It's been a dream of mine to craft and offer a botanical first aid formula rooted in Brazilian soil. Here's a little tale of how it all came to be.
My first childhood was spent in the Rainforest bioma of the Rio de Janeiro. In a small village in the middle of the forest where a group of engineers lived with their families, along side with remnants of a once lush and diverse flora and fauna. There was still enough tree snakes, frogs, spiders, scorpions and cicadas (!) to keep me enchanted and very very busy... The memories from those days live deep in my heart, in a special place, some of then more vivid than others and I always revisit them as a way of reconnecting with my beginnings, making sense of life... The forest then was home.
Growing up and no longer living in the village, I spent part of my life in the kitchen talking to Luiza, air infused with rich aromatic steams coming from pots slightly uncovered. Countertop covered with plant foods, bags from the farmers market, chopped meat and her herbal salt that she would handmake daily. Luiza is our cook, but also our second mother. She has been living with us for a long time, nearly 4 decades. Her stories of how her "garrafadas" (folk Brazilian medicine "in a bottle") saved her are one of my favorites, as well as the ones of struggle and loss.
Luiza holding our first born Estela, 2004.
I remember her always chewing raw garlic (little did I know!), admiring her ecletic taste for music (from classical to Beatles to Michael Jackson and so on) and literature, not to mention devouring her delicious food and her amazing beans, the ones you will beg her to make so you can savour every single day (and this is actually what happens when we go visit!). When my parents offered her to live with us I had no idea she would become this stern yet caring and fundamental presence in our lives. My children are fortunate to have her and her vital force. Nowadays, I feel relieved that she is there for my parents as they are for her as they age together (interesting enough they're all born with an year difference of one another).
I started crafting this formula with her help and guidance, from brainstorming to gathering the plants and drying them. But we ran out of time and agreed it would be best to finish it when I returned to the US.
Both Brazilian Arnica and Chenopodium were harvested from my parents garden and friends land, respectively. Cordia and Copaiba came from herbal shops in my hometown that support fair trade and sustainability. For this formula I used Brazilian arnica, also known as "fake arnica" which can be found naturally in rupestrian regions, high altitude fields with rocky soils and dry air. Arnica Montana flowers were added during the final process as a poetic license, but mainly because I couldn't gather flowers of its Brazilian counterpart since I was there during the winter months (July and Aug.) and they flower in spring (March and April).