The Original Gluten-Free Food (from Brazil)
Jul19

The Original Gluten-Free Food (from Brazil)

by Edna Sousa One day I was talking about the things that grow on you when living in a foreign country. I was listing some of the snacks that I have come to love in America and I made a comparison with our Brazilian Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese bread or balls) and I realized how much our snacks mean to us and how much they are part of our experience. For me, Brazilian cheese balls are important as food and as cosmetics too. So I decided to write about the Pao de Queijo flour, and its derivative. Growing up in Brazil we learn as a child, all about the legends behind the food ingredients names and manioca is one of those. The name in Portuguese is mandioca (man-djee-oh-kah), but the legend is from the Tupis, the native Brazilian tribe with huge influence on Brazilian vocabulary. Manioca in Tupi means Mani (which is the name of the legendary little Tupi girl) plus Oca (meaning a house) so Manioca is the house of the little Tupi girl. Legend says the Tupi Chief had a daughter with very pale skin, and she suddenly got sick and died. They buried the girl in their house, after awhile, a plant grew in that same place. Manioc root is found in sub tropical areas around the globe, such as Africa, South America, India and Asia. Its ancient roots are in Brazil and were spread worldwide by Spaniards and Portuguese to their colonies, which belonged to the Manihot esculenta family. This root is rich in carbohydrates and is high in fiber that transforms the carbohydrate into energy quite slowly. Known by different names manioca, mandioca, cassava, manihot, tapioca, etc., manioc is now a global food. Tapioca is a starch made from fresh, toxin-free manioc plant. I say “toxin-free” because in the raw form, the root contains linamarin, which converts in cyanide compost, a dangerous poison for humans. Rich in minerals such as manganese, folic acid, Calcium, Iron, vitamin C and E, B Complex, and carbohydrates, it has been largely used for people with Celiac disease because it is gluten-free. The Europeans cosmetic scientists discovered the hydrolyzed manihot extract is a great active ingredient for reversing aging skin. Studies have shown the immediate tensor effect minimizing wrinkles and crow’s feet. In cosmetic formulations, the modified Tapioca starch is largely used for reducing greasiness in products, to increase the viscosity in creams and lotions and as a delivery vehicle for bath anhydrous (dry, water-free) products. So I believe the little Mani in Brazil never thought she would be useful for both the food and cosmetics industries. But...

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Dragon’s Blood: As Rare and Special as its name!
Oct17

Dragon’s Blood: As Rare and Special as its name!

by Edna Sousa It’s called Dragon’s Blood, the infamous ingredient from the Rainforest…and it’s about as mysterious and difficult to find as a dragon. I must confess that I never heard of this plant before, but when attending a New Jersey Suppliers Day, I came across this old new anti-aging ingredient from South America represented by a European company. So, I’m from South America and I decided to catch this dragon by the tail, as you might say, and find out about this special substance. Its scientific name is Croton lechleri, and it’s a tree that grows in some Amazonian countries such as Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The name was given because of a liquid or resinous sap with scarlet color that looks a bit like blood. High in astringent substances, its bark or resin has been used by the Amazon indigenous as an anti-inflammatory — both topically and internally. I’ll focus on the cosmetic use of this natural ingredient. Studies show the Sangre de drago also contains chemicals compounds as proanthocyanidins, alkaloids, lignans and phenols, helpful in healing wounds and regenerating damaged skin. As a cosmetic chemist I must say it’s a multi-functional ingredient, being the source of many other amazing “beauty maker” substances, such as Pycnogenol, gallocathecin, tannin cathecin, betaine, -… Think of Pine Bark Extract, Green Tea Extract and Linseed all in one product?! That’s worthy of the name Dragon’s Blood! Dragon’s Blood has been used in several anti-aging formulas to repair skin and fill wrinkles, as well for acne and...

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Buriti: The Brazilian Tree of Life
Jul15

Buriti: The Brazilian Tree of Life

by Edna Sousa The Brazilian Cerrado (high desert) has been a holy place for botanist and green cosmetic chemists. Occupying 20 percent of the nation’s territory, the Brazilian Cerrado, located in the Central East region of Brazil, is very diverse and has the most interesting fauna and flora in the country. It’s a savannah-like swamp in one season and very dry in another. Among many beautiful species was born the palm tree, called Buriti meaning Tree of Life in Tupi language. The government headquarters in Brasilia is called Palacio do Buriti (Buriti Palace), named after the most abundant tree in the region. The entire tree has multiple uses, which makes it very sustainable and planet friendly. The fibers are used for handcrafts (bags, jewels, rags, clothes and hammocks); the heart is eaten as “heart of palm” (or palmito in Portuguese); the fruits give off oil used in the culinary arts and as a natural medicine for detox and insect bites. The fruit is also found in arts & crafts and fashion accessories. Buriti plant is abundant in Brazil and has been used for centuries by the Native population. Its oil is orange-reddish in color due to the high density of carotenoids and B complex found in its composition. And that is big reason why it’s oil is used in the food industry and in cosmetic for anti-aging, bath and sun block products mostly. For beauty purposes, the oil of Buriti has high concentration of essential fatty acids, palmitic and oleic, Vitamin A, C and E, with high stability point, which is a great challenge for cosmetic formulators. So, look for beauty product with Buriti in the ingredients list, as the benefits for hair and skin are...

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Lemongrass, the Most Versatile of Plants
Jul24

Lemongrass, the Most Versatile of Plants

by Edna Sousa I once said that my favorite exotic cure was Aloe vera. Well, that’s still true. But my second favorite is lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus) because is found all over the world in almost any form — herbal tea, oil, extract, raw or dry and it’s a unique plant with so many benefits for health and beauty. Origins of Lemongrass Lemongrass, a gramineae or grass-like plant from Asia is cultivated in many tropical countries for commercial production and individual uses. It tastes and smells terrific and is often mistaken for Citronella, which is cultivated for insects and pest repellents as its only therapeutic purpose. It so happens that both Lemongrass and Citronella have the same chemical compound. People often take Lemongrass tea to keep the mosquitoes away (through the perspiration of citronellal, the active anti-bug ingredient in both plants). While Citronella is much stronger than Lemongrass (too strong for a tea), I never travel without my Lemongrass tea. Benefits of Lemongrass Lemongrass in tea form is used by many cultures as an analgesic for headaches, clods, flu, upset stomach, indigestion, insomnia, constipation and fever. In cuisine, Lemongrass gives a unique touch of freshness to Thai curry or fish stew, and is highly recommended in chicken soap or roast preparations. The aromatic compounds of Lemongrass are citrol, geraniol, nerol, myrcene, citral, citronellal and several others. They are responsible for creating the lemony smell and for the healing properties of this plant. Lemongrass also relaxes muscles, is an antibacterial, antifungal, and detox for the body, since it promotes perspiration. Applied to the skin, its extract acts to disinfect, tone and firm the skin tissue. In beauty products, it’s used in soaps, cream, lotions and gels for skin disorders and anti cellulite treatments. What Products Plantlife has formulated vegan and handmade products with Lemongrass. From essential oil, body lotion, body wash, foam soap, to candles, body oils and much more. Plantlife uses an organic essential oil in its products which results in more great benefits delivered to your...

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The King of Fragrance, Boswellia (Frankincense) for Mind and Body
Jun04

The King of Fragrance, Boswellia (Frankincense) for Mind and Body

by Edna Sousa The benefits of oils and incenses for mind, body and spirit have been well known for ages. And of all the oils and essences from all the ages, I’d have to say that Frankincense garners the most respect. It’s the king of aroma therapy (rose oil probably being the queen) and has been used by many cultures for many purposes. Frankincense or Boswellia is one of the gifts brought by the three wise men for Baby Jesus. But before the Western world became aware of it, the Eastern civilization was using it for centuries in sacred events and even in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India. The Boswellia serrata trees are native to Indian mountains, around Maharashtra, Rajastan, Orissa, and the southern region. But the Boswellia family also grows in desert environments such as Arabia and Africa, where it was commercialized for many centuries. Boswellia is a gum resin collected from the tree’s trunk after the gum turns dry and hard. The colors of the resins vary from light gold to amber, depending on the particular harvest. This fascinating and fragrant tree was always used as an incense and an oil and is known by many names, such as Indian Frankincense, Frankincense Boswellia, Olibanum, Olibano, Guggal, and Salalki. The Health Benefits of Frankincense The main use of the Boswellia extract today is as an anti-inflammatory and anti arthritic, due to the presence of boswellin, the active ingredient extracted from the resin. Taken internally, the Boswellia regulates the liver and helps with respiratory disorders, ulcers, sclerosis, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and gout. Studies have shown that Boswellin also helps prevent the inflammation process, Chron’s disease, chronic constipation and auto-immune diseases. It’s healing properties have even been recognized officially by the FDA. The Beauty Benefits of Frankincense The benefits of Boswellia extend to topical uses and it’s used in the beauty industry as a anti-aging ingredient, as the boswellic acid causes skin cells to rejuvenate. Boswellic acid has astringent and tonic effect on the skin, without side effects, being perfect for any skin conditions, especially for mature and aging skin. Bella Ve’ Vitamin C Protect Day Cream contains Boswellia serrata gum as an active ingredient in its formula, working in synergy with Vitamins A and C to lighten dark spots and protect the skin from sun rays and photo-aging. The day cream also contains green tea leaf extract, which provides powerful antioxidants. It’s also worth mentioning that the Bella Ve Day Cream has a delicious and refreshing Cucumber-Lemongrass smell, perfect for Summer days. You’ll really enjoy this product and the healing benefits of Frankincense, the king of fragrances...

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Snails for Health and Beauty
May09

Snails for Health and Beauty

by Edna Soua Snail eating is not just found in French cuisine. Escargots are known by different names to the Chinese, Japanese, South American and African cultures, which also enjoy the health benefits and flavor of this delicacy. Well, I’m not going to give you a recipe for escargot. In fact, I know what you’re thinking: “I’d never eat that!” Well, don’t worry! You don’t even need to eat them to get the best of their benefits. If the snail is good for your health, then why shouldn’t it be useful for beauty too? Fact is, snail serum has been used for years in the cosmetics industry for skin disorders. It started in Europe when scientists and dermatologists were looking for an efficient product for skin recovery after traumas such as severe burns and surgeries. And the good news is…you don’t even have to kill those little creepers in the process, so it’s an environmentally friendly ingredient. The most commonly used snail for health and beauty is the Helix aspersa. Its health benefits (when eaten) include low fat and high protein, minerals, vitamins, and essential amino acids. This variety of snail has been used for many years in Chinese Traditional Medicine and is often “prescribed” for stomach disturbances, poor nutrition and high cholesterol. For use in skincare, only the snail’s secretion is needed. This serum is rich in oligosacharides, which is a super hydrator for your skin. Applied to the skin, it increases your natural glow and provides antioxidants that protect the skin cells against environmental damage. The proteins in the snail serum are also important for keeping the skin younger and renewing the collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid cell production. This will give the skin more elasticity, faster healing, and reduced wrinkles and fines lines. The serum works wonders for acne and wounds. I must confess, I’m not fond of eating snails, even with all their health benefits. But in beauty products, I’m a pretty big fan of the little mollusk. I tried Lamu Anti-Age Caracol Crème, with fantastic results. Lamu Caracol Crème has extra ingredients that take the snail secretion even farther, such as Argireline, Matrixyl 3000 and coQ10. So let the snail help you…if not on your dinner table, try it on your...

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