Plants provide us with medicine, dye, food, fibres for everything from textiles to paper, and – my main area of focus – skin and hair care solutions.
Today, we're going to look at a substance that many plants provide – some more than others. This substance has a wide variety of uses in both medicine, food, skin care and hair care.
It's called mucilage.
Mucilage - Isn't it that slimy stuff?Mucilage is a glue-like, slippery substance that can help seeds germinate, thicken membranes, provide protection, and aid the healing process.
In medicine, mucilage can be used to help relieve irritated mucous membranes by blanketing them in a protective film.
If you are a curly girl and happen to make your own hair-care products, you may be acquainted with slippery elm and its rich content of mucilage as a nurturing hair treatment ingredient.
Mucilage has several topical uses, but it is also edible.
If you are a vegan, you may already be familiar with the use of flax seed gel as a replacement for egg whites in baking and cooking.
Apart from providing us humans with diverse internal and topical usages, mucilage plays a vital role in the ecology of the soils throughout this planet.
In short – mucilage is quite simply a must.
A few mucilage-rich plants
- Irish moss
- Aloe Vera
- Flax seed
We're going to be working with a few mucilage-rich plants around here in the coming months. One of them, we've already had a peek at as a colorant, but there's much more to be discovered about mallow (malva sylvestris).
Stay tuned for some skin and hair care mucilage fun!
Pictured at the top: irish moss - also known as carragheen or chondrus crispus - a seaweed with many uses due to its mucilage content. About 55% of the body weight of this plant is mucilage, making it an ideal gelling agent. I've used it in many products throughout the years and find it easy and consistently dependable to work with.