How County Apothecary Came to Be.
The Weird Journey that Led Backwards and Forwards to My Passion with Purslane
The flight from Toronto to Vancouver had just landed and I felt the familiar relief of arriving at my destination and looking forward to getting off the plane. But I also felt an enormous dread and feared the simple act of getting up and walking off the plane.
I knew that over four hours of neglect to my eczema inflamed feet would not go unpunished. I had been wearing shoes a full size larger than normal for a few months – as soon as this angry dermatitis appeared and tortured me with swollen and inflamed feet, thickened skin, insane and unrelenting itching and burning and split and cracked skin that bled and ached. Sure enough, as soon as I stood up, I could feel the skin on the bottom of my feet begin to split. I truly could feel my dry skin split apart with each step up the plane aisle. By the time I got to my hotel room to soak and tend to my feet, both soles were split from side to side in three places. Ouch!
It was 2012 and this curse of “atopic dermatitis", as determined by the dermatologist , appeared slowly and quietly – something I had never experience before. I was working in a demanding applications specialist role throughout Canada for a Medical Imaging company. Reflecting back, there was some stress in my life - in a short period of time, my beloved twelve year old Poodle passed away and my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had a busy job with travel every week and a very active family life.
So, perhaps stress did play a part in the eczema appearing out of the blue. True causes are not well understood or known but recent information tells us that atopic dermatitis happens when your skin’s natural barrier against the elements is weakened. This means your skin is less able to protect you against irritants and allergens. Atopic dermatitis is likely caused by a combination of factors such as genes, dry skin, immune system disfunction, environmental and allergy triggers and reactions and stress.
None of the numerous over the counter remedies for eczema or psoriasis - or the prescriptions from the Dermatologist, offered relief. Some made it worse. Cool compresses, showers and natural moisturizers did quiet the itching and burning. And so , after about 6 months, it slowly subsided and then disappeared completely as quietly as it had appeared. All the pain and itching and horrible embarrassment of this skin affliction was gone.
All was right in my world as far as my skin was concerned.
In late 2018, we moved to the beautiful community of Prince Edward County and were looking for change and challenge as our careers changed .
As 2020 dawned, we came across a young natural skin care business that was for sale that had a lot of potential. The formulas were good and used only all natural ingredients. The products were made to offer improvement , nourishment and calming effects to support skin health. The suppliers and contract manufacturer were solid and reputable. I jumped at the opportunity and began intense research into natural skin care while reviewing the existing formulations.
Ironically, it was just then that an innocent little patch of itchy skin appeared around my ankles and feet. Yikes! With tiny raised red bumps it itched, ferociously as it spread over my body, all within about 10 days. I again sprang into action seeking that miracle product that would stop the itch, swelling and pain of the rash. Hourly cool showers and foot baths, did calm the itch, but not for long. I tried all of the products from the line we had just purchased, "natural" creams, anti histamine ointments, and every topical cream that promised relief from the drugstore shelves. Some helped , but did not heal. A prescription of a corticosteroid salve did help to reduce the itching somewhat and I do believe helped to stop the spread and calm the anger out of the rash. So bizarre how the skin can flare up so suddenly without reason.
Slowly , my skin improved as spring arrived and within three months I was almost back to normal-except for two areas on the front of my shins ,of all places, that continued to itch and the irritation would not heal.
It was very early spring when we discovered Purslane ( Portulaca Oleracea). It was uncanny how the universe revealed purslane to us – it just kept appearing in our daily lives. We found it growing in the front yard, the back yard, in our flower beds and in the new wooden garden boxes we had just built .We ordered cultivated seeds and it grew and flourished in our garden and greenhouse.
We came across endless articles and research papers on this powerhouse plant that grows without effort or attention yet contains massive amounts of vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants, omega 3 fatty acids – in fact it is known of as one of the most nutrient dense plants on our planet! Ongoing research continues to confirm this humble plant provides enormous body and skin health benefits from the entire plant- the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds.
There were numerous reports of topical skin relief with the purslane plant documented so I picked a few handfuls of wild purslane from the yard and followed a recipe I found for a skin poultice. I tested for a reaction with crushed leaves on the affected area. All went well.
I did not expect much as it was too easy- it was just purslane pulverized with our inversion blender with small amounts of water to create a thick, chunky paste. I coated the affected areas on my shins with the purslane paste and left it on for about a half an hour. I was amazed how quickly the inflammation and redness had receded. I did two more treatments like this over the next few days and it was all gone. Proof of the healing power of this plant – on my own body.
Purslane has been used topically to treat skin conditions, insect and snake bites and inflammations for thousands of year as well as used medicinally as a treatment for numerous ailments and conditions throughout history. We knew from our research that this plant was going to be the foundation for our skin care products. The data showed time and time again, that Purslane provides not only nutrition and hydration to skin but calming, anti inflammatory , anti fungal, and anti oxidant benefits to skin with no adverse effects.
County Apothecary was born with Purslane at the centre of it all.
It is the game changer in our formulations that takes our products to the next level in performance and results. (We are working on a comprehensive review of the long list of benefits and the nutrient profile of this prolific plant for a future blog.)
We worked with our manufacturing partner to maximize Purslane‘s benefits with other natural healing ingredients to create very effective products that would benefit any skin type. It had to be safe for irritated and inflamed skin conditions as well. We wanted to create a simple but powerful group of products that would provide nourishment , hydration, protection and anti aging benefits. We worked to create a small but luxurious collection that was the best quality and ingredient rich formulas that would provide results.
We are proud of the products offered by County Apothecary and are working to provide more of the best in skin care products and natural supplements as we continue to research and create. Our glowing customer reviews encourage us to continue to provide the best in our Purslane Products.
We use our skin care products every day and supplement our diet with our Purslane Herb and our Purslane Extract Powder . And of course, all the fresh purslane we can when it is in season.
Its January again, the new year 2021 has just begun. I remember last year and am prepared. I have a weekly Purslane infused foot bath which softens and pampers my tootsies. Dried purslane herb is steeped in my large vintage enamel bowl and I enjoy a quiet soak for 15 minutes or so, knowing my skin is getting nutrients and anti inflammatory benefits.
After drying, I like to use the Vital Nutrients moisturizer for added moisture and protection , put on some cotton socks and skip into my day.
My passion for Purslane grows daily.
Besides using our Purslane based skin care products and supplementing my diet with the Purslane Herb and Extract Powder , I am attempting to grow it inside with grow lights -without much luck - as we are in the thick of winter here in Prince Edward County , Ontario, Canada. It grew so effortlessly in the summer heat and we harvested it daily! I will keep experimenting on coaxing it to grow past microgreen size as we miss using purslane daily in our dishes and salads.
My skin has never looked better and I am so grateful for its healing powers and nutrient benefits for my skin and the added nutrition it provides my body. I am confident in the protection and anti inflammatory properties it provides to defend my skin and protect it daily.
We look forward to our continued research, collaboration and creation of products in our County Apothecary Skin Care that may assist in continued improvement in skin and body health.
Discover Purslane for yourself- you too may develop a passion for this humble yet powerful plant.