Plant of the Month - The Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)

The Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)

My tarragon has survived the winter and is vigorously asserting itself for a good summer. Sadly I seem to have lost most of my mature fennel – but perhaps it will sprout again as the summer warms up. In some way to replace the tall elegant fennel, I have decided to introduce some hardy annuals. They are such fun to grow - and the most fun is just to throw a packet of seeds amongst the herbs and shrubs, just rake them over and let them take their chances. The sunflowers are bold, exuberant and can be a very exciting addition to any herb garden. The Organic Gardening Catalogue and Thomson & Morgan sell a good variety of sunflower seeds ranging from the Dwarf yellow (18 to 24 inches) to the Russian Giant (maturing during one summer to over 2 meters). Perhaps more interesting are the many varieties that grow between 4 to 5 feet tall, which include Italian White, Earth Walker – a mixture of bronze to yellow and Lime Pie Claret which is a lovely chocolate brown. The plant is native to the Central Americas and was domesticated in Mexico by 2600 BC. Many indigenous American peoples used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity. Now it is mainly grown for the seeds and oil it produces. Each mature flower yields 40% of its weight as oil.

New Products for Acne

Apart from the sunflower’s flamboyance in the garden, I have also been working with it in the new acne products for Yin Yang. The oil is highly recommended for acne because it has soothing properties and is considered to be noncomedogenic, which means that it does not clog pores and consequently discourages pimples. Physically it is very fine and liquid, as you will know if you use it in salads, but it is also rich in Vitamin E and does not have the distinct “grainy” odor of wheat germ oil. It is also rich in some of the gentle plant acids, i.e., Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic and Linoleic that keep the skin in a healthy, mildly acidic state without the need for the harsh chemical acids which balance most commercial skin care brands. For me it has always made sense to use wholesome edible plant acids from fruit, flowers and nuts as the pH adjuster and they always have other useful properties, such as vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. So I was not too surprised to learn that studies of daily gentle massaging of premature babies with sunflower oil, have determined that with this procedure, the babies are 41% less likely to develop infections while in hospital. As well as sunflower oil, the Yin Yang acne products will include also Jojoba Oil, Green Tea Extract, Calendula Extract and Comfrey Extract. The products, which will be available later this year, will be very light on the skin, with thorough cleansing action, and just moisturising, without overloading the pores.

In Store Consultant Team

Joining Monica, Rebecca, Leila and Gina on the Consultant Team, we now have Joanna, Elaine, Clair and Penelope. They are all enjoying being in the stores and talking to Holland & Barrett customers about Yin Yang Skincare and I am enjoying reading their reports; it is important to have these communications with customers,  to be able to help with personal skin care advice and to understand the concerns that people have about their skincare routines. We have now covered around two thirds of the 150 Holland & Barrett stores stocking Yin Yang and quite a number of them are looking forward to their second visit.