From The Archives: Hurricane Newsletter from October 18, 2014

Aloha to our Ohana

Things are soggy here on the Big Island.  Hurricane Ana is leaving us with plenty of rain but no real damage and we are all grateful for that.  However, Ana did cause our Saturday (and maybe Sunday's) Farmers Market to be cancelled, so we thought we would bring the Farmer's Market and Farm Market pricing to you!  30% off your entire order on our website - just enter the code ANA at checkout and your total will be adjusted to give you your discount.  This might be a good time to stock up for the Holidays.

One of the challenges a small business faces is packaging.  It is doubly so when you live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Our supplier has just raised the minimum order on one of our jars to 25,000 pieces.  That's a lot of body polish!  The result is that you will see some changes in our packaging - lined Kraft envelopes for our scrubs to start.  It means larger sizes for the same price, a better value for you, and greater sustainability.  I'm calling it "a win."

I created a Pinterest account when I was rebuilding the website so I could test our photos.  Well, Karen has recently discovered that Luana Naturals has a Pinterest Board and she has been filling it with all sorts of useful information, photos from the farm, and other Pins that inspire her creativity.  Stop on by and take a peek.  She would love it if you would "Re-Pin."

In a couple of weeks, watch your email for our November Newsletter and see what Karen has planned for the Holidays.  Can you believe they are almost here?

Mahalo for supporting my family and farm.

All my best,

Turmeric: The Mother of All Herbs

Freshly harvested turmeric or Hawaiian Olena here on Luana Farm

Freshly harvested turmeric or Hawaiian Olena here on Luana Farm

The golden yellow root of the turmeric plant is known as the healing herb.  You might know it from your favorite Indian food for it is used in 90% of Indian dishes and is the key element of curries.  It is what gives mustard its yellow color.  It can also be used as a beautiful yellow dye for textiles.  Turmeric's interesting, earthy flavor is not the most convincing reason to bring it into your diet.  It is how it works in tandem with its other attributes - the healing properties and saffron color - that makes it the "Mother of All Herbs.”

Turmeric has played an important role in cultures around the world.  India and China have used the spice in their foods and rituals dating back 5,000 years or more.  Turmeric lies at the heart of Ayurvedic practices.  Arab traders introduced it to Europe in the 13th century.  Marco Polo wrote about the spice in his journals.  The ancient Polynesians carried turmeric with them on their journey across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.  We call it - Olena.  Its use in Western culture is fairly recent.

Here at Luana Farm we use fresh, raw turmeric rhizomes, sliced and cooked in our soups, added to rice and lentils, mixed into salad dressings, grated for our teas, simmered with coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon, and honey for a delicious warm drink, and juiced with our lilikoi and ginger.  (Note:  The parts of my Champion juicier are an interesting yellow color.  Well worth it but remember turmeric’s dye properties when you prepare it.)  Powdered turmeric can also be used and is not as strong of a flavor.  Look for an organic source that is manufactured to high standards, or else you will not have the same benefits.  Start with a small amount and add it slowly to your food as desired.  A little turmeric goes a long way!

Studies continue to find more benefits of turmeric for our bodies.  It contains compounds called curcuminoids, the most important one being curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.  This means turmeric helps us to fight off free radicals that can cause damage and it stimulates our body’s own antioxidant mechanisms.  Plus, it helps to fight inflammation which plays a major role in most every chronic, Western disease.  Curcumin improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.  This helps in fighting heart disease.  It also increases brain levels of BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.  This could be effective in reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.  And studies have shown that turmeric can reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, and reduce the spread of cancer, by contributing to the death of cancerous cells.  The list of research and beneficial results of ingesting turmeric is endless.  Turmeric outperformed many pharmaceuticals in its effects against chronic, debilitating diseases, and did so with no adverse side effects.  That is a whole lot of benefit from one orange root!

Turmeric enhances our outer beauty as well.  Curcuminoids support blood and liver functions and that in turn helps our skin to look great.  It fights inflammation and free radicals, both of which can damage our skin and cause premature aging.  And cleansing with turmeric can help to maintain your skin’s elasticity.  We use turmeric in our Volcano Clay Facial Mask for these benefits; plus it is a gentle exfoliant.  You can blend your favorite clay mask with a bit of turmeric, honey, and water and create a scrub that can cool inflammation and help with acne.  Apply evenly on your face or body, allow to dry, and then wash off with warm water.  Again, a little goes a long way.  Be mindful that turmeric will stain washcloths a pretty shade of yellow.   I tell my clients to keep one just for this occasion.  You can also blend some powered turmeric with baking soda and coconut oil for a beneficial and whiting toothpaste.  No worries, your toothbrush will be yellow but your teeth will not!

How can I grow my own raw turmeric?  Turmeric or Curcuma domestic, grows from a branching rhizome that looks much like ginger root, to which it is related.  It is of tropical origin, growing wild in south and southeast Asia.  For those in cooler climates, it can be grown in a pot indoors.  Its broad leaves smell like mango to me and the attractive flowers range in color from white to pink.  For us, it grows everywhere on our farm.  If it wasn’t such an amazing plant, we might consider it a weed.  Here in Hawaii, you can easily purchase fresh turmeric root at the local farmers markets and to propagate, just stick them in or on the ground and it goes. 

To find a fresh turmeric rhizome on the mainland, check your local nursery or Asian market.  Left alone in a paper bag in a warm, dark place, the “fingers” of the root will sprout easily.  If you prefer, you can separate each “finger” and lay them in a seed tray with potting soil mix, cover with plastic, and place on a warming mat or the top of the refrigerator.  Green shoots should appear in a couple of weeks, and then plant in a container of your choosing.  Cover the rhizome with 1/2 inch of soil.  Keep the plants in a sunny, south-facing window and water frequently.  After several months, the rhizomes will begin to branch and spread.  When the leaves begin to die back, carefully unearth the rhizomes at the edge of the clump to use in cooking, cleansing, or to propagate new plants.  

It is no wonder that turmeric is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods.  It is inexpensive, mild in taste, and benefits every system in the body.  Adding this powerful root to your diet is one of the best things you can do for your overall, long-term health and beauty.

If you are interested in more information about turmeric and its potential to improve your beauty, health, and cognition, check out this page at

Eczema: A Complex Condition

Tim and I are often asked about natural cures for eczema.  This is a complex skin condition and while I am a doctor - PhD in History - I am only an authority of 19th and 20th-century social movements.  If you are suffering from a severe skin disorder, I first recommend that you seek a medical opinion.  That being said, I do have some information and suggestions that you might find useful.

Weekly exfoliating is important in order to remove dead skin cells and keep your skin soft and glowing.  Thank you to Jane Gable for the pictures of my hands and our Avocado Rose Sugar Scrub at the South Kona Green Market!

Weekly exfoliating is important in order to remove dead skin cells and keep your skin soft and glowing.  Thank you to Jane Gable for the pictures of my hands and our Avocado Rose Sugar Scrub at the South Kona Green Market!

Most importantly, whenever you have a skin disorder, such as, blemishes, rash, redness, discoloration, itchy bumps, it is almost always an indication of something going on inside your body.  Your skin is the first organ to respond to inflammation and eczema is an autoimmune disease.  Your skin is more permeable to toxins and this causes your immune system to work overtime.  With eczema treatments, you need to think both topically and internally.  

Briefly, eczema is caused by a reaction similar to that of an allergy and can cause chronic inflammation.  The condition often comes and goes and might accompany other allergic reactions such as asthma.  Doctors and scientists are fairly certain that there is a genetic connection.  In some cases, specific items such as soaps, detergents, dust mites, animal dander, and metals can trigger eczema.  However, for most people, there is no known allergen that causes their personal reaction.  It could be that their eczema worsens in dry climates, or exposure to water, or temperature changes, and very often manifests itself when the individual is under stress.

So how can my diet help improve my eczema?  Consider soothing and healing the gut lining with foods like bone broth and beneficial fats.  Increase your omega-3 intake with avocados, fresh salmon or tuna from unpolluted waters, eggs, organic raw nuts, and organic hemp, chia or flax seeds.  Dr. Weil recommends taking gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). You can find this unusual fatty acid in evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil.  It is very hard to come by in the diet. GLA appears to have nourishing effects on skin, hair, and nails. He suggests taking 500 mg twice a day.  The results are not overnight.  Expect to wait six to eight weeks to see the benefits.  

Finally, you want to boost the beneficial gut bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods.  It’s time to make friends with sauerkraut.  Also keep a food log and note any food triggers.  Dairy might be your culprit.  Milk and milk products can irritate the immune system.  There is also a medical correlation between being sensitive to gluten and eczema.  Track your diet and look for patterns.

Topically, you need to exfoliate the skin gently.  Coffee grounds make a wonderful soft scrub and caffeine seems to have a beneficial effect on healing inflamed skin disorders due to its ability to increase blood circulation.  Avocado oil is beneficial both as a salad dressing and in treating eczema as a moisturizer.  I also recommend cold-pressed, virgin organic coconut oil and natural D-alpha tocopherol vitamin E oil.  Bathing in Epsom salts can also provide relief since they are high in magnesium.  If your eczema is wet and oozing, try a spray of sea salt blended with avocado oil and aloe vera juice.  Many of Luana Naturals’ clients have found relief with our Sea Spray with beneficial blue algae, Kona Mocha Scrub, and our custom Ili Oil.

In your research, consider therapies in homeopathic and Chinese medicine.  Both have proven effective for many skin conditions and are worth exploring. Look online to find local practitioners.

Remember:  No scratching.  This makes the condition worse.  I know - easier said than done.  While there is currently no "cure" for eczema, the good news is that it is possible to improve your symptoms from the inside and out.


5 Ingredients to add to your juicing routine for Radiant Skin

All the beautiful colors of the fruits and vegetables come together to make one delicious and good-for-your-skin drink

All the beautiful colors of the fruits and vegetables come together to make one delicious and good-for-your-skin drink

Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables has become all the rage and for good reason.  It is a simple way to sneak in a few more servings of veggies into your diet.  Everyone has their favorite combination and I'm no exception.  I collect countless recipes but I always return to my ole' standby.  I find what I need in my garden or the local farmers market on the weekend.  My juice feeds not only my body but these 5 simple ingredients nourish the skin:

1.)  Apples:  Take one organic apple, wash well, slice into large pieces and add to juicer.   

Apples benefit your skin by boosting your intake of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid.  Vitamin C helps to make collagen, a crucial protein that helps your skin maintain its waterproof barrier.  Plus, apples are an excellent source of copper and we know from an earlier post the importance of copper for healthy skin.  A skin-friendly source of vitamin A, a retinoid, can be found in apples as well.  This vitamin is necessary for building healthy skin tissue, and may help to reduce the risk of skin cancer, according to the Linus Paulin Institute.

2.)  Beetroot:  Remove the tops from 3 large organic beets, scrub clean, no need to peel, cut into quarters and add to juicer.  Add the leaves and stems in small amounts.  If you only know pickled beets in a jar as a kid, juice fresh beets and find out just how delicious they can be.

Beets are a powerhouse vegetable for the body.  They contain vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and betalains, all which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support for the body.  In particular to the skin, these nutrients stimulate cell production and repair, protecting you from premature aging and wrinkles.   They also help prevent blemishes and skin inflammation.  Add to the list, the ability to purify the blood and you have yourself a healthy glow.

3.)  Carrots:  Take 4 large carrots, peel, slice in large chunks, and add to juicer.

We all know that carrots are known for their high levels of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.  This is a powerful antioxidant that keeps cells healthy, slows the aging process, and helps to maintain a youthful appearance.  Add in more vitamin C from the carrots, and you promote skin elasticity, and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.  The potassium in carrots also assists in the production of new skin cells, reduces blemishes, and helps with dark spots on the skin. 

4.)  Kale:  Wash 4 large leaves thoroughly, no need to remove the stems.  Juice.  Note:  When juicing the kale or the beet tops, follow the leaves with a sliced carrot or apple to help work the stems through the machine.  You want to get every bit of kale's goodness.

Every diet can benefit from more dark green, leafy vegetables.   Kale is one of those effective anti-inflammatory foods.  It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, E, B1, B2, B3, calcium, beta-carotene, phosphorous, iron, copper, magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and the carotenoid, lutein. That is one long list of beneficial nutrients for healthy and glowing skin!  Each repairs and maintains skin cells.  If you have acne issues, add kale into your diet and see the change it will make.  When something is out of balance in the body, it will first manifest itself as a skin concern.  Also, kale will cleanse the liver and move toxins through your body.  A clean and healthy digestive system means clear and beautiful skin.  Kale is must in your juicing routine.

5.)  Ginger:  An inch is all you need of the root.  Adjust to taste.  If fresh from the garden, no need to peel, just scrub clean, slice, and juice.  A trick in peeling ginger is to use the back of a spoon.  It usually does the trick without removing too much of the beneficial root flesh.

You can see how all these ingredients work together to provide your skin with what you need to look and feel great.  Ginger is another antioxidant and anti-inflammatory super food.  It contains magnesium, potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6.  When your immune system is working effectively, your skin is going to look great.

Juicing.  It is a healthy beauty boost.  Not only does it leave you with a natural glow but it helps in healing chronic disease and detoxifying the body.  If you struggle with skin conditions, juicing is a must.  Learn what vegetables are beneficial to the skin and create your own combinations.  Lets drink to beautiful, healthy, and flawless skin!



The most soothing tea you will ever drink. . .

A refreshing summer tea that calms anxiety, promotes restful sleep, helps with digestion, and even repels mosquitoes, Lemon Balm or Melissa officials is an important perennial to add to your beauty and medicine chest garden.  

Freshly picked Lemon Balm from the gardens of Luana Farm

Freshly picked Lemon Balm from the gardens of Luana Farm

Used by the ancient Greeks and Romans and found throughout most of Europe by the Middle Ages, lemon balm’s uses are extensive.  Charles V of France drank lemon balm tea daily for his health; the Carmelite nuns sold Carmelite Water with lemon balm to cure nervous headaches; and a Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (1493-1541) believed the plant was the “elixir of life.”  This perennial herb is still prized for its many uses as an all around general tonic for the body.  

And it is no surprise, that lemon balm - filled with antioxidants - is delicious for the skin.  Add a handful of crushed fresh or dried leaves to a muslin bag, and let the warm water run through it as you fill the bathtub.  It also contains anti-viral properties so it lends itself as a topical application for treating cold sores.  It doesn’t seem to prevent them but it does speed healing, so states Celeste Robb-Nicholson, editor in chief of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.  Add a drop or two of lemon balm essential oil to aloe vera juice and you have a soothing and beneficial facial toner.  Beware.  It is one of the most expensive oils you can purchase.  That means each drop is precious.  The oil is steamed distilled from the flowering tops of the plant as well as the leaves.  The reason the cost is so high is that yields are low.  Only .5 ml of essential oil per kilo of lemon balm distilled.  That’s a lot of plant material.

But growing lemon balm is easy and inexpensive.  It is in the mint family and so spreads and propagates with little effort.  It can compete for garden space so plant it next to other vigorous perennials that will hold their own.  The plant grows to be 2 feet tall or so and pruning a few times during the season will help to maintain new growth.  Here in Hawaii, it grows year round.  In very cold climates, mulch the plants and they will survive the winter.

My favorite way to enjoy the benefits of this herb is to make a tisane or infusion with fresh cuttings.  Chop the leaves and stems and pour boiling water over them.  I use about three big handfuls for a 1/2 gallon jar.  Let the herb steep for two hours or more and then chill and serve.  If you do not have fresh lemon balm, you can use 1 oz. of dried herb per quart of water and let it steep for four hours or more before straining and refrigerating.  Keep your jar covered because you do not want the delicious oils that provide the herb its lemony scent to evaporate with the steam.

My favorite drink when I’m visiting Austria is a type of Mojito minus the rum and made from lemon balm.  Add lemon juice and honey or organic simple sugar syrup to fresh leaves and flowers, muddle together, and you have a sweet and fabulous beverage.

Lemon balm is safe, delicious, and easy to grow.  Reach for a cup of lemon balm tea the next time you have a headache or can’t sleep or just want something yummy to drink on a hot summer's day or a cold winter’s night.  Your body will thank you.  Enjoy.

France Seduces Me . . .

Karen enjoying one of her favorite pastimes in Sarlat, France

Karen enjoying one of her favorite pastimes in Sarlat, France

I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks this summer wrapped in France's food, gardens, wine, art and architecture.  There is nothing like a 13th-century priory to draw you in and capture your imagination.  I will live there one day.  For now, she inspires me and I infuse French style into a Hawaii life.  Here are some of my ways I bring her to the island:

The Gallic passion for living and eating well has its heart in a country kitchen.  I, too, love a clean, comfortable workspace with a rustic element.  Fortunately, my coffee shack does rustic very well.  The rest falls into place with a small oil painting of a farm scene I have cherished in all my homes.  The pottery and cookbooks I bring back from Alsace adorn the shelves.  And I have a passion for french linens and baskets found at Paris flea markets.  In 1853, La Parfaite Cuisinière declared, “Order and cleanliness must reign in the kitchen; everything must be in its place, well polished, well cleaned.” I feel good and produce quality products when my space is organized and beautiful.  What is missing from my kitchen?  True French bread.  That cannot be reproduced in our climate hard as I might try.  So I enjoy all that I can when I am there!

French textiles inspire me both in terms of decorating and packaging.  I have a life-long love of anything embroidered or woven.  A prized remnant of an antique Aubusson rug is made into a pillow on my reading chair.  I love its colors.  It is noticed every time I pass by.  Scraps of well-worn, French fabric become linings in my purses I sell on occasion at market.  I look for inspiration in color palettes for special packaging and photo compositions.  France is everywhere on our website when you look close.

Edith Piaf can be heard on the farm.  Somewhat out of place at first thought until you come closer to our home.  She fits here.  Her tenacity and beauty fills the orchards.  There is a source of inner confidence that is both French and Hawaiian.  French lessons continue most days in the garden as I weed. I think the Hawaiian plants enjoy the sounds and I’m certain they are more beautiful because of it.   

Add in the philosophy that French women take time for themselves, for their houses - that extra moment spent adjusting fresh flowers in a vase - or the ability to add just the right touch to an outfit before heading to the boulangerie.  The French worship quality.  These characteristics define every Luana Naturals’ product I create.  The details are key.  Quality of ingredients is never compromised.   The beauty of packaging is a must.  As for my own personal style?  A blouse from one of my favorite shops in Paris will combine quite well with a subtle Hawaiian print sarong.  I admire my French cousin’s beautiful light and flowing dresses that she wears and I look for similar feminine touches to add to otherwise simple farm work clothes.  It can be a stretch.  But I assure you, you will never, ever see me in a pair of shorts. France reminds me to take time for oneself and enjoy feeling pretty.

It is easy to succumb to something à la française.  Every day I come up with a new idea and France is often behind it.  New flower waters and perfumes will be launched early next year.  Perfume is a passion of mine and I love to think of new combinations that combine Hawaiian botanicals with a French nose.  Ylang-ylang is one of my favorite scents.  It grows well on the island and did you know it was the “secret” ingredient in Chanel No. 5 - my personal favorite?  When sandalwood meets French flower wax, you find yourself with something truly magical.  Hawaii and France.  At first very different places and yet, the two complement each other quite well.  They are both beautiful, dedicated to quality, and impart wisdom for living well.

The Beauty of Something Handmade

Every drop of our pure perfume oil is created by hand with a little bit of the island and our farm included.

Every drop of our pure perfume oil is created by hand with a little bit of the island and our farm included.

I have a secret. When I began making farm-fresh skin care products, I wasn’t sure that anyone would want to purchase them. I was a bit scared to put them out on the table, unsure of the feedback I would receive. After all, my body products are my works of art and I was about to be juried at our local farmers market.  I thought, “Is what I have made special enough?” The answer is yes. There is beauty and appreciation in everything handmade.

With so many products coming from abroad, we can forget the time, care, and thoughtfulness that an individually created item encompasses. In fact, handcrafted is becoming a lost art. Quality and uniqueness is being set aside for mass production. We forget that when someone makes something by hand, they are infusing themselves into the product. Something that can be felt and appreciated. When you run a bar of handmade soap across your body, you feel the difference. Besides the quality of ingredients, you pause to consider all the steps that went into the process of its creation. Having made soap, this is no small feat and worth every penny.

Another reason handcrafted items are beautiful is the relationship that develops between the producer and consumer. When you choose to purchase something that is artisan made, you become a part of their ‘ohana as we say in Hawaii. Think about it. How often do you have direct contact with the person who made with their own hands that product you purchased? You don’t feel that connection when shopping at a drugstore for your face wash or a grocery store for a jar of jam.  Over the past six years, it is those connections that are the best part of my experience as an artisan, farmer, and entrepreneur.

As to the beauty of something handmade . . . it doesn’t get any better than that.

Despite the old adage: Oil & Water Do Mix

Like cures like.  Oil dissolves oil.  It is a basic principle one learns in chemistry class.  Cleansing with oil sounds a bit counter intuitive but it is a healthy, simple, and effective way to keep your face clean and glowing.  Washing with harsh soaps and detergents only strips away our skin's own oil, sebum, and then our bodies have to create more oil to replace that which was lost.  It becomes a viscous circle.

Luana Naturals' ili Oil is a custom blend of Hawaiian Kukui nut, avocado, and essential oils

Luana Naturals' ili Oil is a custom blend of Hawaiian Kukui nut, avocado, and essential oils

Plant-based oils used in specific combinations balances the skin's own natural oils.  At the same time,  your body is nourished and moisturized without the use of toxic chemicals.  When you gently massage oil into your skin, it dissolves impurities - dirt and bacteria and hardened oils - found lodged in your pores.  A warm face cloth will open the pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed.  Add a tiny drop of the oil following the cleanse at night keeps the body from over-compensating in its own oil production.

For some individuals, there is an adjustment period when the skin is detoxifying from the impurities pulled from deep within the body and from the chemical "beauty" products used over the years.  This may take a few days.  When done properly and consistently, cleansing with oil over the long term can help solve skin issues such as oily or dry skin, sensitive skin, and blemishes.  The result is a healthy, balanced and properly moisturized body.

The method is simple:

1.)  Use a pure, plant-based combination of oils.  Be sure you can identity each ingredient in your product of choice.  Place a few drops in the palm of your hand and add a drop or two of water.  Massage gently onto the face using a circular motion.  A minute or two is all you need to saturated your skin.  Use a cotton pad to remove gently make-up from around the eyes.  No need to use a separate product for make-up removal.  You can leave your cleansing oil on the skin for up to 10 minutes if you want to clean deep into your pores.

2.)  Follow with a hot washcloth.  Place it over your face and allow the steam to remove the oils and impurities.  Leave the cloth on until it cools, about a minute or so.  Repeat if needed.  You want to remove all the dirt but leave a thin layer of the oil.  If time permits, enjoy infusing a bit of lavender or lemon balm in the basin and placing a towel over your head to capture the beautiful steam.

That's it.  No moisturizer is needed.  If you have very dry skin, add a touch of the oil.  This can be especially beneficial if you cleanse with oil at night.  In the morning, you do not need to cleanse deep again.  Simply use a cool washcloth and a hydrating spray to freshen the face.  Once a week or so, treat your skin to a bit of mashed, ripe avocado or papaya, or a tad of organic honey to your oil regime.  Just blend it together and massage onto damp skin.  Allow to sit for a few minutes and then follow with the very warm washcloth.

Simple - balanced - good food for the skin.  Give it a try and enjoy your new found glow.

Relaunch 2014

2014 is filled with feelings of eagerness, appreciation, and enthusiasm for what we can create.  Luana Naturals launches our new website in January and Karen is ready to reboot her blog in February.  Seed to Skin will share her knowledge of farm-fresh Hawaiian skincare, stories from the farm and gardens, and recipes to help you feel good inside and out.  Watch for her first post on cleansing with oil.