Guest Post: Are Natural Health and Beauty Techniques a Modern Discovery?
Posted Aug 05 2012 8:03am
Hello, friends and readers! I’m here today with another guest post, this time submitted by Lily Fox, a health and nutrition blogger who works for Comvita . I really enjoyed the article’s topic, and I hope you do, too!
Natural health and beauty techniques are now a common part of health and wellbeing practices, and represent a large global industry that makes use of multiple herbs, supplements and creams. However, it’s important to remember that these techniques are not actually a modern discovery, and build on a long history of natural remedies and techniques, from natural skincare solutions in Egypt, through to the adaptation of herbs and supplements in different parts of the world. Using organic, rather than synthetic chemicals and treatments, these techniques make the most of the natural world to boost their users’ health.
Ancient natural remedies included Egyptian and Chinese remedies, as well as the use of extracts in New Zealand and Australia. The Ancient Egyptians extracted animal milk for use as a skin moisturiser, and also used eggs as a way of treating the skin. The Egyptians also made use of pigments and fats to create makeup, while using kohl and saffron as eye shadow and eyeliner, and henna for dyeing hair. In China, remedies ranged through multiple herbal treatments during the Shang Dynasty, and focused on balancing the humors. Tribes and peoples in New Zealand Australia similarly made use of the health benefits of manuka honey as a decongestant and skin care treatment.
The ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda has been a key part of Hindu and Muslim rituals for thousands of years. The practice makes use of essential oils, vegetable extracts and ground elements to create tinctures and massages, and is closely linked to spiritual healing and an elemental approach to the body’s humours. Ayurveda is still used today as an important part of local culture in India.
Different forms of herbalism have been present in multiple culture over the centuries. Most of the uses of herbs comes via their medicinal value as extracts and active ingredients. Commonly used herbs include salicylic acid as a form of aspirin, opium poppies for relieving pain, and echinacea as a way of treating various ailments. 3000 years ago in China, the Emperor Shen Nong promoted herbal remedies, which included the extract ephredine, used as a decongestant.
Middle Eastern Medicine
Middle Eastern medicine followed a similar approach in terms of other cultures by making use of essential oils and Manuka Honey 15+ as part of herbal medicine and skin care routines. Many of these practices developed from Mesopotamian cultures, and included the use of castor and linseed oil.
Medieval and Early Modern Medicine
Modern day natural medicine also owes a debt to the apothecaries and the writings of medieval and early modern figures like Nicholas Culpeper a 17th century botanist and physician who worked on books like the Complete Herbal (1653). These kind of figures looked to combine insights from herbalism and apothecary into medical treatments. However, some of the beauty tips that emerged from these periods were not as influential, and have thankfully been eradicated over time. Some historical beauty tips include eating chalk for the complexion, draining blood for pale skin through leeches, and thickening eyebrows using mouse fur.
Author: Lisa Gan works alongside Comvita in researching the medicinal effects of honey and olive leaf extract to enhance natural beauty.