Sun protection doesn’t mean it has to contain chemicals. Though plant based organic sun protection may require more applications for extended sun exposure or if one sweats a lot or is in the water, these plant based sun screens may require reapplication. But I rather have to reapply a non toxic sun protection because it’s healthier and healing for and to our skin.
So a little about one of my favorite evergreens ubiquitous to us in the Mojave Desert, Larrea tridentata is the scientific name and she has many common names such as Creosote Bush, Gobernadora, Greaswood, Chaparral, Hediondilla and Little Stinker. Creosote Bush is also native in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert. Scientist discovered a conal ring - Kong’s Clone in Lucerne Valley of Creosote Bush which dates back to over 11,700 years ago. This is some ancient desert medicine here that deserves so much more respect than she receives.
I will say that when folks from the city move to out to the desert, actually they are buying second homes with the intention of using them as extra income on Airbnb, (so frustrating) these folks have been known to remove Creosote Bush because they think they are ugly shrubs. But they are so wrong and the community and folks like Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley, Mojave Desert Land Trust, Eco-Warriors, local botanist like Robin Kobaly of The Power of Plants are working hard to educate folks on the beauty of these and other native desert flora. One reason why NO ONE should remove Creosote Bush is that this plant is extremely drought tolerant. She can survive for up to 2 years without water making her the optimal type of plant that will be successful in an area where we don’t see much rainfall. This plant can also withstand the extreme climate we have here from the cold to the heat and the extremely high winds. This plant is also home to wildlife, provides shade from the hot sun for critters. The threatened Desert Tortoise burrows shelter near its roots. When watered on a regular basis or after a good rain Creosote Bush will bloom the most beautiful little 5 petaled flowers soon becoming fuzzy white fruits that contain seeds inside. In the Chihuahuan Desert her shape is more of a V-shape. Like she’s reaching up towards the sky. In the Mojave Desert her shape is more round as though she is holding space. In the Sonoran her shape is intermediate. Her leaves are sticky with resin which is one of the ways this amazing plant can thrive in this hot desert that lacks water. The resin helps protect from the harsh sun, retain moisture preventing water loss and as well protect her from herbivores. The jackrabbit is the only known species to eat from her leaves. If you have ever made a cup of Creosote Bush tea then you will agree it is not the most pleasant tasting of plants. Michael Moore said in his book Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West, “ if you like it’s tasty you need professional counseling”. It’s a hard one to swallow so you will find folks gathering the plant, drying and powdering up to use in capsules. I was taught by a local elder Herbalist, Doug Mckern of La Larria Botanicals that a more palpable way of drinking Creosote Bush tea is by adding ginger root and licorice root . Well, for folks with a history of high blood pressure I would consult a doctor befor eusing licorice root as it can elevate blood sugar. From personal experience Licorice Root is sweet. Sweeter than sugar or honey. It also contains saponins which lend to a soapy taste. I opt to leave licorice root out and make a decoction of Ginger root. Heads up, you will have a resinous ring around your pot.
Creosote Bush in nature is allelopathic, having a chemical called nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) (try saying than 5 times or even once, that’s a difficult tongue twister) this chemical is found in the roots and leaves of Creosote Bush that inhibit growth of other flora (with the exception of some) but as well self inhibits growth. This is what lends to one of her common names, Gobernadora in Spanish this means governess which is taken from how Creosote Bush “governs” the land. Next time you are in the desert observe the growth pattern of this plant. You will notice how she holds space, with abundant spacing of other Larrea’s (Creosote Bush) and other flora. You will find other plants like Mormon Tea, Cholla, Desert Senna and other cacti’s growing near by or directly under her shade. In a way Larrea uses these plants as a water source and they take from Larrea her mighty shade that she provides. These plants have an interconnected relationship that is of a benefit each other. It’s beautiful to observe and just be with this plant.
If you would like to learn more about this ancient medicine of the desert, I will be teaching a hands-on workshop crafted around this amazing plant and giving a lecture on Larrea tridentata Creosote Bush in Los Angeles gentrified Highland Park. Keep posted to my blog and social media pages (links to my Facebook and Instagram listed on my website home page)
So a little about some new stuff i have been making; I like making products that have multiple uses. So I made this organic sunscreen using Creosote Bush with the intention for multi-purpose use. (See below) I made two different types of sunscreens. Both available upon request with or without non nano Zinc Oxide.
Desert Shade Sun-Protect
Red Raspberry Seed Oil
Zinc Oxide (non nano)
Desert Shade Sun Protect is for folks with drier skin. Needing hydration and protection. Remember it’s available with the option of with or without Zinc Oxide. Some folks that are lighter skin need that extra protection
OUTDOOR WANDERBABES (available on my website shop just added the non nano Zinc Oxide option for folks)
St. John’s Wort
Zinc Oxide (non nano)
•soothes the itch & pain of insect bites, especially those of mosquitoes & critter stings • skin irritation •diaper rash •sunburn - wind burn •minor burns •chapped skin & lips •cuts/scratches •bruises •muscle aches •hydrating dry skin, especially under the eye area where either dwelling at high altitudes or in the desert that thin skin tends to reveal its lines when needing hydration both internally & topically.
2oz $13 + s/h 4oz $25 + s/h this is a mason jar that I offer a refill discount when you return the jar. Refills are $20
In fact I’ve been using a cream I made using Larrea tridentata- Creosote Bush and using animal fat - organic rendered lard as part of an anti-aging treatment. More on that in next months class.
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