices can be linked back to modern-day science.

One rather fascinating article, ‘Building bridges between Ayurveda and Modern Science’ was done by Sanjeev Rastogi for the International Journal of Ayurveda Research in 2010’. He found that the Ayurvedic practice of ‘Bhasma’ preparation was found to create nanoparticles. ‘Bhasma’ is the ash resulting from carefully burning varying minerals, metals, and herbs. Interestingly, the more the particles are burnt, the smaller the nanoparticle becomes.

Rastogi also mentioned a study exploring the medical applications of gold nanoparticles, here is an excerpt: “Another study found gold nano-particles (4 nm size) helped in increased apoptosis in B-Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Incidentally, CLL is an otherwise incurable disease predominantly characterized by resistance to apoptosis.” In short, the gold nanoparticles were healing Leukaemia by helping to trigger the natural death and removal of the cancer cells, even though the disease is normally unaffected by this function.

What this means is that there is some scientific evidence and a future possibility that ‘Bhasma’ preparations could merge more with the medical sphere and thus give more credit to Ayurveda. With increasing experimentation, it is seen that Ayurveda does not have to exist in isolation from modern medicine but can be used in conjunction with it.

Where can you get Ayurvedic Treatment?

Ayurvedic Practitioners are common in India and there is a growing number of practitioners all over the world including South Africa. Professionals had to have gone through formal educational training to achieve the title of Ayurvedic Practitioner.

Training for Ayurveda

Outside of the medical world, signs are all around that Ayurveda is becoming a more accepted and recognised practice. Ayurveda is gaining popularity due in part to the yoga boom as well as increasing interest in spiritual practices and of course globalisation. Education in this ancient medicine is becoming widespread as schools are currently operating in many countries besides India including Japan, Nepal, The Netherlands, Italy, Australia, and parts of the USA according to The Association of Ayurvedic Professionals UK.

Additionally, there is the option of distance learning for those who can’t attend in-person classes. Multiple institutions, like the California College of Ayurveda, offer online courses for international students.

Ayurveda in South Africa

Unfortunately, education is not facilitated in South Africa and interested parties would either have to study overseas or take an online course.

SAHPRA, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, categorises Ayurveda herbal medicines under Complementary Medicines as per the 2013 amendments to Act 101 of 1965. Other medicines in this category are from aromatherapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy.

Related Information: What is Rasashaastra?

Rasa shastra medicines come from Ayurveda. ‘Rasa dravyaas’ are substances that originate from animal products, minerals and metals. Ayurveda holds that any substance can be used so long as the physician is mindful and judges the ingredient accordingly.

Compared to animal and herbal based remedies, minerals must be more processed to be safe for consumption as well as effective in treating disease. These medicines can be somewhat controversial as even highly poisonous lead is processed into powder for its therapeutic properties.

Other metals used are gold, silver, copper, and iron. Bhasma preparation falls under Rasashaastra as well. The highly toxic mercury is also used in this area of Ayurveda, the idea is that mercury exhibits unique properties that can enhance the therapeutic value of other substances that it is combined with.

It is said that mercury was the inspiration for the Bhasma preparation as scientists of Ayurveda watched the fluidity of mercury and attributed its effectiveness as a treatment to this property. It should be noted that mercury goes through intensive processes to be deemed safer by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Ayurvedic treatments can be used as holistic medicine and improve your health

Ayurvedic Products Available in Store

Organic Choice stocks a range of natural medicines some of which stem from Ayurveda. There are ashwagandha products, turmeric and amla which are well known and sought after.

Organic Choice Ayurveda products are available in powder or capsule form, as an essential oil, or enrobed in a raw-honey-sweetened chocolate for a decadent, healthy snack.

The store stocks triphala powder and boswellia herbal extract among many other products essential for maintaining good health.

Ashwagandha, haritaki, amla, gokshura, shatavari, neem and mucuna each have their unique benefits:

This is a herb renowned for its adaptogenic properties, including stress-relieving, reproductive health and memory-enhancing, as well as enhancing the immune and nervous system.

It is useful for wound healing, as a laxative and to treat fungal infections as well as heart and skin diseases.

Often used in hair products, Amla is a great source of vitamin C that can work as an antibacterial, antidiabetic and antioxidant; it can also treat jaundice.

A product renowned for boosting male fertility and libido, that helps stimulate the immune system, reduce the formation of kidney stones, control muscle spasms, prevent liver damage, and can aid in stopping tumour growth.

This the traditional female herb for balancing hormones in women and alleviating menstrual cycle pain and spasms, as well as assisting with PCOS and menopausal symptoms. It is also useful for treating disorders of the nervous system, help heal ulcers and it may even suppress AIDS symptoms.

Neem has antioxidant capabilities, can help inhibit cancerous tumours forming, is an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, may help the metabolic system, can soften skin and detox the immune system.

A herb that is often recommended for anxiety & depression, and can be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. This plant poses anti-inflammatory and aphrodisiac properties and has the potential to help with treating cancer, preventing seizures and treating arthritis. Though there are a multitude of benefits for each herb, this is not a complete list and there are still many other functions.

Ayurveda is gaining recognition through globalisation, medical research, and an increase in educational opportunities surrounding this practice. Practitioners recognise the person as an individual and tailor-make their diagnoses and prescriptions. Ayurveda uses natural resources to balance a person to promote and maintain health.

Disclaimer:

Please note that everything described in this article is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. Seek professional advice from an Ayurvedic practitioner or consult your healthcare provider. Though Ayurveda products do not typically cause side effects, you should still exercise caution and discontinue usage of any product that causes discomfort. Some products could potentially trigger allergic reactions.

Organic Choice- 10/01/2022

The superfruit, Amla

The superfruit, Amla

What is Amla
Amla (Amalaki) (Phyllanthus emblica) is one of the most revered and powerful superfruits, used in Ayurveda for many generations. Amla trees grow wildly in India and their berries are filled with an abundance of nutrients, making them common ingredients for cooking recipes and medicinal potions. Amla is also known as Indian Gooseberry. The word ‘Amla’ means ‘sour’, which describes the predominant taste of the fruit, however, the actual taste of the berry is a mix of five of the six tastes (sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, and sweet). The fruit of the Amla tree is a small, yellow-green berry with a ball-like shape. Although it is called Indian Gooseberry, it is quite different than regular yellow gooseberry.
In India, the Amla tree is regarded as sacred. It is worshipped as Mother Earth or the ‘Mother’, and due to its very nourishing effect on the body, is believed to nurture humankind. It has been valued as a highly nutritious, blood purifying, and restorative fruit. And Ayurveda practitioners promote Amla as a means of balancing all three doshas – Kapha, Pitta, and Vista.

Nutritional value and health benefits of Amla
Amla is extremely rich in vitamins and minerals. It is said that Amla has 20 times more vitamin C than an orange. In fact, some sources even suggest that it may have one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C in the plant kingdom! Amla also has a significant amount of Iron, Calcium, Chromium, vitamin E, tannins, Phosphorus, and antioxidants. Its high vitamin C content helps to work wonders for hair and skin health which is reliant on vitamin C intake for the absorption and function of collagen. Good heart health is also dependent upon vitamin C as this vitamin helps to thicken and strengthen the arteries, prevent heart disease, and may even help with keeping normal cholesterol levels. There is an abundance of phytochemicals present in Amla. These nutrients, namely gallic acid, furosin, corilagin, and quercetin, assist the body in removing harmful free radicals from the body and prevent oxidative stress on a cellular level.

Amla is also rich in Chromium which is great for those with diabetes type 2. Chromium helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and improves the insulin sensitivity of the cells. This miraculous superfruit is also known for supporting healthy metabolism and digestion and aiding with elimination. Amla can improve appetite and help cleanse and protect the liver. It is important to note, however, that amla has anti-platelet properties, meaning that it can thin your blood and prevent normal blood clotting from occurring. Therefore, it is important to not take amla before surgery. If you are already on blood-thinning medication, you should discuss it with your doctor before using Amla. Amalaki is considered to be a highly esteemed rasayana (rejuvinative) for the body as a whole. This tiny but powerful fruit can help promote youthfulness, increases immunity, tonifies the whole body’s tissues, and boosts overall health.

Benefits for hair and skin
Not only is amla great for general health, but it is also perfect for improving hair and skin appearance and vitality.
If you have been struggling with hair loss, massaging your hair and scalp with amla oil (made with Amla powder and organic virgin coconut oil, or any other carrier oil) is one of the best things that you can do for your hair. Amla is literally considered a superfood for hair. Amla oil is thought to strengthen and condition follicles down to the roots. The vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients help to increase circulation in the scalp. These nutrients are also absorbed into the hair follicle which helps to provide enough oxygen and nourishment for the hair, making it stronger and decreasing hair fall. Using Amla Oil as a hair treatment acts as a conditioning agent for the hair, stimulates hair growth, combats dandruff and itchy scalp, and is even believed to prevent grey hair. Due to the high vitamin C content and prominent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Amla works wonders for reducing dandruff. Moreover, it helps in the clearing of impurities that can accumulate on the scalp and restoring optimum pH levels which aid in decreasing the itchiness of the scalp.

Amla can also be mixed with henna as its acidic nature helps to release the henna dye. The gallic acid present in amla helps to push the henna dye molecules towards an ashier tone. So, if you are looking for less copper/orange tones and instead prefer more of a reddish/brown tone, then mixing amla with henna powder will help you to achieve this.

If amla is added to a combination of henna and indigo, it will help the indigo bind with the hair more effectively. It will result in darker and much deeper brunette shades. For people with curly hair, amla works well to keep the natural curl structure. The Amla and hair dye molecules combine with the outer keratin layers of the hair, which helps to smooth frizzy, damaged hair and strengthens weak, thin strands. The result is heavier, thicker locks with looser curls. This diverse superfruit is so beneficial for the skin as well! If you mix Amla, yogurt, and honey it makes for a great face mask. This combination helps to even out skin tone and will leave it feeling tighter, smoother, and more radiant. Another effective combination is Amla powder, sugar, and Rose Water which can be used as a scrub to keep acne at bay.

Amla is a true powerhouse with versatile applications and health benefits. It is indeed the nurturer of mankind.

Chemicals to avoid in hair care and natural ingredients to use

Chemicals to avoid in hair care and natural ingredients to use

Buying personal care products is a fun routine for most of us. Most of us select products based on how appealing the label is, or if the brand is well-known from an advertisement, or by loving the smell of a product. We don’t bother reading the small print on the labels of skin and hair products, because we don’t think it matters for our health if the ingredients are natural or synthetic. We follow beautiful photos and enticing labels like “Ultra moisturising”, “Shiny and Thick Hair” or “Contains Organic Argan Oil” without a second thought. Why would it be important to know the ingredients in our hair care products? Well, just like when we eat food and the nutrients are absorbed into our intestines, a similar process takes place when applying products on our skin and hair – about 60% gets absorbed and goes directly to our bloodstream. If you think the ingredients in our hair products do not matter, you are wrong! Every product we use contributes to the cocktail of chemicals we get daily. If we want to take control of our health and wellbeing, we cannot continue to be ignorant and trust advertisements. We need to get educated on which ingredients to avoid and start making informed decisions about which beauty products and ranges to use. To help you get there, we’ve put together a list of the most common synthetic ingredients in hair care products with known negative side effects:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS):
This is a common detergent and surfactant which is used in hair and skin care products. This inexpensive ingredient’s main functions are cleansing and foaming. SLS can easily penetrate the skin, moreover, it can circulate in the body for up to five days and leave residue in the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs as was discovered by the American College of Toxicology. Our skin and hair do have a protective mechanism to prevent harmful things from entering into our bloodstream, however, SLS has been found to weaken this defence mechanism by stripping the natural protective layer on both skin and hair. This harsh industrial degreaser is a known skin irritant and linked to the weakening of the hair and contributing to dry, damaged hair and hair loss.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES):
SLES is a derivative of SLS. It is made using a process called ethoxylation and is considered milder and less irritating for the skin. The problem with SLES is that it is often contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane, a by-product and known carcinogen, which is suspected of causing harm to the kidneys. Note that 1,4 Dioxane compound will not be found on the ingredients list of your shampoo or soap, as it is a by-product.

Fragrances:
Probably one of the most ignored ingredients is fragrances, after all, why would you question it, when it is just a nice smell? Unfortunately, fragrances are highly toxic ingredients and their full chemical composition is not even disclosed due to being a trade secret. Fragrances present in hair care products are made up of more than 3000 different chemicals and can have severe adverse effects on your health. They are linked to causing liver damage, allergies, brain fog, damage to the central nervous system, obesity, asthma, contact dermatitis, organ toxicity, and even cancer.

Parabens:
They are synthetic ingredients used as preservatives in cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical products. They are a cheap and very effective agent to extend the product’s shelf life and prevent mould and bacteria growth. Parabens can be derived from a chemical that occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables, for example, carrots and blueberries. This chemical is known as para-hydroxybenzoic acid. Furthermore, the human body also produces it naturally to break down amino acids. So, why is it considered a hazardous ingredient? Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, as they mimic hormones, more specifically oestrogen. They have been found in breast cancer cells, and have also been linked to organ failure and reproductive damage.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG):
This is a petroleum-based chemical that is used to create a smooth creamy texture in products. It has been listed as a developmental toxicant, meaning it could interfere with human development and lead to genotoxicity, a process where chemicals interfere on a cellular level and cause genetic mutations, which in turn, lead to cancer.

Let’s move on to the next big one, hair dyes!

When we visit the hairdresser for our regular monthly appointment, to either cover up the grey hairs or for a fashionable colour change, we are adding more poison into the pot of toxins our bodies are already trying to fight off. Many women dye their hair regularly but are not at all aware of the consequences of continuous use of synthetic hair dyes. How hair dye works: Synthetic hair dyes work on a three-step process to achieve permanent results. It includes the use of ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and p-phenylenediamine. Firstly Ammonia is used to open up the cuticles of the hair (layers of hair proteins) so the dye molecules will be able to get into the hair shaft. Secondly, hydrogen peroxide or similar agents remove the existing hair colour molecules, strips the hair of its current colour, and lustre. And lastly, the new synthetic colours molecules are deposited deep into the hair shaft.

Some of the most common chemicals found in hair dye are:

PPD:
Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical most commonly found in dark hair dyes. It is derived from petroleum and is a type of coal-tar. Various chemicals form this coal-tar, namely benzene, naphthalene, aniline, phenols, and other chemicals. Even though this has been found to have adverse health effects, it is exempt from needing approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Research has found that when PPD is combined with Hydrogen Peroxide, it can be very toxic which may lead to cancer.

DMDM hydantoin:
This is a preservative often used as a means of killing off fungi, bacteria, and yeasts. It is most commonly used in herbicides, floor waxes, copying paper, inks, latex paints, shampoos, conditioners, and other beauty products. DMDM hydantoin releases small amounts of formaldehyde the longer that it sits on the shelf.

Lead Acetate:
A colour additive that has been used for a long time in hair dyes. It is a key ingredient in what is known as progressive dyes. These types of dyes are more specifically used for men. They allow for a gradual darkening of the hair over some time, but it has to be applied continuously until the desired colour is achieved. Lead acetate is a dangerous neurotoxin. This substance is made by treating litharge with acetic acid. It works by combining with the protein in the hair, which leads to the dark, black colour that can be achieved.

Toulene:
Toulene is an industrial solvent, also known as methylbenzene. It is a clear colourless liquid that is found naturally in crude oil and the tolu tree (tolu balsam, found in South America). The resin was used for traditional healing. Even though this solvent is found naturally, toluene itself is toxic. It has been found to cause a variety of health problems as it is a known neurotoxin, linked to birth defects, allergic reactions, and miscarriage.

Resorcinol:
A water-soluble organic compound. This white crystalline substance turns pink when exposed to light. It is most commonly used in the rubber industry for the production of tyres, as a chemical fertilisers as well as for wood bonding. This ingredient, when used in hair dyes, can cause scalp irritation and disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system.

A typical conventional hair dye contains quite a long list of ingredients similar to the below:
Creme Colourant: Aqua/Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Deceth-3, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-12, Ethanolamine, Oleth-30, Lauric Acid, Polyquaternium-6, Glycol Distearate, Sodium Metasilicate, 4-Amino-2-Hydroxytoluene, Toluene-2,5-Diamine, Hexadimethrine Chloride, Silica Dimethyl Silylate [Nano]/Silica Dimethyl Silylate, CI 77491/Iron Oxides, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Ascorbic Acid, Mica, Thiolactic Acid, Thioglycerin, 2-Methyl-5-Hydroxyethylaminophenol, Pentasodium Pentetate, Carbomer, Resorcinol, Parfum/Fragrance. (F.I.L. C22441/4). Developer Creme: Aqua/Water, Hydrogen Peroxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stannate, Trideceth-2 Carboxamide Mea, Pentasodium Pentetate, Phosphoric Acid, Ceteareth-25, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Glycerin. (F.I.L. C11321/9). Shine Enhancing Conditioner With Royal Jelly: Aqua/Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, PEG-180, Amodimethicone, Cetyl Esters, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trideceth-6, Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride, Limonene, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Cetrimonium Chloride, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Amyl Cinnamal, Royal Jelly, Parfum/Fragrance. (F.I.L. C45510/1).

The ingredients above are difficult to read and pronounce. It feels like one needs to have a degree in Chemistry to understand what they are exactly. For comparison, natural hair colour will contain only one ingredient, such as pure Henna or pure Indigo powder or a combination of plant and herbal ingredients and perhaps an essential oil or vitamin extract. Here is an ingredients list for a 100% pure herbal hair colour product:

 Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Leaf Powder, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) root powder, Juglans Regia (Walnut) shell powder, Indigofera Tinctoria (Indigo) leaf powder, Indigofera Argentea (Indigo) leaf powder, Algin, Hydrolized Wheat Protein, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Parfume (Essential oils)

Which one will you choose? The more information we have the easier and more educated our choice will be. It is not just about quick results and fashion, it is about our health and longevity. So, what can we do to hide grey hair without compromising our health?

Luckily, nature provides the answers once again. Herbs and other plants have been used for generations for dying hair and fabrics without causing negative side effects. Those safe, natural, and effective ingredients have some limitations, but they certainly won’t cause harm to our skin, hair, and overall health.

Pure Henna and Indigo powder:
Henna and Indigo have both been used for centuries for dying hair and body paint art. Indigo is also used for dying fabric blue, and henna can be used medicinally for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Henna a well-known herb used in India and has been used for body art for over 5000 years. Henna helps to seal the hair cuticle and make it stronger, which helps to prevent hair breakage and split ends. It protects the hair from environmental damage and balances the hair pH and oiliness of the hair. Henna will not lighten hair, for those with dark hair, it will add reddish highlights, brown hair will turn to a deep auburn, and blond/ light hair will go red or orange.

Indigo is of the oldest forms of hair dye. It made by squashing the leaves of the Indigofera plant. When it is used as a dye, it leaves the hair with a dark blue tinge. The powder is green in colour. If you wish to dye your hair black, henna has to be used first as a base and then rinsed, then indigo must be applied. Indigo used to be referred to as “blue gold”  as it was an expensive and rare commodity. It helps to support hair growth and may add volume to your locks. Indigo may also help to reduce dandruff and add a beautiful natural shine to your hair. Henna and Indigo can be used separately or mixed.

Some other natural products that you can use for hair masks or just everyday hair care:

Almond oil:
Almond oil has wonderful nourishing and moisturising properties. This nut oil is rich in vitamin E, Vitamin A, Zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Massage almond oil into your hair and scalp, as this can help to reduce itchiness, dryness, breakage, and split ends. Due to its extremely hydrating nature, massaging almond oil into the scalp helps to loosen dead skin cells, which will then be washed out once you shower. You can apply the almond oil to your scalp an hour before you shower, or you can leave it in overnight for even better results. Just remember that if you keep it overnight, you may want to put your hair in a plastic covering to prevent your pillow from becoming oily.

Cacao butter:
We all know that cacao butter makes up one of the most delicious foods on the planet, i.e., chocolate! But did you know that you can also use this for your hair? Cacao butter has amazing properties that can help to heal and soften your hair. It is especially great for those with curly or frizzy hair, but it has a wide variety of benefits for hair health overall. It strengthens the hair shaft, gives volume and strength to fine hair, and may help prevent hair loss due to breakage just to name a few. When you use cacao butter, make sure to heat it before you use it as it solidifies at room temperature, which is also why you should not leave it in your hair for more than 10-15 minutes. You can also use it as a conditioner, however, it is recommended that you only apply it to the ends of your hair, because otherwise, it could give your hair a weighed-down appearance.

Coconut oil:
You have probably heard about the many uses for coconut oil a variety of times, but we can’t leave it out. It has a diverse number of benefits for the hair because it is rich in lauric acid, medium-chain fatty acids, and has antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil can help to moisturise hair, protect it against protein loss, support hair growth, and fight infections and fungus. Researchers found that due to the lauric acid content of coconut oil, applying it to your hair can help reduce protein loss due to its high affinity for hair proteins and low molecular weight, which helps it to penetrate the hair shaft. A hair mask with coconut oil and few drops of tee tree oil is considered one of the most efficient natural anti-dandruff treatments.

Jojoba oil:
Jojoba oil is a magnificent oil to use for hair and skin! The oil is a liquid plant wax, derived from the seed of the Jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis). It is most commonly used to treat psoriasis, sunburn, and chapped skin, but it is also popular for hair because of its ability to unclog hair follicles and encourage hair regrowth. Jojoba oil is very rich in vitamin E and vitamin B which are essential vitamins for healthy hair. The oil also helps to restore moisture to the hair, recover split ends, getting rid of dandruff, and improving hair texture. For those of us who struggle with frizzy hair, jojoba is great at calming the frizz naturally. Simply add a bit of oil to your brush and comb through your hair for soft shiny more-manageable hair.

Essential oils:
There are a variety of essential oils that can be used for hair instead of conventional hair care products, which most often contain harmful chemicals. You have to combine them with a carrier oil or add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner.

Cedarwood
Cedarwood essential oil is extracted from the wood of the cedarwood tree and is often used in hair products due to its ability to encourage hair growth. When mixed with a carrier the oil can be massaged into the scalp to help promote circulation which in turn stimulates hair follicles and increases hair growth. Cedarwood essential will also calm an itchy scalp and helps remove flaky skin, making it a perfect remedy for dandruff.

Chamomile
Most of us would know chamomile as a tea, but there is also a chamomile essential oil. The essential oil is great for adding softness and shine to your hair. To lighten your hair, combine about 5 drops of chamomile essential oil with one tablespoon of sea salt, 1/3 of a cup of baking soda, and warm water to create a paste. Apply the paste to your hair, massaging it into the scalp and base of the hair. Leave in for half an hour then rinse. No bleach needed! If you want the effect to be a bit stronger, you can also sit out in the sun.

Lavender
This very well-known essential oil has got very prominent hair growth-promoting effects. A 2016 study found that lavender essential oil was able to significantly increase the number of hair follicles, as well as thicken the thermal layer. This fragrant oil can help to reduce dandruff, get rid of fungal or bacterial issues, and also restore dry skin and hair.

Clary Sage
Just like lavender essential oil, clary sage contains an ester called linalyl acetate which helps to reduce skin inflammation and helps to promote hair growth and thickness. Clary sage combines well with jojoba oil to help regulate oil production from the skin, which can aid in reducing any flakiness that could potentially lead to dandruff.

Lemongrass
Lemongrass essential oil works wonderfully for soothing an irritated scalp along with strengthening hair follicles. It may also be used as part of natural dandruff treatment.

Peppermint
The powerful antiseptic properties of peppermint essential oil make it ideal for helping to treat dandruff and lice. It may promote hair growth and decrease inflammation. Few drops of Peppermint can be added to your shampoo or conditioner for a refreshing morning experience.

Rosemary
Rosemary essential oil is another infamous oil for promoting and stimulating hair growth and thickness. It is said to help with slowing down the greying process, reducing dandruff, treating dry scalp, and preventing baldness. Rosemary oil can be mixed with olive oil or coconut oil and applied to hair then rinsed out with shampoo. The treatment should be done about twice a week for maximum results.

Ylang-Ylang
This essential oil is perfect for those who struggle with dry scalp. People with oily hair should avoid using it. The Ylang-Ylang essential oil has been found to revitalise sebum production. The lack of sebum production can lead to dry and brittle hair. By using ylang-ylang, you would be able to revive texture and diminish hair breakage.

Remember to be aware of what you are putting onto your body, and subsequently, into your body. The skin is our biggest organ, and 60% of what you put onto your skin and hair will be absorbed straight into your bloodstream. With so many natural options, it is easy to treat your hair with love and care, avoid the conventional products containing toxic, harsh chemicals and nourish it with natural and organic products. You will feel and see the difference!

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