I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my inspiring friend Isa Brito, in her Brooklyn home. I met Isa when we were both apprenticing with Robin Rose Bennett. Isa is a native of Brazil, her background is captivating, she has lived many lives. From being a photojournalist, a mother, and stylist. She is going back to her first love which is the plant kingdom. As an herbalist, her extensive knowledge has taken her to work with Susan Weed, attended conferences held by Rosemary Gladstar, as well as Matthew Wood and Margi Flint, a potpourri of elite herbalist in the U.S.A. Isa grew up in Minas Gerais Brazil, on a self sustained farm owned by her family. She grew up on home remedies, learning about the cycles of regeneration and decomposition of the land. A childhood memory was sparked while remembering her mother, an intimate moment that she had forgotten, suddenly flashed into her head. Isa and her mother were cooking, Isa’s mother grabbed her young hand and placed butter in one palm, and sugar in the other palm, and told her to rub them together, and see how her skin felt. To Isa’s surprise her hands felt soft and rejuvenated, her mother then told her that the next time she went to the beach to rub an avocado and sand on her feet. Since that moment Isa has been experimenting with papaya, avocado, and other tropical fruits of Brazil. Her fascination with plants begun at an early stage of her life.
We got on the subject of Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), commonly known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, herbal mushroom known to have miraculous health benefits. They are non-toxic and can be taken daily without producing any side effects. Taken regularly, they can restore the body to its natural state, enabling all organs to function normally. They are Immune modulators. Reishi mushrooms were known to the ancients as “the mushroom of immortality”. They have the reputation of promoting health and longevity, boosting the immune system, and reducing the risk of life-shortening conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies have shown that Reishi mushrooms can contribute to longer life spans. They can help manage some of today’s most troubling age-related conditions, including autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and more.
Reishi’s powerful antioxidant and antiaging effects:
Polysaccharides have anticancer effects based on their ability to prevent abnormal blood vessel formation, and to boost immune system function.
Triterpenes protect the liver, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent platelet clumping that leads to heart attack and stroke, fight allergic responses triggered by histamine, and also possess anticancer activity. Ganoderma lucidum peptide is a unique protein that has remarkably potent antioxidant characteristics that are still being unraveled.
We discussed the healing benefits of mushrooms, and why she adds reishi in her products, over a cup of infused rose and hibiscus tea. Every tincture, oil, and vinegar Isa prepared was made with the highest grade of organic plants, roots and weeds. As a marveled at Isa’s vintage apotecary bottles, I entered into a world of dedication and respect, witnessing Isa’s integrity.
Isa Brito connects with her Brazilian heritage by incorporating sensual, restorative and nourishing butters and oils to her products. Isa Restoratives are beautifully crafted, with love and extensive knowledge of plants. Isa Restoratives is a brand that is constantly transforming and evolving.
Buriti Oil ( Mauritia flexuosais ) is an oil native to the Amazon wetland regions, known by the natives as the “tree of life.” Extracted from the fruit of the Moriche palm, it is an orangish-red oil rich in beta-carotene (containing even more than carrot oil;) as well as oleic acid, linoliec acid, palmitic acid, and tocopherols (vitamin E.) With high levels of anti-oxidants from the vitamin E and beta-carotene, buriti oil is also an excellent free radical “scavenger,” helping to protect the skin from damage. The fruit of the buriti is shiny, round, and chestnut-colored, with a bright yellow, fleshy pulp inside. The flesh surrounds a hard edible nut, which is the seed of the plant. The oil extracted from the buriti fruit is rich in many nutrients, including essential fatty acids, vitamins, and beta-carotene. In fact, the oil is said to provide the richest known source of beta-carotene—even more than carrot seed oil. Natives used the oil to treat skin burns, because of its calming, soothing, and regenerating properties. essential fatty acids form the building blocks of skin’s structure, and help to maintain elasticity and firmness. Buriti oil is a rich source of fatty acids, which help not only support the production of collagen and elastin, but also provide hydration. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage, and is also critical in wound healing. Buriti oil is a good source of vitamin C, which works with vitamin E to provide antioxidant protection, and is also crucial for the production of collagen. Buriti Oil has a natural anti-inflammatory property that can reduce redness and calm skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Tucuma oil is pressed from the fruit (seeds) of the Astrocaryum tucuma palm tree. Another specialty from the Rain Forest, Tucuma Butter is prized for its rich content of; polyphenols to combat free radicals in the tissues, and fatty acids to protect and moisturize the skin. Tucuma oil is extracted from the flesh of the Tucuma fruit, it is very similar to buriti oil, and has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin A rich in beta-carotene. Tucuma butter is extracted from the kernel of the Tucuma fruit. The amount of vitamin A “beta-carotene” found on the Tucuma kernel is lower than the one found on the tucuma fruit oil. To increase the content of Vitamin A to the Kernel part of Tucuma oil is added to the butter after pressing. Tucuma butter is a rich source of Palmitic, Stearic, oleic and linoleic acids – crucial in healthy cell development, regulation of the immune system, metabolic regulation and maintenance of healthy skin and hair. It is an excellent moisturizing and emollient butter. Tucuma Butter offers excellent lubricity, for both skin and hair, bringsing natural shine to dry, damaged, hair and a luminosity, and softness, to skin.
Cupuaçu Butter is obtained from the fruit seed of the Cupuacu tree (Theobroma Grandiflorum) found growing wild in the eastern subregion of the Brazilian Amazonia. Cupuaçu butter is a soft and nourishing emollient and easily absorbs water. It stabilizes emulsions and moisturizes skin. The butter is consists of various beneficial fatty acids (including palmitic, stearic and oleic acids), plant polyphenols and sterols. Oleic acid (omega 9 monounsaturated fatty acid) possesses interesting skin-conditioning properties. It also protects and moisturizes the skin and hair. The polyphenols in cupuaçu butter act as antioxidants, protecting against environmental damage. Cupuaçu Butter restores skin tissue, its a natural sun protector, improves elasticity in the skin, very nourishing and hydrating, and is an anti-inflammatory.
The Babassu oil or cusi oil comes from the fruits of the Babassu palm trees that are native to Brazil considered a “Tree of Life”. Possessing a number of fatty acids that are beneficial to the skin’s overall health. 50% of the Babassu Oil’s composition is made up of lauric acid while the remaining 50% is made from a combination of Stearic, Myristic, Palmitic and Oleic acids. Rich in Vitamin E and Phytosterols which act as the oil’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agents. Babassu oil works wonders in treating itchiness and dryness to skin and scalp. The oil is great to treat a number of skin diseases and illness like eczema and acne. Babassu oil is a non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores. Babassu oil is a natural emollient with restorative properties for dry and flaky skin. A beautiful carrier oil, with superior emollients that moisturizes skin without leaving an oily sheen.
The “Liquid Clay Cleanser” is one of my favorites, its cooling and nurturing properties are perfect for summer. A blend of volcanic ash clay, french green clay, mixed with green tea extract, lavender hydrosol, alcohol free witch hazel, papaya enzyme, fennel essential oil, and many more healing concoctions. A divine potion to start and end your day, leaving your skin cleansed, refreshed and nourished. Cleansing and toning are one of the most effective ways of maintaining healthy, vibrant skin. Cleansing removes excess oil and impurities from your skin and helps improve its health and radiance. Cleansing also helps prepare your skin for the other steps in your skincare program. Regular facial cleansing is an important factor in helping the skin maintain a proper level of hydration. Dehydrated skin looks and feels rough, wrinkled and aged. Cleansing helps manage PH levels of the skin; enabling sufficient water and product retention, clearing pores of debris preventing dirt buildup, allowing the sebum oil to reach the skin surface unimpeded; decreasing the chances of a breakout.
Toning is an important second step that completes the cleansing process. A good toner will remove any remaining bits of oil, dirt and debris left behind by the cleanser. More importantly, toner will help soothe, nourish and hydrate the skin while restoring its delicate pH balance. “Elixir II Rejuvenate” is a wonderful toner.
“Elixir II Rejuvenate” is a hydrosol of rose, neroli, and sandalwood, mixed with a non alcoholic witch hazel and aloe vera gel. Acerola, gotu kola, reishi, and hibiscus extract combined with wakame boiferment, silk amino acids and many more powerful extracts and essential oils such as helichrysum, creating a powerful hydrating mist. Hydrosols, also known as floral waters, they are produced from steam-distilling plant materials. Hydrosols are the condensate water co-produced during the steam- or hydro-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes. Hydrosols contain all of the essence of the plant in every drop, just like essential oils but in a milder form; making them suitable for all manner of applications where essential oils might be too strong for daily use. Hydrosols are effective toners, anti-inflammatory, cooling and wound healing. Hydrosols are energetic, dynamic plant fluids and represent ‘sunlight in a bottle’ through the alchemy of steam distillation, the watery, pranic, immune system of the plant. Hydrosols help to regulate the skin’s production of sebum, are anti-inflammative, balance skin pH, have antioxidant properties and add significant amounts of valuable hydration, offering exceptional softening and toning benefits to aging skin; they effectively minimize the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles and are highly adapted to use on dry, fragile and sensitive skin. They contain no alcohol, no preservatives and no artificial fragrances and are appropriate for all skin conditions. The most common way to utilize this dynamic water is in combination with the “Blemish Solution Facial Oil’. Hydrosols mix and encourage the skin’s reabsorbtion of excess oil, without drying the skin. The ‘weak acids’ in plant hydrosols provide a gentle purifying, detoxifying effect.
Step three in Isa’s beauty regime would be to use either “Blue Beauty Balm” or “Immortelle Beauty Balm”.
I was getting excited as Isa showed me the high quality grade of the blue chamomile essential oil that she uses for the “Blue Beauty Balm”. Camomile essential oils are anti-allergenic, and they help cure acne by removing toxins and cleaning sebaceous and eccrine glands through sweating. Its supportive ability to enhance a healthy inflammatory response along with its ability to nourish and restore healthy sebum or skin oil have made it an excellent natural support for skin health and beauty. A combination of exquisite oils like Shiso, babassu, sweet almond, andiroba, oat, sesame and pomegranate are carefully blended to create the sumptuous balm. A mix of butters such as shea and cupuaçu are infused with herbal extracts such as rosemary and essential oils. Not only are her products visual poetry, the smell divine and are truly restorative and nourishing.
The “Immortelle Beauty Balm” is made of powerful oils from seeds such as borage, argan, sea buckthorn fruit and many more. I love sea buckthorn fruit, it prevents sunburns, heals wounds including bedsores, burns, and cuts, it’s great for acne, dermatitis, dry skin, eczema, skin ulcers, and skin color changes after giving birth. It protects the mucus membranes, and it has anti-aging actions. Sea buckthorn oil is well-known for its healing and rejuvenating effects on the skin. When used topically, it’s a great natural cleanser and exfoliator. Using sea buckthorn oil daily helps slow down the signs of aging by nourishing the tissues in your skin and body. Sea buckthorn oil promotes skin hydration, elasticity, and skin regeneration, and even helps treat and prevent acne. Sea buckthorn oil may also be beneficial for rosacea, a chronic inflammatory condition that causes small red bumps on the face. The “Immortelle Beauty Balm” also is infused with herbal extracts such as rosehip, violet, rose and many more powerful plants. Blended with healing essential oils such as cedar wood, rose, myrrh, and other delightful fragrances.
The “Recovery Eye Serum” is made with the whole plant and its is a triple infusion of hibiscus, nettle, fennel, calendula, violet, bilberry, and gotu kola. Organic cold pressed unrefined oils are blended in this herbal concoction, red raspberry seed, cranberry seed, argan, buriti, sea buckthorn and other super oils are mixed with rose, neroli and carrot seed essential oils. Making this eye serum a delicate and rich nourishing blend, that will hydrate and soften the lines around the eye.
“The Blemish Solution Facial Oil” can be mixed into the “Activated Coconut Charcoal Face Mask”, a high concentration of very healing oils. Rosehip, Evening Prime Rose and Tamanu, are some of the powerful oils in this blend. Tamanu oil possesses a unique capacity to promote the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound healing and the growth of healthy skin, known as cicatrization. Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) is indigenous to Southeast Asia, the oil of tamanu has been used to relieve the pain of sciatica, shingles, neuralgia, and rheumatism. Tamanu Oil contains three basic classes of lipids, neutral lipids, glycolipids, and phospholipids. The oil contains a unique fatty acid called calophyllic acid, and a novel antibiotic lactone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent called calophyllolide. Tamanu Oil is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, perfect for the treatments of acne and acne scars, eczema, psoriasis, stretch marks, age spots, skin rashes, and dermatitis. The combination of essential oils, such a bergamot, neroli, sweet orange and other earthly surprises, make “The Blemish Solution Facial Oil” a favorite of mine.
Her “Activated Coconut Charcoal Face Mask” can be blended with avocado, papaya, yogurt and honey. Every ingredient is top quality. The plants are coming directly from an organic farm in Vermont, offering incredible vitality. The Ingredients of the “Activated Coconut Charcoal Face Mask”, are pure poetry. A mix of Moroccan rhassaul clay, raw cacao, activated coconut charcoal, a blend of herbs and essential oils, depict the elegance and grace of herbalist Isa Brito.
Isa Brito’s Herb Deck in Brooklyn
All of Isa’s products are made to restore the integrity of the skin. Rebalancing the natural flora, through the integrity of each healing plant, working together with essential oils, butters, clays, and floral hydrosols, crafting an exquisite line of healing and restorative skin products.
After our wonderful afternoon of exploring each product, Isa brought me to her sacred space, a peaceful white room, capturing the essence of silence and serenity. As she activated her altar by burning palo santo, she showed me the symbols that were placed in her altar, and explained the symbolism. A beautiful old tile from Portugal invoking her ancestors, a figurine of a female saint, saved after her nanny passed away, Isa teared up as she expressed the unconditional love she had for this woman, two turtles that represented her power animal, a braid of sweet grass, a jar filled with herbs and a black and white photograph. A mystical quality of grace permeated the room. This old soul had open the door to her universe, unveiling her gifts and healing magic. She has dedicated her life to raising her daughter, who is now attending college, the house is empty waiting for this green witch to explore and manifest her divine potions. As Isa enters her fifties, she is embracing this chapter of her life with the wisdom and grace of healing plants, manifesting her restorative products.
” In order to use medicinal plants effectively we therefore need to understand how the body works in a holistic fashion, with numerous functions integrated together. Instead of thinking of diseases as precise germ entities or molecular lesions observable in isolated tissue samples, we need to understand disease in terms of patterns of imbalance”. Matthew Wood
“In order to practice herbalism holistically, we need to understand three basic principles: (1) the affinity of the herb to a pattern of disease, (2) the affinity of the herb to an organ or system, and (3) the affinity of the herb to the basic pattern of self-governance in the organism (from center to circumference)”. Matthew Wood
“Aristotle broke the natural world up into four basic qualities, hot, cold, damp, and dry. These were used in Greek medicine to define the basic patterns of imbalance and the properties of plants. Thus, by hot to cold, or damp to dry, the Greeks envisioned the treatment of disease”. Matthew Wood
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