Yarb Tales
August 1, 2016

The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.


The past two weeks I have been moving electric fence from one mowing area to the next so that donkeys, Whiskey and Tango have lush grazing. As I tromped across high grass wearing shorts and no insect repellent I thought I was pretty smarty because I had not had to pick off even one tick in all that time.

That is, until after I worked the fence this morning. During a water break, I looked down at my legs and watched in horror as tiny black specks moved in clusters up towards my waistband. Those smaller-than-poppy-seed creatures were seed ticks.

Call me vengeful but I believe that no tick that dares to crawl on me should escape with its life.

I had two choices, find the roll of masking tape and stick them on the adhesive or slather the ticks with oil. Ticks along with other mites and insects breathe through spiracles or holes in their exoskeleton. Oil will clog the breathing apparatus and suffocate the pests. Vegetable oil may also be used as a carrier for insect repellent essential oil however, I had not applied this preventative before heading out to work this morning. As the cluster of seed ticks moved up my legs, I really just wanted to screech and jump in the shower.

Then it occurred to me that this was a perfect opportunity for a beauty treatment. Here is the recipe for sugar scrub, a remedy from the creative herbal home by Susan Belsinger and me.

sugar scrubs

This is not edible—it is for your skin. Sugar cane produces glycolic acid, which is a natural alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin. This doesn’t dry your skin out like a salt scrub does and will leave your skin feeling really soft and well lubricated. Use whatever combination of dried herbs you like—a combination of 2 or 3 is good—remove the leaves or flowers from stems. Essential oils may also be used, just be sure that they are pure oils and not chemically made. This basic recipe fits into an 8-ounce jar.

lavender sugar scrub
Lavender is a cell regenerator and has the reputation for slowing wrinkles. It is used on scarring, burns, sun-damaged skin, stretch marks, rashes and skin infections.

1 cup less 2 tablespoons white or brown sugar
2 ounces (about 6 tablespoons) almond, olive, grapeseed or jojoba oil or a combination thereof
About 2 tablespoons total: equal parts organic dried lavender blooms. Fresh flowers may be used if the sugar scrub is to be used the same day. Dried herbs must be used if the scrub is to be stored for more than a day.

a few drops of essential oils of lavender and/or chamomile

Put the sugar in a non-reactive bowl. Crush the lavender flowers with a mortar and pestle and add them to the sugar. Add the oil. If using essential oils drop them into the oil to disperse. Blend well, transfer into clean jars, use plastic lids and label; keep out of reach of children. Keep in a cool place and use within 1 month.

In the shower, scoop some scrub into your hand and gently massage it into your skin. Leave for a minute or two and rinse with warm water. Sometimes after using—the sugar gets a bit hard from water getting mixed with it—just rub between your hands to crumble it and use as directed. when the scrub is just about gone, if there is still liquid & herbs in the bottom of the jar, add another scoop of sugar and shake the jar.

CAUTION:  Please be careful in shower when using oil, since it may be slippery. Gently pat dry. It is best not to use this for the first time before a special event in case the cleansing causes blotchy skin. Keep out of reach of children.

Right now, there ain't no bugs on me! If I don't see you in the future, I'll see you in the pasture!