Articles By Stephanie Bird




We're hearing more and more about the miracle "grain" quinoa—mostly as a tasty super-food, but also, increasingly, as an ingredient in hair care products. Let's learn more about this high-protein food, which though commonly referred to as a grain, is technically not a grain.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.), pronounced KEEN-WAH, is also called Quinua, meaning “mother grain,” in Inca language. Other names for Quinoa include vegetable caviar and Inca Rice. While it may seem new to many readers, it was a staple in the Inca diet and is still enjoyed regularly by the Quechua and Aymara people, who are their descendents. Quinoa has been consumed consistently over the past 5,000 years by people who inhabit the mountainous and valley regions of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. The indigenous people that have enjoyed Quinoa believe it enriches and oxygenates the blood.

Growth and Habit
Quinoa is an annual herb. It is related to the useful weed lambs-quarters (Chenopodium album L.) and it is a relative of several types of beets and spinach. Quinoa plants have a wide range of heights, ranging from 1½ to 6½ feet and come in an array of colors that include white, pink, purple, dark red, yellow and black. Its leaves resemble a goose foot. The seed comes in large clusters on a panicle resembling sorghum—about the size of millet. The seed has two flat surfaces and a rounded side similar to an aspirin. The seeds range in color from black, to red and pink, white and yellow. Quinoa is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that grows well with little rainfall and at high altitudes.

Quinoa tends to grow in South America in areas that are drought-prone, with hardly any fertility. The plants can tolerate light frost but should not be exposed to temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant’s seed is similar to sorghum at maturity.

Quinoa’s Nutrition-Packed Punch
Quinoa has recently burst onto the health scene and it is viewed as a super-food and a super crop. While treated like a grain in American cooking, Quinoa is a broadleaf non-legume and sometimes referred to as a pseudocereal. The protein in Quinoa is extremely high quality and much denser in protein than true cereals, which stem from grassy plants. Comparable to buckwheat and amaranth, Quinoa is higher in lysine (which promotes hair growth) than wheat. The amino acids quinoa seeds contain are balanced in a way that is very complementary to animal and human nutrition. Quinoa is also lower in sodium and higher in calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium than barley, corn or wheat. Minerals and amino acids have been proven to aid in the conditioning of hair and skin. Besides yielding a grain-like substance served like rice, Quinoa is also useful in the making of flour. Quinoa flour is used as a starch extender in combination with corn meal, grains and wheat flour, in the making of baked goods and processed foods. This useful plant is also used for cereal, different types of soups, and alcohol.

Quinoa for Your Hair
Quinoa offers accessible vegetable protein to gently cleanse and nourish your hair. Its amino acids help repair damage to the hair shaft while its proteins coat, strengthen and protect the hair. Packed with vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids, Quinoa can aid in hair growth while preventing breakage. Many new shampoos and conditioners are utilizing this beneficial herb. Look for hydrolized quinoa protein. This type of formulation is believed to form a protective barrier over the hair shaft, while it encourages sheen. Its humectants attract moisture from the air, while generally conditioning your hair, yielding a well-defined curl pattern and a sexy head of hair.

Nexxus recently launched a new product line—Phyto Organics ChromaLife Colour Retention System—that relies on quinoa's amazing benefits. PhytoSpecific's Moisturizing Styling Balm also contains quinoa oil. And Aveda's Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair contains quinoa protein, too.

It sounds like an ingredient definitely worth looking for!

Stephanie Rose Bird is a practicing herbalist. She is the author of five books including, “The Big Book of Soul: the Ultimate Guide to the African American Spirit: Legend & Lore, Music & Mysticism, Recipes & Rituals,” published by Hampton Roads Publishers. She is also the author of the recently published, “A Healing Grove: Recipes and Rituals for Body and Spirit,” published by Lawrence Hill Books. Her website is at

Have you seen grape seed extract mentioned in ingredient lists and wondered why? Turns out this ingredient is great for skin and hair!

Grape seed extract is derived from vitis vinifera, and as it sounds, it is extracted from the seed and sometimes the skin of grapes. Grapes are native to Asia near the Caspian Sea. They were brought to Europe and North America sometime in the 1600s. Grapes have been recognized for their medical value and nutritional properties since early times. Ancient Egyptian art shows Egyptians consuming grapes approximately 6,000 years ago. Ancient Greek philosophers reported the health value of grapes, especially consumed as wine. European herbalists made ointment from the sap of grapevines and used it for the treatment of skin and eye ailments. Healers used unripe grapes to treat sore throat, whereas raisins were used to ease constipation and to quench the thirst. Grapes were traditionally used to treat certain cancers, small pox, skin disorders, kidney and liver diseases, eye infections and nausea.

Grape Seed Qualities


The oil is lightweight; its color ranges from clear to yellowish/green. Grape seed oil has a slightly sweet, nutty aroma. Today many hair and skin care formulators include grape seed extract and grape seed oil in their products such as shampoos and conditioners.

Grape Seed Extract Constituents

Grape seed extract contains flavonoid-rich properties and one of the herbal kingdom’s most powerful antioxidants—oligomeric proanthocyanidins or OPC. OPC’s have been studied for their properties to scavenge free radicals. This ability is believed to enable OPC to help maintain youth, resilience and increase healthy life span.

  • OPCs exist in many plants but a notably large amount can be extracted from grape seed
  • OPC is an extraordinary antioxidant.
  • It helps reduce or inhibit swelling and inflammation
  • Assists collagen's ability to repair itself
  • Reduces unpleasant symptoms of PMS and menopause
  • Helps fight pain sometimes, even helping with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia
  • Nourishes hair and skin while improving elasticity
  • Curtails brittleness
  • Deters wrinkles and sagging skin
  • Revitalizes hair; leaves a healthy sheen
  • OPC is nontoxic

Look for OPC health values in the 100-200 milligram range.

Grape Seed Oil and the Hair

Grape seed oil conditions and strengthen the hair in the following ways:

  • It is light and not prone to oily build-up
  • Grape seed oil is a natural humectant
  • It is moisturizing.
  • Grape seed oil is a nutrient-dense conditioner that strengthens and revitalizes
  • Wards off free-radical damage
  • Grape seed oil is slightly astringent, making it good for oily scalp. It won’t weight down hair
  • Grape seed oil strengthens weak hair prone to breaking off

Grape seed extract contains vitamin E, flavonoids and linoleic acid, in addition to OPC. It is high in silicon, an essential mineral for healthy hair and skin. Grape seed oil and extract are wonderful additives for creating a nourishing and conditioning hair care product. This ingredient is especially good for kinky, curly or wavy hair because it strengthens the hair shaft, helps the curls stay defined and not weighed down, moisturizes, nourishes and protects against brittleness.

Acanthus extract is making a big splash on the curly hair care scene. Most notably in the haircare line by Rene Furterer, who discovered the plant’s potential while growing up in France. She studied the therapeutic benefits of essential oils and plants leading her to develop products that treat specific hair types and diverse scalp conditions. Today, Rene Furterer makes a line of products specifically geared towards curly hair definition, body and structure. According to Furterer, acanthus extract is an additive that leaves the hair shiny, supple and voluminous, with a well-defined curl pattern.

Have you been curious about this majestic plant that you might even already have growing in your garden, wondering why it is recommended especially for your curly hair type? This article provides some background information on the growth, habit, distribution and uses of acanthus, the source of acanthus extract.

The acanthus plant

History and Background

Acanthus extract is derived from the Acanthus (Acanthus mollis) plant, also called a shrub, which grows well near the Mediterranean Sea but has a wide distribution in Europe and even grows well in parts of the United States. Acanthus is mostly used as a decorative plant because of its ample, lush leaves and towering purple, white or even pink flower of the Tasmanian type. Acanthus is also referred to as Bear’s Breeches and is from the family Acanthace and genus Acanthus. It is an herbaceous perennial whose leaves were made immortal as the featured motif on Corinthian (Greek) columns of the 5th century B.C.E.

Growth and Habit

Acanthus is not a picky plant. It grows well in dry or humid weather, cold or warm conditions and sunny or shaded locations, though it does best in dry warmth in full sun to partial shade. It also prefers wet soil of a pH 7. The impressive foliage is at its height of beauty in the fall, though in spring, the evergreen plant assumes its purple color. Though typical flowers are 4 feet high they can grow as tall as 6-8 feet high. It has an invasive root system and has sharp spines and sharp edges so it must be handled and grown with care.

Medicinal Properties

The medicinal aspect of the plant is usually derived from the foliage (leaves) and the roots. The crushed leaves have been used to treat burns. The plant is also used traditionally to treat spider bites, burns, bruises and joint pain. The leaf juice has been known to stimulate the appetite.

Acanthus contains tannins and mucilage, lending important medicinal qualities. The qualities most useful in hair care, making it a boon as an added extract, are its astringency as well as its emollient, demulcent and detergent properties. Astringents dry up excess oils on the scalp and help deter oily build up and greasiness. This makes products with acanthus extract especially good for oily scalp conditions or hair that suffers from build-up of chemical products. Emollients attract moisture from the air and encourage that moisture to be retained by the hair. One of acanthus’ most prominent qualities is its emollient property. This means that products with acanthus extract can help the hair retain moisture without being weighed down or appearing greasy. The combination of astringency and emollient make products with acanthus extract good for both dry and oily hair types. Acanthus is also a demulcent. Demulcents are softeners, making products with acanthus extract useful for those with brittle, coarse hair. Some products with demulcents are also good detangling aids. An additional feature of the acanthus plant is that it contains natural detergents or saponins; these help cleanse the hair, pairing nicely with the astringent quality.

So wonder no further. Reach for products with acanthus extract if you have dry hair or oily scalp. Try acanthus if you seek a light moisturizer as well as control and definition of your curly top.

Crystal Bowersox

Crystal Bowersox

American Idol contestant Crystal Bowersox has focused attention once again on the ancient art of locking, perhaps causing many Americans to look at the hairstyle with fresh eyes.

“I’ve had these for about four and a half years now,” Bowersox told in March. “I do wash my hair— just so everyone knows. There’s a lot of myths out there about dreadlocks, but they’re very clean and well-kept.”

A story about Bowersox’s hair on attracted comments ranging from compliments (”they fit her perfectly”) to critical (”disgusting and distracting,” “horrible” and “[she] looks like a pothead”). One poster summed up voter expectations this way: “You keep those dreadlocks and be happy, but you won’t win ‘American Idol’ with that look—do you really think [fourth season winner] Carrie Underwood would have won if she looked like Crystal?”

With the renewed attention on locs, we thought it was a good time to present a primer on this hairstyle.

The Roots of Locs

Not long ago the main places you would see locs (sometimes called dread locks) was in Africa or the Caribbean, particular Jamaica. For the Rastafarians of Jamaica, the Shaivas (devotees to Shiva) and Vaishnavas (devotees to Vishnu) of India and numerous clans in Africa including the Turkana, Massai, Samburu of Kenya, Himba of Namibia, Fulani of Senegal and the Baye Fall (Black Muslims) locked hair is not a hairstyle, it is a reflection of a way of life, grounded by culture, tradition and most of all spirituality. Just as many different cultures have hair locking traditions so too does this distinctive way of wearing the hair have diverse names including Natty Dreads (Rastafarians); Ndiagne (strong hair) and Jatta (gurus of India).

Do you loc? See more dreadlock photos or upload your own!

Many people of Jamaican and African heritage have migrated and now live on the East Coast in and around New York City. It is in New York that locked hair took a hold on popular culture, transcending its traditional connection to spirituality and faith to become a cultural statement with all people. Acclaimed author Alice Walker has worn locs for many years and so have other artists including Bob Marley and Whoopi Goldberg.

In the beautifully illustrated book "Dreads," Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano (Artisan: NY; 1999) interviewed people from around the world about why their hair is worn in what they call 'dread locks.' (Today, most people reject the combination of terms 'dread' 'lock' because it has negative connotations, particularly because of the word dread, which evokes fear.) As might be expected there was a wide range of reasons, from strong faith-based cultural tradition, to easy grooming, attraction to the style and everything in between.

Decisions, Decisions


Since this web site is devoted to those with naturally curly hair regardless of ethnicity or cultural orientation, this article is focused on care and the spiritual cultivation of locs along with some of the issues that arise from taking on a hairstyle with such a rich and sometimes controversial history.

There are various schools of thought within the curly topped community. Some folk long for straight hair and lean towards the tools, chemicals and techniques that will give the desired affect. Others absolutely adore their curly locks and wouldn't have their hair any other way. These folks seek out products and techniques that will accentuate their curls or leave their hair to do what it will. Still others like their naturally curly hair but wish for an easier grooming regimen. For those individuals looking for relatively easy grooming and a natural look that is a throw back to Africa or seeking connection to earth-based spiritual wisdom from around the world, locs are an ideal choice.

Many people, including myself, enjoy naturally curly hair but find a variety of challenges with maintenance of curly locks. Issues include the expense of products that promise to manage, enhance or accentuate curly hair but often fall short. Curly hair, particularly of the densely coiled nature of African-descended people, is very resistant to change. While there are many excellent products on the market, many of which are discussed on this website, African curls tend to have a mind of their own. Our curls naturally coil around each another, producing tangles. We don't have a hold on this phenomena because people of various ethnicities have tightly curled or even wiry hair.

Many of us spend hours and indeed years as well as thousands of dollars to manage or prevent tangles. If we keep our hair short it is lovely and generally manageable. This is an ideal situation for tightly curled hair. The tangles of shorter hair are easier to manage but they can become quite a bit more challenging with longer hair. The battle of the tangles, or as we typically call them, naps, leads to breakage. Long nappy hair that is tightly curled often becomes uneven, damaged and ultimately frustrating. For individuals with tightly curled hair that tends to tangle, snarl or nap up, locs are an ideal choice, particularly if you also desire longer hair.

Another type of person (and some of these people have straight hair) admire the look of locs and its strong cultural ties to traditions India, Africa and the Caribbean. I mention the straight-haired folks because quite an industry has developed around giving folks with straighter hair locs. According to interviews featured in "Dreads," some Japanese people who have incredibly straight hair spend thousand of dollars and many hours, even subjecting their hair to power tools, to quickly achieve locked hairs. I have also spotted a plethora of websites online dispensing advice for transforming straight hair into locs. Many of these methods are dubious and may include a wide array of junky materials including toothpaste, rubber bands, beeswax, thick hair pomades and various types of glue. In "Dreads" there are all types of locs including a striking blond woman from New Zealand and a glamorous woman who appears to be bi-racial or of African descent, with waves close to her scalp that cascade down her back in zigzagging fall of locs. There is another man who is fair-haired and fair-skinned, who describes himself as being a Viennese Jew, who found that his hair locked naturally. He is featured sporting long, mature locks in the photo montage. Certain groups of Indians devoted to the goddess Ganga as manifested by the Ganges River have naturally straight hair. Their cultural tradition has included the cultivation of locs and this has been their tradition for thousands of years. While the majority of those who wear locs have thick, tightly coiled hair, it is certainly feasible and indeed traditional for people with various hair types to enjoy locks without resorting to extremes.

One thing for everyone to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to lock the hair is that once locs are mature (about two years old), the hair stays locked. With few exceptions, the hair has to be cut to change it although it can be color treated for a cosmetic change or curled for variety .

Grooming with Spirit, Purpose and Patience

Patience is another issue that arises even for those with ideal hair for locs, which would be hair that is tightly curled without any chemical straighteners. For these individuals locs can take at least six months to become permanent for those with looser curls or wavy hair it could take two years. If you can be mindful and focus on the end result this time will be a part of a larger metamorphosis, a change within that allows change to occur at its own rate. For more on that type of personal transformation, I recommend the books by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, especially, "The Miracle of Mindfulness" (Beacon Books, MA; 1999) or the ancient text "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tsu (Vintage, NY; 1989). Some people will find yoga and meditation especially helpful as well because it encourages a focus within rather than on outward appearance. There are several African-American women writers who combine African wisdom with health and spiritual awareness that would be useful in this journey, they include "Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity" and "Sacred Woman" by Queen Afua; "Jambalaya: the Natural Women's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals" by Leisah Teish and my own magical guide that will be released this June (see bio).

Social and Psychological Implications

The appearance of locked hair evokes a wide variety of responses. Some people find locs suggestive of the counter-culture or to be radically different from their personal orientation. If these people exert control over your life perhaps your parents, administrators, advisors or a boss at work, you will need to enter a meaningful conversation during your transformation. Sometimes there are so many issues that go much deeper than hair that a conversation may have been long overdue. Talking can help strengthen and develop stronger ties. You will need to weigh your priorities and if it turns out that your priority is the locked hair and those around you strongly reject the idea, you will need to evaluate how to proceed. For some people the idea of confrontation is so overwhelming that they will decide not to loc their hair to avoid it. Still others will let their hair loc knowing that there may be negative consequences. This is a personal choice and it should be considered carefully, particularly if definite consequences of a negative type are anticipated. On the one hand, it would seem foolish to loc the hair knowing that it will also lead to unemployment or some other form of tangible rejection. If however the urge is so strong perhaps more elements of your life than just your hair needs to be changed dramatically, for example seeking employment elsewhere where the hair wouldn't be problematic, finding alternative sources of employment or developing new relationship that fit into your lifestyle.

The Nitty-Gritty

Essential Tools:

A rat-tailed comb to part the hair and roll the hair

A light, clear shampoo such as Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo or a salon brand containing essential oils like lavender or chamomile

A natural conditioner, either homemade or from a manufacturer that promotes natural essential oils, for example Aveda™ or African Root Stimulator™

A water-based gel, (that obviously does not contain heavy waxes or oils); Try Natural Root Stimulator Lock and Twisting Gel; or create your own, simply use pure aloe vera gel, applied in dime-sized portions.

Patience, Patience, Patience — remember it's not the destiny, even with locs, but the journey itself that can lead to personal transformation

Once you decide to loc your hair you will, of course, need more than anything to be patient. I started my locs; or rather they started themselves, approximately a year ago. They are still not all the way locked because my curls are loose. I twist them regularly but not fanatically and I see a loctian when possible. A good loctian is indispensable especially early on in the process when the locs are being established. She will clean your scalp well, condition your hair, re-part your hair and carefully twist or roll the hair. Having a skilled loctian is a great way of keeping a very neat look.

One of the most highly recommended technical books for those trying to establish locs is "Plaited Glory: For Colored Girls Who've Considered Braids, Locks and Twists" by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner (Three Rivers Press, NY; 1996). In another popular book, "No More Lye: The African American Woman's Guide to Natural Haircare," Tulani Kinard gives practical advice for beginning locs naturally. Kinard advises readers to part the hair evenly in small pieces of about ½" and to either palm roll, twist or braid each segment tightly. These twists or braids should be left alone for at least one month. After this time period the hair can be washed, with an emphasis on cleansing the scalp, rather than the hair itself. Some people cleanse their scalp with natural herbs like a witch hazel tincture in between shampoos to feel fresher. After about one month the hair is shampooed re-rolled or twisted, held down with hair clips and dried under a hair dryer or naturally in sunlight. This is repeated for many months until the hair is permanently locked. According to Kinard the ideal method is for a hollow core to form at the center of each loc and for the hair to be encouraged to curl around this core. This allows light and airy locs, that move freely and have a natural sheen that are also easy to clean. The problem with the quick and easy method, particularly those promoted for use on straighter hair is that the hair gets irreparably dirty and by using grease or wax the locs actually become dirt magnets. Moreover there is not a natural, light and airy hollow core to the hair, it is simply clumped together and can be quite unattractive.

I am a do-it-yourself type. I had been wearing two-stranded twists for about three years and when they started to lock up I embraced the possibility of physical transformation. Eventually, I did seek out the expertise of several loctians and I was grateful to have some of the messy areas sorted out. You can find a loctian in most major cities and typically they advertise as Natural Haircare Salons. There are numerous products available to help manage your locs though it is a personal choice, just like the decision whether or not to consult a loctian. Generally, less is more with locs. My loctian who is an Ibo person from Nigeria, even warns against naturally oily ingredients like shea butter or lanolin for loc maintenance because they weigh down the locs and attract dirt.

About the Author: Stephanie Rose Bird (BFA, MFA) is an herbalist and aromatherapist based in the Chicago area. She is also the author of several books including “Big Book of Soul: the Ultimate Guide to the African American Spirit” and “A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for Body and Spirit”.

You've probably seen a number of hair care products lately that contain Indian gooseberry, or amla. In addition to having numerous medicinal benefits, amla is also well-regarded for its benefits for the hair, including hair loss prevention and conditioning.

Amla, is a renowned Ayurvedic (a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian Subcontinent) and Unani (a branch of medicine based on the teachings of Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna) medicine. Also called amalaki or dhartriphaia, Phyllanthus emblic, syn. Emblica officinalis is the botanical Latin name for Amla. Indian gooseberry is a long-living deciduous tree from the Euphorbiaceae family. All parts of the tree are used in Ayurvedic medicine including the root, bark, flowers, leaves, seed and fruit. Amla is well known both for its berry and the oil extracted from it which is commonly referred to as Amla. The two types of amla include gramya, the cultivated type and vanya, the wild type.

Amla’s Indian History

Amla has an interesting history in India as a health and beauty aid. It is called the nurse (Dhatri) and the sustainer (Amalaki). One of the reasons it is revered is because it contains five of the six rashas or tastes (bitter, pungent, sweet, astringent and sour)—the only taste it is missing is salty. This is important because a balanced meal should contain the six tastes to cultivate wellness.

Hair Loss Treatment
Boil about 3 oz (100g) of grated Indian gooseberry fruit in 8.5 oz (250 ml) of water. Blend the grated fruit in the water to make a paste of smooth constituency. Apply this paste on the scalp and let it remain for an hour before washing it off with warm water.

Amla is a natural ingredient good for the pitta dosha (constitution type), amla also reduces hair loss and prevents premature graying. Pitta is one of the three doshas the others being vata and kapha. Doshas can roughly be described as body, mind and spirit types. The pitta dosha lives in the small intestine, stomach, sweat, blood, plasma and sebum. Amla is good for pitta dosha because it is cooling while the natural inclination of a pitta dosha is to be hot.

The Phyto-Nutrients in Amla

Indian Gooseberry consist mostly water—as much as 80%. It contains vitamins (a rich source of vitamin C), minerals such as iron; protein, carbohydrates and fiber. The vitamin C it contains is important because it is a necessary part of the synthesis of collagen. Amla fruit contains about 20 times more vitamin C than our usual source, the orange. Collagen helps keep the cells of the body together, improves the condition of hair, nails and skin and renews cell growth. Amla is rich in antioxidants and in polyphenols.

Amla Cures

  • Improves memory, brain function and thinking capacity
  • Detoxifies the system
  • Rejuvenates body
  • Improves vision
  • Boosts immunity
  • Supports heart, liver, lung and bone health
  • Balances stomach acids
  • Improves mental disorders
  • Useful during pregnancy and lactation
  • Indicated for scurvy

Herbal Actions

Amla is a tonic, rejuvenator, astringent, aphrodisiac, laxative, refrigerant and stomachic.

Amla for Beauty

  • Good for the skin and hair, improves elasticity
  • Hair becomes more pliable, vibrant and strong with use of the oil
  • Amla conditions and strengthens the hair
  • Prevents scalp infections and disorders that lead to hair loss
  • Prevents premature graying
  • Helps hair and fingernails grow
  • IImproves sheen in the hair

Amla can be eaten or consumed as a drink or taken in capsule form as an internal treatment for all conditions mentioned. It can also be applied topically as a shampoo, conditioner, or fixed oil to reap beautifying benefits.

Often when looking for a “natural” hair conditioner or hair growth aid, we turn to the herbal kingdom. As we go through our herbal options a plant that quickly comes to our attention is horsetail. This article explores the beneficial qualities of horsetail as a health and beauty aid.

Horsetail Background

Horsetail is a member of the Equisetaceae family. The type used in cosmetics and shampoos most often is Equisetum arvense L. Horsetail has many colorful folk names including scouring rush, corncob plant, horsetail grass, shavegrass, pewterwort and bottle brush. The Latin root equus, meaning horse, and seta, which means bristle, come together to form part of its botanical Latin name. Its common name “horsetail” refers to the herb’s thin, branchlike leaves which in some ways are similar to the hair of a horse’s tail. It is called scouring rush because the durable plant can be used as a natural scouring aid for pots, pans and pewter, as well as in refining some forms of art as a natural sandpaper.

Horsetail descends from the huge, tree-like plants of the Paleozoic era some 400 million years ago. Closely related to ferns, horsetail is a non-flowering weed found throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It is perennial plant, with hollow stems and shoots reminiscent of asparagus.

To prepare horsetail for use, the young shoots are harvested in the early spring and dried; it is also tinctured or even eaten, prepared like asparagus. As horsetail dries, silica crystals form in the stems and branches, lending the herb its scouring ability. Later in the year, horsetail levels rise significantly and then it can be an irritant to the kidneys.

Horsetail has a venerable history in Herbalism traced back to ancient Rome and Greece where it was used to stop bleeding, heal ulcers, hemorrhoids, wounds and to treat tuberculosis, anemia, as well as kidney ailments. As a traditional European folk remedy, horsetail has been used as a diuretic to reduce swelling and fluid retention. Horsetail is approved by the German Commission E as a diuretic. Horsetail is used to treat bladder infections and incontinence as well as bed wetting. This is because internal use of the herb reduces the urge to urinate. Horsetail is used to treat osteoporosis, kidney stones, urinary tract inflammation and as a topical wound healer. Horsetail has been recommended by some herbalists as a treatment for tumors and certain cancers.

Horsetail: the Health and Beauty Aid

Key to our concerns here with naturally curly hair and skincare treatments is the silica and minerals contained in horsetail. Horsetail stems are imbued with ample silica and silicic acids; in fact, it contains the most silica known in the plant kingdom. Silica forms collagen, a protein found in the skin, bones, cartilage, ligaments and connective tissues. Silica also helps bind protein molecules to many tissues in the body. The silica content helps strengthen weak, brittle, damaged hair, giving it vitality and shine with regular use.

There is a high mineral level as well including potassium, selenium and manganese. The saponins and flavonoids it contains help the skin regenerate, improving elasticity of skin and hair, promoting hair growth. Since bone, hair and fingernails require high mineral levels, horsetail is taken as a tea, tincture or applied topically as shampoo, conditioner, soak or healing balm. As a healing balm, it is used in many treatments for pattern balding.

Those with very dry hair should take note: Horsetail has a powerful antiseptic property which means excessive use could further dry out your hair. On the other hand, the astringent herb helps eliminate excessive oiliness for those with oily scalps, and also aids in removing styling product build up. Used in shampoo and conditioner horsetail is a useful remedy for dandruff, eczema, psoriasis and other troubling skin ailments. Because it promotes circulation, horsetail assists in nourishing and strengthening hair follicles.

Using Horsetail

Many shampoos, conditioners and hair growth aids contain horsetail extract. To create your own hair rinse:

2-4 teaspoons dried horsetail
Cup of boiled water

Add the horsetail to a cup of boiled water (still hot but not boiling). Let steep 15-20 minutes; strain; cool. Rinse through hair and leave on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and style as usual. You can also strain and drink this tea warm 2-3 times per day with honey. Taking the tea internally is believed to help the hair, skin and nails the same way as applying topically.


The German Commission E monograph suggests using only 6 grams of the herb per day for internal use. Excessive topical use can cause dermatitis. A 2 teaspoon tincture can be used (10 ml), 3 times per day. Horsetail is generally considered safe provided the Equisetum arvense species is used. Equisetum palustre, for example, contains toxic alkaloids that are well-known livestock poisons. Horsetail is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing. Certain drugs may interact with horsetail as well. The crude form of the herb may destroy the B vitamin thiamine unless it is refined in a way to prevent this from happening.

About the Author: Stephanie Rose Bird (BFA, MFA) is an herbalist and aromatherapist based in the Chicago area. She is also the author of several books including the recently released “Big Book of Soul: the Ultimate Guide to the African American Spirit” and “A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for Body and Spirit”.

Tell Us! Have you used products with horsetail? Work for you? Reply in the comments section below!

Sausage Tree

The benefits of the sausage tree are just becoming known in the U.S.

By now you are probably familiar with my writing here on NaturallyCurly. I’m the herbalist contributor who writes plant monographs on various medicinal botanicals and natural products used in hair and skin care which hold benefits specific to curly hair. I write about the familiar ingredients popping up in beauty products — ingredients like avocado, murumuru, acai, neroli and bitter orange tree.

I listen to you, the readers, to find out what you're seeing on the beauty shelves and what it is you seek to learn more about. At the same time, I have my own personal interests in botanicals from continental Africa — Earth-friendly products that are sustainable and that help communities economically.

Recently, a tree has come across my radar that is garnering attention on the international marketplace, especially in the UK. You might not have heard about it yet. This is a tree whose products are truly deserving of room on your health and beauty shelves. Meet Kigeli-Keia — also known as sausage or cucumber tree.

A truly fascinating specimen, sausage tree is a tropical species occurring in the eastern part of South Africa — for example, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and northwards as far as Tanzania. It is called Nufuten in Ghana, and grows on banks or close to rivers and large streams elsewhere in tropical Africa from Eritrea to Chad and west to Senegal. Many trees that grow near water are held in awe by traditional healers in various parts of Africa, the Caribbean and Americas as holding holistic healing potential. As we take this journey into the realm of Kigeli-Keia, it is important to note that the tree growing on this terrain shows exceptional healing potential.

Growth and Habit

Sausage Tree

Sausage tree blooms.

Sausage Tree

Sausage tree fruit.

The tree is fairly erect, not branching a great deal. Where it does branch, the tips of the branches remain very thick, giving it a somewhat stout appearance. The sausage tree is a deciduous fruit-bearer that sheds its leaves in late autumn or winter, depending on moisture. Flowers are a spectacular dark red. In spring, they open, living as long as two months. They are set in whorls of three on a central rachis.

Sausage-shaped fruit grows up to 10 centimeters in diameter. It is dull greenish-grey, hard and very heavy. Fruit hangs from a very long, sturdy stalk, and falls in March and April. The pod-like fruits remains on the ground many months.

Chemical Constituents

Kigeli-Keia offers a number of beneficial effects for kinky, curly and wavy hair. It is a natural conditioning treatment that deters eczema. Creams or pomades featuring high concentrations of this elixir minimize the rashes that arise from shaving the hair line, when wearing hair close-cropped yet curly.

Kigeli-Keia can be used to treat burns that come from chemical or heat straighteners of hair. It contains natural pain relievers. It can be useful for very tight braids, extensions, twists, knot styles — also on the shoulders and hands of the braider or stylist.

Scientists analyze the chemical constituents of the various tree parts and run tests to isolate the specific beneficial qualities of this tree’s constituents and to understand its lengthy use as an important traditional healer’s tree medicine. They have found it contains:

  • Napthaquinones (including kigelinone)
  • EFAs (including vernolic acid)
  • Courmarins (including kigelin)
  • Iridoids
  • Caffeic acid
  • Norviburtinal
  • Sterols (sitosterol and stigmasterol); Steroids have been used to treat skin disorders such as eczema
  • Flavonoids: luteolin and 6 hydroxluteiolin; have hygroscopic and fungicidal properties
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests skin cancer use and Kaposi sarcoma (an HIV-related skin ailment) treatment
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anti-malarial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral

  • Traditional Black South African Uses

    South African people have a long history of using this tree to fight, treat, soothe, attract or deter:

  • Fungal infections
  • Skin treatment: eczema, psoriasis, boils
  • Serious skin ailments, such as leprosy
  • Ringworm and tapeworm
  • Post-partum hemorrhaging
  • Diabetes
  • Pneumonia
  • Toothache
  • Tonga women use it as a cosmetic against sun and anti-aging properties
  • Used to promote Aphrodisiac qualities
  • Fruit is used to ferment beer
  • Leaves are livestock fodder
  • Wild animal food: monkeys, parrots, baboons, elephants, etc.,
  • Treatment for piles (boiled roots, stem, and bark)
  • Against gonorrhea (decoction of bark)
  • Wash to treat rheumatism

Products Containing Kigeli-keia

A.E Hobbs Ltd. Shampoo
A.E. Hobbs Ltd. Scalp Application
BioBotanica Skin Care with Kigelia Extract
BioBotanica Sun Care with Kegelia Extract
Cellex-C Under Eye Toning Gel
Enriched Pure Olive Kegelia Body Silk Spritz
Kigelia Cream for Psoriasis, Eczema, Cancer Recovery
Kigelia Pure Gel for Acne, Eczema, Dermatitis

Stephanie Rose Bird is an artist and writer. She is the author of Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs and Four Seasons of Mojo: An Herbal Guide to Natural Living.
She also hosts a Yahoo study and practice group based on her writing here.

Home page image by J.M. Garg.

HennaHenna'd hands

Last night I offered myself a calming, somewhat exotic, aromatic retreat. It was probably one of hundreds of times that I’ve indulged in henna to make mehendi — beautiful tattoos — or to dye my hair. Starting from the time when I was a teenager, henna has been a most pleasurable aspect of my health and beauty regimen.

I know you’ve heard of henna, but do you know it’s history, how it grows and from whence it came? I hope to provide some background on its long history as a medicinal herb for the mind, body and spirit.

A History of Henna

Henna is an herbaceous shrub called Lawsonia inermis in botanical Latin. It was named after the British explorer John Lawson in the early 1700s. The use of the herb for health and beauty is far older than the British discovery, dating back to 3,500 BC, and has had a presence in human civilization for 7,000 years.

HennaHenna powder

Henna is a Persian word for a plant with many names. In Arabic it is called Khanna. In India, henna is called by many names depending on the dialect: menhadi, mehendi, mehedi, mendi, hina. And in Sanskrit, it is mendika. Ancient hieroglyphs in tombs in the Valley of the Nile refers to it by the Egyptian name pouquer. Pouquer refers to dye created from the plant, used to color the fingernails of mummies. A lovely perfume created from henna plant is referred to as camphire, in the K'oran. Since the Hindus of India call it mehendi — a name synonymous with temporary henna tattoos — I will refer to henna alternately by this name when speaking of hair care.

In early India, henna was applied by dipping palms and soles into a thick paste of crushed fresh leaves, creating a solid red stain without a pattern. Middle Eastern henna was done by mixing dried powdered leaves into a paste and applying it with a stick. Henna is still in use in parts of Asia, especially India, the Middle East and the Continental African countries. It also is catching on in Australia, North American and Europe.

A Henna Timeline

Country/culture Period
Catal Huyuk 7,000 BC
Turkey 5,000 BC
Cycladic Islands 3,000 BC
Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon 2100 BC
Crete, Cypress, Greece, Libya, Nubia 1,700 BC
Iraq, Iran 1,300 BC
Tunisia, Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Sudan, Yemen 1,200 BC
Jewish culture 1,000 BC
Pakistan and India 400 BC
Muslim culture 550 BC
Christian (Coptic, Armenian> 1st Century AD
Asia (Sri Lanka, Turkistan, Uzbekistan, China, Tibet, Burma, Thailand) 700-800 AD
Ethiopia, Nigeria 800 AD
Indonesia 1200 AD
South Africa 1800 AD

Uses of Henna: Cool Medicine for Health and Beauty

Henna can be used to condition and color the hair. For curly tops, Henna's benefits include:

  • Amps up volume
  • Building body
  • Decreasing chemical and greasy build-ups
  • Emphasizing shine
  • Developing subtlety in hue and tone
  • Yielding creative colors (avoids “out of the box” tired-look)
  • Excellent conditioner for all hair types
  • Wound healer
  • Good for sensitive and irritated scalp
  • Reliable natural colorant for kinky, curly, wavy and thick hair which may be resistant to other types
  • Inexpensive
  • Widely available


Hair Products Containing Henna


The antioxidant benefits of tea for the body have been well-publicized. But tea is also good for the hair and skin, which is why it's showing up in a growing number of beauty products.

I’ve done some digging and will take you behind the tea scene to understand what it is, what it does, and the differences between the various varieties.

Tea is a generic word for an herbal infusion we herbalists also call a tisane. Herbal infusions are usually created from tender parts of herbs such as buds, flowers, shoots and leaves rather than tougher parts such as the root or bark.

Green, Black or White Tea: It’s a Maturity Thing (Camellia sinensis)

Tea is one of the oldest natural remedies known to man. Legend has it that a fresh leaf from Camellia sinensis fell into Chinese Emperor’s pot that was boiling water outside. He was intrigued by the smell, tasted it, enjoyed it and decided to make it a regular habit. The type of tea the emperor made by mistake is called “green tea” since it was made from fresh green leaves of Camellia sinensis. There are more than three thousand varieties of tea created from Camellia sinensis.

In terms of camellia teas, green tea is one of the strongest healing medicines, followed by oolong and black. Green tea contains antioxidants believed to be two hundred times stronger than vitamin E. It protects the cells from carcinogens that can cause cancer. It also lowers cholesterol, metabolizes fat, reduces blood pressure, regulates blood sugar and has an antibacterial action. Green tea, and all tea for that matter, helps teeth and gums stay healthy by blocking plaque-forming bacteria. Green tea also contains fluoride.


Black teas are fermented, creating numerous strong, dark-colored teas. In China, the semi-fermented teas are called oolong and black is fully fermented. Black assam, Ceylon and Darjeeling refer to regions in Southeast Asia and India.

Black Tea can be used on hair in a number of ways. As we grow older, our hair gradually turns gray, losing its natural color. For some, this process begins as early as the 20s. Many women are not ready for such a big change and some want to hold onto their natural hair color. Like most dark fibers, brunette or black hair is more resistant to dyes than light fibers or blond hair. Tea rinses work with existing color, providing subtle highlights, increased shine and youthful vibrancy without permanent changes. (See below for a Black Tisane Hair Rinse recipe).

All white teas contain higher catechins, gallic acid, theobromine and caffeine. They are the least fermented of Camellia sinensis teas and the highest in antioxidants.

This antioxidant effect protects and strengthens both hair and skin. Polyphenols are very active in both green and white tea. These phenols capture and neutralize free radicals thought to pervert cells, causing cancer. In fact these two grades of tea are 20 times more potent than vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals, actually encouraging cancer cells to commit suicide and leaving your body in remission.


White tea protects against UVA rays and sun damage when applied topically as a shampoo or conditioner. As a finishing product or leave-in conditioner, it encourages hair colorants to stay fresher-looking longer while adding vibrancy to natural hair. Because kinky, curly and wavy hair can have a tendency to look dull, white tea can be used to produce shine.

When seeking teas high in antioxidants to strengthen and condition the hair, look for hair products containing Rooibos. This tea also makes a fine rinse and will lend a definite red tone to brunette or dark blond hair. It is the perfect liquid to add to mehendi for temporary tattoos, henna paste, ready-made shampoo or conditioners to bring out hidden red highlights.

Hair Products Containing Tea

Long Lovely Locks Green Hair Gloss (Read and add your own reviews)
Long Lovely Locks Green Tea Hair Cleanse (See reviews)
Curl Junkie Healthy Condition Daily Conditioner (See reviews)
Elucence Volume Clarifying Shampoo (See reviews)
Innersense Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer
(See reviews)
Innersense Inner Reflection Finishing Polish (See reviews)
Oyin Honeywash (See reviews)
Fresh Hair Cream
Philip B Shin Shine
ApHOGEE Keratin & Green Tea Restructurizer
Aubrey Organics Green Tea Reconstructor
Scruples White Tea Sulfate-free Restorative Shampoo
Scruples White Tea Restorative Conditioner
Scruples White Tea Magical Serum
Scruples White Tea Miracle Foam Conditioner
Scruples White Tea Satin Paste
Scruples White Tea Velvet Molding Gloss
Scruples White Tea Embrace Luxury Hold Hair Spray

Black Tisane Hair Rinse

This is an age-old formula for blending gray hair into darkly colored hair that I first learned of from the Gullah people. The Gullah, in case you are unfamiliar, reside in the Carolina and Georgia sea coast island areas and have kept much of their West African tribal culture intact through their folklore, medicine, food, arts and Creole language. This tisane works on the same principle of tea or coffee we don’t like for our teeth—staining; facilitated by the high concentration of tannic acids.

1½ cups distilled water
3 tablespoons black tea (loose leaf assam, Ceylon or oolong is recommended or use three Tetley tea bags)

Yield: approximately 12 ounces
Shelf life: 2 weeks

English Teatime

To make a good cup of tea, you need patience. I like the old English method:

Add cold water to kettle. Boil water; turn off heat. Pour some into clean tea cup and let it sit 3-5 minutes. Pour this water out into plugged kitchen sink for washing up dishes later. Add tea bags or infuser with herbs inside (usually about a single teaspoon to a cup of water) to cups. Pour very hot water from teakettle into cup until it is ¾ full. Steep at least 5 minutes longer for a stronger brew. Remove tea bag or infuser or strain. Drink as is or add what you prefer. Now that you’re warm from the inside let’s proceed.

Boil water; add tea leaves. Cover; reduce heat to medium. Simmer 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 minutes. Turn off heat; steep 1 hour. Strain. Apply using catch method. Catch method means pour the tea from a pitcher over your hair with a catch bowl ready underneath the bowl to catch excess liquid. You pour the tea back and forth slowly over your hair from bowl to pitcher and pitcher to bowl so that your hair is thoroughly saturated with the tea and capable of soaking in its subtle natural dyes. Do this 12-14 times. This black tea dye is a reliable color enhancer for brunettes providing good cover for graying hair of about 25% total gray.

Stephanie Rose Bird is an artist and writer. She is the author of Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs and Four Seasons of Mojo: An Herbal Guide to Natural Living.
She also hosts a Yahoo study and practice group based on her writing here.

Aloe vera

There are a couple of ways people cope with kinky, curly or wavy hair.

First, we tend to fuss with it, reaching for heat instruments, chemical relaxers, chemical treatments or torturous hairstyles that “tame it down." You know, keep it in control.

Then there are those who are happy to let their hair do its thing, finding pleasure in its many twists and turns.

Like most of you reading this article, I’ve been in both places. Most of my youth was spent having my hair cared for by others: greased-up, pulled back, poofed up, smoothed down, pressed hard and, alas, relaxed until it was lifeless and the scalp of my very sensitive head was blistered, scarred and scorched.

For nearly the last decade, I’ve been in the second camp. To start the journey, I found pleasure wearing a very short, close-cropped ‘fro. I’ve worn my hair in phat plaits, minute micro-braids, sculptural corn-rows, Goddess braids, double-strand twists with and without extensions and Nubian knots. The beauty shops found a good client in me. It was from the double-strand twist that my hair decided to lock up on its own, and now they trail well past the middle of my back.

What has been the common thread while in both camps? A plant known as aloe vera.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel is a boon for us kinky, curly gals. It helps fix damage from heat appliances. For natural sistahs in the other camp, aloe vera should be one of your staples.

Aloe vera is the styling aid nonpareil, smoothing as it is soothing, controlling without stiffness. If you wear your hair straightened, heat set, flat-ironed, pressed, corn-rowed, French braided, micro-braided, Sengalese twist, Nubian knotted, straw set, afro-puffed or in a straight up afro, this is the natural ingredient for all of you. That is why it's showing up as the main ingredient in a growing number of hair products for curly hair.

Just as there are two camps, there are different ways to use aloe:

  • Use aloe vera after procedures that cause burns and for the treatment for blisters and scars
  • Use for setting of any type of wet hair (braided ‘wave set’, ‘rod set’, ‘straw set’, hard curler set and so forth)
  • Use as an astringent (reduces oily build up)
  • Use as a styling aid to emphasize wave pattern, curly texture for men, women and children and certain pets
  • Use as an African setting aid: for French braids, corn rows, lock maintenance, micro-braids, etc

Aloe cream

There's much more to know about aloe vera, this widely available, inexpensive, animal and earth friendly herb.

Aloe is a succulent plant with clusters of long, bayonet-like leaves that is prickly at the edges and tips. It can produce a woody stem up to 15 meters tall. It has spikes of flowers in various colors, including yellow, orange and red.

The aloe plant has a lengthy history in Africa and the Middle East. Prospero Alpino reported Egyptian women perfumed their genitals with aloe. Aloe was used in remedies to treat fever and plague. The plants grew in Somalia in the times of Alexander’s conquests. In the Bible, aloe is referred to as "ahaloth," and is recorded as a perfumery herb. The Copts used aloe with other ingredients to treat eye disease, swelling and other disorders.

In recent history, people felt they could gain health benefits from orally consuming aloe juice and the gel. Aloe does contain volatile oils and aloins that are very purgative. Because of its purgative quality, it shouldn't be used if you are pregnant or have hemorrhoids. Consumption of aloe in large quantities could prove very painful. As it stands, there is no thorough scientific test to show consuming aloe has health benefits.

The Jamaican people have a great adoration for aloe, which they call "Sinkle Bible." In Jamaica, it is used to cut the sweetness in the blood. It is also used to purify the blood, cleanse the system and calm the nerves.

Aloe Vera Gel Recipe

Today, aloe is mostly used in skin- and hair-care products. Here's an easy way you can make aloe vera gel right at home.

  1. Purchase a long aloe stalk at the green grocer, botanica or fruitera, or an entire plant from a florist if desired.
  2. Thank the aloe for sharing her medicine with you.
  3. Cut off just enough of the leaf as is needed.
  4. Slit it open using a penknife or sharp kitchen knife.
  5. Scrape gel into a plastic bag, plate or container.
  6. Apply to the area to be treated or styled.

Aloe is widely available in health food stores and even in regular drugstores and supermarkets. I recommend purchasing the product pure and organic for your hair, skin and scalp.

Aloe Hair Products

Butters, Puddings & Custards

Naani's Natural's Fallen No More Frizzies Aloe Vera Gel
Blended Beauty Curl Styling Butter
Blended Cutie Down & Out Styles


Fairy Tales Super Charge Detangling Shampoo
So Cozy Swimmer's Shampoo
Alagio Silk Obsession Silk Smoothing Shampoo
Circle of Friends Ana Banana Shampoo
Curlisto Aqualizer Clarifying Shampoo
Curlisto Botanical Shampoo
John Masters Evening Primrose Shampoo
MYHoneyChild Banana Creme Scalp Cleanser
Jane Carter Solution Moisture Nourishing Shampoo
Hair Rules Aloe Grapefruit Clarifying Shampoo


Wen Cucumber Aloe Cleansing Conditioner
Blended Cutie Soft Curls & Swirls
Fairy Tales Detangling Conditioner
Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner
AG Fast Food
AG Hair Cosmetics Stimulating Balm
Alagio Silk Obsession Silk Smoothing Leave-in Detangler
Batia & Aleeza Bio-Protein Conditioner
Circle of Friends Dragon Dance Conditioner
Curl Junkie Coffee-Coco Curl Creme
Curl Junkie Curl Rehab Moisturizing Hair Treatment
Curl Junkie Hibiscus & Banana Deep Fix
Curlisto Botanical Rinse
Curlisto Deep Therapy Masque
Curlisto Protein Boost
Curlisto Repair Styling Cream
Curly Hair Solutions Slip Detangler
Fairy Tales Lemon-Aid Conditioner
Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Conditioner
Fuzzy Duck Kids' Conditioner
Jessicurl Aloeba Daily Conditioner
Mop Top Deep Conditioner

Refreshers & Sprays

Blended Beauty Kick For Curls Aloe Spritz Juice
Curl Junkie Curl Fuel Curl Enhancing Spray
CurlFriends Rejuvenate Texturizing Mist
Fuzzy Duck Detangler & Refresher Spray
Hamadi Shea Spray
Jessicurl Awe Inspiraling Spray

Stylers & Lotions

Blended Beauty Curl Styling Lotion
Blended Beauty SilkShake
Blended Beauty Satin Style Detangler
Alagio Silk Obsession Silk Smoothing Serum
CurlFriends Control Gel
Curlisto Bio-Gel Mousse
Curlisto Curl Reform
Curlisto Matte Stay
Fuzzy Duck Anti-Frizz Gel
Jessicurl Confident Coils
Kinky-Curly Curling Custard
Circle of Friends Erik's Shaping Gel
Philip Pelusi Phyto-Life reCurl

Stephanie Rose Bird is author of "Four Seasons of Mojo: An Herbal Guide to Natural Living" and group for eclectic practitioners of earth-based spirituality using her books as study guides:

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