The Wax used to produce the balm was Beeswax.
Beeswax can be purchased and used in many forms, in this particular product, flaked Beeswax was used. The larger surface area of the smaller particles, allows it to melt faster during the production time, it is also a cleaner form to use, allowing for no debris within the product.
The Beeswax is utilised in a variety of skin care products, and according to studies, the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry use 60% of total production within the commercial industry.
When constructing a honeycomb, bees secrete a nutrient-rich substance called Beeswax. The wax is secreted by the female worker bees from wax glands on the underside of the abdomen, it is moulded into six-sided cells which are filled with honey, and then capped with more wax. To produce one pound of wax, a bee consumes an estimated six to eight to ten pounds of honey, this relates to 150,000 miles of flight time for the bee.
Beeswax is easily incorporated with water in oil or oil in water emulsions. It is an excellent emollient and support for moisturisers, it provides the skin with a protective action of a nonocclusive type, bestows consistency to emulsions an oil-gels and reinforces the action of detergents. This barrier provides a film of protection against irritants while still allowing the skin to breathe. The humectant properties means that the Beeswax draws moisture to the skin and seals it, which is beneficial to soften and rehydrate dry skin and is also beneficial for general cell reconstruction. Beeswax contains vitamin A which has a long-standing history within the scientific fields as being beneficial to the skin, and is used widely in commerical skincare products.
Nonallergic, Beeswax also sustains sunscreen action with its water repellent properties, it combines well with multiple ingredients, contains elasticity and provides greater permanence on skin or lip surfaces.
Beeswax is also associated with healing, softening and antiseptic properties, it was an irritation potential of zero, and a comedogenicity (doesn't clog pores) rating of 0-2, an excellent benefit in cosmetic formulations. Only those who have been identified as allergic to Beeswax should use caution when handling products containing the wax as it could cause undesirable skin interactions.
In its natural state, Beeswax is firm but pliable. Melted and combined with other ingredients, it adds body to skincare products, making creams thicker. Like other beehive products, including honey and royal jelly, beeswax offers anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral benefits.
According to a 2005 study conducted at the Dubai Specialised Medical Centre in the United Arab Emirates, researchers combined honey, olive oil and beeswax, then applied the mixture to laboratory plates on which bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, and the fungus, Candida albicans were growing. The honey/beeswax mixture inhibited the growth of the bacteria and the fungus, making beeswax, along with honey, potentially beneficial in the treatment of bacterial skin conditions. This study lends itself to the theory that Beeswax has antibacterial properties, however to fully acknowledge this theory, substantially more laboratory tests and subject tests would have to be performed against a placebo group.
The Oil used to produce the balm was Almond Oil.
Many Oils can be used in a Green Pharmacy preparation, including Olive Oil, Seabuckthorn Oil and Coconut Oil. In the Comfrey balm preparation I chose Almond Oil, initially for its asthetic properties, however it has its own beneficial properties. It's botanical name is Prunus amygdalus var. dulcus.
Almond Oil is extracted from the almond kernels, it is pale yellow in colour and has virtually no smell. It is a rich source of vitamin E, whilst containing other nutritious compounds, such as vitamin D and some essential minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
Almond Oil is an all purpose base oil, which is easily accessible from any other retail health store, it is widely used in Aromatherapy. The oil is easily absorbable and serves as a great emollient. Almond Oil is suitable for any skin type, whether oily, dry or normal. It is the best therapy for conditioning, providing deep moisturisation and nourishment to the skin and restoring the skins natural "glow".
Almond Oil has a high concentration of oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids, this lubricative capacity helps soothe skin irritation and inflammation. It also relieves dry and itching skin, cures chapped lips and body rashes. When applied to aching muscles, the Almond Oil can also act as a pain reliever.
Almond Oil has also been known to delay the ageing process and make the skin look younger, it can also lighten dark circles and patches on the skin. The higher concentrations of vitamin A and E that Almond Oil contains are highly beneficial for skin hydration and moisturisation, the anti-oxidant qualities of both these vitamins help to smooth the fine lines and wrinkles and increase blood flow to the skin, boosting elasticity which will in turn prevent new wrinkles forming. The Almond Oil eliminates impurities and removes dead cells, it refines the structure of the skin and stimulates cell renewal, it purifies, soothes and decongests the skin, leaving the skin feeling soft, renewed and radiant.
Only those with nut allergies or allergies to vitamin concentrations, such as higher vitamin E, should air caution when using products containing Almond Oil.
The Botanical Element used to produce the balm was Comfrey Root.
Comfrey, botanical name: Symphytum officinale L., is a perennial herb of the Boraginaceae family. It has a black, turnip-like root and large, hairy broad leaves that bears small bell-shaped white, cream, light purple or pink flowers. It is native to Europe, growing in damp, grassy places and is usually found on river banks and ditches. Comfrey has long been recognised by both organic gardeners and herbalists for its versatility, and medicinal properties.
Contemporary herbalists view Comfrey as an ambivalent and controversial herb that may offer therapeutic benefits but can cause liver toxicity. Two cases of liver disease relating to Comfrey consumption have been reported in the United States, however they both appear to be due to excessive intake of Comfrey. For example, a 47-year-old woman developed a liver ailment after consuming up to 10 cups of Comfrey tea a day, whilst also consuming Comfrey pills by the hanful for more than a year in an attempt to cure her stomach pains, fatigue and allergies.
One of the nicknames for Comfrey is "knitbone", a reminder of its traditional use in healing bone fractures. Scientific study has confirmed that Comfrey can influence the course of bone ailments. The herb contains the active component allantoin, a cell proliferant that speeds up the natural replacement of body cells. This is found in the highest volumes in the root of the botanical.
Historically, Comfrey was used in an attempt to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from bronchial problems, broken bones, sprains, arthritis, gastric and varicose ulcers, severe burns, acne and other skin conditions. It was reputed to have bone and teeth building properties in children, and have value in treating "many female disorders".
Constituents of Comfrey also include mucilage, steroidal saponins, tannins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, inulin and proteins.
Internal usage of Comfrey should be avoided because it contains hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkanoids (PAs), consumption of these PAs can lead to veno-occlusive disease (VOD). VOD can in turn lead to liver failure, and Comfrey, taken in extreme amounts, has been implicated in at least one death. Excessive doses of symphytine, another of the PAs in Comfrey, has been shown to induce precancerous changes in rats. The highest volume of these PAs is found to be in the leaves and roots.
However for external use, recent placebo-controlled studies have found that when used topically Comfrey preparations have been shown to decrease back pain.
Ointments containing Comfrey, often made with lanolin as well, are supposed to be good for healing wounds and burns on the skin. Comfrey leaves added to bathwater are also supposed to be good for the skin.
The allantoin in the Comfrey, when applied to the skin, accelerates the healing of tissue and the closing of wounds. When fresh leaves or roots are applied to a wound it causes it to contract and close quicker and inhibits the opportunity for infection while minimising scarring.
Comfrey root is used to relieve pain from blunt injuries, promote healing of broken bones, sprains and bruises, reduce swelling and edema, and encourage the rapid and healthy regrowth of skin and tissue cells. A strong infusion of the roots can be used as a skin wash to relieve irritation and promote faster healing.
Comfrey root has various other nutrient benefits, such as protein, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, mucilaginous fibre, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, sulpher, copper, zinc, selenium and germanium. During the water bath process, these beneficial components will transfer from the grated Comfrey root and infuse within the chosen Oil, making the end product of the balm nutrient rich.
Take a glass jam jar and grate in Comfrey root, you will find this releases the mucilage components. Fill the glass jar about 2/3 and then cover with the Almond Oil.
Place in a water bath and leave for 20 minutes, this is the optimal time for the infusion of the active components from the Comfrey root into the Almond Oil. Stir.
Sieve the used root from the Oil, composting the root and, after cleaning the jar, returning the Oil to the jar and to the water bath.
Add 2 to 3 tsp's of the Beeswax to the Oil (this measurement applies to a jar that is half full, adjust accordingly - add more Beeswax if you would like a firmer concoction, less for a more liquid concoction. Leave in the water bath, allowing the heat to melt the wax. Stir.
Remove the jar from the water bath and allow to cool. After the balm has cooled sufficently so the heat of the Oil won't burn off the essential oils, t this stage colouring and essential oils can be added, all for aesthetic purposes.