Many plants with great aroma and antioxidant contents grow in the northern nature. The properties increasing health and well-being increase when the plants are grown organically, without control substances. 250 natural cosmetics and health care products have been developed at the Frantsila wild herb farm in Hämeenkyrö.
Frantsila is one of the first Finnish enterprises in the natural cosmetics sector. Organic cultivation and gathering started at the farm already in 1977.
“I started making herbal tea and skin care oils at the age of 14. I attended herb researcher Toivo Rautavaara’s lectures on useful plants and was a health enthusiast already as a teenager. My grandmothers were pioneers in the field, using plenty of wild vegetables during the depression”, says Virpi Raipala-Cormier.
Virpi Raipala-Cormier studied to be an agronomist and established with his Canadian-born spouse, James Cormier, Frantsila Organic Herb Farm, with the purpose of promoting the knowledge of herbs, organic cultivation and healthy ways of life.
Clean ground was a good stepping stone.
“Finnish soil is clean. It may be even a hundred times cleaner than in densely populated countries. There are very little heavy metals in the Finnish soil.”
At the Frantsila farm, wild plants have not been developed or fertilised with nitrogen.
“When nitrogen is not given in soluble form, the plant mass is ‘denser’. The quantity of water is smaller than in a plant fertilised with nitrogen. In this way, the plants acquire more aromas. Organic plants also have plenty of polyphenolic compounds which act like antioxidants.”
Polyphenols are metabolic products and protective agents of plants. Polyphenols protect plants from diseases and the sun’s rays. Light and cool northern nights make the plants produce more different aromatic substances affecting health.
“In organic production, more micronutrients, vitamins and polyphenolic compounds are produced in plants. Their contents may be higher by many per cent points than in plants fertilised with nitrogen. The light nights are a stress factor to plants. Light, cool nights and long days increase the aromas containing ethereal oils and other agents.”
Frantsila has several hectares of herb fields. Plants are also gathered from a 200-hectare organic collection area. The farm uses a hundred different plants, from which 250 different products are made.
The basis of the production are Finnish herbs. Frantsila provides to visitors different natural treatments, such as facial care and herbal massage, as well as mainly organic vegetarian food.
“The way of life associated with natural well-being is on the increase, so the trend is on our side”, rejoices Raipala-Cormier.
The herbal products of the farm are used in sauna treatments.
“The esteem of organic and local products and wild herbs has increased. People are interested in superfoods. They are aware of chemicals and allergies. Therefore, there is more interest in natural cosmetics and folk traditions. I get queries about wild herbs and natural cosmetics daily. People who contact me are of all ages.”
Training associated with natural treatments and well-being is arranged regularly at Frantsila’s Well-being Centre. At the centre, you can also design and prepare your own nurturant perfume.
“Some visitors come because of the herbs, others want treatments and products for flu, fatigue and stress. Eco-cosmetics is on the rise. We also provide detox drops with dandelion root, nettle, marigold and common yarrow.”
Frantsila’s products are sold in Japan as natural cosmetics. According to Raipala-Cormier, the Japanese value the purity of Finnish nature. The criteria of natural cosmetics products defined by the Finnish interest organisation of the sector, Pro Natural Cosmetics, are observed at Frantsila. Natural ingredients must be favoured in production, and wild plants must be gathered responsibly. The raw materials used in the products must also be as little processed as possible.
Raipala-Cormier also follows the latest academic plant research. There is new information on the health effects of plants all the time. Studies have shown the effectiveness of an anti-ageing moisturising cream made of common yarrow, a traditional medicinal plant. According to clinical studies, the common yarrow increases the thickness of the epidermis, rejuvenates the skin and removes wrinkles.
The common yarrow is offered in many forms at Frantsila. In addition to skin care creams and extracts, face-packs, toners, baths and fumigations are prepared from the common yarrow. The common yarrow is one of Frantsila’s most important cultivated plants. Another important plant is the marigold, which has given the name to one of the points of sale of Frantsila’s products in Hämeenkyrö. The carotenoids (precursors of vitamin A) of the orange-yellow marigold prevent inflammations, and they have an epithelising effect, improving the surface tissue of the skin.
The nettle is a power herb. Its vitamin C content is three times that of the orange, and it has four times more calcium than milk. Chippings of nettle are an important food supplement to Finns.
“The nettle is a top food plant. It strengthens the kidneys and renews and cleanses the blood. The acetylcholine it contains activates the brain. Because its immense calcium contents, it is suitable for persons allergic to milk. It is a top food plant which helps the functions of the intestines and invigorates surface blood circulation. It is a good cosmetic product from which, for example, scalp treatment oil is made.”
The Frantsila farm obtains a part of its ingredients from an organic collection area.They include forests in which control substances or forest fertilisers have not been used.There are plenty of interesting substances in the trees of the boreal forest.An interesting group are the lignins, which are different compounds of plant fibre.The lignins of the inner branch of the spruce protect the tree. They can be used, for example, to boost the antioxidising effect of skin creams.Plant lignins can help in the prevention of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.Pine and spruce resin has been used in the treatment of dry and cracking skin and as a disinfectant in folk medicine.
Wood tar has been used in the treatment of peeling skin and psoriasis.Like the nettle, birch is an old hair conditioner.
“The birch is known to be a diuretic which moves fluids, alleviates induration and increases metabolism.
In Finland, bandages for different parts of the body have been made of birch leaves. This form of treatment resembles the Indian Ayurveda.Peat, in turn, absorbs impurities, stimulates skin’s metabolism and works as a strong antioxidant, protecting the skin and maintaining its youthfulness.
“Peat contains natural oestrogen.Its steroids clear the skin. Peat products sell well in Japan.”
In the birch-peat conditioner developed by Raipala-Cormier, the ethereal oil of rosemary and nettle stimulate the blood circulation of the scalp.The micronutrients of birch sap and peat, extracts made of marigold and plantain and ethereal oils treat the scalp.
Only 10 % of the world’s plants contain substantial quantities of ethereal or volatile oils, which have been used for millennia in cosmetics and aromatherapy. These aromatic oils contain ingredients which protect the plant from plant diseases, mould, cuts and drying.
“The aromas work on the brain, activating physiological functions and emotional states.Conifers, such as pine, releases noradrenaline, which increases vigour. The use of aromatherapy is increasing continually. It has been used particularly in the treatment of dementia of old people.”
The world’s finest perfumes have used and combined ethereal oils a lot. Monk balm (benzoic acid) has been made from trees of the styrax family and burnt like incense. The three wise men brought to the infant Jesus myrrh and ‘holy smoke’, in addition to gold.Myrrh and the holy smoke (olibanum) are the fragrant resin of trees growing in Oman and Yemen, used in Catholic and Orthodox masses. Camphor, cedar, agarwood and sandalwood are also popular.Various flowers and herbs, such as rose, lavender, jasmine and patchouli, have been distilled into perfumes. As the steam condenses, ethereal oils float on the surface. The substance remaining at the bottom is called flower water or hydrolate. Ethereal oils can also be extracted.
Currently perfumes are mostly synthetic, but at Frantsila, everything comes from nature.Only genuine, undiluted ethereal oils are used at Frantsila. Extracts are also made, for example, from marigold, sweetgrass, garden angelica, common yarrow, meadowsweet, marsh tea, birch, spruce, juniper and pine.They are used in different mixes, from massage oils to sauna drops.
“Usually there is no hypersensitivity to ethereal oils.”
There are plenty of plants at Frantsila which others do not cultivate, because harvesting them is laborious.
“We make and develop our products ourselves from the beginning to the end.We pluck the flowers one by one by hand and extract them into skin care and medicinal products.We use the special plants of the Finnish folk tradition, making the products unique. We are a pioneer of natural cosmetics in Finland and the world”, says Virpi Raipala-Cormier.
“It is a gift to be able to do work like this.”
Ari Turunen (2017)
”We pluck the flowers by hand and extract them into skin care and medicinal products.We use the special plants of the Finnish folk tradition, making the products unique.”
Frantsila’s products are sold in a thousand points of sale around the country and as natural cosmetics also in Japan.
Frantsilan kehäkukka (Frantsila Marigold)
Frantsila’s marigold is a popular tourist destination, where all Frantsila’s products and vegetarian food are available. There is also Frantsila’s sample herb garden in the yard.
Frantsila Centre of Well-being
Frantsila Centre of Well-being arranges courses related to well-being and natural treatments.
Pro Natural Cosmetics
The members of Pro luonnonkosmetiikka ry (Pro Natural Cosmetics) represent trademarks which have received an international certificate or Finnish natural cosmetics brands, whose ingredient lists have been reviewed and approved by an independent expert.