Herbal breath fresheners

Try these natural alternatives to artificially colored and flavored breath mints.

■ Chew Vi teaspoon fennel seeds or aniseed, which will leave your breath smelling of licorice.

■ Nibble on fresh parsley. It fights bacteria and plaque.

■ Gargle a solution of liquid chlorophyll and water to fight odor-causing bacteria. Dilute

I teaspoon chlorophyll in a small glass of water.

Double-mint mouthwash Cooling peppermint and spearmint are effective in banishing odor and making your mouth sweet and fresh. Tea-tree essential oil fights gum disease and aloe vera soothes oral tissue.

1 tablespoon dried spearmint 1 tablespoon dried peppermint 3/< cup (180 ml) boiling water 1 tablespoon aloe vera juice 5 drops tea-tree essential oil 3 drops peppermint essential oil

1 Place herbs in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover bowl and steep for 30 minutes. Strain.

2 Add aloe vera and essential oils. Mix well. Store in a dark glass container.

3 Shake well, then swish 1 to 2 tablespoons around your mouth. Do not swallow. Store in a cool place. Use within 1 week.

Mouthwash for bleeding gums

Black tea and witch hazel are rich in tannins, which have a tightening effect. Green tea is an antioxidant, and goldenseal is a natural antibiotic. Myrrh has antiseptic and astringent properties.

1 tablespoon black tea 1 tablespoon green tea 3/« cup (180 ml) boiling water

1 tablespoon witch hazel

V2 teaspoon powdered goldenseal

(from capsules) 5 drops myrrh tincture 3 drops lemon essential oil

1 Place black and green teas in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover bowl and steep for 30 minutes. Strain

2 Add other ingredients. Mix well. Store in a dark glass bottle.

3 To use, shake well and swish 1 to

2 tablespoons around mouth. Do not swallow. Store in a cool place. Use within 1 week.

Strawberry tooth whitener

For a brilliant polish that will give your teeth a silky feel, mash a ripe strawberry and dip a toothbrush in it to clean your teeth. Rinse thoroughly, as strawberries are very acidic. Use every 1 to 2 months.

Hands and nails

We work our hands hard, soak (hem in detergents and expose them to sun. wind, cold and heal. Hands reveal our health and character and. more than any other feature, betray our age. They contain only a few oil-producing glands, so they are very prone to dryness. Give yourself a weekly manicure to prevent problems such as split nails and chapped skin.

Peppermint hand gel

This scented formula has a restorative effect on dry, work-roughened hands.

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons glycerine

2 tablespoons powdered arrowroot '/4 cup (60 ml) cooled, strained peppermint tea 5 drops peppermint essential oil 5 drops frankincense essential oil

1 Place honey and glycerine in a small saucepan over low heat and slowly warm through, stirring constantly. Add arrowroot powder and whisk together. Remove from heat and stir in tea and oils.

2 Let mixture cool slightly, then pour into a clean glass jar with a non-aluminium lid. To apply, massage a small amount into your hands.

Anti-aging hand mask Masks aren't just for your face. This softening and moisturizing recipe also helps to even out skin tone and fade age spots.

1 tablespoon honey 3 tablespoons aloe vera gel

(see below) 1 teaspoon lemon juice 10 drops lemon essential oil almond meal, sufficient to make a paste

1 Melt honey over low heat. In a small bowl, combine the aloe vera gel with the honey and lemon juice. Add the essential oil and mix thoroughly.

2 Add sufficient almond meal to make a soft, workable paste; it should not be too sloppy. Smooth mask over clean hands, paying particular attention to the backs of hands and knuckles. Leave for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and apply moisturizer.

1 Cut off a healthy large leaf close to its base.

2 Slice carefully along the center of the leaf, along its entire length. Gently peel back the two cut edges. Use a blunt-edged knife to scrape the clear gel from the center of the leaf, then place it in a bowl.

Harvesting aloe vera gel

At their center, aloe vera leaves contain a thick, colorless gel. This soothing gel is useful for treating burns and dry skin conditions. Use it fresh, as soon as you have harvested it, because It is unstable and quickly loses its consistency. Do not use any gel that has a green tinge. The gel is available from health food stores.

Aromatherapy cuticle oil The essential oils in this fine-textured blend help to counter cracked and ragged cuticles. Calendula and myrrh essential oils both have antiseptic properties to help prevent common nail infections, while lavender is anti-inflammatory and healing.

1 tablespoon jojoba oil 1 tablespoon avocado oil 5 drops myrrh essential oil 5 drops lavender essential oil 10 drops calendula essential oil

1 Pour the jojoba and avocado oils into a small, dark-colored glass bottle, which will help preserve the oil.

2 Add essential oils, screw on cap and shake to combine.

3 Before using the cuticle oil, shake the bottle well, then massage a few drops into your nails and cuticles daily to soften your cuticles and prevent them from splitting.

Healthy ruuli/

■ Maximize nail health with herbal products. Tea-tree oil. for instance, can clear up fungal infections of the nails, while a dally application of vitamin A-rich cod liver oil rubbed into nails and cuticles helps strengthen them.

■ Gal a healthy, varied diet rich in whole foods and essential falty acids lEFAs). and make sure you get adequate hydration — a much better insurance policy for nail health than using commercial nail potions that promise to increase nail growth and strength.

■ Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands whenever you are washing the dishes or using cleaning products.

Honey and almond balm

To moisturize your nails, rub a little rosehip essential oil into them, using small, circular movements. Then massage your hands with this balm, which is ideal for soothing rough hands and is also a good all-purpose skin salve for minor cuts and abrasions.

2 x 1000-mg lecithin capsules 1 tablespoon rosewater 1 teaspoon honey '/3 cup (90 ml) almond oil

1 tablespoon cocoa butter

2 teaspoons beeswax granules 10 drops lavender essential oil 10 drops rose essential oil

1 Pierce lecithin capsules and combine contents with rosewater. Set aside. Combine almond oil. cocoa butter and beeswax granules in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.

2 Heat, stirring with a small whisk until the beeswax has melted. Whisk in lecithin and rosewater mixture and remove rrom heat. Stir in essential oils.

3 Let mixture cool slightly before pouring into a clean glass jar with a non-aluminium lid. To use. massage a small amount into your nails and cuticles every night before bed. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to 0 months.

If you do not have a double boiler, use a pan that sits in the lop ot another saucepan. The base of the upper (>an should be well clear of the simmering water in the base of the lower pan.

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