I’ve been approached over the years by many companies wanting to work with me to promote their products and develop pregnancy massage awareness. I have never quite felt comfortable with any of their approaches. However, recently, one of my students, who works for Weleda, felt that we would be a good match, and put us in touch.
I have been using Weleda products for years. I love their Hypercal (hypericum and calendula) wound healing ointment for cuts and for healing the perineum. My daughter is a fan of their Wild Rose deodorant .
One of my assistant teachers, gives me wonderful Weleda body oil and shower products from time to time. However I am just getting to know their mother and baby range.
This range has just been recognised by The Beauty Shortlist Baby Awards. Weleda has won BEST BABY SKINCARE BRAND!
Calendula Nappy Change Cream also won BEST NAPPY CREAM!
The Baby Derma White Mallow Baby Lotion also won BEST BABY LOTION!
The Calendula Baby Bath was the runner up in BEST BABY BATH PRODUCT.
Initially I was a little cautious, as many of their products include almond oil. Their pharmacist, Evelyn, explained to me that it oil is an oil which is extremely well tolerated by the skin and is easily absorbed. Due to its high content of essential fatty acids, it protects the skin from drying and improves the skin’s barrier function, keeping it smooth and supple. Weleda has been working together with the Manan cooperative in the region of Valencia (Spain) for some years now. Located in the hills near Alicante, it is one of the largest almond cultivation sites in Europe and Weleda receives a regular supply of organically grown almonds from there.
This has made me question the fears of allergic responses from the use of almond oil, as this is an oil I used to use a lot. I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on this. I am going to write a future blog about this so be good to include your views and any research you may have.
I decided to try using one of their main products for pregnant women, the Stretch mark massage oil (formerly known as Pregnancy body oil). This is made up of sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil and wheat germ oil with essential oils. I first started using it on my own tummy and liked it, so have begun to use it with a few clients and am enjoying working with it. It is light and easily absorbed: and has a lovely gentle smell. Try it and let me know what you think.
If you don’t want to work with almond oil, they do have some alternatives: notably the baby oil. This is made of only sesame oil and calendula. I also began by using it on myself and then with clients and it is a lovely product. Many of the other baby products are also great for mums, and indeed anyone else, too. My son used the oil recently after he shaved his head! The only drawback is that they don’t have any waxes. Working so much on the floor as I do, I also like to use waxes, but maybe one day I can persuade them to produce waxes too!
I have always said that the quality of the oils we use with clients is the most important factor. Weleda oils fit the bill. Of Weleda’s plant-based raw materials 78% are cultivated in controlled organic and biodynamic environments, or are obtained from controlled wild sources. All Weleda’s products are made from pure natural substances; artificial preservatives are never used. Their company motto – “In harmony with nature and the human being” very much fits with my background in Chinese medicine, the human is a microcosm of the universe which is a macrocosm.
I hadn’t realised that Weleda manufactures over 2500 pharmaceutical products and 10 dietary products as well as their 120 natural body products. It was founded in 1921 as a pharmaceutical laboratory with its own medicinal plant garden. Its ethos is based on Anthroposophy (human wisdom) developed by the scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), around the time of the first world war and immediately after. Anthroposophy, like Chinese medicine views the human being,holistically i.e. body, soul and spirit. It is the philosophy underpinning Steiner Waldorf schools and kindergartens, anthroposophical medicine, natural body care and biodynamic farming. Weleda adopted a sustainability strategy in 2011 and this means that they have joined he Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT), a non-profit association that promotes the “Sourcing with Respect” of ingredients that come from native biodiversity. Most of the Weleda product range is manufactured in Switzerland, Germany and France. These are all places where I regularly teach and Weleda’s market presence is also traditionally strongest there.
In the summer I went up to visit, with my son, the UK Weleda Head office. This is in the buildings of the old Steiner school in Ilkeston, Derby. Their staff were very open and I visited their wonderful biodynamic garden. Claire, the head gardener was passionate about the land and the plants. I saw how they used the remains of flowers and leaves from the manufacturing process to make compost and she explained about the biodynamic practice of placing cow horn in the earth which helps improve the soil fertility. The gardens are a beautiful 15 acres of land with 300 plant species including calendula, birch, composts, flower meadows and bees.
Biodynamics encompasses more than an organic approach. The first action is to look at the land as an organism. This means looking at all the elements. The Steiner approach is based on the four elements (as opposed to the Chinese five elements) of earth, air, fire and water. Each element is matched to a part of a given plant – earth to root, air to flower, fire to fruit and seed and water to leaf. The parts of the plant are also matched with their element to the twelve signs of the zodiac. This is then linked in to the moon moving through the signs so that the phases of the moon are used in a specific way for cropping and planting. I have always been interested in in the effects of the moon cycles on our energy. It makes complete sense to apply this to the earth. I am now beginning to bring this awareness into my garden by planting at the new moon and pruning or digging up at the waning moon.
The biodynamic approach is part of the natural agriculture movement which also encompasses a more Japanese version: Shumei. I add the Japanese version in as of course shiatsu, which is a main part of my work, originated in Japan. I have been buying some vegetables produced by Shumei recently which are grown near me in Bristol at Yatesbury. They have an even better quality and taste than organics! Natural Agriculture is not simply a method for growing food, it’s an individual relationship with Nature. The Natural Agriculturist has a very conscious interaction with the natural world which is essentially a practice of respect, which informs all aspects of life. This is the approach I like to have in my work with myself and my students and clients, based on the principles of Chinese medicine but applying them to our current world and reality.
I was also encouraged to learn that since 2005, Weleda Benelux has been supporting the botanical garden in Sevapur, in South India, where over 250 regional plants and medicinal herbs are cultivated in accordance with biodynamic methods. This project supports families in the area.
Weleda states “ Our products aim to support human beings in their personal development, in maintaining, promoting and restoring their health and in their efforts to achieve physical well-being and a balanced lifestyle. “
There are not many companies around which have such a lovely approach and so I feel happy to explore ways in which we can work together. We are currently exploring what these might be, but they are going to include ways of promoting this kind of approach to pregnancy and birth.
So far, I have agreed with Weleda to do a presentation on pregnancy massage, including abdominal techniques, using their some of the mother and baby products at their Insight Days on 29 and 30 June at Ilkeston. I will also explain the importance of teaching perineal massage. These days are an opportunity to learn more about Weleda products in a very hand ons way. Theyt include a visit to the wonderful gardens where you will have an opportunity to learn how to make a tincture. The day includes a lovely lunch made from local produce and lots of opportunities to try out different products. For more information and to book a place contact firstname.lastname@example.org before then and mention you read this blog.
I will keep you updated: meanwhile I would love to hear your thoughts on this collaboration.